Monthly Archives: August 2022

KENNY BURRELL and FRIENDS: JIMMIE ROWLES, BUCKY PIZZARELLI, REGGIE JOHNSON, SHERMAN FERGUSON, DIZZY GILLESPIE (Nice Jazz Festival, July 8, 1978)

Kenny Burrell at the Nice Jazz Festival, July 1, 1978. (Photo by David Redfern)

People are known by the company they keep. Kenny Burrell, superb on his own terms, is here surrounded by the finest of them all: Jimmie Rowles, piano; Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar; Reggie Johnson, string bass; Sherman Ferguson, drums, for a brisk HAVE YOU MET MISS JONES? (Why the cinematographer aims everywhere but at Rowles during the piano solo is mysterious; perhaps a technical reason?) And please pay special attention to Bucky, playing splendid solos as well as his usual rhythm:

then, a Rowles feature, one of the finest versions of MY FUNNY VALENTINE I know, questing, mobile, curious, with Scottish whimsy free of charge:

and Diz drops in! Notice how NOW’S THE TIME becomes a playful BAGS’ GROOVE, toying with the harmonies. He mugs for the camera, and goes off. Priceless:

More than Nice, I say. Thanks to the indefatigable jazz-film scholar Franz Hoffmann for the elusive source material.

May your happiness increase!

UNLOCKING THE DOORS TO FIND THE PERSON HIDDEN WITHIN: “SNOOZER QUINN: FINGERSTYLE JAZZ GUITAR PIONEER,” by KATY HOBGOOD RAY and DAN SUMNER (Out of the Past Music, 2021)

Imagine an improvising musician, a dazzling stylist, whose recorded works add up to perhaps forty minutes. Dead of tuberculosis at 42. Admired by Les Paul and Frank Trumbauer, Danny Barker, Peck Kelley, Paul Whiteman, and Leo Kottke. “Slightly deformed at birth,” blind in one eye. Kept the best NOLA company.

Plain:

and Fancy, both from 1931:

and here’s some aural evidence:

and two ballads, rich and pensive:

Edwin “Snoozer” Quinn recorded in his prime but none of his solo recordings were ever issued. (He is audible, here and there, but never out front.) Those solos and duets we possess, a dozen sides, were informally done by cornetist Johnny Wiggs, in Snoozer’s hospital room, some months before his death.

We have a brief film of Snoozer playing solo in 1932, his hands graceful and fluid, but it is silent (as a footnote, the film was made by photographer-guitarist Charles Peterson, who gave us so much of the jazz world in still photographs):

Snoozer Quinn might have remained one of the most shadowy figures in jazz, an art form that has its share. And until recently, although the dozen recordings he made in 1948 were available on lp and CD, knowledge of him was scant.

Both he and his music deserved careful, deep, serious documentation. They have it now, splendidly, in this large-format book, 104 pages without filler or bloat:

Here is a comprehensive overview of this book. And, if you’re like me, whose immediate instinct was “How can I buy a copy?” visit here: you can purchase a paperback ($22.00) or an e-book ($14.99).

This book is extraordinarily satisfying: I am a severe reader and I stumbled over no flaws. Many jazz books of late are dense with theory and theorizing (we watch the author’s speculations about matters only tangentially related to music or biography overwhelm the presumed subject). Many are recyclings of others’ speculations or reminiscences. Ground well-and-thoroughly covered, leftovers presented as dinner, pick your metaphor. Given that, first-hand narrative about a figure who has been mysterious is precious, as is new information.

Perhaps you never thought your bookshelf needed a book all about Snoozer Quinn, but this one is entrancing, not only as his detailed portrait, but as a model of humane scholarship. It is candid and plain-spoken, full of surprises and anecdotes, stories from people who were there.

Here’s a quick tour. Katy Hobgood Ray, musician and deep researcher, is Snoozer Quinn’s great-great niece, which means that she knew of him in different contexts than even the most devoted jazz researcher would have. It also means that she has access to wonderful photos of Snoozer from the beginning to the end of his life, as well as the bands he played with. Those photographs, even without substantive text, would be an unequalled story of a life.

