Here is a piano potpourri from the 1975 Nice Jazz Festival, broadcast on French television in 1977. In reverse, we have the amazingly durable Sammy Price and Art Hodes approaching the blues in their own ways, the former creating Saturday-night dance music, the latter burrowing deep inside the form; Earl Hines wandering the cosmos in his astonishing fashion, improvising on a swing standard and two “pop tunes” as he had always done. For me, the crown goes to the less-heralded Johnny Guarnieri, swinging and striding irresistibly at a variety of tempos: I wish more people paid attention to his beautiful approaches to the idiom. Listen to his WILD ABOUT HARRY and the rest. But you’ll decide; there’s no final examination in this post.
Johnny Guarnieri: BYE BYE BLUES [mislabeled as WANG WANG BLUES] – I’M JUST WILD ABOUT HARRY (solo) / S’POSIN’ (add Larry Ridley, string bass, Ray Mosca, drums) (7.22-23.75)
Earl Hines: CANADIAN SUNSET – LULLABY OF BIRDLAND – CLOSE TO YOU (Harley White, string bass; Eddie Graham, drums)
Art Hodes (7.27.75) THE MOOCHE
Johnny Guarnieri: THE SHEIK OF ARABY / (7.24.75) CAROLINA SHOUT
There was a time when live hot jazz came pouring out of the speaker of your AM radio. We’ve heard airshots by the big bands and Charlie Parker and his friends, but radio station WMEX in Boston, for a time, offered prime live music, often hosted by a then-young Nat Hentoff. Collectors recorded and saved these broadcasts, doing us a great service decades later. My copy of this music may have originated with Joe Boughton, who passed it on to John L. Fell.
Here’s a half-hour of lively music from the spring of 1951, a Sunday afternoon session, “Jazz at Storyville,” from George Wein’s club in that city. The players are Johnny Windhurst, cornet; Peanuts Hucko, clarinet, vocal; Dick Le Fave, trombone; Wein, piano; John Field, string bass; Marquis Foster, drums, later joined by Erwin Ferry, trombone, with Eddie Phyfe replacing Foster.
The repertoire is what you would hear at Eddie Condon’s club in New York, and that is no bad thing: INTRODUCTION / ROYAL GARDEN BLUES / SQUEEZE ME (scat vocal Hucko) / STEALIN’ APPLES (Hucko, Wein, Field, Foster) / Eddie Phyfe, drums, replaces Foster; Erwin Perry, tenor saxophone added for EASTER PARADE / WHEN YOU’RE SMILING / IMPROVISATION FOR THE MARCH OF TIME (or DEEP HARLEM) //
I’m most charmed by Hucko’s vocal, Windhurst’s electricity, and Wein in splendid form, but this half-hour stands as testimony to the durability of the common hot language, call the results what you will:
Seventy-one years old, but it doesn’t show its age.
It was the Sunday before Valentine’s Day . . . and properly, the OAO and I were at St. John’s in the Village on Eleventh Street to hear and capture another delightful recital by Yaala Ballin and Michael Kanan, two of my favorite song-explorers.
As is their playful habit, Yaala and Michael made their recital inclusive in the nicest ways. No, the audience was not invited to sing along, but they did shape the event by choosing the repertoire, on the spot and in advance. And wonders resulted.
Because of the holiday, love was the theme. But since the repertoire is not only celebratory, their were beautiful tributes to devotion, harder-edged rueful dialogues on love that got away as well as its glories. Here are six beauties, some as brief as one chorus, but how much music Yaala and Michael can create in thirty-two bars!
LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY:
I LET A SONG GO OUT OF MY HEART:
ALL TOO SOON:
FALLING IN LOVE WITH LOVE:
IT’S ALL RIGHT WITH ME:
MORE THAN YOU KNOW:
It was snowing that afternoon, but the music kept us warm for days, and it continues to do so now.
Memorable music flourishes in the most unlikely situations. Cellar Dog (once Fat Cat) at 75 Christopher Street, is dark — and the happy crowd of young people playing ping-pong and other indoor sports can sometimes be, let us say, overly conversational. But one’s eye and ear get used to these imperfections: the world isn’t a concert hall. The delightfully shaded music comes right through, as it did on the evening of March 16, 2022, when Tamar Korn, voice; Mark Shane, piano; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Kevin Dorn, drums, came out of the darkness to embrace us. And the ping-pong players were dancing at their tables, so they heard it too.
BIG CITY BLUES:
CLOSE YOUR EYES:
and, cosmologically, with an “oration” from essayist-philosopher Michael Ventura, Tamar and the band soar HOW HIGH THE MOON:
An absolutely delightful musical evening. Elsewhere on this blog I have posted three instrumentals by the Kellso-Shane-Dorn powerhouse, and Tamar’s completely touching performances of ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? and YOUNG AT HEART. Watch, marvel, and be there in spirit.
