Daily Archives: December 22, 2012

LET ME OFF UPTOWN FOR THE HOLIDAYS (Part Two): “CHRISTMAS STOMP” with GORDON AU’S GRAND STREET STOMPERS (Columbia University, December 1, 2012)

It bears repeating.

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.)

GSS cover

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 Margi 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 remaining marvelous swirling delights I saw and heard on December 1.

It wasn’t wintry outdoors, but Tamar feels it’s always a pleasure to sing I’VE GOT MY LOVE TO KEEP ME WARM:

Moving along in the “I’ve got” cardfile, she beautifully delivers Fats’ I’VE GOT A FEELIN’ I’M FALLING:

Molly comes back for IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS:

O HOLY NIGHT is not the vehicle one associates with high-energy jazz, nor with elegantly forceful tap dancing, but when Gordon Au and the Grand Street Stompers meet the wizard Andrew J. Nemr, magic happens.  I only wish I had been at a better angle to focus on those airborne feet.  Next time:

Molly, typically well-behaved, tells of holiday adulteries in I SAW MOMMY KISSING SANTA CLAUS.  Let us avert our eyes from this potentially lascivious scene — when the Grand Street Stompers play, we get the presents:

The Three Graces — Molly, Tamar, and Margi — give out with a very sweet WHITE CHRISTMAS:

Victor Herbert never knew his MARCH OF THE TOYS could look and sound like this:

AIN’T MISBEHAVIN is a way to welcome Adam Lee, Lucy Weinman, and Dan Levinson to the holiday stomp:

For the finale, everyone throws caution to the wind — at least metaphysically — for LET YOURSELF GO:

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.

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LESTER YOUNG, VICTIMIZED: “PLAGIARIZIN’ THE DEVIL”

I have a number of Google Alerts for the improvisers I love. This just came up under LESTER YOUNG.  As a jazz fan and academic horrified by plagiarism, I find it both sad and ludicrous.

Now, students can buy a term paper on Lester here.  And, if that were not enough, it is in the category BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT.  The way such term-papers-for-sale sites work is that they offer the “student” the first paragraph of the essay for free and then — should someone’s intellectual curiosity come to a full boil or should the essay be due on Tuesday — the whole essay may be purchased for a price.

Here’s the free part:

Lester Young was born in 1909 in the New Orleans area. This was a good thing for Lester; As New Orleans is the birth place of Jazz. And his father, Willis Handy Young, was a versatile musician who taught all of his children instruments and formed a family band. Lester studied violin, trumpet and drums for a time. But by the age 13 he would settle on Alto Saxophone. The oldest of three children, Lester toured with the family band for some time, often getting into disputes with his father. While touring the vaudeville circuit and carnivals, Lester grew increasingly uneasy about touring the Segregated South as well. All of this eventually came to a head, and Lester left the family Band in 1927. After Leaving, he spent the following year touring with Art Bronson’s Bostonians. While with them he took up tenor saxophone. However this was short –lived, and by 1929, Lester returned to his family in New Mexico. But then, when his family moved to California, he chose to stay behind. Lester eventually found himself performing briefly with different people and bands. In 1930, for a short while, he played with Walter Pages Blue Devils. And afterwards, wound up playing again with Art Bronson, but again, only for a while. He went on to settle in Minneapolis, where he played during 1931 with Eddie Barefield and various leaders at the Nest Club. By the time 1932 rolled around, Lester joined the thirteen original Blue Devils, and while touring with them, he met Charlie Christian. The Band would later disband in the middle of 1933. Making Kansas City his base, young went on to play with the likes of the Bennie Moten-George E. Lee Band, Clarence Love, King Oliver. On one December night, he even got to play with Fletcher Henderson, who was on tour with his star saxophonist, Coleman Hawkins.

In 1934 Lester joined the Count Basie band, an association that would eventually lead to national recognition, but by March of that year, he…

I can’t tell you what the rest of the paper — four pages, 964 words — is or what it costs.  To do so would require that I join Term Paper Warehouse, and I’ll pass on that tempting opportunity.  But I do know what Bessie Smith would have said about all of this, and it isn’t “Gee, that’s swell!”

Lester said he never wanted to be a “repeater pencil.”  Too bad that in death his biography — in microwaveable portions — is up for sale.

May your happiness increase.

I’VE GOT SIXPENCE . . .

but I’d rather hear the Boswell Sisters sing this song.  Here’s a lovely souvenir of their 1935 visit to the United Kingdom.  Thank you, eBay!

WHEN I GROW TOO OLD Boswells UK

And when I grow too old to dream — I hope this doesn’t happen — I’ll still remember Connie, Vet, and Martha.  I promise.

May your happiness increase.