Category Archives: Mmmmmmmmmmmmm!

FOR THE LOVE OF SWING (AND THE SWING OF LOVE): DANIEL BARDA, LOUIS MAZETIER, JERÔME ETCHEBERRY, CHARLES PRÉVOST: JANUARY 30, 2015

This delightful swing aubade came to me — and I hope many others — through Facebook, and I learned that this is trombonist Daniel Barda’s Super Swing Project, “Hommage à Fats Waller,” performed on January 30 of this year at Jazzclub Ja-ZZ Rheinfelden (www.ja-zz.ch).

I also must thank the recordist, Peter Gutzwiller, for making this delightful effusion both permanent and accessible to us.

Aside from Monsieur Barda, whom we know from Paris Washboard, there is the superb trumpeter Jerôme Etcheberry (of Les Swingberries), the most honored Louis Mazetier, a stride monarch, and the swinging washboardist Charles Prévost.

They pay tribute to Mister Waller in a charming and convincing way — not by offering their own faster-than-light improvisations on his compositions, not by singing YOUR FEETS TOO BIG, but by jamming in medium-tempo and a little faster on three lovely early-Thirties songs that have swing built in to them.  “Here’s another good old good one that all the musicians in the house love to jam,” as Louis would say.

I think it’s no accident that all three of these songs — if you consider their lyrics, which musicians used to do — are love songs.  One declares that they eyes are indeed the windows to the soul, and both entities entranced the singer; one wishes for a more perfect union of the singer and the Love Object; one expresses delighted incredulity that the blissful union has come to pass.  It just reinforces that love is an inexhaustible subject, and that the best music is love in action. Swing out, you lovers!

I dream of a time when one would give one’s Beloved some Commodore discs for a birthday present, for Valentine’s Day.

THEM THERE EYES:

IF DREAMS COME TRUE:

I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH ME:

It makes me very happy to experience these videos, and to be reassured that such beauty is taking place all around the world.  Blessings on these four gentlemen and also on the man behind the camera.

May your happiness increase! 

A WARMING TREND: TIM LAUGHLIN, CONNIE JONES, DOUG FINKE, CHRIS DAWSON, MARTY EGGERS, KATIE CAVERA, HAL SMITH at the SAN DIEGO JAZZ FEST (Nov. 28, 2014)

As I write these words, it is once again snowing in New York.  This calls for drastic measures.  More than a snow shovel or ice scraper, more than a down parka or silk underwear.

I need to heat things up.  And I know just the source of gentle but persuasive warming:

Just as a public service, I will point out that the song is the venerable yet still very lively JAZZ ME BLUES, played here on November 28, 2014, at the San Diego Jazz Fest, by a collection of swing superheroes: Tim Laughlin, clarinet; Connie Jones, cornet; Doug Finke, trombone; Chris Dawson, piano; Katie Cavera, guitar; Marty Eggers, string bass; Hal Smith, drums.

If every JAZZ LIVES reader now enduring a cold climate would turn the volume up and open a window, I believe we would have the best kind of global warming, with no deleterious side effects.  Or if that theory does not appeal, I suggest you do what I’ve been doing — playing this performance over and over, admiring its broad structure and many subtleties.

May your happiness increase!

EASY DOES IT: MATTHIAS SEUFFERT, ENRICO TOMASSO, MARTIN LITTON, HENRI LEMAIRE, MALCOLM SKED, RICHARD PITE at WHITLEY BAY (Nov. 9, 2014)

Jake Hanna said — more than once — “When you get too far from Basie, you’re just kidding yourself.”

Reedman Matthias Seuffert knows this well, and put his knowledge into action at the 2014 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party, with a delightful set of Basie music. Matthias diverted us with his tenor saxophone and clarinet; Enrico Tomasso played trumpet; the rhythm section, essential, was Martin Litton, piano; Henri Lemaire, rhythm guitar; Malcolm Sked, string bass; Richard Pite, drums.

EASY DOES IT:

Eddie Durham’s TOPSY:

THESE FOOLISH THINGS:

COUNTLESS BLUES, in honor of the 1938 Kansas City Six:

BLUE LESTER:

SHOE SHINE BOY:

BLUE AND SENTIMENTAL, for Herschel:

and moving into the Fifties, FLIGHT OF THE FOO BIRDS (don’t let all that manuscript paper seem intimidating):

“Easy does it” isn’t just a bumper sticker or a catchphrase: it’s a way of life both inside and outside jazz.  What would happen if we tried to live the Basie way? Worth considering.

And on a more pragmatic note, each of the musicians seen in the videos will be playing at the 2015 Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party — November 6-8.  I’ve already started to look into airplane tickets and fares . . . a sign of great moral commitment to this Party.  If you’ve never been there, and you can get there, and you don’t . . . why, you’re just kidding yourself.  Where have I heard those words before?

May your happiness increase!

