In one of those curious episodes of dislocation we all take for granted (read Philip K. Dick’s “The Eyes Have It”) my ears met Eddie Erickson long before the rest of me caught up. Perhaps I first heard him on recordings with Dan Barrett, Rebecca Kilgore, Melissa Collard? I know we met in Germany in 2007 for one of Manfred Selchow’s concert weekends, and a few years later, in California. More to the point: I saw him, to my great delight, at the Jazz Bash by the Bay in March of this year.
Those who know Eddie only superficially categorize him as a dazzling vaudevillian — someone who, had he been born earlier, would have starred in Vitaphone short films and on Broadway — a natural comedian, a banjo virtuoso, a walking compendium of lovable entertainment. I think of his performances of MY CANARY HAS CIRCLES UNDER HIE EYES and the dreadful honeymoon night of SIDE BY SIDE. But he goes much deeper. I celebrate the other Eddie: the swinging guitarist whose solos make sense, and, perhaps most of all, the very touching ballad singer. And were you to visit my YouTube channel, “swingyoucats”, you would find that I’ve been documenting Eddie’s multi-faceted self for nearly a decade now.
But that’s history of a very delightful kind, which I plan to add to right now. What follows is a set of music performed on March 6, 2020, at the Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California, under the title “Eddie Erickson and Friends.” Strictly speaking, that was inaccurate, because if all of Eddie’s friends had assembled at 7:39 in the Colton Room, all the other rooms would have been empty and the fire marshals would have been called. So it was “and Friends who are Expert Musicians,” which meant Jerry Krahn, guitar; Katie Cavera, string bass and vocal; Danny Tobias, trumpet and Eb alto horn; Gary Ryan, banjo and vocal; Kathy Becker, attendant to the Emperor.
Two details to point out before you dive in. Ordinarily, I would edit the pre-song conversation and getting-ready more seriously, but in Eddie’s case, his asides are precious, so what you have here is as close to the full hour as my camera would allow. (I lost a few notes of ALWAYS, but you can imagine what was left out.) And ordinarily I would not post ten performances at one time, but I envision people — needing more joy and uplift right now — setting aside an hour to visit with Eddie, to savor the joy they might not have been able to have when it was happening. So . . . stop multi-tasking and enjoy, please.
After an introduction that hints at ZONKY, Eddie heads into BLUE SKIES:
What would a jazz festival be without a belated coronation?
Gary Ryan keeps working at it, in honor of the National Pastime:
When skies are cloudy and gray . . . we can always think of Eddie:
Katie Cavera’s saucy feature, I BET YOU TELL THAT TO ALL THE GIRLS:
Louis, 1947 — SOMEDAY YOU’LL BE SORRY:
Jerry Krahn’s pretty IF I HAD YOU:
A banjo Ecstasy for Messrs. Erickson and Ryan, THE WORLD IS WAITING FOR THE SUNRISE, with a little Prokofiev at the start and some NOLA:
Something to change the mood, Danny Tobias’ ST. JAMES INFIRMARY:
Eddie’s heartfelt version of Berlin’s ALWAYS:
And a closing romp on Hoagy’s JUBILEE:
What a treasure Eddie is!
May your happiness increase!