Usually when I set up my video camera to record a band, I try to stay a safe distance from the percussionist — no matter how much I respect him or her — for simple matters of volume. But at the informal Thursday night sessions at the 2017 Cleveland Classic Jazz Party, I found myself right near the drums, which was a good thing . . .
Hal Smith I can always trust to swing beautifully. Here, in a piano trio, a clarinet quartet, and a two-horn quintet, he stayed on his brushes — mostly on the snare and hi-hat cymbal, with bass drum commentary — and the swing that resulted was subtle, reassuring, and immense.
It didn’t hurt at all (“it didn’t bother me”) that he was joined by Rossano Sportiello, piano, and Frank Tate, string bass — for the first number, WHO’S SORRY NOW? Not Connie Francis, but James P. Johnson:
(I knew there was much exhilarating music to come, but after that performance I thought, “Well, I’m full. Whatever else happens is a bonus.”)
Then, Rossano slowed the tempo down, and they began JADA. A man walked in front of the camera at around twenty seconds, and ordinarily I find such walk-throughs irritating, but not when the man is my hero Dan Block, moving in to play with the irresistible trio:
To quote Alex Hill, AIN’T IT NICE?
And as a final bit of pleasure in this add-a-part informal set, Joel Forbes took over for Frank at the bass and Duke Heitger joined in for JUST YOU, JUST ME:
Did you ask me why I travel to the Cleveland Classic Jazz Party, or why I seek out gigs where these musicians play? I think these videos will answer the [musical] question. I plan to offer more videos from this weekend, as will Laura Wyman of Wyman Video, who has some delights for us as well.
May your happiness increase!