Daily Archives: July 15, 2013

DAY INTO NIGHT, WITH SWEET SWING: TAMAR KORN, GORDON AU, DENNIS LICHTMAN, JARED ENGEL, JIMMY SPERO (Part Two): SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA / June 6, 2013

Magical music follows!

George Esposito (georgeespo@sbcglobal.net) — who’s been well-known on KXJZ Sacramento public radio as a jazz host — has been staging his own lovely outdoor concerts for a long time: this is the ninth year of his Midweek Sunset Jazz Series.  I print his email above so that you can get on his list if you are driving distance from Sacramento, California in the summer.

On June 6, 2013, I was able to observe, applaud, and capture a singular concert in George’s spacious backyard.

The combination of music and scenery was nearly intoxicating.  Jazz is so often presented in dark rooms to the accompaniment of talk, eating, and drinking. Here, we had delicious music presented against the changing canvas of the sky, as afternoon shaded into night.  And the music — as always, it mixed sweetness, inventiveness, and surprise beautifully.

The proponents: Tamar Korn, song; Gordon Au, trumpet / composition / arrangement; Dennis Lichtman, clarinet; Jared Engel, string bass; Jimmy Spero, guitar.  All of this took place in George’s backyard on June 6, 2013. These creative musicians offered fifteen performances: here are the second five of the evening, a mixture of classics and originals, all voiced splendidly.

Fats and Andy’s BLUE TURNING GRAY OVER YOU:

Gordon’s SARATOGA SERENADE:

An Au Romance: SOMEHOW THE WORLD HAS TURNED UPSIDE-DOWN:

Fats, Coots, or This Old House?  The source doesn’t matter.  It might be Paradise at last with LOUISIANA FAIRY TALE:

An enthusiastic affirmation: SHE’S A GREAT, GREAT GIRL:

More to come — the final quintet of the evening, with surprise guests!

May your happiness increase!

THEY WALK WITH MUSIC: HARRY ALLEN, ROSSANO SPORTIELLO, JOEL FORBES PLAY HOAGY CARMICHAEL

HOAGY HARRY ROSSANO

What does Hoagy Carmichael’s music sound like in your mind?  I think of leaves rustling and water flowing over small stones; I think of a musical playfulness allied with deep feelings, sadness and joy.  His music has been given life on a million pianos and by tens of millions of singers and instrumentalists — but it is sublimely expressed on a new CD by the trio of Harry Allen, tenor saxophone; Rossano Sportiello, piano; Joel Forbes, string bass.

I WALK WITH MUSIC: THE HOAGY CARMICHAEL SONGBOOK is both familiar and fresh, both embracing and sweetly surprising.  Harry, Rossano, and Joel are masters of small-group playing: each of them is a superb soloist, able to entrance us all by himself.  But they excel at swing synergy, so that this trio is much more than the three soloists assembled in a room.  Their deep empathy for Hoagy’s melodies comes through: they do not use the chord changes as a reason to convert the composer’s deep melodic lines into a series of ninths and thirteenths.  Indeed, this CD is a master class in singing through instruments.

The songs, as well, balance the well-known and compositions deserving wider recognition: MOON COUNTRY / IN THE COOL, COOL, COOL OF THE EVENING / I GET ALONG WITHOUT YOU VERY WELL / NEW ORLEANS / THE NEARNESS OF YOU / I WALK WITH MUSIC / TWO SLEEPY PEOPLE / ROCKIN’ CHAIR / ONE MORNING IN MAY / GEORGIA ON MY MIND / APRIL IN MY HEART / JUBILEE / SKYLARK.

Harry and Rossano — sweet melodists with great inventiveness and agility — are in inspired form.  Neither of them will mind if I take a few lines to celebrate Joel Forbes, unsung hero of so many sessions and recordings.  Bassists get very little respect; when I asked one of them if he approved of some videos I’d made (and I really wanted his opinion), he said, “Well, I’m only the bass player.”  But Milt Hinton always reminded us that the string bass was the base, the foundation on which everything rested.  And Milt would recognize Joel Forbes as a true master — participating in the ensemble without trying to dominate it, his sound rich and full, his time marvelously supportive, his notes the right ones.  I hope to be able to write about a Joel Forbes Trio date or CD someday — until then, I hope listeners aren’t so entranced by the tenor saxophone and the piano that they neglect Mister Forbes.

Enough words.  Want to hear some music?

Here’s a tender, glowing APRIL IN MY HEART:

NEW ORLEANS (with the rarely-heard verse):

The title tune, I WALK WITH MUSIC, more like a joyous romp:

The CD is available through the usual sources: CDBaby, Amazon, and iTunes. It’s a real pleasure to hear these masters walk with Hoagy’s music.

May your happiness increase!

“OUR DELIGHT”: DAMERONIA CELEBRATES PHILLY JOE JONES’ 90th BIRTHDAY (July 16, 2013)

The composer / arranger / pianist Tadd Dameron wrote lovely, twisting melodies and arrangements, and his small groups have their own subtleties and depths.  He has been gone for some decades, sadly, but a very gratifying six-horn tribute group, DAMERONIA, will be creating a special reunion evening at New York’s Jazz Standard to celebrate the ninetieth birthday of drummer Philly Joe Jones.  Trumpeter Don Sickler will be leading an all-star band in a two-set event on July 16th.  Sets will be at 7:30 and 9:30.  Tickets are $20.

In the early 1980s legendary drummer Philly Joe Jones came up with the idea of forming a band, which he called “Dameronia,” to pay tribute to his good friend, composer/arranger Tadd Dameron. The distinctive sounds of Dameron’s melodies, harmonies and arrangements can be heard on recordings of Billy Eckstine, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Fats Navarro and Dizzy Gillespie (among countless others).  Jones wanted to contine the legacy of Dameron’s works, which included jazz standards like “If You Could See Me Now,” “Good Bait” and “Our Delight.” Philly Joe also wanted to promote other compositions and arrangements Tadd conceived for the bands Jones played in.

Jones got Don Sickler working on putting together a book of arrangements modeled after Tadd’s 1953 nonet that Philly Joe had played in, alongside Clifford Brown, Gigi Gryce, Benny Golson and Cecil Payne, and “Dameronia” took shape. Dedicated to creating a historically accurate representation of Dameron’s music, the band recorded two albums (1982, 1983), including the well received “To Tadd With Love,” and played in numerous clubs, concert halls and festivals. “Dameronia” continued to perform even after Jones’ death in 1985, with the Kenny Washington on drums: in 1989 the band performed a special Paris Concert, documented on CD.

When trumpeter/music director Don Sickler asked drummer Kenny Washington how he wanted to celebrate Philly Joe’s 90th birthday, without any hesitation Kenny said “Dameronia!” Kenny then immediately told Don who he thought should be in the new group, and most of them will be playing that evening:

Jerry Dodgion – alto saxophone, flute (recorded with Tadd Dameron and Philly Joe on Tadd’s “Magic Touch” album); Grant Stewart – tenor saxophone; Gary Smulyan – baritone saxophone; Don Sickler – trumpet; Jeremy Pelt – trumpet; Robin Eubanks – trombone; Mike LeDonne – piano; Peter Washington – bass; Kenny Washington – drums.  Tickets and more information here.

May your happiness increase!