Just pure pleasure. An expert gentle band at a friendly festival. If you need program notes, they are Bob Schulz, cornet and vocal; Kim Cusack, clarinet; Doug Finke, trombone; Ray Skjelbred, piano; Scott Anthony, banjo and vocal; Jim Maihack, tuba; Ray Templin, drums and vocal. This set took place on February 8, 2019, at the Fresno “Sounds of Mardi Gras.”
Here is the first part of this set — five easygoing swing performances.
And a thought. Some audiences, and who am I to criticize them, need their jazz to be in broad strokes and bright colors. They aren’t happy unless the band is Fast and Loud, as if they wanted their plate of fries with enough salt on them so that they resembled a winter scene. Although Louis and Sidney Catlett and Bechet are deities to me, I prefer intriguing explorations in the middle register, in medium tempo, at a volume where listeners have to pay attention or they might miss something beautiful. Traditional jazz doesn’t have to model itself on the 1812 Overture, or at least not all the time.
Bob and his colleagues understand this, and, better yet, they live it in every note. So here are three more lovely performances from lovely Fresno. Thanks to the players and the organizers and the friends of the music.
First, Bob plans a journey South and wonders about sleeping arrangements:
Ray bursts forth in romantic happiness, thanks to Alex Hill and Mr. Waller:
And a romping performance of the wearying classic to end the set:
There’s more to come. I followed this band around devotedly, and you can understand why.
May your happiness increase!