Daily Archives: October 19, 2012

“TEA FOR TWO”: LYNN STEIN with HARRY ALLEN, MIKE GREENSILL, FRANK TATE, PETE SIERS (Jazz at Chautauqua, Sept. 20, 2012)

Singer Lynn Stein (happy as happy can be) takes us on an ambitious and sweet adventure through what might be the most venerable standard in the Jazz Book — from 1922.  Her friends along the way are Harry Allen, tenor saxophone; Mike Greensill, piano; Frank Tate, string bass; Pete Siers, drums.

It’s clear that there are no “old tunes” when the material is treated with energy, amusement, and feeling.

May your happiness increase.

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THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS: 1928-29 KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE RADIO BROADCAST

Thanks to Vince Giordano and Rich Conaty (who have given us so much, so generously, and continue to do so) for this amazing bit of time-travel:  silent film footage recorded at a Knoxville, Tennessee radio broadcast of Maynard Baird and his Southern Serenaders, and the Tennessee Ramblers.

You could spend a lovely nostalgic time just enjoying the fashions of the crowd, their happy faces (where are those cheerful girls now?  Oh, we know . . . ), the way the musicians are set up on the stand, the girl trio all holding their hands demurely clasped at their waists, the rollicking string band, the child dancer whose skinny legs are moving so fast they blur . . . I don’t know why the footage ends up with shots of elegant furniture, but what came before was an emotional banquet — a look into a vanished time.

I could swear I saw Andy Schumm and Josh Duffee in the crowd . . .

And, yes, I know many of you are poised to write, “If only it had sound.”  I agree.  But it doesn’t.  And its silence leaves us immense room to fill in what it might have sounded like . . . so we can turn an absence into a great gift.  Or at least may I suggest the possibility?

May your happiness increase.

BEAUTY IN THE PARLOR: JOHN SHERIDAN at JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA (Sept. 21, 2012)

John Sheridan is a wonderful pianist (also arranger, composer, deep listener and jazz thinker).  He is so dependable that I hope he doesn’t get overlooked in favor of more mercurial, showy improvisers.

But you could wake John in the middle of the night, say, “Get dressed.  Your country needs you to swing right now,” and he would be do it.  Sheridan is apparently tough on the outside (although polite) but a tender-hearted romantic on the inside.  In the black-and-white 1931 crime film unreeling in my head, he is Cagney’s pal, a ferocious cop who gives money to the orphans.

But you don’t have to get distracted by my analogies.  Rather, listen to the man play — as he did on Friday, September 21, 2012, at Jazz at Chautauqua.

Henry Nemo’s very lovely song ‘TIS AUTUMN (always appropriate but chronologically so on Sept. 21, 2012):

A small suite for Bix.  First, his IN THE DARK:

Then, the justly famous IN A MIST:

A romantic interlude from the pre-GPS era, thanks to Frank Loesser, LET’S GET LOST:

From GUYS AND DOLLS, more from Loesser, I’VE NEVER BEEN IN LOVE BEFORE:

And a Bob Zurke romp — all that motion in two minutes flat!  EYE OPENER:

If your eyes are not open by now, go back to the beginning — da capo al fine — and savor what John does so beautifully!

May your happiness increase.

YES, DO TRY THIS AT HOME: “SKINNY MINNE,” by GLENN CRYTZER and his SYNCOPATORS

If you’re at home while you’re reading this post, take a moment to look around you.  If you’re elsewhere, close your eyes and visualize your home and the largest room of your house or apartment.  (If you’re reading this on your phone while walking, I wish you wouldn’t.  But enough of that.)

Now, look at this picture.

Imagine that your place has suddenly been transformed into a swing-dance sock hop (or, if you prefer, the dancers can keep their Capezios on).

Impossible, you say.

Highly possible, I tell you.  No, you probably can’t make your studio apartment larger, and the neighbors below would get restive if you brought in all these Peabodying friends.  But the transformation can be done musically with the help of a small plastic artifact weighing around an ounce:

Yes, the new CD by Glenn Crytzer and his Syncopators, SKINNY MINNE, recorded live on May 4 and 5 at the Midwest Lindy Fest in Minneapolis (hence the title) has just that effect.  I know the idea bends time and space and delivers an uppercut to the laws of physics, but when Swing is concerned, it trumps anything you learned in high school science class.  And this CD is all about the many colors and flavors of Swing.

The Syncopators are Steve Mostavoy, trumpet; Evan Arntzen, reeds; Solomon Douglas, piano; Glenn Crytzer, guitar; Steve Pikal, string bass; Mike Daugherty, drums; Meschiya Lake, vocals.

And, typically, they mix fresh readings of venerable songs (with roots in Count Basie, Fats Waller, Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, Illinois Jacquet, Artiie Shaw, Coleman Hawkins, Duke Ellington, and Sidney Bechet) with originals that are so deeply idiomatic that they are both delicious surprises and totally in the groove(s).  And Meschiya’s singing is as rich, smoky, and enticing as ever.

The songs are ONE O’CLOCK JUMP / J’ATTENDRAI / SKINNY MINNE / BOTTOMS UP / THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER / THE SAD SACK / YACHT CLUB SWING / BLUE SPIRIT BLUES / JACQUET IN THE BOX / EL SALON DE GUTBUCKET / THE GRABTOWN GRAPPLE / DEEP DOWN IN CAROLINE / C JAM BLUES / HOP, SKIP AND JUMP / EGYPTIAN FANTASY / BLUES FOR NORMA / IT DON’T MEAN A THING (IF IT AIN’T GOT THAT SWING).

And because this music was recorded live at a Lindy Fest, the band is especially loose and animated . . . there’s none of that constriction that sometimes befalls musicians in the recording studio where they can’t see each other, they hear each other through headphones, and they are understandably xonxerned that no mistakes be made.  You’ll hear what it sounded like to be there: an immense asset!

To effect this magic in your own home, which translates as “To order the CD,”  click here.  Once you’re on Glenn’s site, you can hear samples of the music he has created on three compact discs.

May your happiness increase.