Daily Archives: April 6, 2013

FOUR FRIENDS SWING FOR US

My guess is that you might not have heard of these four fellows.  But that isn’t a terrible thing: I post this to remind people that gratifying improvised music is being created all over the world — not just by stars in concert halls and clubs in big cities.  Here’s a truly swinging version of CHEROKEE created by four fellows in Bologna, Italy, in July 2012:

Davide Brillante, guitar; Stefano Sorace, drums; Matteo Raggi, tenor saxophone;  Rob Beneventi, string bass.

They know how to pulse, how to lay it down in the most relaxed manner, how to intertwine and how to stay out of each others’ way — gentle convincing swing mastery!

I wish I could travel all over the world and meet musicians like this . . . it happens for me, but not as often as I would like.  BUT . . . Davide Brilliante will be visiting New York City this summer — so I hope some of my musician-readers find him on his Facebook page  and say, “Come on and sit in when you visit!”

May your happiness increase.

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DOES YOUR ICONIC VOICE DRIP WITH LIFE EXPERIENCE?

Billie Holiday’s iconic voice dripped with life experience, and with good reason. The jazz and blues star’s 44 short years were littered with rape, child prostitution, addiction, rehab, prison – and international recognition for being one of last century’s finest singers.

That is the opening of a news story in a UK paper — reviewing another singer’s Billie Holiday tribute.  Here it is: no invention.  I will ignore the prose, though the dripping and the littering suggest that a good tidying-up is needed.

But it raises the usual question for me.  Billie Holiday is perhaps the jazz artist most victimized by posthumous “adulation” I can think of, with Beiderbecke and Parker not far behind.

I know that people are fascinated by the dead — especially those dead men and women who lived dramatically.  And I was raised, as a writer, to think that biographical detail counts, that you can’t entirely be a New Critic and pretend that Keats didn’t die young, that Joseph Cornell didn’t have mad crushes on younger women, that Beverly Kenney did not kill herself.

But when so many searches on JAZZ LIVES are for information about Billie and drugs — not Billie and music — I despair.

For all of those eager people who cannot think of Lady Day without a needle stuck in her arm . . . I would prescribe a course of steady listening to ME, MYSELF, AND I — in both takes.

Could we admire the artist’s work, its beauty, its scope, instead of wanting to make her “iconic” — which means a doomed figure we can morbidly eat and drink?

What if we knew nothing of any artist’s personal life, that he or she had lived in died in serene anonymity?  Would the art still be life-enhancing?

Where does adulation stop and voyeurism (out of whatever motives) begin?

What do we want of these dead people we say we love?

May your happiness increase. 

“LINGER AWHILE”: TIM LAUGHLIN, CONNIE JONES, CHLOE FEORANZO, MIKE PITTSLEY, HAL SMITH, KATIE CAVERA, MARTY EGGERS, CHRIS DAWSON at SAN DIEGO (Nov. 25, 2012)

Here’s that lovely band again, with a youthful guest star who fits right in.  Tim Laughlin, clarinet; Connie Jones, cornet / vocal; Mike Pittsley, trombone; Chris Dawson, piano; Katie Cavera, guitar; Marty Eggers, string bass; Hal Smith, drums, and Chloe Feoranzo, clarinet / tenor.  Recorded at the San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Festival, now the San Diego Jazz Fest, on November 23, 2012.

The tune list reminds me of an imagined Eden — Eddie Condon’s in the late Fifties.  A few old-fashioned singable pop hits of the Twenties, some “Chicago jazz,” Morton, Beiderbecke, Carmichael, Handy, Charles Ellsworth Russell.  A perfectly balanced diet: ask any swing nutritionist.

LINGER AWHILE:

PEE WEE’S BLUES:

WOLVERINE BLUES:

SINGIN’ THE BLUES:

THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE:

BEALE STREET BLUES (how splendidly Connie — the great storyteller — sings this!):

AVALON:

NEW ORLEANS:

I’ve written a good deal about this band — whose music thrills me every time — but I’d like to point out a few things: the way Tim and Chloe intertwine, and his beautiful low register and her energies.  Marty’s unerring pulse and big fat notes! The beautiful introductions Chris creates.  How Hal keeps everyone on track, and his wonderful sounds.  Katie’s delicious acousticism!  Mike’s intelligent, intuitive ensemble work, and conversational solos.  And Connie’s poignancy. Beautiful tempos that never seem too fast or too slow: music for dancing, for dreaming, for uplifting the heart.

LINGER AWHILE isn’t just a song title here; it’s a gracious invitation into deep mysteries of beauty, accessible to everyone but nearly impossible to reproduce.

May your happiness increase.