Daily Archives: January 24, 2015

LIVING ABUNDANTLY (Nov. 27, 2014)

The 2014 San Diego Jazz Fest was the living embodiment of jazz abundance (an overwhelming assortment of choices!) so it’s appropriate that it featured one of my favorite bands — the truly abundant Yerba Buena Stompers, here closing a jubilant set with a song that speaks of overflowing largesse. The Stompers are Leon Oakley, cornet; Duke Heitger, trumpet; Tom Bartlett, trombone; Orange Kellin, clarinet; Conal Fowkes, piano; John Gill, banjo; Clint Baker, tuba; Kevin Dorn, drums.  Everyone can be heard — I find the two-trumpet conversation thrilling, but the band rocks. But that’s no surprise:

May your happiness increase!

SONGS OF LOVE, JUST FOR US: JANICE DAY and MARTIN LITTON (November 9, 2014)

If you wonder what happens when the last official notes are played or sung, when the audience and musicians have gone to sleep, to the restaurant, or the bar — sometimes remarkable things happen.  Here are two performances by the very sensitive and swinging pair, Janice Day and Martin Litton, recorded on November 9, 2014, after the conclusion of the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party — no audience, just the three of us, delighting in the relaxed solitude.

WHEN A WOMAN LOVES A MAN:

AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’:

Janice calls herself an “entertainer,” which is certainly true: she is an actress, comedienne, writer, musical comedy performer, but she is a genuine singer, at ease with all kinds of material, emotive without overacting, gently swinging and improvising while staying true to the song.  Her art is subtle but she hides its complexities.  I had heard her on recordings — with Keith Nichols and others — where she was expertly summoned up a Twenties girlishness, but when I heard her singing as herself at the 2014 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party, I was delighted and moved.  You can find out more about her here or politely petition to be her Facebook friend here.

The reserved-looking man at the piano may be better known to jazz fans for his Jelly Roll Morton scholarship-in-action with his own Red Hot Peppers, his swinging evocations of Fats, Teddy, and Tatum, his recordings with Kenny Davern, Wally Fawkes, Humphrey Lyttelton, and other notables.  But Martin Litton is so much more than a channel to the past.  Listen closely as he performs the often selfless task of accompanying Janice, as if spreading tapestries for her to walk on in music.  And when he solos, he is offering so much more than a pastiche of the great recordings of the past.

I look forward to seeing this pair in performance again at the 2015 Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party (November 6-8; details here) but UK fans can enjoy Martin’s work even sooner, at the Jennings Keswick Jazz Festival (May 4-10).  I know they also do a variety of gigs — unfortunately so far none in the US — so look for them.

May your happiness increase!