This trio of selections from another memorable Sunday-night party at The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City) reminds us again of a great band’s ability to move freely around in a variety of tempos, and of the beauties of melodic improvisation.
Tempo: in the last thirty years, the speed at which familiar jazz material is approached has steadily accelerated, until (to my ears) some groups have only two speeds, Fast and Faster (with an occasional ballad or slithering mood piece / blues). The EarRegulars are intimately familiar with the glories of Medium Tempo and Rhythm Ballads.
Melody: although the musicians may chat delightedly about the harmonic feats of daring accomplished during a solo, most of us warm to the sweet melodies we know. This doesn’t mean that they have to be replicated precisely according to the sheet music, but it does mean that BODY AND SOUL, for example, is more than a shift from one key center to another.
That’s enough aesthetic sermonizing for anyone. To the music — which proves once again that classic standards still have enough resilience to be fascinating material for improvisers in this century — three songs written before Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first term.
The players are Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Andy Farber, tenor saxophone; Chris Flory, electric guitar; Michael Karn, string bass:
A romp on TEA FOR TWO:
A very sweetly evocative slither through LOVER, COME BACK TO ME:
With Dave Gross, acoustic guitar, and Gary Foster, wirebrushes on paper “tablecloth,” the band took it easy on ROSE ROOM (a sweetly pastoral song in its first incarnation):
You’ve never been to The Ear Inn for a Sunday-night Frolic? They begin about 8 PM and end sometime shortly after 11. And they’re memorable — larger than my videos, even in HD, can contain. (These sessions have been going on for six years now, which makes them a New York institution — but plan to show up before the EarRegulars celebrate their tenth, or their twenty-fifth anniversary. In New York, even monuments have a habit of disappearing. Ask any New Yorker.)
May your happiness increase!