One of the pleasures of growing older is the freedom to speak one’s own truth, and not be so worried whether others might agree. So I will say plainly that the performance that follows is a masterpiece.
The performance of DEAR OLD SOUTHLAND (a reworking of the song DEEP RIVER) was the joyous work of Marc Caparone, cornet, and Ray Skjelbred, piano, at the San Diego Jazz Fest, on November 26, 2016. Their inspiration was the 1930 recording by Louis Armstrong and Buck Washington. And this performance follows the same overall pattern: a slow rubato exposition of the dark yearning melody, then an shift into swingtime, a piano solo, four four-bar exchanges, a return to the duet, then a close in the original tempo with a long triumphant held note. But it is by no means a recreation of the recording, which to me is very moving, as if Marc and Ray chose to be themselves in their chosen roles, honoring the ancestral innovators while being personally innovative.
I urge JAZZ LIVES readers and viewers to take this performance to their hearts: it is music that uplifts even while its strains are dark and grieving. Thank you, Marc and Ray. And I look forward to more brilliance from these two artists.
May your happiness increase!