Daily Archives: July 27, 2016

POIGNANT BEAUTY: JAMES DAPOGNY’S CHICAGO JAZZ BAND at the EVERGREEN JAZZ FESTIVAL (July 26, 2014): JON-ERIK KELLSO, CHRISTOPHER SMITH, KIM CUSACK, JAMES DAPOGNY, ROD McDONALD, DEAN ROSS, PETE SIERS

Sunrise over Mobile Bay

Sunrise over Mobile Bay

Because I’ll be on my way to the 2016 Evergreen Jazz Festival tomorrow, my thoughts turned back to those few days in July 2014 where — amidst rainbows and rain, nocturnal elk, Vietnamese food with dear friends and heroes — I heard some of the finest music of my life.

The music was  created by Professor James Dapogny (piano, arrangements, research, and even a sly vocal or two) and his Chicago Jazz Band: Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Kim Cusack, Russ Whitman, reeds; Christopher Smith, trombone, Rod McDonald, guitar; Dean Ross, string bass; Pete Siers, drums.  No gimmickry, just deep music.

One of the most memorable performances of that weekend was the Ellington – Rex Stewart MOBILE BAY, deep and slow.  Here’s a map for those who need to  orient themselves:

MOBILE BAY

I think of this four-minute interlude as the very definition of poignant: something that gives the sensitive person a sharp pang.  But the pain of regret, of loss, the feeling of sadness, is counterbalanced by awe: “How beautiful is that embodiment of sadness,” so that we have to entertain both sensations at once.

At the 2014 Evergreen Jazz Festival, I recorded and shared the better part of seven sets by this band.  I apologize if what I am about to write seems greedy, but I want to hear them again.  Shall we talk of the financing necessary to have the official JAMES DAPOGNY CHICAGO JAZZ BAND FESTIVAL?  No other groups need apply.

Until then . . . .

May your happiness increase!

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AT THE END OF A COLORADO RAINBOW: CARL SONNY LEYLAND, CLINT BAKER, JEFF HAMILTON (2011, 2016)

I report with glee and trepidation that I am going to be in Colorado for the 2016 Evergreen Jazz Festival on Friday. The trepidation has nothing to do with music, but arises because of the details that emerge in even the least complicated travel.  But the rewards at the end of the rainbow — a Colorado double rainbow — are even more immense.

Double rainbow, Evergreen, Colorado, 2014. Photograph by Michael Steinman

Double rainbow, Evergreen, Colorado, 2014. Photograph by Michael Steinman

One such reward is multiple opportunities to hear three of my favorite musicians: Carl Sonny Leyland, piano / vocal; Clint Baker, string bass and perhaps other instruments of mass pleasure; Jeff Hamilton, drums.

They will be appearing throughout the Festival, but before it starts they will be creating seismic happiness at a barn concert on Thursday night: details here. At this concert there will be dancing.  I will bring back videos, I promise . . . but just to get you in the mood, here are several I shot at a California swing dance on August 20, 2011, a Wednesday Night Hop in Mountain View.

I knew less about videoing then, so it took me a while to get courageous at the start of LADY BE GOOD, but the music is always there:

and . . .

and . . . .

These three heroes have the rollicking force of the Thirties Basie band in full cry.  And they use their powers for good.

I know that some of you can’t get up to Colorado on this short notice, and I understand.  However, I see that Carl’s trio is booked for the 2017 Evergreen Jazz Festival . . . so that gives everyone time to make arrangements.

May your happiness increase!