It was a truly glorious evening of musical camaraderie at The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City) but that’s completely typical of what happens when the  EarRegulars get together on Sunday nights from around eight to around eleven.

EAR INN 2012

Here and here are wonderful highlights from earlier in the evening — marvels created by Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Scott Robinson, tenor saxophone and mellophone; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Pat O’Leary, string bass.  I call them “marvels” with complete confidence: listen closely to the inspired conversations that take place in each performance (this is a listening band), the sonic variety — each player making his instrument speak with a wholly personal voice — the melodic inventiveness, the wit and tenderness, and the swing.

For the closing three performances, Scott Robinson also brought out his rare Albert system “C” clarinet with the Picou bell — rarity upon rarity (Clint Baker owns one — it was Tom Sharpsteen’s — and Alan Cooper handmade his, but how many others are there on the planet?) which has a lovely persuasive sound.  And the young Russian reed wizard Eldar Tsalikov spent his last evening of his New York trip, happily, here, playing alto saxophone and clarinet.

For Lester and Buck and the Kansas City Six — in some subliminal ways — a romping ‘WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS with some of the same lightness:

For Herschel, Lester, and the Decca Basie band, BLUE AND SENTIMENTAL*:

And for pure fun, IT’S BEEN SO LONG:

Lovely, fully satisfying inventiveness.  Every Sunday night at about eight.

Two footnotes.  One (*) is a small mystery that so far I haven’t found an answer to.  When Herschel Evans died in 1939, he was not yet thirty.  And somewhere I have read that he was married and that his wife was around the same age.  What happened to Mrs. Evans?

Two.  Some viewers comment acidly (here and YouTube) that people in the audience are talking. But to rage in print at people on a video seems ineffective. I delete these comments, because there’s enough anger in the world as it is.

I hear the chatter, too, but I am grateful for the music, no matter what is happening around it.  As an analogy, I think of someone finding an unissued Louis test pressing and then being furious because the disc has surface noise. “People will talk,” as the expression goes.  Accept what you can’t change, and bring your silently appreciative self to a jazz club to reset the balance.

May your happiness increase!



  1. Re: Herschel Evans: I can’t comment on a Mrs. Evans but Jazz Lives readers might find this anecdote interesting (and sad), from my 1996 interview with sax man Jerry Jerome. He had been pursuing a career in medicine as well as music when this happened.

    “JJ: I was playing the Hartford Theater with Benny (Goodman), in Connecticut. The Hartford Theater in Hartford, Connecticut. And Benny said “let’s go hear Basie, he’s at the Crystal Cave” or Crystal Ballroom — I guess it was the Crystal Ballroom in Hartford, which was a Black night club at the time. And Herschel was a very good friend of mine, Herschel Evans, the tenor saxophone player with Basie. And they all knew I had come out of med school, and at various times I would do things for the guys that helped them along, you know, medically, either suggesting or even helping them. But we went over to hear Herschel, uh, hear Basie, and Herschel came over to me and he said “Jerry, I’m having trouble breathing.” I says “really? How long has that been going on?” He says “well just, you know, it’s been bad the last week.” He says “look.” His pants were unbuttoned, you know he had suspenders but he couldn’t’ even button the top buttons. And he said he had changed his mouthpiece from an Otto Link I guess about a seven opening to about a four. Wow. That sounded pretty serious to me. I said “have you seen any doctors lately?” He says “well I saw some guy up in Harlem,” but he said “he thought I had asthma.” I said “asthma?” So during the break, during the rehearsal, during the playing break, I took him back in the dressing room and I stretched him out on a bench, and I put my ear down, you know because he was so swollen. His shoelaces were untied. He had something going on here. And I listened to his belly as I rolled him over like that, and I could hear a splashing. I couldn’t believe I was listening to it because to me it was a thing called peritoneal ascites. It’s fluid, body fluid, that had backed up from the heart that was not pumping well enough to do it. And I’m limited, I’m not a doctor, you know this is just purely clinical stuff. So I said to Basie, “Basie” I says “where are you going after this?” He said “we’re going to back to New York.” I said “get him to a hospital, right away. This man is seriously ill.” I didn’t know what, but I knew this had to do something with failure of a heart, failure of a kidney, failure of something. You know he was all swollen, and loaded with edema. So Basie says yeah they would do that, they were going right back to the city, which is not too far. So we went back in the taxicab, Benny, myself and Harry and whoever was there in the band, the manager. And I turned around sort of musing and I said to Benny “you know, I think Herschel is in cardiac failure, I think he’s dying.” He says “what are you talking about, man you’re such a quack you know everything,” yack yack yack. And at the next recording session which was either the next day or the day after, Benny got a call from John Hammond and said Herschel Evans had died. You know, and The Metronome printed, that particular thing I was talking about, it was in the Metro magazine. But it just tore me apart.”

  2. Thank you, Monk. I grieve for many people, but Herschel’s short life is so very sad.

  3. Don "Zoot" Conner

    Obviously you have saved the best for last,I really dug these three tunes,great stuff.Also liked the intervue with the late JerryJerome and his anecdote regarding the great Herschel Evans.

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