Daily Archives: March 31, 2015


My name is not all that unusual, if Google is any indication. There’s me, then a Michael Steinman who’s a doctor, an authority on world government, an attorney, a provost, the deceased frontman for the band Inch, a realtor, an actor, a college dean, an author of a book on domestic abuse, a math teacher.  I gave up on the fourth page of the search because the apartment seemed crowded with ectoplasmic figures who were insisting that they were real and I wasn’t.

But I was greatly amused and pleased to encounter the Michael Steinman who is an appealing jazz trombonist and singer.  Born in Santa Clarita, California, this MS has lived and studied in Bloomington, Indiana, and now calls Six-Fours-les-Plage, France, home.  I was delighted — after the initial shock of seeing “my” name in print attached to another person — to meet this other (and talented) Michael here.

MS tbn w Alamel Giles

Michael, trombone, with Alamel Gilles


And the pleasure continues with Michael’s new CD, appropriately called CURRENT RESIDENCE.  It is an appealing blend: “traditional” repertoire with a charmingly quirky twist.  The songs would lead you to believe that the approach would be firmly grounded in early-jazz conventions: STRUTTIN’ WITH SOME BARBECUE / DARKTOWN STRUTTERS BALL / IS YOU IS OR IS YOU AIN’T MY BABY? / AFTER YOU’VE GONE / ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET / BIG BUTTER AND EGG MAN / I DIDDLE / JACK, YOU’RE DEAD / JUMPIN’ WITH SYMPHONY SID / JUST A GIGOLO — but there are no straw hats, striped blazers, or sleeve garters here.  An unorthodox yet swinging instrumentation also helps the music be lively rather than formulaic.

What makes this CD special is a combination of a few things.  First, Michael is a splendid trombonist.  He doesn’t see the instrument as a way of spraying notes at a captive audience; he is a swinging melodist, a modern mainstreamer who doesn’t copy anyone.  He is also a really fine — and not ordinary — singer, someone who seems like a distant cousin of Mose Allison and one of the Everly Brothers (you can pick) without ever losing a jazz feel.  And the strolling players who accompany him (most often alto saxophone and a small quiet rhythm section) are on the same wavelength: thoughtful without being numb, enthusiastic without being raucous. Praise to his colleagues: Jonathan Soncasse, Willy Quiko, Lionel Pellister, Eric Merdiano, Gerard Murphy, Anne Carriere, Eric Fillou, Lorenzo Brignone, and Gabriel Charrier.

Here’s an auditory sample: 

Serious and ready for swing action

Serious and ready for swing action

I would have a listener begin at the end — a fitting tribute to quirkiness with its own reward — with a deeply tender reading of JUST A GIGOLO that begins with a smoothed down Monkish piano solo, then moves to trombone / piano, alto saxophone / piano, and finally vocal / piano — sweetly and sadly, more Crosby than Prima.  It’s one of those recorded musical performances that is shapely, quiet yet deep, and completely satisfying.

Here are more sound samples, and a way to make a purchase for the motivated among us.


The CD is also available through the usual sources — as a download on Amazon or iTunes, and at Michael’s website, herewhere the essay that accompanies the CD cover is both charming and candid.

This other MS has a future: his music is lively and full of feeling, and his CD sounds as if he knows the past but is not condemned to repeat it.  I recommend it highly, and would do so even if his name was not so melodious to my ears.

May your happiness increase!


Sunday, January 25, 2015, the generous and inventive EarRegulars laid out a big banquet of delicious sounds at The Ear Inn in Soho — 326 Spring Street, where they are every Sunday evening from about 8 to about 11 PM.  Here are two tastes — to me they are precious, creations that do not and will not diminish.

But The EarRegulars proved once again that life is the best fiction writer.  You’ll see what I mean.

Later in the evening one of the Majesties called an old favorite, DO YOU EVER THINK OF ME? (There have been several songs with this title — understandably — but this is from 1920, by Harry D. Kerr, John Cooper, and Earl Burnett. )

In its 1920 incarnation, it must have been a very sad ballad: the forgotten lover wondering just how deeply and why (s)he has been forgotten.  But The EarRegulars are not always given to maudlin expressions like that; they follow the great jazz tradition of turning pathos into swing.  As they did here:

What next?  Someone then suggested a great 1927 hot number by William H. Butler (not the ballad of a decade later) made famous by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five.  The brilliant young clarinetist Evan Arntzen had dropped by and was all ready to join them, too.

The title?


Imagine the dialogue between those two song titles at your leisure, please.

Don’t miss the entirely impromptu duet for taragoto (Robinson) and guitar (Munisteri) late in the performance, and the band’s collective decision to visit Dardanella in her tent.

It’s just one of the brilliant moments in art-becomes-life-while-life-is-being-artistic that happens every Sunday evening at The Ear Inn. . . . a pleasure that started in summer 2007.  Get some for yourself.

May your happiness increase!