Daily Archives: September 5, 2013

SOMETHING TENDER: GEORGE and EVELYN BARNES by ALEXANDRA LEH

Like many jazz fans, I first heard the guitarist George Barnes on record. He had a swaggering attack and a powerfully recognizable sound, whether he was cutting through a big band record date or shaking up the group behind Louis Armstrong in 1956-7. In the early Seventies, I was able to see and hear him in person with Ruby Braff, George Duvivier, Dick Hyman, Jo Jones, Michael Moore, Wayne Wright — often in the brilliant Braff-Barnes Quartet.

Because Barnes had a way of attacking his notes that sounded like small swing firecrackers, I was utterly unprepared for the tender beauty of this performance. It is even more tender when you learn that it was something he played on the final day of his life. His daughter Alexandra has created this video tribute to her father, his music, and his beloved wife Evelyn — appropriately the music is ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE:

What beauty and what a tribute!

May your happiness increase!

DON’T WAIT UNTIL YOU’RE DEAD

Many of us have made plans, whether vague and silent or specific and detailed, about what should happen to our STUFF (thank you, George Carlin) after we are no longer around to enjoy it.

But this post isn’t to urge people to make such plans. I would like readers to consider the idea of spontaneous philantropies while the giver and the recipient are both alive and sentient.  

Suppose you know that a jazz friend has never heard an unusual or rare record. You could make a bequest of that disc in your will . . . or you could give it to your friend NOW. If that’s too painfully a precursor of your own death, you could invite your friend over to hear it. You could send a copy now — before other responsibilities get in the way of this impulse.

If you know that your niece is playing saxophone in the school band, why not make sure she has AFTERNOON OF A BASIE-ITE, Ben Webster with Strings, and Buddy Tate records to enjoy? Again, NOW. A fledgling singer has never heard Mildred Bailey or Jimmy Rushing? You’re beginning to see a pattern.

These generosities make a number of happy results possible. Who doesn’t love getting a gift that, in its essence, says, “The person who gave this to me knows me so well and loves me”? So your gesture becomes an offering of affection and joy. In addition, acts like these are quiet ways of letting the music reverberate through the universe: jazz proselytizing, if you will.

A good deal of my musical happiness has been the direct result of the active generosity of many people, living and dead, friends and collectors who said, “You HAVE to hear this!”  Marc Caparone, Ricky Ricccardi, Manfred Selchow, Stu Zimny, David Weiner, Rob Rothberg, Bill Gallagher, David Goldin, Butch Smith, John L. Fell, Joe Boughton, Hal Smith, Wayne Jones, Bob Erdos, Bill Coverdale, Roy Bower, Bert Whyatt, Derek Coller, and two dozen others. Without them, my musical range would have been much more narrow. I remember the giver as much as I do the gift.

Much of my work on this blog is my own attempt to give gifts of music old and new. “Wait, you have never heard HAVEN’T NAMED IT YET?” “You never heard Lips Page or Tricky Sam Nanton play the blues?”

It’s a paradox, but giving precious artifacts away to someone who will appreciate them does not diminish your ownership; it intensifies your pleasure.

I am skirting the practical details of sharing; I don’t mean to suggest that you simply burn CDs, because that deprives the original artists of royalties or income. But I do urge people to open their treasure troves and share the music.

So rather than thinking about the next record or CD you absolutely must possess, why not turn the impulse on its head and think, “Who in my life would be thrilled to listen to what I so enjoy? Who deserves a gift of music, and how might I make this possible?”

In return, you will hear their pleasure and gratitude and be warmed by it. Such acts are love embodied, and the energy behind them is never wasted.

P. S.  If you’re reading this and thinking, “All that is very nice, but I have no rare jazz records to share with other people,” there are always chances to make generosity take shape without spending money. Consider the Ethel Waters principle:

If you say to someone today, “I love you,” “Thanks for everything,” “I’m grateful to you,” “I’m so sorry,” “Can you forgive me?” “What can I do for you?” or “It’s been a long time since we spoke,” those words have the ringing beauty of a Bix solo or a Lester Young chorus.

May your happiness increase!

DUKE HEITGER’S STEAMBOAT STOMP (October 11-13, 2013), or “WHY DON’T YOU GO DOWN TO NEW ORLEANS?”

Time marches — or rolls — on!  A little reminder of pleasures that await those who know the glories of hot improvised music on its home turf.

NATCHEZ

Esteemed trumpeter / singer / bandleader / friend of jazz Duke Heitger and other worthies have created STEAMBOAT STOMP: CLASSIC JAZZ ON THE RIVER for October 11-13, 2013.

Duke’s friends include Banu Gibson, Tim Laughlin, the Dukes of Dixieland, Butch Thompson, Solid Harmony, the Yerba Buena Stompers.  And more!

Duke says, “We continue to secure some of the finest jazz musicians in the world” for an “intimate festival dedicated to the finest of classic jazz — on one of the last authentic steamboats still operating in the United States, the Steamboat Natchez.”

Five bands, a gospel brunch, a second line parade, and more.

Duke hopes for support from the classic jazz community that is as enthusiastic as the music he and his friends create.  Ticket prices for the event start at $200 — and one can become a more committed patron, supporter, at higher levels.  Click here for more information, contact Duke directly here, or call (419) 464-1630 for details.  Weekend packages are still available, but space is limited (which words I will translate as DON’T WAIT!).

steamboat-Natchez-1

Highlights include: Friday-night concerts on a special chartered sailing of the Natchez, with simultaneous music on two stages and New Orleans cuisine cooked by the steamboat’s own chef.  Saturday afternoon performances will also take place on the Natchez; the evening concerts will be held in the ballroom and lobby of the Bourbon Orleans Hotel.  The festival will conclude Sunday afternoon with a New Orleans-style gospel jazz brunch.

Sounds like a real party!  I’ll be “‘way down yonder in New Orleans” in mid-October.

May your happiness increase!