Monthly Archives: May 2013

BENNY, BUDDY, BUCKY, JIMMY, JACK, MERV

Don Robertson pointed out this video on Facebook: perhaps it is new to you, as it was to me.

Nothing complicated: Benny Goodman and Buddy Rich playing together for the first time in thirty years, with Jimmy Rowles, piano; Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar; Jack Six, string bass — on the Merv Griffin Show in 1979.  The songs — nothing complicated there, either — AS LONG AS I LIVE and I GOT RHYTHM.  The “Sextet”: someone’s math was off that night.

Benny is in splendid form; Buddy, grinning wildly, offers masterful support and heroically beautiful brushwork throughout; Bucky and Jack are indispensably generous in their swing-pulse.

But what draws my attention throughout is Jimmy (I think he preferred “Jimmie,” so I apologize to him) Rowles.  Once you’ve heard / seen the video once and admired the Stars, I beseech you to go back and listen solely to the piano.

THAT may not be the only way to play the piano — I am not going to be narrowly didactic here — but Rowles so beautifully fuses the worlds of 1940 Lester, Basie, Duke, and Ben, with the later worlds of Miles and Bird, Dizzy and Roach.  And he always sounds like no one else.

Initially, you might say of a Rowles phrase or accent or voicing, “What is he doing?” and then it becomes both inevitable, perfectly right, and a choice only he could have made.  It is the very opposite of formulaic playing; listening to him provides us with a series of lovely small gifts — “How did you know that was exactly what we wanted?”  I miss Jimmie Rowles.  I do.

Listen again.

This one’s for Michael Kanan.

May your happiness increase.

OUR BECKY, HER NEW YORK: REBECCA KILGORE, DAN BARRETT, EHUD ASHERIE at SMALLS, April 28, 2013

Everyone in the know was excited that Rebecca Kilgore, our Becky, Miz Roo, was coming to New York and New Jersey for a short stop at the end of April 2013.  Before heading off to the UK for the Norwich Jazz Party, she and Dan Barrett had one gig at Smalls, one glorious evening with Rossano Sportiello and friends at Carnegie Hall (!), and another intimate evening at Shanghai Jazz.

The Beloved and I attended the first two . . . and I brought my camera to Smalls (183 West Tenth Street, Greenwich Village, New York).  I’ve adjusted the videos so that Becky, pianist Ehud Asherie, and trombonist Dan appear to be performing in a light-hearted version of film noir . . . but the music shines brightly in a rainbow of colors!

Here, incidentally, is what I wrote in anticipation of Miss Becky’s visit.

And here are five glorious performances from that Smalls triumph in swing . . . with a few more to come!  Our Becky swings sweetly, offers nuances and shadings that surprise, move, and enlighten.  She makes us smile — under a baking spotlight, in the middle of two great jazz extroverts, in front of a portrait of Louis, smiling for good reason.

The Beloved and I weren’t the only ones paying close delighted attention: the room was full of singers: Marianne Solivan, Hilary Gardner, Molly Ryan, Yaala Ballin, Petra van Nuis — as well as friends of the Jazz Bears: Justin, Danny, and Kristin; Jeanie Wilson beamed at us; Bill and Sonya Dunham made sure everyone behaved well; Stompy Jones and Maxine were there in spirit, too.

THOU SWELL:

I HEAR MUSIC:

I DON’T STAND A GHOST OF A CHANCE WITH YOU:

TEA FOR TWO:

GONE WITH THE WIND:

What extraordinary music!

May your happiness increase.

EXPLORING FROM THE OUTSIDE IN: LUCIANO TROJA, GIANCARLO MAZZÙ, BLAISE SIWULA at the CASA ITALIANA (April 29, 2013)

Here’s what I wrote in anticipation of the April 29 concert appearance of guitarist Giancarlo, pianist Luciano, and special guest saxophonist Blaise Siwula at New York University’s Casa Italiana.  I had expected wise, playful inquiries into jazz standards in the manner of Jimmy Rowles and Joe Pass, of Rowles and Al Cohn.  I wasn’t disappointed, but the music was at such a gloriously high level while seeming the most casual amused conversation amid friends.  And they usually began someplace far from an orthodox melody statement — but as if tentatively approaching the familiar from a distance — worked their way to the familiar.  I alternated between being moved and being ready to burst out laughing — not a bad combination.

