“THE JOYS OF D*******D” (PART ONE): ROSSANO SPORTIELLO, DUKE HEITGER, DAN BARRETT, SCOTT ROBINSON, DAN BLOCK, FRANK TATE, HAL SMITH (Cleveland Classic Jazz Party, September 15, 2017)

Let the truth come out: the glorious pianist Rossano Sportiello loves Dixieland. Yes, that naughty word so scorned by many jazz listeners.

[An update: since I published this blog, with the word spelled out in full, I have been rebuked by several esteemed jazz journalists, a few of them friends, for my daring to print the obscenity, as if I were wrapping myself in the flag of the Confederacy.  “‘D*******d’ is the name given to the kind of music Rossano heard, loved, and played in his Milan youth.  And — should sensibilities still be raw — it’s the name Louis gave to what he played.  Do I need to cite a higher authority?]

Not, as he will point out, the homogenized variety, but the music he grew up listening to: Eddie Condon, Pee Wee Russell, Bobby Hackett, and their noble colleagues.

In 2017, for one of his sets at the much-missed Cleveland Classic Jazz Party, he chose to play the familiar repertoire . . . but with energy and love.  He called on Hal Smith, drums; Frank Tate, string bass; Dan Block, clarinet; Scott Robinson, tenor saxophone; Dan Barrett, trombone; Duke Heitger, trumpet, to accomplish this.  And even though these songs (or almost all of them) have been played to shreds by less-splendid musicians, they shine here.  Admire the relaxed tempos and fine dynamics: the hallmarks of players who remember what the songs are supposed to sound like, that MUSKRAT and BARBECUE have fine melodies that must be treated with care and admiration.

They began with the song Louis loved so well, STRUTTIN’ WITH SOME BARBECUE:

Again, thinking of Louis, a sweet-and-slow AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’:

Hot Five territory once more, but not too fast, for MUSKRAT RAMBLE:

There’s a second half, to come soon — classic performances, created on the spot.

Thanks not only to these delightful creators, but to Nancy Hancock Griffith and Kathy Hancock for making all this possible.  The Cleveland Classic Jazz Party is now only a sweet memory, but it was a glorious outpouring while it lasted.

May your happiness increase!

11 responses to ““THE JOYS OF D*******D” (PART ONE): ROSSANO SPORTIELLO, DUKE HEITGER, DAN BARRETT, SCOTT ROBINSON, DAN BLOCK, FRANK TATE, HAL SMITH (Cleveland Classic Jazz Party, September 15, 2017)

  1. Dan Morgenstern

    That’s quite a band! But as for the Dixieland tag, why?? Condon and associates are mentioned, but Eddie hated the term as indeed all such labels, which is why he called his autobio “We Called It Music” (highly recommended). It seems not to have occurred to the Dixieland labelers that the term is offputting to many, including this poster, not just for It’s historical overtones but also its connection with sleevegarters Straw hats and striped shirts. It’s a cornball term for music with unpleasant historical overtones. When I was an editor, I purged it except as a self- identified label. It deserves the fate of the statues currently being removed (though I’m of two minds about that).

    >

  2. This is how the music was identified when Rossano was growing up and playing it in Milan. I share your political sentiments, but also think the music is more important than the name. Louis embraced the name, did he not?

  3. Hi Michael,

    Thanks as always for these wonderful posts. I’m in town for a family trip and am planning to sneak out to catch the EarRegulars. Will you be at the show tonight?

    Cheers,

    Mikiya

  4. Alas, no. The Monday morning alarm is a harsh taskmaster. Enjoy for me! Michael

  5. why am I getting malware from Jazz Lives site

  6. Good morning to you, too, Mr. Batson. I have no idea; I am not generating it. Perhaps you should unsubscribe and then (if motivated to do so) resubscribe. But this is the first and only example I’ve been informed of. I’m sorry for your trouble. Michael

  7. Don"Zoot" Conner

    I don’t care what you call it, this is a fine band with no weak links. Speaking of Rossano Sportiello, I just picked up his latest side with Scott Hamilton on the ‘Cellar Live” label.recorded in 2017: they really compliment each other.

  8. “It’s a cornball term for music with unpleasant historical overtones.” Exactly.

    And if the music is more important than the name, Michael, why cling to a name with associations that many find offensive? E.g. “In Dixieland I’ll take my stand, to live or die in Dixie.” What sort of life or death stand would that have been?

  9. Larry, I am sorry that you feel the need to respond in this way, as if I were personally flying the flag of the Confederacy. Perhaps if you had read my response to Dan’s comment, you would understand the context. But I will explain. The abhorrent D-word is not my choice, but Rossano’s affectionate term for the music he loved and loves, and how it was characterized during his early playing years in Milan. I cut his introduction to this set because he requested I do so, but there’s the source. Parenthetically, Louis adopted the term for the music he played and originated, and I take him to be my highest authority. I am also sorry that some listeners have become so irritated by the packaging — the name on the box, shall we say — that they have brought their annoyance to bear on the pastry within. Michael

  10. Rosanno can certainly do as he wishes, andI take your point about how he came to use the term, when he probably was not aware of the abundant negative associations it has for many people. Indeed, I can cite many notable veteran musicians, Roy Eldridge for one, who found the term Dixieland abhorrent because of those associations. Again, you say that the music is more important than the name, so why cling to the name? As for Louis’ unimpeachable authority, I do dose myself regularly with Swiss Kriss. 🙂

  11. Pingback: HOT, SWEET, HOTTER: ROSSANO SPORTIELLO and FRIENDS at CLEVELAND (Sept. 15, 2017), PART TWO: DUKE HEITGER, DAN BARRETT, DAN BLOCK, SCOTT ROBINSON, FRANK TATE, HAL SMITH | JAZZ LIVES

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