Yet another excursion with Louis Armstrong — backwards to 1933 and 1966 or so and forwards to yesterday, July 7, 2012.
Step One: HONEY, DO! (lyrics by Andy Razaf, music by J.C. Johnson). It’s customary to lament how poor Louis’ bands were, but this version is swinging away for the first part of the song. And what Louis is doing, so joyously, is beyond description:
In 1966 — more or less — department stores in suburbia all had flourishing record departments. I don’t know which store it was, but I remember as someone too young to drive a car going off with my mother to some store (more furniture than anything) for something she needed . . . and saying to her, “Ma, I’ll be right back,” running off to the record department, forsaking all others, heading to the Louis browser, snatching up this RCA Victor anthology with one side devoted to his recordings in the early Thirties, the other to his 1946-7 efforts, giving the cashier my $2.67 or an equivalent amount, and racing back to my mother (who had bought her pillows or bowls by that time) . . . I was guilty but exultant as she stood there — with that look of mild reproach and concern that I already knew too well: translation: “Did you have to spend your allowance on another record?” Yes, Ma, I did. I love you and you were right but now I have HONEY, DO! — nearly fifty years later, too. A good return on $2.67.
Fast forward to yesterday, where the Beloved and I were digging Mal Sharpe and The Big Money in Jazz Band at the No Name Bar in Sausalito. Circumstances prevented my video-recording, but I have a story for you all instead. Superb music from Mal, Jim Gammon, trumpet; Rob Reich, accordion; Bill DeKuiper, guitar; Ari Munkres, string bass; Pete Magadini, drums. A vigrously rocking band that also showed off deep subtlety — a version of I GOT IT BAD with its first chorus a duet for Jim (plunger-muted) and Ari.
Early in the final set, Mal (trusting the audience a bit) asked if anyone had a request. STARDUST was suggested but politely turned aside for the moment, as was I DOUBLE DARE YOU. But the latter suggestion turned Mal’s thoughts to Louis, and Pete suggested HONEY, DO! — which Jim took up with ease and pleasure. The other members of the band weren’t entirely familiar with this obscure song, but they fell in gamely and the No Name Bar was rocking as the BMIJ turned the corner into the second chorus . . . and then Mal, bless him, put down his trombone and belted out the lyrics with skill and abandon.
I’m still grinning. Maybe I can ask them to play it again when I have a video camera handy. You should have been there!
May your happiness increase.