Luciano began with a short solo piano tribute to the recently departed composer Earl Zindars (you know his compositions because of the love Bill Evans had for Zindars’ music): MOTHER OF EARL and ROSES FOR ANNIG.  (For a whole CD of such lovely music, look for Luciano’s AT HOME WITH ZINDARS):

Giancarlo — master of unusual tonalities, from the near-acoustic murmurings of a mandolin-strumming gondolier to the more familiar electric spectrum —  joined him for BUT NOT FOR ME:

SOFTLY, AS IN A MORNING SUNRISE:

AUTUMN LEAVES:

A marvelously elliptical MY FUNNY VALENTINE for the trio:

Their transformation of BYE BYE BLACKBIRD:

ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE:

TAKE THE “A” TRAIN, their tribute to New York City:

As an encore, YOU AND THE NIGHT AND THE MUSIC:

I have a new CD by the duo — recorded live at New York’s Metropolitan Room in 2012 — and I will report on its pleasures and queries soon.  I also gather that the duo has recorded a yet-unreleased CD of songs associated with Fred Astaire.  I can’t wait for that — I am sure it continues their playful, warm, even romantic explorations of those songs we think we know so well.

May your happiness increase!

THE BRAIN CLOUD ENERGIZES BROOKLYN! (April 26, 2013): THE FIRST SET

The BRAIN CLOUD is a cooking Western Swing-plus band composed of Dennis Lichtman, clarinet, electric mandolin, fiddle; Tamar Korn, vocals; Raphael McGregor, lap steel guitar; Skip Krevens, guitar; Andrew Hall, string bass; Kevin Dorn, drums — and for this splendid CD release concert on April 26, 2013, at the Jalopy Theatre in Brooklyn, they were joined by guests Noam Pikelny, banjo; Rob Hecht, fiddle; Michael Gomez, guitar.

Dennis and company are deeply into the music — but they are not “playing old records”; rather, they bring their own idiosyncratic personalities to the material.  And even if you are not terribly receptive to “Western Swing,” fearing that the first word overwhelms the latter, I urge you to put your preconceptions in the bathroom medicine chest and simply listen — I predict you will be delighted.  Jazz fans will hear echoes of Floyd Smith and Charlie Christian, of Count Basie and Benny Goodman — all synthesized in the most natural way in 2013 music that has an arresting but loving impact.

Here’s the first set.

ALMOST TO TULSA:

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN (what witty lyrics!):

TRIGGER BLUES (featuring an impromptu duet between Tamar and Andrew, with hints of MY DADDY ROCKS ME):

The classic I AIN’T GOT NOBODY, with Rob Hecht and Noam Pikelny joining in:

The very sweet MAIDEN’S PRAYER:

I SLEEP WITH ONE EYE OPEN:

Patsy Cline’s love-lament I’VE GOT YOUR PICTURE:

SUGAR BLUES, with Michael Gomez joining in:

WHEN YOU WORE A TULIP:

The concert was uplifting in the nicest ways — worth the walk in the darkness over the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway!

I should point out that this was also a CD release party, so don’t let the videos produce forgetfulness . . . the new CD, OUTSIDE LOOKING IN, is a delight that stands alongside the videos for pure pleasure.  You can order OUTSIDE LOOKING IN as a CD, download, or vinyl record (why not get all three and be safe?) at braincloud.

THE BRAIN CLOUD

May your happiness increase!

BRILLIANT PLAYERS!: MARIANNE SOLIVAN and MICHAEL KANAN at SMALLS (April 21, 2013): THE FIRST SET

Genius at work.  Brilliance at play.  Two artists so confident and playful that they inspire each other to take risks, risks that come off.  Watching the singer Marianne Solivan and the pianist Michael Kanan in duet is rather like watching great athletes, actors, or dancers — so sure of their immersion in the art that courage and wit come naturally to them.

