Monthly Archives: January 2014

DAWN LAMBETH SWINGS SWEETLY WITH CLINT BAKER’S NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND: January 26, 2014

Ladies and gentlemen, a real singer.  No tricks, no emoting.  Just someone with a lovely multi-hued voice, swinging with the band, delighting in the melody and the words, never getting in the way of the song.

She’s one of our favorites, Dawn Lambeth.

Here she is with the equally rewarding New Orleans Jazz Band of Clint Baker, at an afternoon session sponsored by the Central Coast Hot Jazz Society in Pismo Beach, January 26, 2014.  That’s Clint, trombone / euphonium; Marc Caparone, cornet; Mike Baird, clarinet / alto; Carl Sonny Leyland, piano; Bill Reinhart, banjo; Katie Cavera, string bass; Jeff Hamilton, drums.

Aligning ourselves with the calendar, SUNDAY:

AS LONG AS I LIVE:

I’M FOREVER BLOWING BUBBLES:

EMALINE:

I CRIED FOR YOU:

I wish many singers, young and older, new and presumably wise and experienced, would savor and study the singing of Ms. Lambeth — she isn’t didactic, but by her example we could learn a great deal about subtle, convincing music.

May your happiness increase!

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HOT MUSIC ON THE RIVER: DUKE HEITGER’S STEAMBOAT STOMPERS (Oct. 11, 2013)

The real thing — lyrical New Orleans jazz recorded on the steamboat Natchez sailing up and back the Mississippi River.  In 2013, not 1926, too.  What could be nicer?

All of this was the idea (the dream, perhaps) of our friend and hero Duke Heitger, who launched the first STEAMBOAT STOMP in October 2013.

Here’s some hot music by Duke and his pals — the Steamboat Stompers: Orange Kellin, clarinet; Tom Fischer, tenor saxophone; Steve Pistorius, piano / vocal; John Gill, banjo; Tom Saunders, tuba; Jeff Hamilton, drums.

One for Papa Joe, SWEET LOVIN’ MAN:

Sweetly dancing, those beauties, CREOLE BELLES:

A riverboat favorite, SAILING DOWN THE CHESAPEAKE BAY:

Duke never speaks roughly to anyone, so this traditional end-of-night New Orleans tune has to be taken as a gentle embrace rather than a rough shove out the door — GET OUT OF HERE (AND GO ON HOME):

I’ll keep you posted on the plans for the 2014 Steamboat Stomp, I promise. For the moment, admire these players: they can swing and they can float.

May your happiness increase!

JOHN SHERIDAN’S AMERICANA: A SOLO RECITAL (September 20, 2013)

The steadfastly swinging pianist John Sheridan is seriously underrated because of two virtues, often misinterpreted.  John never makes what he is doing at the piano look hard; he never sweats or tells us — in words or body language — that he is Accomplishing Something Really Difficult.  No, Sheridan sits down at the piano, makes an offhanded remark or a quick joke, identifies the previous tune, gazes at the keyboard for two seconds, and then is off into another wholly realized creation.  Unless John is telling a shaggy-dog story or relating something that pleases him deeply, he also looks very serious most of the time.  That, I think, has made listeners forget that under that serious exterior there is a deep romantic soul, a very expansive heart — all of which comes through in his playing.

Sheridan’s musical scope is as broad as his mastery at the keyboard. If you listen casually, you will hear his bright clarity steady swing; listen deeper and hear subtle harmonies and his lovely but not over-elaborate improvisations, his beautiful touch.

Here is a very brief solo recital — captured at Jazz at Chautauqua (now the Allegheny Jazz Party) — a half-hour of pleasure, recorded on September 20, 2013.  Hear and admire how easily he moves from one composer to the next, one “genre” to another, always exhibiting a wonderful clarity, sounding just like John Sheridan . . . a very great gift to us.

Ellington’s BLACK BUTTERFLY (which I associate forever with Joe Thomas on a 1946 Keynote Records session):

COME BACK, SWEET PAPA (with fond thoughts of Louis’ Hot Five and,  later on, bands led by Yank Lawson and Bob Haggart):

THE LEGEND OF LONESOME LAKE (Eastwood Lane, for Bix):

IN A MIST (the young man from Davenport, himself):

THIS YEAR’S KISSES (Billie, Lester, and Irving Berlin):

I’M PUTTING ALL MY EGGS IN ONE BASKET (Mister Astaire but also Louis, twice):

Thank you, John, for inviting us to join you on these excursions.

May your happiness increase! 

DOIN’ THE HORTICULTURAL: EMILY ASHER’S GARDEN PARTY LIVE IN SAN FRANCISCO, JANUARY 16, 2014: PART ONE

A good time was had by all.