The book is divided into three sections. The first, after an introduction by guitarist Steve Howell, is a biography of Snoozer, the writing clear and evocative, followed by those photographs. The second is eight Snoozer solos, transcribed for guitarists to work at — thankfully, they can hear the recordings as stars to shoot for. The last, to me the most valuable, is a collection of recollections by Snoozer’s friends and colleagues.

Snoozer’s life, from one angle, is tragedy: tuberculosis and alcoholism, missed chances and benevolences that turned out all wrong. Paul Whiteman’s misguided fascination with the guitarist is a sad, almost unbelievable story. Genius, almost undocumented. But from another angle, he remains a marvel on the basis of the scant evidence, and those who heard him were astonished and remained so. The tale of his life is told through sharply realized evidence: oral histories from people who knew him and played alongside him, from members of the Quinn family to jazz musicians famous and less well-known.

For guitarists, the center of this book will be the eight carefully-created transcriptions of Snoozer’s solos on the sides he did solo and with Johnny Wiggs. I’m not a guitarist, but Dan Sumner’s description of Snoozer’s tuning and the way the transcriptions were imagined, honed, and polished is very convincing.

The recollections and reminiscences that conclude the book are arresting in their intimacy. Musicians Godfrey Hirsch, Monk Hazel, Benjie white, Armand Hug, and of course Johnny Wiggs, speak with tenderness, awe, and humor of Snoozer and his place in the universe. A detailed discography (with biographical information and documentation) is the final flourish to a splendidly realized enterprise.

No stone is left unturned: on page 11 of this book you will learn, almost offhandedly, the source of “Snoozer” as a nickname. It was a compliment.

It’s a reviewer’s cliche-encomium to state that a book like this is so definitive that there never need be another on the subject. I agree. But I also hope that new discoveries will be made so that there will be a second edition. Snoozer, obscure, often admired but not treated kindly, deserves every celebration possible. As do Katy Hobgood Ray, Dan Sumner, and Steve Howell. Their collaboration is so very rewarding. This book is thrilling in so many ways.

On another note, a comic-linguistic postscript. I first encountered Snoozer around 1971 when I purchased the Fat Cat’s Jazz lp THE LEGENDARY SNOOZER QUINN, which contained a dozen tracks Wiggs (bless him forevermore) had recorded. I had never heard Snoozer or Johnny Wiggs, but was fascinated by the air of mystery that surrounded the music, enough to spend money on a mysterious offering.

Al Rose’s liner note to that record offers a memorable crumb of awkward prose that I have never forgotten. Noting that cornetist Wiggs had not played in some time, Rose wrote, Wiggs, for the occasion, took his lip out of a quarter-century of mothballs, more to put Snoozer at his ease than anything else, and blew on some of these cuts. Little rust had gathered in the superb cornet.

Yes, mothballs and rust. But I digress.

Don’t linger here: buy this book. And while you’re waiting for your copy to arrive, visit https://snoozerquinn.com/ — a fine preface to the book.

May your happiness increase!

THE CONCORD JAZZ ALL-STARS (Part Two) at ANTIBES: SCOTT HAMILTON, WARREN VACHE, DAVE McKENNA, CAL COLLINS, MICHAEL MOORE, JAKE HANNA, MARSHAL ROYAL, SNOOKY YOUNG, ROSS TOMPKINS, RAY BROWN (July 17,1979)

The first part of this gloriously swinging presentation, with Marshal Royal, Snooky Young, Ross Tompkins, Herb Ellis, Michael Moore, Jeff Hamilton, Scott Hamilton, Warren Vache, Ray Brown, and Jake Hanna (! ! !) can be found here and it is dazzling.

And this is the second part:

EMILY (Ross Tompkins, piano; Ray Brown, string bass; Jake Hanna, drums)

THREE LITTLE WORDS (Scott Hamilton, tenor saxophone; Warren Vache, cornet; Dave McKenna, piano; Michael Moore, string bass; Cal Collins, guitar; Jake Hanna) / MY FOOLISH HEART (Scott) / ALONE TOGETHER (Cal) / I’M OLD FASHIONED (Warren) / THE END OF A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP (Dave) / TEA FOR TWO (ensemble) / Add Marshal Royal, alto saxophone, Snooky Young, trumpet, JUMPIN’ AT THE WOODSIDE:

Music so lovely, so expert, doesn’t need explication. Just sink deep into the waves of melody, invention, and swing.

