Nothing fancy. No theorizing, no dramatizing. Just four jazz masters having a good time on Sunday, June 19, 2016, at The Ear Inn: Danny Tobias, cornet; Dan Block, clarinet and tenor saxophone; James Chirillo, guitar; Kelly Friesen, string bass. Without a moment’s thought of imitation, this group got closer to the spirit of the exalted Kansas City Six than any I’ve heard recently. That’s a serious thing!
Here are a few highlights:
I’M CRAZY ‘BOUT MY BABY (at an easy lope, reminding me of Ruby Braff and Scott Hamilton):
I NEVER KNEW (where the two-person front line evokes the 1938 Basie band while the gentlemen in the back row do a fine job of becoming that band’s rhythm section — I find this performance completely thrilling, quiet as it is):
OUT OF NOWHERE (thinking of Bing and all the great rhythm ballad performances, or simply on the quest to make beauty):
BLUE ROOM (at a sweetly wistful tempo one never hears these days):
DIGA DIGA DOO (for those who need to visit the jungle before they can head home to their apartment):
A few comments. First, these time-honored standards offer such luxurious room for improvisation for those who care to enjoy the freedom to roam: the old songs are far from dead when played [or sung] by vividly alive musicians. Second, the art of counterpoint or ensemble playing isn’t something that died when the last New Orleans forbear went to the cemetery: one of the great pleasures of this set is the easy playful witty conversations between instruments. And, finally, I note with great pleasure that this quartet played quiet music for listeners. And the listeners did what they were supposed to do. How nice is that?
As always, I entreat my readers to find live music and savor it when possible. Marvels are all around us. We dare not take them for granted. Thank you, Swing wizards!
May your happiness increase!