Here’s the first set of a completely inspiring duo-performance at Smalls (183 West Tenth Street, Greenwich Village, New York City) that I recorded on Sunday, April 21, 2013.

LOVE IS A NECESSARY EVIL:

LOVE WALKED IN:

I’LL FOLLOW YOU / THEN I’LL BE TIRED OF YOU:

I DON’T WANT TO SET THE WORLD ON FIRE:

DAY IN, DAY OUT:

BLUE:

BEAUTIFUL MOONS AGO:

REMEMBER:

They bring such pleasure — I admire them so.

May your happiness increase!

“A ONE-MAN RHYTHM GANG,” or OUR MAN IN PHILADELPHIA: MARTY GROSZ (May 2013)

“A one-man rhythm gang” is how clarinetist Frank Chace described the Most Esteemed Martin Oliver Grosz, “Marty” to those on an equivalent social level.  I write this not to praise Marty, but to let my readers know that he has two — count ’em, two — gigs in Philadelphia in the very near future.  One is this coming Saturday (May 11) with cornet wonder Danny Tobias and fine string bassist Ed Wise — from 7-11 PM at The Saloon Restaurant — (215) 627-1811, 750 S. 7th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147.  Then, the next Friday (May 17), Marty and his Fig Pickers — make of that what you will . . . in Marty’s world, its etymological origin comes from a Ben Jonson play — which means Danny, Ed, and perhaps another hero — will appear at The Mermaid Inn from 8 PM to midnight.  7673 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia · (215) 247-9797.  I hope to make it to one or both of those gigs . . . if the creeks don’t rise, etc.

Perhaps you have only a dim sense of the Blessed Martin Grosz?  Let me refresh your memory with two impromptu videos (sub rosa, with a low-level digital camera) I shot at the 2007 Jazz at Chautauqua party — with Professors Dapogny, Robinson, Block, Giordano:

ARKANSAS BLUES:

FROM MONDAY ON:

Marty Grosz knows how to swing.  Don’t miss these opportunities to join the oceanic motion.

May your happiness increase.

APRIL IS THE COOLEST MONTH, or NEW YORK JOYS (2013)

Every time I get ready to declare, “OK, I will spend the rest of my life happily in California,” New York crooks a dainty finger at me and whispers, “Not so fast, fellow.  I have something for you.”

ny skyline

These are some of the musicians I was able to see, hear, and video during April 2013 — an incomplete list, in chronological order:

Svetlana Shmulyian, Tom Dempsey, Rob Garcia, Asako Takasaki, Michael Kanan, Michael Petrosino, Joel Press, Sean Smith, Tardo Hammer, Steve Little, Hilary Gardner, Ehud Asherie, Randy Reinhart, Mark Shane, Kevin Dorn, James Chirillo, Brian Nalepka, Dan Block, Danny Tobias, Matt Munisteri, Neal Miner, Catherine Russell, Jon-Erik Kellso, Lee Hudson, Lena Bloch, Frank Carlberg, Dave Miller, Billy Mintz, Daryl Sherman, Scott Robinson, Harvie S, Jeff Barnhart, Gordon Au, John Gill, Ian Frenkel, Lew Green, Marianne Solivan, Mark McLean, Dennis Lichtman, Tamar Korn, Raphael McGregor, Skip Krevens, Andrew Hall, Rebecca Kilgore, Dan Barrett, Scott Robinson, Pat O’Leary, Andy Brown, Giancarlo Massu, Luciano Troja, Rossano Sportiello, Randy Sandke, Harry Allen, Dennis Mackrel, Joel Forbes.

And I saw them at the Back Room Speakeasy, the Metropolitan Room, Smalls, the Bickford Theatre, the Ear Inn, Symphony Space, the Finaldn Center, Jazz at Kitano, Jeff and Joel’s House Party, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, Jalopy Theatre, Casa Italiana, and Zankel Recital Hall.

T.S. Eliot had it wrong.  Just another average jazz-month in New York.