May your happiness increase!

MURRAY WALL, AMONG FRIENDS, MAKING DEEP SOUNDS (JON-ERIK KELLSO, SCOTT ROBINSON, JOE COHN, Cafe Bohemia, January 30, 2020)

Murray Wall, 2016

Deep. Spiritually deep. Sonically deep. Melodic, lyrical, playful, emotive yet compact. Those are the sounds Murray Wall made on the string bass. Here he is surrounded by friends, colleagues, admirers, peers: Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Scott Robinson, reeds; Joe Cohn, guitar. All of this took place on a pre-pandemic Thursday night at Cafe Bohemia, 15 Barrow Street, Greenwich Village, New York City.

Cafe Bohemia, 15 Barrow Street, Greenwich Village, New York City

And the song Louis chose to keep it rolling:

Murray, you remain in our ears and our hearts. I forego the usual closing flourishes.

May your happiness increase!

“IT WAS WILD AND LOOSE AND FREE”: THE MICROSCOPIC SEPTET RETURNS TO NEW YORK (Part Three): THE JAZZ FORUM, July 17, 2022.

This post is the third in a series documenting the 2022 New York reunion of the Micrscopic Septet: Phillip Johnston, Joel Forrester, Don Davis, Dave Sewelson, Michael Hashim, Dave Hofstra, Richard Dworkin, at the Jazz Forum in Tarrytown. Fewer words, more music.

NERVE:

BOO BOO COMING:

THE MIRROR (should I be startled that an audience of adults still laughs at jokes that have “dam(n)” as the payoff? Good clean fun:

A recent blues, DON’T MIND IF I DO:

And the Micros’ unequalled set-closer, Maestro Sewelson’s impassioned take on I’VE GOT A RIGHT TO CRY:

This post is of course for the Micros themselves, creators of dense translucencies, stomping minuets, and for Mark and Ellen of the Jazz Forum, and loyal listeners Maurice and Amber. All hail! We hope for a Micros reunion in New York sooner than 2027.

When my current thoughts about “The Scene” — the scope of live jazz performance — are dire, because some of the people I admired and heard in 1974 or even 2014 are no longer on the planet . . . in Eddie Condon’s words, “the parade’s gone by,” I think of the Micros, sweetly durable. And that they came to Tarrytown to play. There are fifteen or so more video-performances to come from that night, so watch this space.

May your happiness increase!

“BLUE MOON”: DANNY TOBIAS, CHRIS FLORY, SCOTT ROBINSON, PAT O’LEARY at The Ear Inn (July 31, 2022).

Scott Robinson at The Ear Inn

When I first thought of creating a jazz blog in February 2008, I rejected titles others suggested in favor of JAZZ LIVES, with an intentional double meaning: “lives” in the sense of ongoing biographies, a rolling chronicle, and “lives” as an affirmation of the living, vibrant art form rather than worshipful archaeology.

That second meaning has felt particularly important in the last ten days, when I’ve written elegiacally of Murray Wall and Butch Thompson, heroes who moved on to other neighborhoods. I feel pained and mournful, and those words barely express the emotions.

But jazz lives . . . at The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, New York City) and other places. Here is the flexible energized lyrical quartet known as The EarRegulars in their July 31, 2022 incarnation: Danny Tobias, trumpet; Chris Flory, guitar; Scott Robinson, tenor saxophone and alto clarinet; Pat O’Leary, string bass, approaching the Rodgers and Hart love-ballad in the best swinging way.

And as for the talkers in the audience: pity them for their self-absorption, don’t waste energy berating a video-recording.

There will be more to share from this enchanted evening: compositions by Sidney Bechet and Bud Freeman . . . so stay tuned. And search out “live jazz” beyond this and other lit screens, please do. If no one’s told you recently, a tangible audience is this art form’s oxygen.

May your happiness increase!

OUR MAN BUTCH (1943-2022)

Butch Thompson, pianist, clarinetist, scholar, bandleader, and superbly gracious human being, just left us on August 14. I had refrained from posting this excellent video because of people crossing in front of the camera, but now it seems precious, and the other members of the trio, Jeff Hamilton, drums, and Clint Baker, string bass, encouraged me to share it with you.

