One more from this delicious band — Ray Skjelbred and his Cubs — on their 2015 West Coast Tour. I posted a life-affirming (no, life-improving) selection from their July 9, 2015 concert at the Rossmoor Jazz Club here, and you could do worse than watch it again.
This delight — again thanks to SFRaeAnn (who is known to the law as Rae Ann Hopkins Berry) — comes from the very next night, when Ray and his Cubs performed at Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park, California. For those who haven’t kept up, the band is Ray Skjelbred, piano / vocal; Kim Cusack, clarinet / vocal; Katie Cavera, guitar / vocal; Clint Baker, string bass / vocal; Jeff Hamilton, drums.
(About Cafe Borrone, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, were I there, I would be there.)
I pointed out in my previous post how much I enjoy Kim Cusack’s singing. Perhaps to the uninitiated, he sounds a little like a character in a good Warner Brothers film circa 1933, his phrases clipped, his delivery conversational (a useful corrective to so many singers orally swooning over their own long vowel movements). But listen closely to how he lingers over a note here and a note there, how he swings, how he delivers the goods.
I belong to a small select group of people who not only delight in Kim’s singing, but who treasure his elongation of certain sounds, especially in this case — at the end of the chorus, what he often does to NOW, stretching it out so that it reminds me of the annoyed comment of a Siamese cat whose imperial will is being disregarded. On this July 10 performance, it’s a little less cheerfully caustic than usual, but perhaps this was the last tune before a break and everyone was thinking of dinner.
I also adore — and I will stop shortly — his final hand gesture, amused yet charming: “Ladies, don’t rush the band. Don’t knock me off my stool. Form a single line and don’t push. Thank you, my people!”
AND THE BAND ITSELF. Swing made lucent and portable — the music stand on Ray’s keyboard was not the only thing rocking, I know. The ripe-peach rhythm wave of Clint and Katie, and the beautifully melodic waves of sound that Jeff creates.
If you’re not smiling, I urge you — as a healing practitioner — to play the video again until it has its proper palliative effect.
May your happiness increase!