P.S.  This isn’t to slight my California heroes, nay nay — among them Marc Caparone, Dawn Lambeth, Carl Sonny Leyland, Clint Baker, Jeff Hamilton, Chris Dawson, Marty Eggers, Katie Cavera, Kally Price, Leon Oakley, Mal Sharpe, Tom Schmidt, John Reynolds, Melissa Collard, Ari Munkres, GAUCHO, PANIQUE, Bill Carter, Jim Klippert, JasonVanderford, Bill Reinhart, Dan Barrett . . . .

May your happiness increase.

CHERISH THE LADIES*: SPEND MOTHER’S DAY 2013 with The EarRegulars!

On Sunday May 12th, The EarRegulars move north for a few hours for a Mother’s Day Brunch at The Stage at Rockwells American Restaurant, 105 Wolfs Lane, Pelham, New York 10803.  There are three seatings, 11:30am-2:30pm. Reservations (914) 738-5881.

If you’ve been following JAZZ LIVES for more than thirty-two bars, you know how valuable The EarRegulars are to Western Civilization.  They hold regular EarRegular seances at The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York — but for those north of the border, those with a Monday-morning 6 AM alarm clock, those who want to make sure that Mother is feted in the best style . . . hie yourself northward for swing!

And if you don’t know them, or you need a Serious Jazz Authority, how’s this:

“There’s nothing regular or ordinary about this group of dazzling, swinging, world class New Orleans traditional jazz phenoms who we’ve coaxed up to ‘burbs from Spring Street’s beloved watering hole to complete our Mother’s Day / Brunch / Jazz triple play celebration on May 12th. Maybe whatever short-circuited parts of the Ear Inn’s neon sign out front also sent a charge through the place, catapulting the musicians, wedged in a corner, back half a century, then down to the Spotted Cat on Frenchman Street in New Orleans, and on this occasion, to your neighborhood, at the Stage at Rockwells. Discover one of the City’s best kept musical secret, “Old time jazz swing with a modern metabolism.” – Nate Chinen, NY Times.

This splendid quartet will be Jon-Erik Kellso (trumpet), Matt Munisteri (guitar), Mark Lopeman (clarinet and tenor saxophone), and Pat O’Leary (bass).

About the asterisk in my title.  CHERISH THE L ADIES is, I hope, appropriate to Mother’s Day — but I know that male accompanists are encouraged.  It had been suggested to me by a colleague that I title this post I HEAR YOUR MOTHER LOVES TO SWING, but the JAZZ LIVES Legal Department said that such a statement could lead to legal action of a prolonged and costly sort.

So — eschew the usual box of candy or bouquet of f lowers this year, and make your Mother a true EarRegular!

May your happiness increase.

“CALIFORNIA, HERE I COME!”: TIM LAUGHLIN – CONNIE JONES at SAN DIEGO (Nov. 24, 2012)

Just one more set!” as Bing Crosby might have crooned it in 1931.  Here is  the final one of a series of glorious Musical Offerings performed at the 2012 San Diego Jazz Fest by Tim Laughlin, clarinet; Connie Jones, cornet / vocal; Mike Pittsley, trombone; Chris Dawson, piano; Katie Cavera, guitar; Marty Eggers, string bass; Hal Smith, drums.

For me, the opportunity to see / hear / record this band was not simply one of the high points of the San Diego experience, or of 2012, but of my jazz experience.  Period.  No stage joke.  Here they are!

ROYAL GARDEN BLUES:

A BIENTOT:

MY GAL SAL:

NEW ORLEANS AND A RUSTY OLD HORN:

MY BUDDY:

IT’S WONDERFUL:

LULLABY OF THE LEAVES:

YOU CAN’T LOSE A BROKEN HEART:

CALIFORNIA, HERE I COME!:

Thank you to Paul Daspit and the members of this lovely band.  I won’t forget these sounds!

May your happiness increase.

JOE RUSHTON’S JAZZ HOME MOVIES, 1943: HERBIE HAYMER, JIMMY McPARTLAND, MIFF MOLE, BILL PRIESTLEY, AND A FEW OTHER LUMINARIES

Joe Rushton was an eminent bass saxophonist and clarinetist.  You can hear him on a variety of recordings — perhaps most often with Red Nichols’ later Pennies.

home movie camera

But he also owned a home movie camera in 1943 and onwards, as many people did.  However, where the average amateur films show Mom and the kids at holiday meals, or perhaps the new puppy on the lawn, Joe’s films show his jazz friends goofing around — on the West Coast, as members of the Benny Goodman band, on their way to play the gig and to appear in THE GANG’S ALL HERE.