A small irony. NOBODY’S SWEETHEART NOW is an anthem of the hot jazz Butch created with such ease and energy at the keyboard, but its title is a paradox, for he was the very soul of kindness, making friends out of strangers (even hero-worshiping strangers with video cameras) instantly. I cannot separate the delight of his sounds from the sweetness of the person. Thank you, Butch, for what you did and who you are: they both linger in the mind and heart.

May your happiness increase!

HONORING THE IRREPLACEABLE MURRAY WALL, CONTINUED: TED BROWN, MICHAEL KANAN, TARO OKAMOTO (Kitano Hotel) and JON-ERIK KELLSO, SCOTT ROBINSON, JOE COHN (Cafe Bohemia), 2011, 2020

Murray, 2016

Before we start, on Monday, August 22, 2022, there will be a celebration of Murray Wall’s life and music at the 11th Street Bar in New York City (510 East 11th Street, between Avenues A and B, where Murray and Richard Clements co-led a band for a long memorable time. The website says 7:00 to midnight; the bar does not take reservations, and I won’t be in New York, so any video documentation will be by someone else. (Will someone take that unadorned hint?)

But the best way to love Murray is not in memory but in actuality; I want to do that here.

Let’s go back to January 12, 2011, for the momentous occasion of tenor saxophonist Ted Brown’s first gig as a leader in forty years. It happened at the Kitano Hotel, and Ted was joined by Murray, string bass; Michael Kanan, piano; Taro Okamoto, drums.

FEATHER BED (Ted’s line on YOU’D BE SO NICE TO COME HOME TO):

and LULLABY OF THE LEAVES:

HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN? — those loving questions answered in sound and feeling:

GONE WITH THE WIND:

and finally, a performance that Murray doesn’t play on — a duet between Ted and Michael on PRISONER OF LOVE — but you’ll permit me to imagine him at a table near the band, listening and admiring, as we all were:

And something lovely that only a few people who weren’t at 15 Barrow Street, New York, on January 30, 2020, have experienced — I’LL NEVER BE THE SAME, performed by Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Scott Robinson, tenor saxophone; Joe Cohn, guitar, and Murray:

Murray Wall improved the spiritual landscape for anyone who knew him, even casually, and his art continues to do so today. I will have more to share with you.

May your happiness increase!

THEY REALLY RING THE BELL: ENRICO TOMASSO, BENT PERSSON, KRISTOFER KOMPEN, LARS FRANK, SPATS LANGHAM, MENNO DAAMS, RICHARD EXALL, MICHAEL McQUAID, MORTEN GUNNAR LARSEN, MALCOLM SKED (Whitley Bay Jazz Party, November 6, 2015)

“Two Louis Armstrongs for the price of one!”

Enrico Tomasso, touched by divinity, leads a big band at the 2015 Whitley Bay Jazz Party in Phil Baxter’s I’M A DING DONG DADDY. Soloists are Rico himself, Bent Persson, trumpets; Kristoffer Kompen, trombone; Lars Frank, tenor saxophone; Spats Langham, vocal and guitar. Supporting players are Menno Daams, trumpet; Richard Exall, Michael McQuaid, reeds; Morten Gunnar Larsen, piano; Malcolm Sked, sousaphone. Apologies to anyone I’ve left out.

To quote Vic Dickenson, “Ding Ding!”

May your happiness increase!

MUSIC FROM PARIS: ALIX COMBELLE, BILL COLEMAN, FRANK “BIG BOY” GOUDIE, OSCAR ALEMAN and FRIENDS (January 12, 1938)

Jazz continues to be international. What I present here was issued only on an Italian bootleg recording devoted to a trumpeter, born in Paris, Kentucky, who spent much of his life in the other Paris, and the music was broadcast by the British Broadcasting Company, and it is posted for your enjoyment by a born New Yorker.

Alix Combelle was what the music magazines of the time might have called a “booting” tenor saxophonist and lyrical clarinetist. You would know him from his recordings with Django Reinhardt, from his part in the 1937 Benny Carter-Coleman Hawkins date, from later recordings with Lionel Hampton and Buck Clayton: a fertile recording career from 1933 to the late Fifties, with one last recorded performance in 1978.

