I read once of how an eminent musician, in a hotel room with musician friends, would open a new bottle of Scotch, and before drinking, pour a little out on the rug and say, “That’s for the guys who have gone before,” or perhaps “That’s for the guys upstairs.” A libation in honor of the Ancestors.
When Ray Skjelbred plays, no liquids are spilled, but he honors the Ancestors in his own way, by evoking them in his own fashion. Here are four brilliant evocations that he created at the San Diego Jazz Fest on November 27, 2015.
Although Ray is a peerless band pianist (hear him with his own group, the Cubs, and many others, lighting the way from within the ensemble) he comes from the glorious tradition, the days when the pianist was the band. Perhaps it’s a kind of Scandinavian thrift, a genetic offering from his personal Ancestors, who say, “You have these ten fingers; why only use two or three?”
For Tiny Parham, STOMPIN’ ON DOWN:
For Joe Sullivan, GIN MILL BLUES:
Also for Sullivan and his friends, OH, BABY! — and those delightful startling dissonant surprises at the start:
For Oro “Tut” Soper and the shade of Baby Dodds, IT’S A RAMBLE:
I look forward to seeing and hearing Ray (with Dawn Lambeth and Marc Caparone) at the 2016 San Diego Jazz Fest. Here’s a sample of what that wonderful combination did in 2015:
May your happiness increase!