Joe’s son, Josh, has not only rescued these film clips — black and white and silent — from oblivion, but he’s taken good care of them, annotated them, and put a few on YouTube here for us to marvel at and be amused by.  Here are two recent gifts to us and an astonishing one — in case you haven’t seen it recently. The odd allure of these films is strong yet hard to define.  Is it that the people captured here almost always come to us as sound, occasionally with a still picture — and those sounds have come to represent the whole men or women.  So when we see, for instance, that Miff Mole actually had a corporeal reality in some ways larger and more human than his notes coming out of the speaker, that’s a pleasure and a surprise.  When we see him in motion, putting on one suspender for the camera, not wearing his suit or his tiny eyeglasses, we might think, “They were human, too!”  Always a valuable realization.

Thank you, Joe!  Thank you, Josh!

Saxophonists Herbie Haymer (who played with Norvo as well as BG and showed up on a fine Keynote Records date around this time:

Any expert lip readers in the worldwide JAZZ LIVES audience?

And this group of playful jazz icons, captured at their ease:

So far the best guess at “the mystery man” is that he is Chummy MacGregor . . .

Finally, what may have been the most astonishing find in the Rushton archives, something I’ve already written about here:

May your happiness increase.

SIDNEY CATLETT, EARLY AND LATE

Big Sid to you.

SIDNEY CATLETT with WIRE BRUSHES

“Good deal!”

The eBay seller  says that the photograph came from the Burt Goldblatt collection.  Goldblatt (1924-2006), whom we all know from album covers and famous photographs, was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts — so I am guessing that this photograph of Sidney (late in his short life) might have been taken in a Boston club — Sidney worked in that city in 1950, after leaving the Louis Armstrong All-Stars due to heart disease.    

Perhaps this could be the soundtrack to this photograph:

Or this:

Every little breeze — if it’s a rhythmic one — whispers “Sidney!”

This one’s for Romy, MB, KD, and Brother Hal . . .

May your happiness increase.

BOUNCING BUOYANCY at THE EAR INN: MATT MUNISTERI, DANNY TOBIAS, DAN BLOCK, NEAL MINER (April 14, 2013)

My title comes from a late-Thirties Ellington composition and recording, referring to his definition of swing.  What the Maestro described, the EarRegulars embody every Sunday night (8-11 PM, loosely) at The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York. Here’s some buoyant music from the April 14, 2013 session.

The noble participants are Matt Munisteri, guitar; Danny Tobias, cornet; Dan Block, clarinet and tenor saxophone; Neal Miner, string bass.  A nimble British clarinetist sat in for ROSETTA and TIN ROOF but like the Lone Ranger, left without identifying himself.  Perhaps some readers can help credit him?

I don’t know if love was in the air, but the song titles leaned towards the feminine, the romantic, even the heartbroken.  I hope JUBILEE was the prevailing mood.

This music doesn’t need explication: but hats off to Matt, Danny, Dan, Neal, and the UK Ranger — they done outdone themselves!

That Midwestern sweetie — faithful, frisky, and true — MY GAL SAL:

MARIE (for Irving, Tommy, and Bunny):

An EarRegulars classic, BLUES MY NAUGHTY SWEETIE GIVES TO ME:

JUBILEE (for Hoagy and Louis):

LOUISIANA (evoking wonderful thoughts of the Kansas City Six, 1938):

WHEN YOUR LOVER HAS GONE (at a tempo far from the morose way it’s often played — a revelation!):

ROSETTA (for Henri Woode):

TIN ROOF BLUES:

LIMEHOUSE BLUES:

I don’t care how dim the lighting is . . . the music blazes brightly! This one’s for Horace G. Irwin, one of the EarRegulars’ more devoted fans.

May your happiness increase.