The rainbows I associate with the Evergreen Jazz Festival weren’t always in the sky. More often than not, they appeared on the bandstand and went vibrating towards everyone in the audience, memorably. One of the people I most associate with cosmic phenomena is pianist-singer-composer Carl Sonny Leyland. People who like to categorize say that Sonny is a fine boogie-woogie and Chicago blues pianist and singer . . . and they would be correct. But he’s also a rollicking full-spectrum jazz pianist, and one of my great pleasures is listening to him rip into a classic pop song as if he were a large puppy and the song a brand-new chew toy. Or, once you’ve calmed down after this performance, you may want to invent a more demure metaphor, and I invite you to do so.
I associate AVALON with numberless Benny Goodman small-group performances and Goodman-inspired performances, but the song was “written” and published in 1920 — composer credits Billy Rose, Al Jolson, and Buddy De Sylva (to figure out who actually “wrote” this would tax my five wits, especially since its initial melody came from Puccini’s TOSCA). However, it remains a reliable uptempo jazz standard for performers with certain associations.
Here is the strain from Puccini, sung by that Caruso fellow:
Hear Sonny, Marty Eggers, string bass, and Jeff Hamilton, drums, make a meal out of it at the Evergreen Jazz Festival:
By the way, no matter what MyLife might say, there is only ONE Jeff Hamilton. Accept no substitutes.
May your happiness increase!