Monthly Archives: November 2014

OUR BUDDIES: DUKE HEITGER, ANDY SCHUMM, ROSSANO SPORTIELLO, HOWARD ALDEN, JON BURR, PETE SIERS at the ALLEGHENY JAZZ PARTY (Sept. 22, 2014)

In the jam session scenes of films of the preceding century, the two or three trumpet players are always competitive, their horns extending towards the sky, solos played faster, louder, higher. I’m sure this assertive display still goes on somewhere, but the true masters of collaborative creation understand that music is an enterprise where you welcome other players and thus make an audience welcome from the start.

You can experience it here: at the Allegheny Jazz Party, on September 22, 2014: featuring Duke Heitger, trumpet; Andy Schumm, cornet and clarinet; Rossano Sportiello, piano; Howard Alden, banjo; Jon Burr, string bass; Pete Siers, drums — and the text for the mellow sermon was, appropriately, Walter Donaldson’s MY BUDDY:

Making lifelong friendships in and through music.

May your happiness increase!

BRILLIANCE TIMES THREE (Part Three): TAL RONEN, MARK SHANE, DAN BLOCK at CASA MEZCAL (Oct. 26, 2014)

The bright and comfortable Casa Mezcal (86 Orchard Street, New York City) has become one of my favorite haunts for Sunday-afternoon jazz, with good food, friendly staff . . . and tremendously restorative music.  Often, our heroine Tamar Korn is in charge of the spiritual festivities, but when she can’t make it, her friends fill in superbly.

On October 26, 2014, string bassist Tal Ronen brought together two other heroes, pianist Mark Shane and reed virtuoso Dan Block.  Here are the first four videos from that magical afternoon, and this is the second offering — magical music that never calls attention to itself through melodrama or histrionics. It’s art we can be thankful for, and it’s better for you than a trip to the mall.

PERDIDO:

SERENADE IN BLUE:

TEA FOR TWO:

ILL WIND:

LADY BE GOOD (ALMOST) — with apologies for the abrupt ending, my fault entirely (and thanks to Coleman Hawkins):

It is easy to take beauty for granted, to multi-task our way through the marvelous, but consider this: if this music turned up as a set of unidentified acetates from Jerry Newman’s uptown recordings, would we not marvel at the discovery?

May your happiness increase! 

MAKING IT NEW: DAWN LAMBETH, CARL SONNY LEYLAND, MARTY EGGERS, JEFF HAMILTON (Jazz Bash by the Bay, March 9, 2014)

“Make it new” was the compact artistic manifesto of Ezra Pound, and jazz has always taken it to heart.  “What can you do with that very familiar song?” has always been the question I imagine improvisers asking themselves, whether the time-honored material is a Bb blues (Basie and his flock, Bessie Smith), JINGLE BELLS (Fats Waller), or a hundred other standards in danger of being obliterated through repetition.

Dawn Lambeth has always understood the artist’s responsibilities — a delicate balance between honoring the original’s lyrical impulse, both melody and lyrics and at the same time illuminating it from within so that audiences can say, “Yes, I’ve heard I’M CONFESSIN’ a thousand times, but Dawn actually sounds as if she is telling the story of the words — and behind the words — with sweet convincing grace.”

Here, Dawn is joined by Carl Sonny Leyland, piano; Marty Eggers, string bass; Jeff Hamilton, drums, at the 2014 Jazz Bash by the Bay — for three favorite songs she and they make new:

BABY, WON’T YOU PLEASE COME HOME?:

I’VE GOT A FEELING I’M FALLING (with a little comedy to start):

I’M CONFESSIN’:

Even though it was the first set of the day, the trio sounds superb.  And Dawn has a faithful following — as she should — but there’s always room for new admirers! She’ll be appearing at Jazz Bash by the Bay next March 6-7-8, 2015.  To find out more about her upcoming gigs, visit her website or become a Facebook friend.

May your happiness increase!

