Monthly Archives: December 2015

A HUNDRED YEARS BEFORE TODAY

My good friend Austin Casey pointed me to this YouTube video — from March 1950 — LIGHT UP TIME featuring Frank Sinatra (born December 12, 1915) and Bobby Hackett (born January 13, 1915).

SINATRA

The scripted jokes are painfully limp, but Hackett on EMBRACEABLE YOU and the pairing of Sinatra and Hackett on BODY AND SOUL are lovely.

Nostalgia is an emotion that cannot change the present world, but I think of a time when radio listeners could immerse themselves in such beauty.  (I am leaving aside IF I KNEW YOU WERE COMIN’, I WOULD HAVE BAKED A CAKE.)

Bobby Hackett by Burt Goldblatt

Thank you, Frank, Bobby, and Austin.

May your happiness increase!

GETTING SOME FUN OUT OF LIFE: The DAWN LAMBETH TRIO at the 2015 San Diego Jazz Fest (Part One)

DAWN headshot

Recently, I had an experience of warm intelligent swinging musical creativity that still brings a smile to my face: two sets by the Dawn Lambeth Trio at the San Diego Jazz Fest (November 27-29, 2015).  The trio is Dawn, vocal; Marc Caparone, cornet; Ray Skjelbred, piano — and the music they create is both earthy and ethereal, down-home and in the clouds.  Intelligent expert frolic.

Hear and see for yourself.  Perhaps, like me, you will think of Eddie Condon’s dichotomy, dividing music that comes in the ear like broken glass or the rarer kind that comes in like honey:

GETTING SOME FUN OUT OF LIFE:

I MUST HAVE THAT MAN (truncated because someone stood in front of my camera for the first chorus — probably transfixed by the sounds):

Please notice that although those two songs are forever associated with Billie Holiday, Dawn is not in the imitation-business: she sings them because they are durable engaging songs, and she sounds like herself.

WHEN I TAKE MY SUGAR TO TEA:

THE RIVER’S TAKIN’ CARE OF ME (in honor of Red Allen):

More to come.  And I know that this Trio is planning a touring schedule, so I must check and see how many frequent flyer miles I have amassed.  Thanks to Paul Daspit and Hal Smith for making this possible.

May your happiness increase!

THE DEARNESS OF TWO: HILARY GARDNER, EHUD ASHERIE (and NOAH GARABEDIAN) at MEZZROW (September 29, 2015)

HILARY EHUD

When Hilary Gardner and Ehud Asherie get together, magic happens.  Here they are (with a guest appearance by string bassist Noah Garabedian) at Mezzrow, their home turf on West Tenth Street, on September 29, 2015:

A HUNDRED YEARS FROM TODAY:

SWEET PUMPKIN:

THE NEARNESS OF YOU:

WHEN THE WORLD WAS YOUNG:

I have intentionally left in some of the banter between Hilary and Ehud to let you in on what is not a secret, that they are having great fun.  I hear tell that they will be returning to Mezzrow for another delectable evening of music in February 2016.  Unless the locusts descend and the creeks rise, I’ll be there.  You might want to join in as well.

May your happiness increase!

“THOSE DELICIOUS BLUES”: HARRY ALLEN, DAN BLOCK, DAN BARRETT, EHUD ASHERIE, FRANK TATE, RICKY MALICHI at the ALLEGHENY JAZZ PARTY (September 10, 2015)

delicious fruit

I don’t know their name, but they are delicious.

What I mean is . . . here is a nearly eleven-minute improvised blues performed by six absolute masters of the idiom at the 2015 Allegheny Jazz Party (September 10, 2015): Dan Block, Harry Allen, tenor saxophone; Dan Barrett, trombone; Ehud Asherie, piano (with all sorts of delicious jazz in-jokes); Frank Tate, string bass; Ricky Malichi, drums.

Is the overall ambiance Basie-esque, Ellingtonian, Four Brothers, or do the riffs come from Blue Note hard bop, Gene Ammons, Al and Zoot?  I don’t know and I am sure that someone will leap right in and inform me.  But until that day, I will happily listen in a state of deep swing gratitude.

Such delightful interludes happen all the time at the Allegheny Jazz Party.  You should know.

(And, as an aside, I picked the graphic at top of green fruits because it was one of the few inoffensive ones that emerged when I idly entered “delicious” into Google Images.)

May your happiness increase!

