Matthias Seuffert, that splendid chameleon so adept at becoming others while retaining his own shining identity, did it yet again at the 2012 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party — honoring Benny Carter in swinging, eloquent ways. If you go back to the earliest and latest recordings in this set, it covers a thirty-year period beginning in 1931 . . . and looks fondly at memorable sessions with Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson, Sidney Catlett, Coleman Hawkins, Jo Jones, Roy Eldridge, and other luminaries.
Matthias’ swinging cohorts here are Rene Hagmann, cornet (summoning up Carter’s elegantly astonishing trumpet work), Martin Litton, who had easily become Teddy Wilson earlier in the Party; Alistair Allan, nimbly filling out the ensembles and adding a fine Swing Era flavor; Spats Langham, guitar; Henri Lemaire, string bass; Richard Pite, marshaling forces in subtle unity.
JUST A MOOD — on paper, just a simple line, but the results are so elegant, living up to the title:
SMACK — evoking the 1940 “Chocolate Dandies” Fletcher Henderson-alumni session for Commodore Records. Matthias wasn’t looking at me while I was behind the camera, but the grin on his face during Martin Litton’s solo must have mirrored mine:
BLUE INTERLUDE — going back to the 1933 “Dandies” session, tenderly, with sweetly heroic playing from Rene and Martin over a delicious rhythm section sweep, leading up to a marvelous evocation of The King by Matthias:
DOOZY — a swinging blues created at the 1961 “Further Definitions” session. A “doozy” is defined as something extraordinary — true enough here:
BLUES IN MY HEART — a lyrical masterpiece Carter returned to often, and this version summons up a divine trio of Benny, Art Tatum, and Louis Bellson, with Martin Litton and Richard Pite hailing the departed giants:
WHEN LIGHTS ARE LOW — with the correct changes for the bridge — great swinging fun:
This set was a great highlight — not only of the 2012 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party — but of the year. A tribute to The King by some of his most regal subjects!
And, not incidentally, tickets are still available here for the 2013 Party . . . but I can’t guarantee that this will always be the case.
May your happiness increase.