The song is MEMORIES OF YOU, and this is a performance to remember. It took place after the scheduled musical events had concluded at the 2016 Whitley Bay International Jazz Party, held at the Village Hotel in Newcastle, UK.
Fast tempos wow the crowd, but I think most musicians would agree with me that slow tempos are much harder to handle with coherence, variety, and feeling. When the bars are going along like telephone poles out the window, one can simply rely on learned patterns and hang on. Some trumpet players, and I think of Rex Stewart, play faster as the tempo increases; some, like mid-period Louis (hear the 1932-33 Victors) know that whole notes and “long tones” convey intense emotional messages.
Thus it is with this performance: it has its own sustained beauty — no one plays double-time; they let the emotions unfold. Directly in front of my camera was Menno Daams, cornet; to his left, a string bassist whose name I did not learn; Torstein Kubban, trumpet; Lars Frank, tenor saxophone; Jon Penn, keyboard. And although one might associate this Eubie Blake – Noble Sissle evergreen with Benny Goodman, there is Louis in the air — but more so, I am reminded of a Jerry Newman recording from some undocumented early morning in 1941 at Minton’s. Hawkins is here, and so is Frank Newton. At least in my imagination. V.beautiful, as we say at the Village Hotel (with a big wave of my hand to my honoured friend Nicholas D. Ball):
There is drama here, and passion, but no rush: these musicians know (and feel) how to take time to let beauty unfold on its own terms. Even in the pub.
Now for the Public Service Announcement. I began publishing this blog in February 2008, which is an infinity of delighted keystrokes and videos ago. During the pandemic, I felt it was my responsibility to add joy to the air by posting every day. I hope many of you can say along with me, “I have come out of my house. I am less afraid. My life has expanded.” Instead of spending eight hours a day in front of this lit screen, I have returned to a life that resembles the one I cherished sixteen months ago. So this is only to say I am reverting to a summer schedule . . . a day might go by without a post. This is not to cause alarm, but it is a sign that your faithful blogger might have gotten home late from a concert in New Jersey or dinner in Brooklyn and not be up to posting a new blog that day. I don’t intend to stop . . . but this is just to let my faithful, sometimes anxious audience know that if there is no blogpost that day, I am not in the ER.
The blog has been an instrument, rather like a spiritual megaphone, through which I could send love and gratitude, often in the form of music, and I have gotten it back so wonderfully for thirteen years. I am not quitting, but don’t worry if I play hookey (or even hooky). There are something like five thousand blogposts stored here: you might be able to amuse yourself while I am capering in the sunshine (or eating something with capers.) Love, Michael
May your happiness increase!