“IT’S ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT THE MELODY”: MARGARET HERLEHY, “CAFÉ 1930”

In his cryptic but meaningful way, when asked a question about style, Jo Jones said something like, “You get tired of wearing the same shirt all the time.”  I feel that statement’s truth.  Although there is a deep variety in the musics I cherish, I get excited when offered the chance to hear something beautiful, deep, and not the usual.  A perfect — and perfectly gratifying example of this is Margaret Herlehy’s CD, CAFÉ 1930.

Margaret Herlehy in flight

Margaret Herlehy in flight

Before you read a word more, I ask respectfully that you clear your mind of preconceptions, held ideas, historico-critical frozen dinners, imposed categorizations, and simply listen to some music that might be new to you.  And delightful:

SONY DSC

I find the music that oboist Margaret Herlehy has created on this CD delicately yet powerfully intoxicating.  A friend suggested I listen to the disc, and I looked up from my daily diet of SWINGIN’ AT THE DAISY CHAIN and WHEN YOU AND I WERE YOUNG, MAGGIE, and ON A COCONUT ISLAND with mild skepticism.  “Wait.  Oboe?  Choro?”

Interruption: Choro is very much like Brazilian ragtime, and it swings irresistibly.  Ask Ehud Asherie.  Ask Howard Alden.

But I trust the friend’s musical judgment and began to listen — and I admire this music greatly.  Some of the tracks swing in a graceful sashaying way; others are sweet pensive interludes.  At times, the music comforts; at times, it exalts.  And although some may have deep-rooted prejudices against the oboe (“It’s so nasal.”) it becomes a wooing instrument in Margaret’s hands.

I asked her to tell me (and by extension, you) about the inspiration for this CD:

I began playing in experimental improvisational ensembles while studying at Sarah Lawrence College in the 1980’s.  It was during this period that I first realized that the oboe could have a voice beyond classical repertoire and began to dabble in other genres.  It’s always been about the melody for me, finding different ways to bring out characters and colors in music.  As a classical orchestral player, I have had the opportunity to play incredible music; but I found myself longing for music that allowed time to develop ideas and creative freedom with phrasing.

I started performing the music by the Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla about 8 years ago.  His Tangos are traditionally played with Flute or Violin as the lead voice but it turns out his bandeleon player was also an oboist.  On a few very old recordings of Piazzolla’s band, you can hear an oboe playing some of the melodies. This is what inspired me to start exploring his Tangos and to discover Café 1930, ( the title track of the CD ) a haunting and beautiful piece that I have wanted to record for many years.  Samba, Choro and Maxixe followed.  I am forever grateful to my guitarist David Newsam for turning me on to this evocative, lyrical music and players who would help me to embrace and incorporate the style.

CAFE 1930 screen shot

After hearing CAFÉ 1930 at least a half-dozen times, I am both gleeful and inspired.  I thank Margaret for having the courage to make lyrical music in a time and place where beauty sometimes has a hard time amidst mechanized clamor.

To learn more about Margaret in her many lyrical and exploratory selves, you might visit her YouTube channel, or her blog — as well as purchasing or downloading this delicious CD for yourself.  Lyrical beauty like this deserves and needs our embracing support.

CAFE 1930 c0ver

May your happiness increase!

“BLUES IN THIRDS”: THOMAS WINTELER, MATTHIAS SEUFFERT, DUKE HEITGER, KEITH NICHOLS, JACOB ULLBERGER, PHIL RUTHERFORD, NICHOLAS BALL at the MIKE DURHAM CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (November 7, 2015)

CAUTION BLUES

Let us begin at the beginning: Earl Hines’ composition, called CAUTION BLUES, offered as a piano solo in 1928:

and the next evocation, a 1940 trio of Hines, Sidney Bechet, and Baby Dodds for Victor.  Hines remembered Bechet as being “evil” that day yet repeating, “I want to play Hines’ tune,” which he did, by then titled BLUES IN THIRDS:

Both those performances — one for solo piano, the other for a trio — are full of variations: improvisations on the theme, variations in timbre and dynamics, and an impressive compositional variety.  So, in its own way, is this magical performance from our century — November 7, 2015 — at the Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party held in Newcastle, England, not a month ago.  The inspired participants are Thomas Winteler, clarinet / leader; Matthias Seuffert, clarinet; Keith Nichols, piano; Duke Heitger, trumpet; Jacob Ullberger, guitar; Phil Rutherford, brass bass; Nicholas Ball, spoons.  Yes, spoons — and since Nick is a beautifully imaginative percussionist, hear the variety of sounds and effects he obtains from what we take for granted in the silverware drawer.  Notice, please, how no one chorus is exactly like the one before or after it, and how this performance — without getting louder or faster — builds and ascends to something like true majesty:

A glorious performance — the sort of thing that has happened regularly at this party and its predecessors.  And I guarantee it will happen again in 2016.  Details to follow.  And, this just in!  The next Party will take place at the comfortable Village Hotel Newcastle, Friday, November 4 to Sunday the 6th.