SPATS LANGHAM, ONE MAN WHO DOES THE WORK OF FOUR: DAVID BOEDDINGHAUS, MALCOLM SKED, JOSH DUFFEE, ANDY SCHUMM, ENRICO TOMASSO, ALISTAIR ALLAN at the WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (Nov. 7, 2014)

First, a little context.  On the evening of November 7, 2014, I and many other delighted souls were midway through the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party at the Village Hotel Newcastle — when someone in the hotel detected a fire (emanating from the Victory Pub, appropriately the scene of unfettered after-hours hot music).

We were all hustled out of the hotel and stood in the parking lot for nearly an hour until the fire brigade had satisfied themselves that the fire was out.  For reasons unknown to us all, we were allowed back into the main ballroom (where the music had been taking place) but by a side entrance, rendering the familiar landscape a bit odd.

I had left my video equipment in the ballroom, and when I’d found a seat, the impromptu band (Spats Langham, banjo; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Malcolm Sked, string bass; Josh Duffee, drums; Andy Schumm, Enrico Tomasso, cornet; later joined by Alistair Allan, trombone) was rocking its way through EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY, which I caught the end of.  Disregard the parade of people, for the music is certainly there:

Then, Spats — equal parts wicked satirist and deep romantic, gathered the troops and launched into a song, with no announcement.  Here’s his magical mixture of affectionate light-hearted recreation and astonishing vocal impersonation:

I love it.

I couldn’t make up my mind whether to call this post MR. INK SPOT or (perhaps reaching too far) THE INK SPATS.  The music counts for more than any witticisms.

And if you’ve never seen this video (so very touching) here’s Spats, two nights later, performing NIGHT OWL:

And festival promoters here and abroad: hire Mr. Thomas “Spats” Langham: vocal, comedy, sentiment, swing, guitar, ukulele, banjo, scholarship, and crowd control.  You’ll get more than your money’s worth.  He and his friends will be at the 2015 Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party (November 6-8) and we hope that this time the only hot thing will be the music.

May your happiness increase!

INCANDESCENCE: JAMES DAPOGNY WITH STRINGS (January 10, 2015)

James Dapogny of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is properly known as a pianist, arranger, bandleader, jazz scholar, culinary explorer, and wit, among other things.

But from the performance you are about to see, it’s clear that he is insufficiently recognized as a composer.  FIREFLY is a haunting melody with harmonies that never seem formulaic.  It seems new yet instantly familiar, going its own ways without being consciously and distractingly innovative.  I think of a three-way conversation between Professor Dapogny, Brahms, and Alec Wilder — sweet lyricism that’s never sentimental and continues to swing in its own gentle fashion:

This performance comes from a magical concert of January 10, 2015, at the Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor, blessedly captured by Laura Beth Wyman.  The superb players are Mike Karoub, cello; Rod McDonald, guitar; Kurt Krahnke, string bass.  For more from this concert, click here for uplifting performances of THAT OLD FEELING, RUSSIAN LULLABY, and MY DADDY ROCKS ME.  And there is more to come.

May your happiness increase! 

IMPROMPTU FOR VOICE AND CLARINET: “MOOD INDIGO,” TAMAR KORN / MARK LOPEMAN at CASA MEZCAL (January 25, 2015)

At the conclusion of last Sunday’s brunch at my new musical oasis Casa Mezcal (86 Orchard Street, New York) pianist Jon Weber had to rush off to another gig.  But the other members of the ad lib trio, Tamar Korn and Mark Lopeman, still had music bubbling up inside of them, so they launched into this lovely impromptu duet:

Creating such beauty is a brave and wonderful act.

I imagine an intimate concert, perhaps in someone’s house, devoted to Tamar and friends — an evening of duets with a changing cast of characters.

Until that day, we have MOOD INDIGO.  Magic.

May your happiness increase!

QUIETLY IMPASSIONED: RAY SKJELBRED, MARC CAPARONE, BEAU SAMPLE, HAL SMITH at the SAN DIEGO JAZZ FEST (Nov. 28, 2014)

This is a performance I keep coming back to, and if you observe it closely once, I suspect you’ll understand why once isn’t enough.  Part of it is the melding of individual voices into something larger that at the same time honors the individuals making those sounds.  Part of it is the quiet intensity of feeling: there are no sharp noises, nothing to scare the pets, but the performance quietly builds. The four masters here are Ray Skjlebred, piano (thinking of Bing Crosby and Joe Sullivan); Marc Caparone, cornet; Beau Sample, string bass; Hal Smith, drums.  This small marvel took place at the 35th San Diego Jazz Fest, on November 28, 2014:

The song, SOMEDAY SWEETHEART, is a trustworthy classic: I can’t think of a bad performance of it on record or in person, and it is one of those creations that holds two selves within it — as if it were a hologram, greeny-orange when held one way to the light, and blue-mauve from another angle.  The melody itself is caressing and could be an endearing love song; the lyrics are another matter, stating plainly that the wandering / cruel lover is going to be punished for his / her acts.  Quite a combination.  But I encourage you to warm yourself by this performance.  The light and feeling these four players generate, properly appreciated, will last.

(My only question about the song itself is a small one: is there a comma between the two words?  I’ve seen it both ways.)

May your happiness increase!