A WEAVER OF DREAMS, music by Victor Young, lyrics by Jack Elliott, published in 1951, is both notable and obscure. It’s been recorded by so many people (Lord’s discography lists 154 recordings): Carmen McRae, Nat King Cole, Billy Eckstine, John Coltrane, Kenny Burrell, Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, Cedar Walton, Lee Konitz, Tony Bennett come to mind, but I couldn’t remember hearing it performed on a gig until Gabrielle Stravelli sang it with Dan Block, tenor saxophone; Michael Kanan, piano; Pat O’Leary, string bass, at Swing 46, on December 14, 2021.
This version is pensive and lovely. I hope more people add this song to their repertoires, and, as always, I hope to expand the fan clubs of Gabrielle, Dan, Michael, and Pat — working band of four friends:
This band and these musicians are reasons I plan to stay in New York: they make what could be an urban desert bloom and keep blooming.
I don’t know what anyone believes about an afterlife . . . going all the way from angels with harps to reincarnation to a full stop in the void. But the voices and personalities and yes, souls, of people who have moved on vividly live on in our ears and eyes and recollections. And they can be asked to come back for a visit. When I hear a recording such as this one, it is as if I were much younger, astonished at Ruby or Vic standing and playing several feet from my completely delighted face — alive as they were in New York City on many bandstands.
This half-hour audio interlude comes from July 5, 1979, at the Grande Parade du Jazz: Ruby Braff, cornet; Vic Dickenson, trombone; Jimmie Rowles, piano; Slam Stewart, string bass; Alan Dawson, drums. They perform THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER YOU / THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU / KEEPIN’ OUT OF MISCHIEF NOW / SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME (Vic) / LADY BE GOOD (Slam, Rowles, Dawson) //
With no disrespect to Ruby, Slam, and Alan, I urge you to listen with reverent seriousness to Vic and Jimmie playing SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME (Ruby’s choice, it seems, rather than one of Vic’s more usual ballad features). If you had told me in the past that I would live to hear them play this, I would have been speechless. As I am now, listening to it with awe. Curiously, my copy of this tape repeats SOMEONE (understandably!) and omits the closing performance of LINGER AWHILE. But life is full of mysteries, isn’t it?
At the end of last summer, one of the great pleasures was the Sunday sessions created by the EarRegulars outside of the Ear Inn on 326 Spring Street. I’ve been sending their wonderful music out slowly, a performance at a time, hoping to come to the end of the 2021 gifts as the 2022 summer sessions begin again. Cue Helen Humes singing I CAN DREAM, CAN’T I?
On October 3, the EarRegulars were Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Harvey Tibbs, trombone; Neal Miner, string bass. And here they are musing their way, collectively and singly, through Jelly Roll Morton’s SWEET SUBSTITUTE, with delicacy and fervor:
Accept no substitutes. Ask for The EarRegulars wherever better music can be found. (They have resumed their Sunday evening sessions indoors, from 8-11, loosely, and those gatherings at 326 Spring Street are also life-changing, in subtle ways.)
If you don’t know the alto saxophonist Richie Cole, a New Jersey native who left us in 2020, please listen to these two examples of his work. First, joyously playful:
Here, making a well-worn ballad both entrancing and swinging:
A passionate approach grounded in the great traditions but stamped with his own personality. Please enjoy the video announcing the concert (fine work by Mike Salvatore) and if you are nearby, be sure to come by. The Sanctuary has wonderful acoustics and a lovely ambiance.
And the details of the concert — Richie’s ALTO MADNESS band with sitters-in invited — are in the video:
Richie was not only a sweet soulful player; he was a sweet soulful person. My friend Richard Salvucci, a wise jazz listener and writer, encountered Richie in person:
I guess it was around the summer of 2000 when I was in London for research work. Our kids were with us. So we took every opportunity to take them to museums, concerts, whatever. I was especially happy because there was a lot of jazz around London, and I could take Martin to hear people like Lou Donaldson, Warren Vache, and Ralph Sutton. We didn’t know Richie was gonna be in town until we stumbled on an advert for a new club (run by a singer whose name I can’t recall). I jumped and told Martin we’re gonna go have some fun.
Cole was with a local rhythm section that he seemed to be having a few problems with, but he played superbly. The club was, alas, hardly full, so we got a good seat at the fifty yard line. When you get to hear Cole doing Cherokee (in B), you just smile. He was wonderful. On a break, he walked around to the tables to chat with people (including his then wife, I think!). When he came over to us, Martin, then about 12, was agog. He told Richie he was learning trumpet, and Cole asked him whom he liked. “Miles,” whose “So What” solo he was learning by heart. Well, Cole asked him which Miles, early or late? We sort of said Martin was getting tuition in the real Miles, which amused Cole. I asked him if he was from Trenton, NJ, and he seemed surprised. He wasn’t surprised when I said I was from Philly–my “correct” pronunciation of Trenton gave it away. I guess we must have chatted for 10 minutes. Richie couldn’t have been nicer, and my impression was he talked to most everyone.