May your happiness increase!

MICHIGAN MUSICAL MERRIMENT: PETRA van NUIS, ANDY BROWN, JAMES DAPOGNY, PAUL KELLER, PETE SIERS (thanks to WYMAN VIDEO)

Petra Andy Dapogny

On October 17, 2015, my friend and fellow videographer Laura Beth Wyman took her nimble camera to the Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to record a rewarding constellation of musicians.  (They all happen to be people I like as well as admire, which makes these videos a pleasure doubled and tripled).  Laura, if her name is new to you, is sole proprietor of Wyman Video.

The participants?  The delightful singer Petra van Nuis (enjoy her singular phrasing!); her husband, the eloquent guitarist Andy Brown; the wondrous James Dapogny, piano; the nifty string bassist Paul Keller; the irrepressible Pete Siers, drums.

I NEVER KNEW (Andy, Jim, Paul, Pete):

I GO FOR THAT (Petra, Andy, Jim, Paul, Pete) — remembering Mildred Bailey, but somehow I think the verse is new . . . courtesy of Petra:

I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH ME (Petra, Andy, Jim, Paul, Pete):

COME IN OUT OF THE RAIN (Petra, Andy):

IF YOU WERE MINE (Petra, Jim):

SEPTEMBER SONG (Petra, Paul):

FOOLIN’ MYSELF:

How nice to have all my friends —  now, I hope, yours too! — making light-hearted yet deep music in the same place, with the invaluable work of Laura Wyman to preserve it all for us.  Bravo!  Encore!

May your happiness increase!

LIZA VISITS THE SAN DIEGO JAZZ FEST, THANKS TO MARC CAPARONE and RAY SKJELBRED (Nov. 27, 2015)

I’m getting to like flying less and less — not anxiety, but the feeling of being too big for a plane seat — but I am delighted I made it to this year’s San Diego Jazz Fest.  I had wonderful evidence that I’d made the right choice on Friday morning: this set featuring the delightful singer Dawn Lambeth, with Marc Caparone, cornet; Ray Skjelbred, piano, and later on a guest appearance by Jeff Hamilton, drums:

DAWN MARC RAY San Diego 11 27

I have not yet mastered the art of smartphone photography, so that is my own wide-angle lens, bottom right, but it gives you some idea. The very first performance went right to my heart: Marc and Ray, in duet, performed Eddie Condon’s LIZA:

And for those of you (like me) who find this song entrancing in its sweet late-Twenties way, here are the lyrics, reproduced by modern technology from the irreplaceable book EDDIE CONDON’S SCRAPBOOK OF JAZZ, created by Eddie and Hank O’Neal:

LIZA

I will be posting more video (subject to musicians’ approval) from the SDJF  — the 39th, I believe — masterfully orchestrated by Paul Daspit and his many associates, chief among them the thoughtful percussionist Hal Smith. What a pleasure it was and is.

May your happiness increase!

TED BROWN’S BIRTHDAY, TWICE (December 1 and 6, 2015)

Photograph by Hiroi

Photograph by Hiroi

The lyrical — understated but eloquent — tenor saxophonist Ted Brown turns 88 today.  This Sunday, December 6, 2015, there will be a musical birthday party at The Drawing Room — 56 Willoughby Street in Brooklyn, New York, beginning at 7 PM, organized by Ted’s friend and colleague, tenorist Brad Linde. Details  — including a map — here.

The rhythm section, happily, will be Michael Kanan, piano; Murray Wall, string bass; Jeff Brown, drums.  If this weren’t enough, I am told there will also be cake.

Here are Ted and Michael in 2011 — singing sweetly and sadly on PRISONER OF LOVE:

Here are Ted, Brad, Michael, Murray, and Taro Okamoto in 2012, celebrating Ted’s eighty-fifth birthday with a romping BROADWAY:

An occasion you shouldn’t miss.

May your happiness increase!