Monthly Archives: April 2013

THE “JAZZ LIVES” CUSTOMER SERVICE WINDOW IS NOW OPEN TO DEAL WITH YOUR QUESTIONS

1.  Michael, are you in New York or in California?

That is not an easy question.  Email me at swingyoucats@gmail.com for my precise co-ordinates, updated minute by minute.  We’re working out a deal with the Doppler radar people on The Weather Channel . . . stay tuned.

2.  Why do you post so many videos?  I can’t keep up with them.  I’m overwhelmed.  It seems as though there must be two of you.

I’m sorry.  Creating stress was never my intent.  But I know all things are finite.  People, too.  Someday I won’t be able or won’t be around to do this, and some of my favorite musicians might join me . . . so I am doing what gives me pleasure now.  People who subscribe to JAZZ LIVES are under no obligation to watch or read everything . . . as long as the internet exists, I hope it will be here for you when you choose to catch up.  And there’s only one of me, which is a good thing in a one-bedroom apartment.

3.  Why don’t you post anything by my favorite band?

A blog is — for better or worse — an expression of personal taste.   I fully acknowledge that and even embrace it.  If you feel that the Caffeinated Hot Shots O’Rhythm aren’t sufficiently represented in cyberspace, I encourage you to start a blog and post some videos — the internet is wide and broad enough to encompass many people and many kinds of music.  If you’d like advice on how to create a WordPress blog, I will be happy to offer some.  

3a.  Musician X doesn’t appeal to me at all.  How can you post such stuff on your blog?  That’s not “jazz”!

See 3.  And for those viewers who find my taste annoying, I choose the restaurant analogy.  If a restaurant you have often eaten in has a dish you deplore — liver and onions, say —  on the menu as one of the daily specials, do you stalk out of the restaurant in a huff?  Perhaps you could pick something else on the menu rather than being annoyed at the chef.  And I’d rather not spend my time on the planet debating what “jazz” is . . . I’d rather do what I’m doing now.  It gives me immense pleasure.

May your happiness increase.

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BE GLAD YOU ARE ALIVE AND HAVE EARS AND EYES TO HEAR AND SEE (THE CONTINUING SAGA OF GRATITUDE IN 4/4): SARA LAMHARZI, JASON VANDERFORD, CLINT BAKER

Two fellows and a gal in the park . . . something special, sweet music and sweet images for us.  Thanks to Sara Lamharzi (videographer); Jason Vanderford (banjo, vocal); Clint Baker (cornet, clarinet).

We hope for more beautiful music, so neatly captured on film — visit Sara’s YouTube channel here.

WHAT CAN I SAY, DEAR (AFTER I SAY I’M SORRY)?:

IN THE SHADE OF THE OLD APPLE TREE:

Oh, are we grateful!

May your happiness increase.

FOR NEW FOUND HAIR BEAUTY, 1945

Leave it to that intrepid scout Austin J. Casey to give JAZZ LIVES readers the ultimate fashion advice — courtesy of Hot Lips Page (and the Baltimore Afro American in 1945):

Hot Lips hair ad (1)

I feel beautified already.  Don’t you?

May your happiness increase.

GLIDING ALOFT: LENA BLOCH, FRANK CARLBERG, DAVE MILLER, BILLY MINTZ at The Finland Center (April 13, 2013)

Sometimes the best music presents us with the answers: This is how it is, and this is how it should be.  Other musical explorations seem to ask Beethoven’s question: Must it be?  Or perhaps What lies beyond?

The quartet of musicians who enlarged our horizons on April 13, 2013, at the Finland Center, asked the latter question — sweetly, not abrasively — and let us compose our own answers.  They are Lena Bloch, tenor saxophone; Frank Carlberg, keyboard; Billy Mintz, drums; Dave Miller, guitar.

I invite you to join their inquiries, to allow their music to lift you aloft.

Monk’s WE SEE:

Lena’s HIGH POINT:

Billy’s FLIGHT:

Berlin’s series of questions, HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN?:

Ted Brown’s FEATHER BED:

Lena’s TWO OCEANS OF MADNESS:

Dave’s RUBATO:

And the concert ended ALL TOO SOON:

All of these fine vibrations were created by these four eminent courageous players . . . but we also thank Janna Rehnstrom of the Finland Center Foundation for giving this music a home — for establishing a regular concert series here, at the Salmagundi Club, 47 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York — details here.

May your happiness increase.

BEAUTY AT THE BICKFORD (Part Three): RANDY REINHART, MARK SHANE, JAMES CHIRILLO, BRIAN NALEPKA, KEVIN DORN (April 8, 2013)

Here’s Part One and here’s Part Two of this glorious — although understated — musical experience that we had at the Bickford Theatre in Morristown, New Jersey.  Thanks to Randy Reinhart, Mark Shane, James Chirillo, Brian Nalepka, Kevin Dorn, and Bruce Gast for the good feelings and uplifting sounds.

