Daily Archives: October 16, 2012

BOB HAVENS, SUPERHERO (Jazz at Chautauqua, Sept. 21, 2012)

Trombonist Bob Havens looks nothing like a Marvel Comics star.  In fact, his quiet Midwestern appearance and demeanor make Clark Kent look rather raunchy by comparison.  But Bob shows us, every time he puts together his trombone, that a man may be in his eighties and have his superpowers remain undiminished, and that red and blue costuming is not essential.

Here he is with Randy Reinhart, cornet; Alex Hoffman, tenor saxophone; Bob Reitmeier, clarinet; Keith Ingham, piano; Frank Tate, string bass; Pete Siers, drums — recorded at Jazz at Chautauqua on Friday, September 21, 2012.

Just because it’s amusing and surprising, Randy began the set with the classic end-of-the-night I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS:

A tribute to Bix and Tram in SINGIN’ THE BLUES:

Then Mr. Havens leaps into action on ROSE OF WASHINGTON SQUARE:

And they end the set with IN A MELLOTONE:

You don’t have to take it from me that Bob Havens is simply remarkable — the Douglas Fairbanks Sr. of the sliphorn.  Just look at the expressions on the faces of his colleagues.  I want to know what Bob eats (or doesn’t eat) for breakfast.  Surely we could all try it, too.

May your happiness increase.

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A JAZZ SHRINE, DEEPLY MISSED, FONDLY REMEMBERED

By the time I had become deeply involved in the world Eddie Condon and Milt Gabler had created for all time, it was in some ways too late.

I was able to see Eddie in person three times in 1972, but when I bought my remaindered copy of EDDIE CONDON’S WORLD OF JAZZ (in 1967) the Commodore Music Shop had already been replaced by some anonymous urban architecture.

So I am very grateful that the Hagley Library has posted photographs by Victor DePalma in its exhibition.  You’d hardly expect that “100 Years of Picturing the Nation’s Business: Photographs from the Collection of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America” would be so stirring, but what a delightful surprise.  DePalma’s photographs were first seen in a 1950 article in NATION’S BUSINESS (the magazine of the Chamber of Commerce) on, of all things, record collectors.

Here is the link.

And two of the photos — there are five on the site, so please do visit.

Were it there today, I would feel a deep urge to go in there and bow.  Reverently.  It’s not just the “records” — it’s the love of the music made tangible through the faith and enthusiasm of Milt and Eddie and their friends and families.

I think I have written more than once that I am a serious Commodorian (although raised as a secular Jew) . . . on my cork bulletin board at work, in fading green sleeves, I have JADA and TAPPIN’ THE COMMODORE TILL.  (When all seems dark, I gaze at those labels.)

This one’s for Maggie and Liza and all the men and women who make Commodore-flavored music to lift our spirits.

May your happiness increase.

MISS BILLIE HOLIDAY, 1954: A EUROPEAN SOUVENIR

from eBay — the original program for the concert that also featured Red Norvo, Beryl Booker, and Buddy DeFranco, JAZZ CLUB U.S.A.:

Then, we open it . . .

One of many famous photographs . . .

the four sets of the concert — no one following Miss Holiday . . .

and an advertising page.  Noel Coward has Amanda (in PRIVATE LIVES) say, “Extraordinary how potent cheap music is,” and no one would argue.  But there’s the power of pieces of paper, nearly sixty years old, reproduced for commercial purposes, to stir us — as if we could, through those pages, move right back to a concert hall in Germany and hear Miss Holiday sing.  Would that we could.

May your happiness increase.

FATS WALLER’S HAUTE CUISINE: “IT’S SIZZLING!”

This one is, of course, for my Dish.  But I won’t mind if you play or sing it to the man or woman you love.

Thanks to Bob Barta, master of sweet jazz lyricism (more about him soon) for introducing me to this song.  Lyrics by Harold Adamson, music by Jimmy McHugh (1937), it’s a fine pop tune that I have found room for in my heart.  Much of this is due to the culinary mastery of Fats Waller — once you’ve learned the tune, listen again to this record for him . . . not only for his leisurely opening chorus, which takes up one-third of the performance, but for his delicious singing and the way his piano supports and propels.  No wonder Ralph Sutton used to get angry at people who unthinkingly said he (Ralph) was “better than Fats.”  There wasn’t anyone better.

Find your napkin and be prepared to enjoy yourself:

“Yum yum yum!”

May your happiness increase.