I heard on NPR just yesterday that life expectancy for people living in New York City has now risen to slightly over eighty. That would make Marty Napoleon, who is 91, remarkable simply in actuarial terms. But Marty is splendidly remarkable for his music. He is one of the few people I could use the term “unique” about and not feel that I was doing the language an injustice. He was a splendidly swinging pianist when he made his first recordings in 1945, when he played with Gene Krupa and Red Allen; he swung the band when I heard him with Louis Armstrong in 1967 and when he astonished Harry Allen in the summer of 2012 at Feinstein’s.
Now there’s a trivia blossom in itself: how many musicians can you name who have delighted both Henry and Harry Allen?
Marty has made his home at the Regency in Glen Cove, New York — an “adult care facility,” and the Regency — with the help of some jazz angels — offered him a showcase on Friday, December 7, 2012.
He brought some swinging friends with him — Bill Crow, poet of string bass and pen, and the very warm-hearted drummer Ray Mosca. Here are a few of the highlights of that evening’s concert.
If this is 91, I want to be a rug-cutter in just this Napoleonic manner. Marty, Bill, and Ray rocked the room — as you will see and hear.
PLEASE DON’T TALK ABOUT ME WHEN I’M GONE (with the sweetly informal chat at the beginning — evidence of playfulness, not forgetfulness):
THE PREACHER (bringing churchy funk to Glen Cove!):
LOUIS ARMSTRONG MEDLEY, sweetly danceable:
A swinging CARAVAN:
Deep thanks to Beth, Stella, and Erika, who helped make this glorious evening of music happen; thanks to Neal, who knows where One is — and to Geri, one of the bright lights of our collective swinging soul.
Here’s a link to the Regency at Glen Cove — an embracing, comfortable place indeed.
May your happiness increase.