Daily Archives: October 9, 2012

UNDERCOVER SWING SESSION: THE GRAND STREET STOMPERS (TRIO) at THE CUPPING ROOM CAFE (Oct. 3, 2012): GORDON AU, MOLLY RYAN, NICK RUSSO, ROB ADKINS, DAN LEVINSON

I don’t mean that my title should be taken entirely seriously, but the music that Gordon Au’s Grand Street Stompers made at the Cupping Room Cafe (359 West Boardway) on the first Wednesday in September and October gives me pause.  I really feel like a restaurant critic who has discovered a new place where the food is tasty, fresh, inexpensive, surprising — and then has a moral dilemma.  Does (s)he share this knowledge with the world, knowing that it will then be impossible to get a table?  Or should I keep this information quiet?  The CRC is a lovely place to hear music, reasonably quiet, with a very attentive staff and a good menu . . . so perhaps you can tell a few people, but only those who are truly worthy.  You’ll have to decide.

This was the Grand Street Stompers Trio — Gordon, cornet, compositions, arrangements; Nick Russo, guitar, banjo; Rob Adkins, string bass (hear his intonation! so splendid!); Molly Ryan, vocals; Dan Levinson, guest star / reedman.

For now, here are some wondrous highlights of the October 3 evening

MY LITTLE BIMBO is a song I’ve only heard a few bands do — John Gill sings it memorably.  Gordon’s lovely, loping reinvention is MY LITTLE BIMBO GOES CALYPSO:

PAVONIS is connected to the beautiful bird, the peacock — one of Gordon’s haunting compositions:

Molly joined in for a typically lilting GOODNIGHT, MY LOVE:

She then backtracked through the musical romance with LOVE IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER:

And she then offered Berlin’s very wistful series of love-questions, HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN?:

Gordon’s BROOKLYNBERG RAG is one of his new / old tunes — consistently surprising, twisting and free from cliche:

And here’s his ONCE, DEAR (which I assume is a swinging love ballad rather than a warning to a potentially erring Dear?):

For Fats!  BLUE TURNING GRAY OVER YOU:

Years ago, a test pressing of a Dick McDonough group playing BROADWAY ROSE surfaced, with some hopeful listeners opining that the trumpet soloist was Bix Beiderbecke.  That theory deflated quickly (in favor of Mickey Bloom or Bob Mayhew) , but the song is a real treat — a side-glance at NOBODY’S SWEETHEART and GLAD RAG DOLL, perhaps:

For Fred and Ginger: LET YOURSELF GO, with help from husband Dan:

And a rocking instrumental version of YOU DO SOMETHING TO ME:

And by the way, a new GSS CD is on the way . . . called CHRISTMAS STOMP.  Even I’m awaiting it anxiously!

May your happiness increase.

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PLENTY TO BE THANKFUL FOR: THE 2012 SAN DIEGO JAZZ FEST

It’s terribly exciting.  Leave the family behind (there’s a Thanksgiving buffet on Thursday or you can eat leftovers when you get back).

Spend the Jazz Thanksgiving of your life in San Diego.

The festival schedule is still somewhat tentative, but the version I saw just made my head spin.  Paul Daspit, who runs things, believes in Too Much Of A Good Thing (to quote from Mae West and Coleman Hawkins).

On Friday, for instance, I counted sixty-nine or seventy separate sets — featuring Grand Dominion, the Reynolds Brothers, Yerba Buena Stompers, Sue Palmer, Cornet Chop Suey, Tim Laughlin / Connie Jones, Uptown Lowdown, Dave Bennett, Carl Sonny Leyland, Chris Dawson, Dave Bennett, Ray Templin, Stephanie Trick / Lorraine Feather, Heliotrope Ragtime Orchestra, Titanic Jazz Band, Red Skunk, a brass band, a banjo band, a parasol parade . . .

I know that this year I will have to bring energy bars and water just to survive, because even for someone like me, who needs regular meals, eating will have to wait.  I just wish Sir Isaac Newton had discovered some way for me to be in three places at the same time, although that would have meant three tripods, three cameras, and a separate suitcase for batteries and chargers!

If you live near San Diego or can get there, you can also barter your time and energy for jazz, which is never a bad bargain.  Volunteers for the San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival work four-hour shifts as door monitors or in a variety of desk jobs, receiving a one-day badge for each day worked and may volunteer for one up to all five days.  Badges are good for the entire day on the day worked, so come early, stay late, and enjoy the music.  Assignments are made on a first-come, first-served basis; however, preference is given to AFCDJS members.  All venues are on the grounds of the Town & Country Resort & Convention Center.  Click here (and don’t wait!) for more information.

May your happiness increase.