We must acknowledge the passage of time. Art Tatum, Johnny Guarneri, Hank Jones have become Ancestors. Israel Crosby, Milt Hinton, and Oscar Pettiford have moved to another neighborhood. Sidney Catlett, Dave Tough, and Jo Jones have passed into spirit.
But we cannot mourn those shifts too sorrowfully, because we have Rossano Sportiello, piano; Frank Tate, string bass; Hal Smith, drums to show us how it’s done in 2016 — Old Time Modern, flawlessly.
They did it (perhaps for the first time ever?) at the 2015 Cleveland Classic Jazz Party, for a short spell. It seemed that by the time I had set up my camera, their set was over.
This year, on September 16, 2016, I was better prepared . . . and caught the whole glorious effusion. I was transported, and the audience was rocking alongside me. You’ll hear immediately that I don’t list the names of the illustrious forbears in vain. This trio has a lightness and grit that I don’t hear very often, and it is good medicine for troubled times and happy ones. They perform two early-twentieth century pop classics, two blues, with nods to Basie, Charlie Christian, and the boogie-woogie masters, as well as Rossano’s Chopin-into-jazz transformations. All with style, grace, and enthusiasm beyond compare. And this is a blissfully natural-sounding group: a fine grand piano (no microphones pushed under its lid); an unamplified string bass; a drum kit of snare drum and hi-hat cymbal, wire brushes to the fore — the old days without anything dusty about them.
SHOULD I? (from Rhapsody to Romp, which could serve as a title for the set):
CHOPIN IN JAZZ:
BASIE BLUES / BOOGIE (exalted dance music):
I have it on good authority that this trio is accepting gigs. Private parties, public concert tours, canonization . . . what you will. They deserve it, and so do we.
May your happiness increase!