Someone, presumably in England, recorded this broadcast of what would then have been called “modern dance music,” owing a great deal to the alliance of Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, Edgar Sampson, and Chick Webb. I don’t know the provenance, but this is audibly a professional recording cut at 33 rpm, if my ears are accurate. That it survived for us to enjoy is delightful.

It’s not simply a showcase for Combelle: for me, the star is the luminous trumpeter (able to leap tall buildings in a single bound) and singer Bill Coleman. And because it was the start of 1938 in Paris, I am sure that the European news encouraged him to scat-sing and ignore the phrase, “that you want to go to war” in Berlin’s ALEXANDER’S. Django Reinhardt did not make the broadcast, but his presence is evident in DAPHNE, his composition and (we are told) his arrangement. From recording sessions, I gather that Django was in London on January 12, although he did return to Paris by March 4.

BBC broadcast of January 12, 1938 from Paris with the possible personnel: Bill Coleman, trumpet, vocal on ALEXANDER’S; Pierre Allier, Alex Rewail, trumpet; unidentified trombone; Alix Combelle, tenor saxophone; Christian Wagner, clarinet, alto saxophone; Frank “Big Boy” Goudie, tenor saxophone, clarinet; unidentified piano; Oscar Aleman, guitar; unidentified string bass; Tommy Benford, drums. Issued only on the Italian label Two Flats Disc TFD5010.

DAPHNE / MY MELANCHOLY BABY / ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND (vocal Bill Coleman) / DON’T BE THAT WAY:

A wonderful swinging interlude: it reminds us of what music came out of people’s radios in 1938, before and after.

May your happiness increase!

ANDY SENIOR, POET

I’d say that more than most people, Andy Senior has many selves. JAZZ LIVES readers are likely to have encountered him as the creator and editor of THE SYNCOPATED TIMES; others know him from his internet music program devoted to the sounds of 1900-40, RADIOLA!. I feel fortunate to have met him and his wife Sue in person at a jazz weekend in Connecticut; he is a deep, articulate person, generous in his devotion to the music, with a side of wry darkness in his makeup.

But it was only recently that I encountered Andy the poet. I have a long history of reading poetry (studying and writing about Yeats, although that was long ago) and I admire the way it can deliver a variety of shocks to the system, startling as a Sidney Catlett rimshot or as reassuring as Ben Webster’s furry tone. I stumbled over one of Andy’s poems — terse, vinegary, with a kick at the end — on Facebook, a venue I don’t associate with original poetry of value.

Andy is completely himself as a poet: he does not write paeans to The Great Dead as did Philip Larkin, nor does he seek to be conspicuously “inspirational” in the usual ways.

Andy told me: It’s been my experience that when people see you doing one thing they think that’s the only thing you do. (Like eating tomato pie, for example.) My problem is that I’m a confirmed dilettante and I’ve done plenty of different things–some of which I have no intention of spotlighting. But I’m proud of what I’ve written and I’m happy to get it out there. 

Here’s the poem that first climbed into my lap, its snap as sharp as an energized rubber band:

The adjectives that come to mind are “shockingly delightful.” And while you are still reeling, here’s another:

His poems straddle stand-up comedy and philosophy, with darts of mockery aimed all around. A third:

At this point, a musical interlude might be both refreshing and needed. Preparing this post, I asked Andy for some music most dear to him, and he offered some favorites. Here’s one:

Where did Andy the poet come from? I asked him.

I’ve aspired to write ever since it became less of a chore–which is when I learned to type, starting about age 12. Owing to my natural clumsiness and mild dyslexia, when I tried to write in longhand I felt like I was dragging my trombone case to school. (And I demonstrably had the handwriting of an idiot, which didn’t encourage me.) Once I started typing I began to have fun playing with words and ideas. From childhood I loved MAD Magazine (and the verse and parodies by Frank Jacobs), progressing to humorists like Benchley and Thurber, the archy and mehitabel poems of Don Marquis, and the short, acerbic poems of Stephen Crane.

