I knew something of young Philadelphia reedman Jack Saint Clair before I heard him — on a Danny Tobias gig last Saturday — by implication, because Danny has excellent taste. And Jack has been part of the Marty Grosz Repertory Company that appears at the Mermaid Inn in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. Later, I saw Jack get the coveted Larry McKenna Seal of Approval . . . if there is a higher honor I don’t know it. But I was delighted and moved by his playing at that concert (with Silas Irvine, piano, and Sam Harris, string bass) so I think you should meet him too, doing what he does beautifully: making melody come alive, airborne, quietly compelling.
The song is SPRING CAN REALLY HANG YOU UP THE MOST, lyrics by Fran Landesman, music by Tommy Wolf — their 1955 variation on Eliot’s “April is the cruelest month.” Or close enough. Only 33 years separate Eliot and Landesman, proof of how quickly language moves and changes.
But there’s nothing cruel in Jack’s lovely consideration of this pastoral lament:
Anyone who has sung or played an instrument will know just how difficult it is to make melody come that alive. For those of you, and you know who you are, who leap to Compare, whisper the comparisons to your coffee and don’t send them here . . . . Jack sounds exactly like himself, and we are glad of it.
May your happiness increase!