Category Archives: Mmmmmmmmmmmmm!

STUDY YOUR PRONOUNS at THE EAR INN with THE EARREGULARS (JON-ERIK KELLSO, MATT MUNISTERI, SCOTT ROBINSON, ATTILA KORB: January 25, 2015)

A pronoun takes the place of a noun in a sentence, so, rather than saying “Emily,” we might say “her.”

First, THEM: a personal pronoun referring to a group of people or objects. “Move them off the table so we can eat, please,” is one example.

THEM THERE EYES (although more casual than formal) is another:

Second, THAT: a demonstrative pronoun that demonstrates or indicates.  I always think of these pronouns as fingers pointing our eyes to something specific.  “That‘s a horrible tie you’re wearing,” is one possibility.

THAT’S A PLENTY (again, more casual than formal) is another, full of delicious thrilling mutant sounds:

(It may strike some as ego-display, but I love the woman — who’s a fixture on Sunday nights — passing the Bucket, who says to me at :08, “Oh, great, you’re taping this.  That’s awesome!”  Thank you, dear lady, wherever you are.)

The grammar lesson is concluded.  Those who wish to correct my grammar are kindly requested to line up at the outer door marked JAZZ LIVES and wait patiently until it opens.  Bring something to read.

And by the way, this magical music took place on Sunday night, January 25, 2015, at The Ear Inn, the home of happy sounds in Soho, 326 Spring Street, New York City.  The heroic participants are Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Scott Robinson, bass saxophone; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Attila Korb, trombone.

Bless Them; That music is spectacular, isn’t it?

May your happiness increase!

SPREADING JOY IN MICHIGAN (May 8, 2015)

Any universe is a beautiful place that has such brightly-shining people in it, including the unseen woman behind the camera.

Here are the details . . . the song, the dancers, the musicians, the occasion.

ALL GOD’S CHILLUN GOT RHYTHM (Walter Jurmann, Gus Kahn, Bronisław Kaper; arranged by James Dapogny).

Dancers:  Erin Morris, Brittany Armstrong-Morton, Rachel Bomphray, Sarah Campbell, Hayden Nickel, Nathan Bugh, Patrick Johnston, Chris Glasow, Ryan Morton, Bryant Stuckey.  (For more information about Erin Morris and her Ragdolls, visit here, and then, feeling the spirit, here.  JAZZ LIVES will soon be able to offer information for those wishing to form local chapters of the Erin Morris and her Ragdolls International Fan Club.

Musicians: , Mike Karoub (cello), James Dapogny (piano), Rod McDonald (guitar), and Joe Fee (bass). College Theater, Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, Michigan. May 8, 2015. Filmed by Laura Beth Wyman.

Bless each of them . . . so generously blessing us with joy.  Tell your friends.

May your happiness increase!

“I KEEP CHEERFUL ON AN EARFUL / OF MUSIC SWEET”: RAY SKJELBRED, MARC CAPARONE, BEAU SAMPLE, HAL SMITH at the SAN DIEGO JAZZ FEST (November 28, 2014)

Better than anything you could buy in a chain drugstore or any prescription pharmaceutical, this will keep the gloomies at bay.  Unlike those little pink or blue pills, it lasts longer than four hours and there are no cases recorded of drastic side effects.

One of the highlights of 2014, of this century, of my adult life — let’s not let understatement get in the way of the truth! — was a quartet set at the 2014 San Diego Jazz Fest featuring Ray Skjelbred, piano; Marc Caparone, cornet; Beau Sample, string bass; Hal Smith, drums.  I’ve been sharing it one or two performances at a time on JAZZ LIVES in the same way you never want a delicious experience to end.

Here is the quartet’s very groovy, very hot HAPPY FEET (Jack Yellen – Milton Ager, originally from THE KING OF JAZZ):

And since this song “has history,” I offer a few more variations on this terpsichorean theme.

Leo Reisman with Bubber Miley, 1930, at a truly groovy tempo:

Noble Sissle, also in 1930, with the only film I know of Tommy Ladnier:

Frank Trumbauer and Smith Ballew:

and the irresistible 1933 version by the Fletcher Henderson’s band, with specialists Dr. Horace Henderson, Dr. Henry Allen, Dr. Dicky Wells, and Dr. Coleman Hawkins called in:

There’s also a life-altering live performance with Hot Lips Page and Sidney Catlett from the Eddie Condon Floor Show, but you’ll have to imagine it for now.

I hope you’re feeling better, and that your feet and all points north are happier.

May your happiness increase!

“THE HOME OF SWEET ROMANCE”: REBECCA KILGORE, DAN BARRETT, JOHNNY VARRO, WAYNE WILKINSON, NICKI PARROTT, DANNY COOTS at the ATLANTA JAZZ PARTY (April 18, 2015)

SAVOY

It wins you at a glance.