Andy calls his younger self “the Justin Bieber of the Smith-Corona.”

I wrote reams of stories, journals (in unreadable longhand), essays, songs, letters to the editor, and poems through my teens and twenties. I never thought about showing my poems to anyone until 1994, when I was asked to entertain with my songs at a local coffeehouse–called, appropriately enough, Slackers. Slackers had a poetry night and it proved to be an ideal venue for reading my work. 

Slackers closed (as coffeehouses do) and I crashed the poetry night at the Adirondack Coffee Company in Clinton (down the hill from Hamilton College). I made myself such a pest there–even siding with the local kids who got thrown out of the place–that the management rewarded me by making me emcee of their Wednesday poetry readings. During that time, the spring, summer, and fall of 1996, I wrote scores of poems–I had half a dozen new pieces to read every week. 

What was odd that I was a dumpy guy of 34, already starting to lose my hair and put on weight, reading sarcastic poetry–hardly a dreamboat–and women were paying attention to me. In fact, I met my wife Sue there. (Her son Joe was one of the kids who got kicked out by the management of the Adirondack Coffee Co. At present, he is associate editor and webmaster of The Syncopated Times.)

After the tsunami of verse I loosed in ’96 and ’97, I still dash off irregular lines occasionally (or should that be “occasional lines irregularly?”). Now that I am 60 (and more visibly a boat of the tug variety) I may be headed back to the Underwood for further reflections.

Andy, 2015

We welcome the poems. Here are more.

and an alternate version:

and just one more for good measure:

I hear an orchestra of voices emanating from Andy Senior, poet: some elusive, some satirical, some brightly world-weary. Know that what I’ve offered here is only the smallest of samples of his melodies and rhythms.

Incidentally, if you would like to see and hear Andy singing and playing his original songs, you have only to visit his YouTube channel, carpaltunnelkid.

When I read the first few poems I’d ever seen (on Facebook) I wrote to Andy, asking if he would like such a post as I’ve done here, and he was delighted. I even pressed on and said that I would buy a chapbook of his work should one exist or be made to exist. If his poetry twangs within you, let us know. For me, I salute his left-handed energies and applaud them.

May your happiness increase!

STILL MORE NEW YORK NOTES: KENNY DAVERN, JIMMY ANDREWS, MIKE BURGEVIN, PART TWO (Brew’s, July 11, 1974)

As promised, the third set.

I’ve written elsewhere on this blog about the glorious music and friendship that I experienced for a few short months in 1974 at Brew’s, a place (pub? bar? restaurant?) that had divine small-group jazz under the gentle leadership of my friend, the late Mike Burgevin, a splendid drummer and occasional singer.

Mike encouraged me to record the music, and although Kenny Davern had to be persuaded that I was not the enemy, this night was one of the results: three sets by a trio of Kenny, soprano saxophone; Jimmy Andrews, piano; Mike, drums. I’d borrowed my friend Stu’s Tandberg reel-to-reel recorder, and with two Shure microphones, I recorded the whole evening in stereo (except for the first track, ON THE ALAMO). You can hear Kenny ask, early on, “Isn’t that too close?” or words to that effect, referring no doubt to where I had placed one of the microphones — near the bell of his soprano saxophone, I am sure. But he had no other objections, at least ones he voiced aloud.

Almost fifty years later, here’s the music.

DANNY BOY / WABASH BLUES / IF DREAMS COME TRUE / YOU’RE LUCKY TO ME / SEPTEMBER SONG:

I think you will hear the pleasure of the musicians — Kenny, free to go his own ways without other horns and with the benefit of a friendly empathic rhythm section — and the audience. And for me, the pleasure is doubled and tripled. I can’t go back to 1974, nor would I really want to, but the glowing soundtrack is here, undimmed.

And if you missed my previous posting, here’s the first part of the evening:

Something else needs to be said, and that is the absolute excellence of pianist Jimmy Andrews and drummer Mike Burgevin. Kenny Davern, bless him, received justified attention (call it a kind of jazz stardom) and opportunities to record: he remains unique. But Jimmy and Mike were never sought out by the record companies of the time; they weren’t well-known outside the tri-state area. They deserved better. And they remind us that good music isn’t always created by the people who will be written about in jazz histories, that we should celebrate the superb creators who don’t find international fame. Art and the machinery that publicizes it are two separate things, and only occasionally do they work in tandem.