BY POPULAR DEMAND: MORE FROM RAY SKJELBRED AND THE CUBS (Napa Valley Dixieland Jazz Society, July 13, 2014)

Every time I post some new videos of music by Ray Skjelbred and the Cubs they get an enthusiastic response . . . so here’s some more, recorded on July 13, 2014, as part of their Northern California tour.  These performances happened thanks to the Napa Valley Dixieland Jazz Society (which met at Grant Hall in Yountville, California) — with dancers!  The performers, the creators, are Ray, piano; Clint Baker, string bass; Kim Cusack, clarinet; Katie Cavera, guitar; Jeff Hamilton, drums.  And they swing.

We begin with a bit of early Thirties meteorology — asking Aeolus to bring one’s baby back, or BREEZE:

Lessons in remorse, contrition, and forgiveness.  WHO’S SORRY NOW?:

A slow-drag, cozy version of MY HONEY’S LOVIN’ ARMS for the happy pair:

That venerable invitation to hedonism, DARKTOWN STRUTTERS’ BALL:

Even if funds are low, you can still woo with this declaration, I CAN’T GIVE YOU ANYTHING BUT LOVE:

I think it was appropriate to play SWEETHEARTS ON PARADE when the Society members broke out their parasols, but then again this song is one of my favorites, no matter how simple the chord sequence:

SOMEBODY STOLE MY GAL, with vocal by Clint:

SQUEEZE ME, Mister Waller’s first hit:

JAZZ BAND BALL, which is what we were having:

Another bit of Wallerizing, KEEPIN’ OUT OF MISCHIEF NOW:

And the Whiteman-and-Henderson rouser, HAPPY FEET:

Ordinarily I don’t post so many videos from one performance at the same time, but these sounded so good that I couldn’t help myself.  You understand. (I send the usual apologies to Jeff and Katie for making them invisible, but they certainly are delightfully audible — which is what counts.)

May your happiness increase!

THE INK HAS FADED BUT THE MUSIC REMAINS (1948-9)

From an eBay seller — here is the link to the picture below — comes this photograph of Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, Barney Bigard, and Sidney Catlett in action, autographed by Louis, Sid, Earl Hines, and Barney . . .

LOUIS HINES BARNEY SID autographsI can hear them loud and clear.  Can’t you?

May your happiness increase!

“IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD” AT THE SAN DIEGO JAZZ FEST: TIM LAUGHLIN, CONNIE JONES, MIKE PITTSLEY, CHRIS DAWSON, KATIE CAVERA, MARTY EGGERS, HAL SMITH

You don’t have to write Odes to Nightingales to be lyrically poetic. In this century, we have Tim Laughlin, clarinet; Connie Jones, cornet and vocal; Mike Pittsley, trombone; Chris Dawson, piano; Marty Eggers, string bass; Katie Cavera, rhythm guitar; Hal Smith, drums, to prove this.

The song on which they wax poetic is IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD, performed at the 2012 San Diego Jazz Fest:

(Connie — a great unheralded singer — embodies a special optimism. Bless him and his colleagues.)

While you are basking in the good sounds and good feeling, think of this: Tim and Connie, with their New Orleans All Stars — Doug Finke, trombone; Chris, Marty, Katie, and Hal — will be playing more than a few sets at this year’s San Diego Jazz Fest, November 26-30.

And they are certainly not the only band: click here.

If you can live joyously, it’s always a wonderful world.

May your happiness increase!

TEN MINUTES OF SPIRITED PLEASURE: RAY SKJELBRED and THE CUBS at SACRAMENTO (May 24, 2014)

Just that.  Ray Skjelbred, piano; Kim Cusack, clarinet; Katie Cavera, rhythm guitar; Clint Baker, string bass; Jeff Hamilton, drums.  Recorded at the Sacramento Music Festival on May 24, 2014 — in a cozy room where I sat so close to the band (my preferred position) that I couldn’t get all of the quintet in at one time.  I hope Jeff Hamilton will forgive me for rendering him temporarily invisible (is this his superpower?) but he surely is delightfully audible.

The tunes — a 1922 Vincent Rose pop-song-turned-jazz-standard, LINGER AWHILE, and a pretty song that we might not have known had not the Jean Goldkette band recorded it, at a faster tempo, a few years later — IDOLIZING:

There’s no other band quite like this one, and we are so fortunate that they exist.

May your happiness increase!