He was a wonderful player and a wonderful guy.
For those who like their details on the half-shell with only a squeeze of lemon, the 1867 Sanctuary is at 101 Scotch Rd, Ewing Township, New Jersey 08628-2501: 2 PM on Sunday, May 1 — and here’s more:
A tribute concert to the legendary jazz saxophonist and Trenton native Richie Cole. Event presented by Richie Cole’s family. Please join us to celebrate Richie Cole’s music, life and legacy! https://www.eventbrite.com/e/206902128837 Members of Richie’s jazz group will be performing a diverse lineup of Richie’s music. The show will end with a very special farewell from Richie Cole, himself! If you play an instrument or sing, come sit in! Vince Lardear – Alto sax Pete Lauffer – Piano, vocals John Sheridan, Electric guitar Chris Clark – Bass Joe Falcey – Percussion Limited seats!Tickets can be purchased prior to the event, as well as at the door, if tickets are still available. Looking forward to an amazing event – Alto Madness style! Doors: 2 PM – memorial hour // Show: 3 PM
Please reach out to Annie Cole with any questions or if you would like to coordinate purchasing tickets directly: email@example.com. Proceeds go to the musicians and to preserving Richie Cole’s music and other works.
Thanks to Bob Kull, Annie Cole, and Richard Salvucci, who made the concert and this post possible. Inevitable, even!
I don’t think JAZZ LIVES’ readers will need an introduction to this wonderful band. Eddie Condon would have called this band SONS OF BIXES. And they are! (In a nice way, mind you.) Warren Vaché, cornet; Bill Allred, trombone; Bob Wilber, reeds; Dick Wellstood, piano; Milt Hinton, string bass; Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar; Jake Hanna, drums; guest Wild Bill Davison, cornet, who also talks about Al Capone with an interviewer at the end. (Bill hadn’t been able to warm up properly for his first chorus of MONDAY DATE but was in wonderful form a few minutes in.)
The music: AT THE JAZZ BAND BALL / BEALE STREET BLUES / THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE (Vaché-Allred) / MOOONLIGHT ON THE GANGES (Wilber-Bucky-Milt-Jake) / add Wild Bill, Warren out: MONDAY DATE / BLUE TURNING GREY OVER YOU / YOU TOOK ADVANTAGE OF ME (don’t miss Bill’s Hackett-coda!) / Warren returns: LADY BE GOOD / Encore (Wild Bill out): HINDUSTAN //
Incidentally, the music is billed as “Chicago jazz,” and I suppose that is evident in some of the repertoire choices. But if you take away all the labels — “Nicksieland,” “hot jazz,” “Mainstream,” the music stands on its own, with masterful players regarding the past with affection and skill while completely being themselves. And, with no disrespect to the elegantly hot front line, WHAT a rhythm section! Make sure that fragile items nearby are secured because you will feel turbulence of the best kind throughout the cabin.
I could watch and listen to that all day. What a blessing that it was performed, recorded, and preserved, and that Warren and Bill are still with us, making music.
A two-person dream band is what I call it. And the two majestic persons are Menno Daams, cornet, and Rossano Sportiello, piano.
They play I GOT RHYTHM. “Oh,” I can hear some saying. “That old thing?” YES. In all twelve keys, gently ascending without a misstep or a failure of swing and lyricism. At once it is a history of jazz; at once it is a compact dance party; at once it is brilliant virtuosity that is never self-conscious. I could go on, but you should stop, look, and listen.
AND a thousand thanks to expert videographer Werner Sutter, without whom this would be merely the stuff of oral history. Bless you, all three of you:
When does the world tour start? I want to be there to relieve Werner when his arm gets tired. These are my heroes, in whatever key.
This is the Official JAZZ LIVES Out-Of-Office Message. It’s a metaphor: I love fish but someone else catches them for me. But I will be taking a break from blogging for the dates above. For good reasons, I assure you, not any blog-related disorders including my chronic stiff neck from too much time in front of the lit screen. And it’s not an April Fool joke, either. Because people worry, I haven’t received any ominous diagnosis; I am not going into rehab; I am not going to Mexico for bargain-priced blog-liposuction. I am taking a break for very good and pleasing reasons, and I am coming back.
I doubt that any reader is seized with anxiety at this news. However, since I have been sending out blogposts since February 2008 along with YouTube videos (at my “swingyoucats” channel here) I trust you can find some music to brighten your days.