Daily Archives: April 7, 2015

EXPANDING THE COMMUNITY, or WELCOME, KELLEY!

I think of the small group of people who are so devoted to jazz that they become video archivists as a dear community.  None of this “standing on the shoulders of giants” for me, because my balance is not so good when I am standing in that way.  Merely envisioning this gives me vertigo.

No, my image is a small circle of people holding hands, close enough to look in each others’ eyes and grin, proud of their own work and happy that others are doing it as well.  Here are a few friends I know personally, who have done so much to make the music accessible to people who can’t be everywhere.

My first role model was — and continues to be — the diligent Rae Ann Hopkins Berry, the reigning monarch of California Hot.  Since March 2008, she’s kept up a steady flow of videos on her YouTube channel.  I was inspired by her and continue to be so, even though I am no longer in California.  The people I first thought as the dear heroes of music I saw on her videos.

I started videoing on YouTube a bit later, and my first videos were of David Ostwald’s Gully Low Jazz Band / Louis Armstrong Centennial Band / Louis Armstrong Eternity Band in October 2008.  And I upload while you are sleeping, often while I, too, am sleeping.

New friends and videographers came along.  Eric Devine, the master of multiple cameras, who’s known as CineDevine, creates very polished videos at concerts, parties, and festivals from New England to Florida.  He started in 2008, too, although we continue to have an older brother – younger brother relationship when we talk shop.

A few years later, the Michigander flautist and friend of jazz Laura Beth Wyman set up shop in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area, and has provided JAZZ LIVES with so many gorgeous videos of Professor James Dapogny and friends that she was asked to be the Chief of the Michigan Bureau, a task she accepted with great grace.

The newest member of the hand-holding video community is very welcome: her name is Kelley Rand and although her first videos have only shown up on Facebook about a week ago, her work is astonishing.  For one thing, she is getting splendid results with her iPhone (which means that, unlike me, she is not carrying an eighteen-pound knapsack of cameras) and she has made about a half-dozen astonishing videos in New Orleans.  Several feature the ever-astonishing Dick Hyman and the melodic wonder Tim Laughlin in duet: WHO’S SORRY NOW, ONE HOUR, A NIGHTINGALE SANG IN BERKELEY SQUARE, and Hyman solos on JITTERBUG WALTZ and S’WONDERFUL.  She’s also captured Tim and the brilliant young pianist Kris Tokarski in performance at the Bombay Club: IF DREAMS COME TRUE, LOVE NEST, OH DADDY BLUES, RIVERBOAT SHUFFLE.

Since I am in New Orleans once a year, so far, at most, I have appointed her the Chief of the Louisiana Bureau.  She will only find this out when she reads this far, and I hope she agrees.  The health benefits are not delineated in any contract: they simply mean that more people will get to know her, thank her, and appreciate her diligence and generosities.

The nicest part of all this is that we all respect each other, make subtle courteous agreements not to step on each others’ turf, get in each others’ shots, and so on. We are united in the name of MUSIC, and the deep notion that as many people should get to enjoy it as possible.  And we capture the evanescent and make it tangible, even eternal.

And — as an afterthought — I know there are many people videoing at clubs and concerts around the world, and I mean them no offense by not including them here.  But these four people are dear to me, and I am proud to know them.

May your happiness increase!

Advertisements

“TO IGNITE THE SPARK”: MR. WALLER’S ROMANTIC SONG (1937)

Recently there was a long, energetic discussion on Facebook, sparked by our friend, the superb young pianist Kris Tokarski (you can find it if you scroll down to March 31) on what attributes constitute a “jazz singer.” Bless him, Kris didn’t come to it with a narrow ideology; he wanted to open up a discussion, which he did.

I made mention of instrumentalists with “untrained” voices, and mentioned Hot Lips Page — then also Jimmy Rushing and Ivie Anderson.  But I forgot one of the finest singers of all, Thomas “Fats” Waller.

Most often, we think of Fats, at high volume,  shouting and carrying on — THE JOINT IS JUMPIN’, satirizing, parodying, mocking, clowning. But there was another side of him, heard all too infrequently: the dear romantic balladeer, treating a deserving song with great tenderness.

He does it here — with the 1937 I’M ALWAYS IN THE MOOD FOR YOU:

The lyrics aren’t memorable — in fact, they seem a winking collection of love-song-conceits — but the performance lingers because it is so close to the heart. Hear the long, leisurely piano chorus, Fats’ careful, endearing reading of the lyrics with only Herman Autrey whispering sweet nothings in back of him, and the return.  I think it’s fascinating that this take was issued, for clearly Fats got distracted or the lyric sheet slid off the piano, for there is a distinct near-crisis around three minutes in.  Whether Eli Oberstein said, “Look, we have six more sides to get done today,” or “Well, you made a mistake, Fats, but it’s so late in the record and the side is so beautiful, let’s leave it be,” I don’t know.  (It was the fifth side of nine recorded that day, so I suspect Fats was pressed to move on, even though there was this momentary lapse of attention.  I find the “mistake” completely endearing.)

I also wonder if Fats’ very tender delivery of the song was because it was written by Benny Davis (lyrics), a true veteran of the Brill Building, and Fats’ dear friend and eating buddy J. Fred Coots . . . whatever the motive, it is a very sweet performance and one that has stayed in my mind for years.

I hope you have someone you adore who can hear this recording — preferably seated right nearby — and know that the lyrics and melody are Cupid’s arrow, aimed tenderly but accurately.

May your happiness increase!