Saturday, December 1, 2012, was a wonderful day (they all are, if you have the right approach to them) but the evening was even better . . . I was fortunate enough to be uptown for the CD release party held at Columbia University. The party was honoring the Grand Street Stompers on the occasion of their new CD, CHRISTMAS STOMP. And STOMP they did. (Learn more about that very pleasing CD here.)
For those of you who couldn’t take the A train (thank you, Billy Strayhorn) or drive uptown, here are some highlights of this most swinging, mobile evening. The participants: Gordon Au on trumpet / arrangements / compositions; Matt Musselman, trombone; Dennis Lichtman, clarinet; Davy Mooney, guitar; Jared Engel, string bass; Rich Levinson, drums; Tamar Korn, Molly Ryan, vocals — with guest appearances from the amazing dancer Andrew J. Nemr, clarinetist Dan Levinson, saxophonist Adam Lee, singer Margaret Gianquinto, and more.
Before we start,a caveat (nicely browned for the holiday season). The music is wonderful; my videos are somewhat below-par for reasons that anyone who has been in a large hall filled with wonderfully graceful dancers will recognize. An event such as this (thank you, Lucy!) is organized for the comfort and pleasure of the people who not only know what the Peabody is but are able to do . . . the world is not my sound stage. Knowing this, I took up a position at the rear of the hall — a happy observer — and recorded what I saw. In situations such as this, I think, “This is what it was like at the edge of the Savoy Ballroom,” and any discontent vanishes. Perhaps next year someone will lend me a crane or at least a stepladder and a longer tripod. Or not. Here are the marvelous swirling delights I saw and heard on December 1.
I don’t know if it was because of his essential courtly modesty that Gordon called I MAY BE WRONG to start the evening. More probably it was because that song (in 1934) became the theme song of the Apollo Theatre, and we were uptown:
WINTER WONDERLAND always used to be formulaic December-it’s-the -holidays-music until I heard Louis sing it with accompaniment / arrangement by Gordon Jenkins . . . . Here Molly Ryan, fetching in green, steps up to the vocal microphone and reminds us just how pretty this simple 1931 song is:
Some might presume that IT’S A SIN TO TELL A LIE (recorded memorably by Mr. Waller) was appropriate because of Santa’s ethical police, but I think swing candor is always valuable. And Molly sings it without any didacticism:
WHEN I TAKE MY SUGAR TO TEA may have been the first song I ever heard Tamar Korn (all keyed up here, in red) sing. Her improvisations on the theme remain memorable, sweet, tart, and hot:
Following in the holiday footsteps of Mister Strong, Tamar pretends to be a little anxious, asking the seasonal question, ‘ZAT YOU, SANTA CLAUS?:
And Tamar and the band offer Gordon’s whimsical sweet feline love song, CRAZY EYES:
More to come! For now, if you’ve enjoyed these experiments in Cinema Very Tea, you’re sure to enjoy the real thing: learn more about the actual CD (a winner no matter what the calendar says) here.
May your happiness increase.