May your happiness increase!

MORE NEW YORK NOTES: KENNY DAVERN, JIMMY ANDREWS, MIKE BURGEVIN, PART ONE (Brew’s, July 11, 1974)

I’ve written elsewhere on this blog about the glorious music and friendship that I experienced for a few short months in 1974 at Brew’s, a place (pub? bar? restaurant?) that had divine small-group jazz under the gentle leadership of my friend, the late Mike Burgevin, a splendid drummer and occasional singer.

Mike encouraged me to record the music, and although Kenny Davern had to be persuaded that I was not the enemy, this night was one of the results: three sets by a trio of Kenny, soprano saxophone; Jimmy Andrews, piano; Mike, drums. I’d borrowed my friend Stu’s Tandberg reel-to-reel recorder, and with two Shure microphones, I recorded the whole evening in stereo (except for the first track, ON THE ALAMO). You can hear Kenny ask, early on, “Isn’t that too close?” or words to that effect, referring no doubt to where I had placed one of the microphones — near the bell of his soprano saxophone, I am sure. But he had no other objections, at least ones he voiced aloud.

Almost fifty years later, here’s the music.

Today, I offer the first two sets; tomorrow, the final one. ON THE ALAMO (one channel only) / OUR MONDAY DATE / SLOW BOAT TO CHINA / THE MOOCHE / OH, BABY! / LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME / ROSETTA / INDIAN SUMMER / AFTER YOU’VE GONE:

I think you will hear the pleasure of the musicians — Kenny, free to go his own ways without other horns and with the benefit of a friendly empathic rhythm section — and the audience. And for me, the pleasure is doubled and tripled. I can’t go back to 1974, nor would I really want to, but the glowing soundtrack is here, undimmed.

May your happiness increase!

LOVE-NOTES FROM MURRAY WALL, CONTINUED: JON-ERIK KELLSO, SCOTT ROBINSON, JOE COHN (Cafe Bohemia, January 30, 2020)

Murray Wall, irreplaceable musician and man, moved to another neighborhood last month.

Here is my first posting in his honor. There will be more.

When dear and memorable people leave the planet, we don’t stop missing them in a few weeks, a few years, ever. Their absence is palpable, as was their singular presence. Murray was sweetly modest and utterly swinging; he created a beautiful foundation no matter what the context.

Here he is with Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Scott Robinson, reeds; Joe Cohn, guitar, on a Thursday night set (January 30, 2020) at Cafe Bohemia on Barrow Street in Greenwich Village, New York:

He sent love to us; I hope he knows that love was and is sent in return, in profusion.

May your happiness increase!

MUSIC AND STORIES: JOE WILDER, MICHAEL WEISS, JOHN WEBBER, LEWIS NASH at the VILLAGE VANGUARD (July 19, 2006)

Anyone who knew Joe Wilder, even slightly, felt his loving presence: he was a sunbeam who happened to make lovely music with the same ease he made friends. I’d first spoken with him at Jazz at Chautauqua in September 2004, and told him I had taken photographs of him at a local concert — Dick Hyman’s Perfect Jazz Repertory Quintet, which was then Joe, Dick, Phil Bodner, Milt Hinton, and Ronnie Bedford. An expert and tireless photographer, he was delighted to learn this and I offered to send him the photographs for his collection. He copied them and returned them, and sent them back with an elegant handwritten note.

I don’t think he had many opportunities in this century to lead his own group at a jazz club, although he was in demand at jazz parties. So when I learned that he would be leading a quartet at the Village Vanguard, I made a reservation, arrived early, and settled in. In 2006, I didn’t have a date, but I did have a small digital recorder, slightly longer than a pack of cigarettes, which I brought in, hoping to surreptitiously record the evening. As the band set up, I started the recorder, holding it under the table, hoping to be unobserved.

