The response to my first posting with videos of Hal Smith’s Swing Central from August 28 of this year has been so enthusiastic that I offer four more — with thematic connections to three of the greatest lyrical players of jazz: Bis Beiderbecke, Frank Trumbauer, Lester Young, and Pee Wee Russell. We know that Lester deeply admired the other three players, and it’s not hard to hear an emotional connection between Pee Wee and Pres when their clarinet explorations are the subject. Four great poets who also swung deliciously.
Swing Central is made up of Hal on drums, Jon Doyle on clarinet, Joshua Hoag on string bass, Dan Walton on piano, Jamey Cummins on guitar. This performance is from a swing dance gig at Central Market in Austin, Texas.
Before you plunge in, might I suggest that you be prepared to listen closely. This is a band that understands the pleasure of playing softly, of placing note after note and harmony upon harmony with great delicacy: yes, they can swing exuberantly (as in the final SUNDAY) but some of what follows is soft, tender, introspective — I think of Japanese paintings, where one brushstroke both is and has depths of implication. Allow this music to reverberate — placidly yet definitely — as you listen.
And the fine videos are the work of Gary Feist of Yellow Dog Films.
FOR NO REASON AT ALL IN C (an improvisation on I’D CLIMB THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN):
PEE WEE’S BLUES (with some real-life end-of-the-night tidying at the start, very atmospheric):
SUNDAY (that Jule Styne opus recorded by all four of these players):
I look forward to a happy future for this gratifying small orchestra, its music so pleasing.
May your happiness increase!