Vince Bartels, a superb drummer, takes his inspiration as a bandleader from Eddie Condon — so his programs are varied in every way. Where other bands opt for Fast and Loud, Vince has a deep romantic streak which he encourages in his colleagues. Thus the Migrant Jazz Workers (the band name created by Eddie Higgins) often pause to look lovingly at the scenery. They aren’t ashamed of sweetness, and they strive to create memorable beauty.
These marvels happened regularly when Vince and his band played at the 2014 Sacramento Music Festival — the Workers were Dave Stone, string bass; Johnny Varro, piano; Allan Vache, clarinet; Russ Phillips, trombone; Dan Barrett, trumpet.
I offer three particularly deep performances — no self-consciousness, no dramatization . . . just beautiful music.
Their extraordinary, sensitive reading of the Ellington SOLITUDE:
Johnny Varro’s sparkling ONE MORNING IN MAY (which Hoagy Carmichael’s mother said was her favorite of her son’s songs):
Russ Phillips, singing and playing the Ellington AZALEA, inspired by Louis Armstrong’s memories of a New Orleans flowering bush that he could never forget. (How beautifully Russ sings!):
Yes, “traditional jazz” can be sweet and lovely, too. Thank you, Vince, for keeping this music alive.
May your happiness increase!