Emily Asher’s Garden Party — captured here nearing the end of their 2014 West Coast Tour (historians take note).  Here they are at a very rewarding house concert in San Francisco, hosted by Daniel Fabricant and Vic Wong, offering good-old-good ones, Hoagy Carmichael, music associated with Louis Armstrong, and a few locally-sourced originals.

The GP in these videos is Emily, trombone, vocals, arrangements / compositions; Mike Davis, trumpet, vocal; Tom Abbott, reeds; Nick Russo, banjo, guitar; Rob Adkins, string bass; Jay Lepley, drums. (My videos are a little dark but the music blazes brightly.)

For Ella, the Mills Brothers, Sammy Cahn, Saul Chaplin, and the elusive Hy Zaret, DEDICATED TO YOU:

Emily’s original, dedicated to a clamorous stretch of road in her home town, EAST MERIDIAN:

TWO SLEEPY PEOPLE, a sweet bit of Carmichael voiced for Asher and Davis, soft-shoe tempo provided by that nimble rhythm section:

Appropriate for a Garden Party, WHEN YOU WORE A TULIP:

Thinking again of Ella and Chick, the band shouts HALLELUJAH!:

A small Louis-Jack trilogy (catch Mr. Davis’ beautiful sound here) STARS FELL ON ALABAMA:

From ‘way out West, BIG BUTTER AND EGG MAN:

At a nice tempo, MUSKRAT RAMBLE:

Emily’s original, for her flowering niece, SWEET PEA:

Music in blossom, with more to come!

May your happiness increase!

THE SPANIER WORLDVIEW, 1945

A generous friend sent me this . . . the front cover from a Manhattan Records 78 album (which, when new, contained three 10″ discs) under Muggsy Spanier’s leadership, to be sold at Nick’s in Greenwich Village.  An authentic Spanier autograph!  “The good doctor” was Henry Sklow, a swinging dentist who watched over the pouring of drinks for the musicians at Jimmy Ryan’s jam sessions.

Muggsy writes “Barnum was right,” which I presume is a self-deprecating comment about the ubiquity of suckers.  I wonder if he was referring to the people who were buying this album — or was it a comment on all humanity?  No one who ever spoke of Muggsy referred to his cynicism (Maggie Condon remembers him fondly) so I suspect it was an offhanded example of artistic self-mockery:

MUGGSY 1944

Whatever the context, a genuine Muggsy!  (And he always was.)

May your happiness increase!

LESTER YOUNG AND THAT OTHER WORLD

This rectangular slip of paper — with only eleven letters signed by his own hand by one of the gods of creation — makes me feel a deep sadness. Lester Young, one of the most inspired individuals of the twentieth century, is so much larger than his signature on a withholding tax form.  It’s almost like imagining Prometheus in chains to think of Lester having to sign forms so that money could be taken from him, having to pay taxes.

I think this brightly creative person was also one of the most delicate creatures: consider his sadness, which isn’t always so evident in his late playing.  Even though he was tall, physically powerful, his spirit was airborne and thus shackled by the mundane demands of this world. I am not retelling the stories of what happened to him in the United States Army, but here is evidence of an unusual man being required to do the usual:

PREZ TAXES

The President, forced to be ordinary.  Are we surprised that he seems to have willed his life to be over so quickly?

Had we known Lester Young’s sorrow, could we have taken it on ourselves and lessened his pain?  Could his friends and the people who insisted that he sign forms have loved him more, have helped him to be free?

I do not know, and perhaps it is presumptuous even to speculate.  But for a moment I imagine a youthful, ever buoyant Lester Young, going his own way in a world exist where he did not have to rush, could wear soft shoes and make pretty sounds?  Poets and martyrs, Yeats said, more or less, do not live in the world of bankers.  Lester tried to make our world and his  brighter, less painful.

His sound lives on; his music still floats.

May your happiness increase!

ROSSANO SPORTIELLO, HARRY ALLEN, DAN BARRETT: TWO DUOS, A ROMP THROUGH HOAGY and A LOVELY BALLAD (Sept. 20, 2013)

The youthful Maestro Rossano Sportiello inspires his friends, musical and otherwise, to great things.  Witness these two performances (recorded on September 20, 2013) at the party formerly known as Jazz at Chautauqua — now it’s the Allegheny Jazz Festival.

On the first, he and the nimble Harry Allen delight in exploring Hoagy Carmichael’s I WALK WITH MUSIC in many ways:

And then Rossano and Dan Barrett tenderly explore a little-played Thirties ballad, WHAT WILL I TELL MY HEART?:

Exuberance, delicacy, mastery by all concerned.

May your happiness increase!