I present to you — with pride and gratitude — one of the many ecstatic moments of the 2014 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party — the finale to the Johnny Dodds tribute set, which featured an astonishing assemblage: cornet, three reeds, three banjos, washboard, piano, string bass, hot violin . . . without ever getting messy.
The song is FORTY AND TIGHT (for once I will leave the etymological questions* to others) and the players Rico Tomasso, cornet; Claus Jacobi, alto; Matthias Seuffert, Thomas Winteler, clarinet; Martin Litton, piano; Malcolm Sked, bass; Emma Fisk, violin; Nick Ball, washboard; Martin Wheatley, Spats Langham, Jacob Ullberger, banjo.
I love this.
Exact and abandoned at the same time, and a triumph of community — notice the musicians’ smiles and tapping feet as well as their common language of signs and experience: a nudge or a shoulder-lean that says “You take the next break,” the circling motion that indicates “let’s conclude this with an ensemble chorus — the language of brothers and sisters who know the tribal signs for joy — people who embody joy as well as understanding it. Look at the happiness on the face of one Nicholas D. Ball, percussionist, to feel that emotion.
Two afterthoughts. FORTY AND TIGHT was obviously a way of signifying the highest level of approval. Whether the unspoken references were to physical attributes that gave erotic pleasure or something else I do not know. Was “forty” in the Chicago Twenties the equivalent of a more recent “a perfect ten”? In-group dialogue, cherished and partially submerged, hidden from us.
And something technical. To watch my videos in the best visual fidelity (preferably on a screen even larger than your iPhone 6!) find a tiny icon of a gear — a toothed wheel — at the bottom right of the YouTube screen. Click on it and raise the number displayed to the very highest, 1080, for the clearest image. I also encourage viewers to watch this in “full screen,” preferably on a monitor the size of the living-room wall, but that last bit may not be possible.
Can you see and hear from this video what a wonderful time we had at the 2014 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party? (A purely rhetorical question, I assure you.) And there will a 2015 Party . . . let joy be unconfined!
May your happiness increase!