I keep coming back to the videos I’ve shot at several yearly incarnations of the San Diego Jazz Fest — and finding treasures and marvels I’d overlooked. (I also keep coming back to the actual Fest, but that should startle no one.)
Here are some highlights from a long quartet set performed by Ray Skjelbred, piano; Jonathan Doyle, the swing star from Austin, Texas; Beau Sample, string bass and leader of the Fat Babies; Hal Smith, who’s played with and swung everyone who deserves it.
My titles are an expression of whimsical shorthand, but there’s nothing left out in these performances. First, a swing trio (Chicago pays San Diego a visit) then quartet improvisations that are delightful inducements to the dance, even if you are sitting in a chair.
MY HONEY’S LOVIN’ ARMS (scored for trio):
A song I associate with Bessie Smith, I’M WILD ABOUT THAT THING (decide for yourself what THAT THING is, but no need to write in, because no prizes will be awarded for the best answer). I’m wild about this performance, I feel compelled to say:
BLUES MY NAUGHTY SWEETIE GIVES TO ME (in a medium tempo sitting nicely between Noone and Condon):
I’LL NEVER BE THE SAME (evoking Venuti and Lang, Billie and Lester, or both):
Finally, THE 313 JUMP, whose title has a new pop culture / numerological significance — just Ducky:
See you at the 2016 San Diego Jazz Fest — Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 23-27. Of course.
A postscript. The jazz-scholar part of my being says that I could have written a thousand words on Influences and Echoes, with a long list of names, including Jess Stacy, Joe Sullivan, Earl Hines, Frank Melrose, Rod Cless, Frank Teschemacher, Lester Young, Eddie Miller, Wellman Braud, George Wettling, Jo Jones, Sidney Catlett, Milt Hinton . . . but I will let you do the research for yourself — in whatever way offers the most satisfying results. I’d rather revel in the actual sounds made by Smith, Sample, Doyle, and Skjelbred on a late November day in 2014.
May your happiness increase!