Alas, about thirty-five minutes in, one of the waitstaff spotted the glowing display, approached me, and said quietly, “You’ll have to leave if you don’t stop recording,” or words to that effect. I must have turned a deep red at being caught, but I was relieved he didn’t attempt to confiscate the recorder or make a fuss and have me removed. I did get to preserve three segments: the first, about thirty minutes uninterrupted; the second, one performance and some of Joe’s infamous puns; the third, a truncated LOVE FOR SALE where you can hear the malefactor being apprehended. Not incidentally, some years later I sent CD copies of this event to Joe and to his biographer, Ed Berger: they were thrilled. (Where were the jazz record labels when Joe had his week? A good question, with no answer.)

This year, I decided to share the music — but since I am a moral criminal, I reached out to pianist Michael Weiss (a Facebook friend who has also recorded gigs), then to string bassist John Webber, and Michael (another benefactor) got an OK from drummer Lewis Nash. So here you may hear.

This post is in honor of Joe and his friends, and for Solveig Wilder and her family.

Even though Joe didn’t play Tadd Dameron’s OUR DELIGHT, that title comes to mind:

Was this title oddly prescient in view of the third performance?

Caught . . .

I’m honored to have been there, and equally so that I can share some precious music with all of you.

John Webber said it best, “The world could use some more Joe Wilder!”

May your happiness increase!

JACK LOVED DANCE MUSIC (1933)

It looks like an old book. It is.
The book’s owner.

We believe that everything is knowable. After all, we have Google.

This post is about a ninety-year old artifact that pretends to offer up all its secrets. The oddly appropriate cliche is that it is “an open book,” but its secrets are hidden.

I can’t figure out whether the owner’s name is “Jack E. DuTemple” or “D. Temple,” and no online map turns up a Robert Street; rather, I get sent to Roberts. I never met Jack, but I have faith that he knew where he lived. The last entries in this book are dated Christmas 1933, so that is clear.

THIS JUST IN, thanks to Master Sleuth David Fletcher:

John E. “Jack” Detemple, 1908-1968. Because you knew I would… 🙂
Jack worked in a Binghamton shoe factory along with his dad. Thank God he was a music nut! He ended up in Sidney NY, a longtime Mason and a machinist for Bendix Corp. Several kids– no doubt one of them treasured Dad’s autograph book (and maybe his old records too).

Here is a tour of the music Jack heard in 1933.

Zez Confrey
Henry Biagini
Don Bestor
Rudy Vallee
Fred Waring
Whitey Kaufman
Ace Brigode
“Red” Nichols
Ramona
Paul Whiteman
Kay Kyser
Johnny Johnson
Jack Pettis
Pauline Wright
Bert Lown
Ernie Holst
Todd Rollins
Peggy Healy
Jack Fulton
Eddie Lane
Gene Kardos
Ray Noble
Abe Lyman
Joe Venuti
Dick Fidler (?)
Larry Funk
Happy Felton
Mal Hallett
Doc Peyton
Claude Hopkins
Art Kassel
Charley Davis
a closing cartoon, perhaps of Jack himself.

Ten miles north of the Pennsylvania border, Johnson City, New York is not a metropolis; 15,174 population in the 2010 census. But obviously dance bands came through towns of that size: in 1933, there were more ballrooms and “dance halls” for bands of all kinds. And Jack seems to have been a happily avid listener and perhaps dancer, enjoying both hot and sweet sounds, Black and White groups, famous and less so. The autograph book speaks to his enthusiasm, but also to the variety of live music available to audiences in the Depression. Yes, there was unemployment and breadlines, but there were also men and women making music all over the country, and creating it for actual audiences . . . not people staring into lit screens. I would say flippantly that we have more but they had better.

And “provenance.” I’ve had this book for about ten years. It was a gift from my dear friend and inspiration Mike Burgevin, who found it in an upstate New York antique shop, bought it, and saved it for me, knowing that some day I would share it on the blog. For this and so many other kindnesses I bless him.

My photographic captures are admittedly amateur, but, then again, JAZZ LIVES is not a high-level auction house.

So now you can see how the fabled Jack Pettis signed his name. Hardly a common sight. And perhaps some reader can tell us more about Dick Fidler (?) and Pauline Wright. Google has let me down, which returns me to my original thought: da capo al fine. But energetic readers of JAZZ LIVES now have many more sweet and hot rabbits to chase.

May your happiness increase!