ONE HOUR (a solo for Mark):

ATLANTA BLUES, also known as MAKE ME A PALLET ON (THE) YOUR FLOOR:

A very charming medley from MY FAIR LADY, delivered by our fair James:

CRAZY RHYTHM, where Brian shows us what that rhythm can do:

And a rousing closer — PANAMA:

My only regret is that there isn’t a Part Four, Five, onwards.  But I am grateful for the pleasures of this evening, and Bruce Gast has a number of fine jazz evenings planned for the future.  Check out the details in Part One or Two — worth the trip!

May your happiness increase.

CATHERINE RUSSELL SWINGS! WE SWAY (April 25, 2013)

We hold these truths to be self-evident.  Catherine Russell is a serious creator of joy — part of the pursuit of happiness.

She proved it again last night in her first set at Dizzy’s Club Coca C0la (part of Jazz at Lincoln Center, high above the Manhattan panorama).  Catherine had four of her friends in sweet support: Mark Shane, piano; Matt Munisteri, guitar and six-string banjo; Lee Hudson, string bass; Mark McLean, drums.  Their hour-long performance was varied, satisfying, light-hearted, and deep.

Much of her repertoire comes from two places: the blues, naughty, sad or springtly, from the Twenties to the Fifties; swing tunes from the great golden age.  So Catherine gave us the blues by singing songs associated with Lil Green, Little Willie John, Dinah Washington, Wynonie Harris (ROMANCE IN THE DARK, I’m STICKIN’ TO YOU, MY MAN’S AN UNDERTAKER, and WHISKEY ON THE SHELF), moving from deep intimacy to mock-threat to a Dionysiac rent party.

In her swing mode, she romped through SHAKE THAT THING, EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY, invited us into a cab for DROP ME OFF IN HARLEM, made the room tilt with Ida Cox’s YOU GOT TO SWING AND SWAY and the Ellington-Strayhorn I’M CHECKIN’ OUT, GOOM-BYE.  (Had Catherine been born a hundred years ago, she would be one of the deities of the Swing Era.)

But there’s a third side to Catherine that might be overlooked — that she is a peerless singer of love ballads — whether the object of devotion is a landscape (the touching EV’NTIDE by Hoagy Carmichael for Louis Armstrong) or a person (LUCILLE, written by Catherine’s father, pianist Luis Russell, for Louis to sing about his wife).  In these songs, we heard a deep vein of tenderness, of love without irony being conveyed directly through Catherine’s voice.

And what a voice!  She moves from a dark lower register to a trumpetlike delivery, rising to gospel / rhythm ‘n’ blues drama at her top.  It’s a delight to hear her deliver a melody, apparently as written, but with subtle reshapings that deliver it anew, improvising in ways that always serve the song.  Catherine’s swing quartet was simply delightful — starting the evening with a rocking yet leisurely exploration of ROSETTA — masters at play.

Here she is in March — with the Bohem Ragtime Jazz Band in Hungary and the great trumpeter Herbert Christ — offering us the NEW CALL OF THE FREAKS (reaching back to father Luis Russell’s searing hot band of 1929-30.  students of lyric poetry will also want to memorize the refrain: “Stick out your can / Here comes the garbage man,” words to live by:

Catherine is a treasure.  Her stint at Dizzy’s is from Thursday, April 25, to Sunday, the 28th.  She turns timid, quiet audiences into swing enthusiasts — in the most delicious subtle ways.

May your happiness increase.

FIVE LESSONS IN SWING: JOEL PRESS, TARDO HAMMER, SEAN SMITH, STEVE LITTLE at SMALLS (April 6, 2013)

Saxophone master Joel Press has decided to spend his time in New York City, and that’s very good news.  He’s an original — a soft-voiced player who can growl and moan in the best Southwestern tradition (even when it has been assimilated through Boston) but often prefers to ride the rhythm, uttering tender, looping lines.  While remaining himself, he encompasses the whole tradition — with nods to Sonny Rollins and Bud Freeman, to Herschel Evans and Lester Young.

A few weeks ago, Joel led a wonderful quartet at Smalls (183 West Tenth Street in Greenwich Village) with Tardo Hammer on piano; Sean Smith, string bass; Steve Little, drums.

THAT OLD FEELING:

THERE IS NO GREATER LOVE:

GONE WITH THE WIND:

LOVER MAN:

Bb BLUES:

New York is lucky to have you back, Joel.  Thanks for the beautiful floating sounds!

May your happiness increase.