It’s difficult for me to comprehend that one week ago (the time difference notwithstanding) I was at the 2014 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party, held in the Village Hotel Newcastle, recording this performance. I and others were having the time of our lives.
This singular performance took place late in a set, led by Rico Tomasso, devoted to “the Duke’s men,” specifically the small-band recordings (with one 1930 exception) done between 1936 and 1939 under the leadership of Barney Bigard, Johnny Hodges, Rex Stewart, and Cootie Williams.
Cootie is responsible for this most delicate of compositions, AIN’T THE GRAVY GOOD? — which doubles as a culinary disquisition with platefuls of double-entendre implications. To me, it’s also a late-Thirties take on a Twenties vaudeville song. I can imagine it onstage sung by a team, one sitting at a table full of food, the other one in an apron . . . but I leave the staging to you.
As I mentioned, the leader of the set was noble and gregarious Enrico Tomasso — friends are invited to call him Rico — a wonderful trumpeter, singer, entertainer (that’s a compliment) and improviser.
He begins this number with one of the best explanations of the subtleties of plunger-muted trumpet that I’ve ever heard, and then moves on to the main course.
Rico is joined by Alistair Allan, trombone; Claus Jacobi, alto saxophone; Matthias Seuffert, clarinet and saxophones; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Henri Lemaire, guitar; Malcolm Sked, string bass; Richard Pite, drums:
Had this been the sole performance I had witnessed at Whitley Bay, I would have been more than satisfied. But it wasn’t, and I came home with more than three hundred video-recordings. Will I share them? You can count on it. I couldn’t attest to the quality of the gravy — we have to take Rico’s word for it — but the music was beyond delicious. And there will be a 2015 Party . . . so plan ahead. Details to follow as I know them.
May your happiness increase!