THE CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY OF LOWER STOCKTON STREET: PROFESSORS GROSZ, OAKLEY, and VENTRESCO (August 17, 2014: Part One)

A long time ago, when I was a college student listening to string trios, quartets, and quintets, I was told that the great groups were Thibaud-Cortot-Casals, the Budapest Quartet and Friends, the Guarneri Quartet (whom I saw several times in concert). But while I was learning my Brahms, Schubert, Haydn, Mozart, Dvorak, and others, I was getting deeper into small-group jazz.  And it occurred to me often that the inspired interplay I heard in the “Trout” or the “American” was no different from a record of Sammy Price and Sidney Catlett boogieing their way through a blues, or the Edmond Hall Celeste Quartet, the Goodman Trio, Jimmie Noone’s Apex Club Orchestra, the Basie rhythm section.  And in person I saw Soprano Summit, Al and Zoot, Bobby and Vic, the Braff-Barnes Quartet, the EarRegulars, and many others.
All this is long prelude to say that inspiring chamber music takes many forms. In jazz, it is always incredibly uplifting to see a very small group of musicians do two or three things at once — create communal variations out of their shared knowledge and conventions AND go their own brave ways. Courage, joy, playfulness, and beauty.
Here is some very recent evidence that stirring chamber-jazz sessions are happening all around us, with some of the finest players.  This one brought together East and West — East being Professor Grosz (Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia) and West being Professors Oakley and Ventresco from the San Francisco Bay Area.  No music stands, just swing and on-the-spot frolicking. Acoustic splendor, with two very different approaches to the guitar — in solo and accompaniment — and with Leon’s very heartfelt cornet shining a light for us all to follow. (Highlights from the 2014 Marty Grosz West Coast Tour, for the historians in the audience.)
SONG OF THE WANDERER:
SHOE SHINE BOY:
I’M CONFESSIN’:
JOE LOUIS STOMP:
CRAIG’s LOWDOWN BLUES:
Three more performances from the second half (after a quiet intermission) will be offered in the near future.
May your happiness increase!

3 responses to “THE CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY OF LOWER STOCKTON STREET: PROFESSORS GROSZ, OAKLEY, and VENTRESCO (August 17, 2014: Part One)

  1. Douglas Pomeroy

    God bless you for posting these gems! When I first heard Ventresco (in a small bar on Smith Street here in Brooklyn) I was totally knocked out – I think I tipped him every dollar I had on me! Unfortunately for me, he did not remain in Brooklyn very long and returned to California. Having recorded many albums with Marty Grosz, I had wanted to get Craig and Marty to play together, since I felt their different styles would produce a lovely combination in duets. But it never happened (besides, Marty does not usually like playing with other guitarists), so hearing these recordings gives me GREAT pleasure; a sort of dream come true. But I guess California audiences are just as noisy as New York audiences. Maybe even louder. Shame on them!

  2. Don "Zoot" Conner

    So nice to hear the great Marty play with Craig and Leon! I’m sure Marty would have vocalized on some of the tunes,particularly “Shoe Shine Boy”but the noise level was too daunting for him.Despite that,the set was enjoyable.Thanks Michael,for the post.

  3. Very, very tasty!

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