The title is all you need to know, or almost. Jazz in New Orleans (or “New Orleans jazz”) is widely and wildly diversified, with many savory tastes . . . but what follows is some of the best, of a kind you don’t always hear — smooth, lyrical, rocking small-band swing that draws from Fifties Basie as well as the great standards. The heroes are the deeply melodic guitarist Larry Scala, his equally lyrical comrades, pianist Kris Tokarski and string bassist James Singleton. These four performances come from a wonderful session held at The Bombay Club in the Prince Conti Hotel on Conti Street on January 12, 2017, underthe benevolent guidance of Mr. Scala.
First, a very rewarding warmup on I CAN’T GET STARTED — music for expandable duo. I have a very sweet feeling about the music made before the gig officially starts, but very rarely is it as poised and satisfying as this:
SEPTEMBER IN THE RAIN:
THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER YOU:
And a Basie classic in miniature! BLUES IN HOSS FLAT:
I celebrate the absence of cliche in people’s solos, the easy friendly interplay, and the irresistible rocking motion. You’re free to say what and whom “it sounds like,” but often I was reminded of an imaginary Herb Ellis session — but it was taking place in front of my own two looking eyes, which is a great and remarkable thing. Thank you, Messrs. Scala, Tokarski, and Singleton, for making an evening in New Orleans both subtle and completely memorable, with nary a parasol in sight.
May your happiness increase!