Jon-Erik Kellso is a crafty bandleader — in the fashion of his idol Ruby Braff — and he concluded his Saturday-night set at the 2015 Cleveland Classic Jazz Party (the party formerly known as the Allegheny Jazz Party) not with a rouser-complete-with-drum-solo, but by letting two of the prime lyrical players in the world, people who happen to play reed instruments, create something beautiful with just the rhythm section.
The creators here were (and are) Dan Block, Scott Robinson, alto and tenor saxophones respectively; Ehud Asherie, piano; Nicki Parrott, string bass; Hal Smith, drums. In another context, this might have been cause to howl and wail — think of LESTER LEAPS IN, JUMPIN’ AT THE WOODSIDE, FOUR BROTHERS, or other notable climaxes that would have had the audience on its feet. But no. They had decided on the lovely Ellington ballad, I GOT IT BAD (AND THAT AIN’T GOOD) and here are the tender results:
I especially warm to this performance — not only for Dan’s soaring Hodges-lyricism, but for the way Scott leads what we might expect in new directions.
I offer here the story that I might have heard first from the source, Richard Hadlock, reedman, scholar, writer, and broadcaster. Richard was teaching a kindergarten class in the early Sixties and he brought his friend — the heroic pianist Joe Sullivan — to play for the children. Sullivan told the children that he was going to play I GOT IT BAD (AND THAT AIN’T GOOD) and either before or after he did so, one of the little scholars raised his hand and told Sullivan that using “ain’t” was wrong. Sullivan politely thanked the child and said he would mend his ways. Let that be a lesson to all of us.
Information about the Cleveland Classic Jazz Party — which will be held September 15-18, 2016, can be found here. Unless two-ton cupcakes fall from the sky and render me senseless, I’ll be there.
May your happiness increase!