Daily Archives: January 1, 2013

TENDER QUESTIONS: LENA BLOCH, DAN TEPFER, DAVE MILLER, BILLY MINTZ at THE FIREHOUSE SPACE (Dec. 9, 2012)

A chilly damp December night in Brooklyn — but The Firehouse Space was warmed by the inquiring music of Lena Bloch, tenor saxophone; Dan Tepfer, piano; Dave Miller, guitar; Billy Mintz, drums.

Rather than treat this grouping of players and voices in a traditional way (ensemble line, solos, drum fours, ensemble), Lena, Dan, Dave, and Billy approached this set as an opportunity to ask questions of the music, to sweetly probe the possibilities of four improvisers on the same stand.  So the music seemed a series of inquiries and hypothetical questions given substance: “What would happen if you and I conversed in this manner for a time?”

And the results were deeply rewarding.  It was a privilege to be there and equally a privilege to be able to share this music with you.  If you expect the expected, the brave explorations of this quartet may surprise . . . but their respect for the music comes through in every note and rest, every solo and improvised colloquy.

The enigmatic title of Lena’s composition, HIGH POINT OF FLAT HILLS, has an intriguing explanation.  You’ll have to ask her at her next gig (January 31, 2013):

Variations on OUT OF NOWHERE:

The occasionally mournful reharmonization of the familiar STAR EYES:

The sweet, searching question: HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN?:

Lena’s own 33:

Improvisations on WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE / SUBCONSCIOUS-LEE (which Lee Konitz tells everyone was not his title):

Testing the waters, taking chances gently, experimenting with new combinations, flavors, textures, essences . . . .

May your happiness increase.

START THE NEW YEAR HOT: REMEMBERING LOVIE AUSTIN at WHITLEY BAY 2012 (RENE HAGMANN, THOMAS WINTELER, JENS LINDGREN, MARTIN LITTON, ROLY VEITCH, JOSH DUFFEE)

Lovie Austin

Doe anyone mind my beginning the new year (January 1, 2013) with some hot jazz — obscure songs played energetically by the best musicians?  I thought not.

Who remembers Lovie Austin (1887-1972) today?  I would bet that her name is not familiar to many, but she led bands that accompanied many of the greatest blues singers, including Ma Rainey and Ida Cox.  Austin impressed no less a person than Mary Lou Williams, who remembered her in 1977:

“When I was between 8 or 10 years of age (1918 or 1920), my stepfather and my brother-in-law, Hugh Floyd, often took me to dances and theatres to listen to musicians. Well, there was a T.O.B.A theatre in Pittsburgh where all black entertainers came. I remember seeing this great woman sitting in the pit and conducting a group of five or six men, her legs crossed, a cigarette in her mouth, playing the show with her left hand and writing music with her right. Wow! I never forgot this episode… My entire concept was based on the few times I was around Lovie Austin. She was a fabulous woman and a fabulous musician too. I don’t believe there’s a woman around now who could compete with her. She was a greater talent than many of the men of this period.”

Ninety years after Austin’s greatest fame, a small hot group assembled at the 2012 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party to pay her tribute and play some less-familiar repertoire as well.

The fellows in the band?  Rene Hagmann, multi-instrumentalist, here on cornet; Thomas Winteler, clarinet / soprano saxophone; Martin Litton, piano; Roly Veitch, guitar / banjo; Josh Duffee, drums / washboard.

TRAVELLIN’ BLUES:

CHICAGO MESS AROUND:

GALLION STOMP:

FROG TONGUE STOMP:

Let’s hope for a swinging, creative 2013!  (And check out the details for this year’s Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party here.

May your happiness increase.