Where?  The Savoy Ballroom, of course.  The  Home of Happy Feet in Harlem stopped being a Swing mecca in 1958, but its spirit remains.

That spirit was very much in evidence at this year’s Atlanta Jazz Party, and on April 18, 2015, Rebecca Kilgore and a wonderful small band brought it even more sharply into focus with a performance of Edgar Sampson’s STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY. Her Stompers were Dan Barrett, trombone; Johnny Varro, piano; Wayne Wilkinson, guitar; Nicki Parrott, string bass; Danny Coots, drums.  (Does that closing riff owe its existence to Coleman Hawkins and Roy Eldridge?)

You don’t need a ballroom with these wonderful musicians.

May your happiness increase!

THE EARREGULARS SPECULATE ON AMOROUS VENGEANCE IN SWINGTIME: JON-ERIK KELLSO, ENGELBERT WROBEL, NICKI PARROTT, JAMES CHIRILLO (April 26, 2015)

For all the songs that celebrate new love, ecstatic love, surprising love, there are a number where the singer stands, feet planted solidly on the ground, arms crossed, with an accusing expression.  The tears have dried up; what’s left is somewhere between annoyance and rancor.  I think of SOMEDAY SWEETHEART, GOODY GOODY, SOMEDAY YOU’LL BE SORRY, I WANNA BE AROUND, and there must be two dozen others.  (YOU RASCAL YOU is related but not in the same thematic skein.)

Our text today is WHO’S SORRY NOW? — often taken at a fast tempo a la James P. Johnson’s Blue Note Jazzmen.

But on April 26, 2015, another glorious Sunday night at The Ear Inn, the EarRegulars were feeling groovy — perhaps groovy as a ten-cent movie — and they knocked everyone in the house out with this version of WHO’S SORRY NOW?  They were, for the record books, Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Engelbert Wrobel, clarinet; James Chirillo, guitar; Nicki Parrott, string bass:

No one expressed a whisper of regret or acrimony, I assure you.

And here is another instant classic from that night at The Ear Inn.

May your happiness increase!

“BABY, LOOK AT YOU NOW!”: BARBARA ROSENE / EHUD ASHERIE at MEZZROW (April 14, 2015)

I had the great good fortune to enjoy and witness a delightful evening of Johnny Mercer songs — as performed by Barbara Rosene and Ehud Asherie at Mezzrow on West Tenth Street in New York City on April 14, 2015.

Before you savor this delightful interlude, some words about the duo.  If you’ve been following JAZZ LIVES, you know that Ehud is one of the most swinging, most alertly intuitive players ever.  When he’s around, the music pulses; lyrical surprising melodies spring into bloom.

I do not think that I’ve ever had such a glorious opportunity to hear and record Barbara before, even though I’ve known and admired her for a decade (starting with the hallowed evenings at the Cajun, Jacques-Imo’s, and a dozen other places, including churches).  When I first met Barbara, she had a spectacularly beautiful voice: I remember taking a friend who was a deep opera aficionado, didn’t particularly like jazz or improvisation, who couldn’t stop talking about the marvels of sound that Barbara created.  But it isn’t just her voice.  Many singers have lovely voices, but Barbara knows how to construct a small compelling drama (or comedy) from a song’s particulars.

When I first heard her, Barbara was much more a brightly-plumaged Twenties songbird, flitting from branch to branch, now naughty, now sweet, now coy.  I am sure she could easily inhabit those worlds now, but her feeling and mastery have deepened, and she exhibits a deep emotional understanding and range.  I don’t mean “acting”; I mean “being,” put into song.

Here she and Ehud explore a song that everyone knows, that usually is performed at a much faster tempo — to the edge of self-parody.  Listen to the transformations they effect on YOU MUST HAVE BEEN A BEAUTIFUL BABY:

That’s a performance I have not been able to listen to without going back and playing it again.

Before Barbara purls her way into the song, she talks a bit about “marvelous,” a meditation stimulated by her thoughts on TOO MARVELOUS FOR WORDS.  And magically she asks a deep plaintive question —

“Is nothing a marvel?”

which could, for the properly attuned, be the only text for a lifelong course in gratitude and deep reverent awe.

I marvel at Barbara Rosene.  And there will be more marvelous Mercer performances with Ehud Asherie (himself a marvel) to come.

May your happiness increase!

THE VIEW FROM TABLE 3 WAS GRAND; THE MUSIC, GRANDER: BEN POLCER, DAN BARRETT, ALLAN VACHÉ, JOHN COCUZZI, NICKI PARROTT, DANNY COOTS at the ATLANTA JAZZ PARTY (April 18, 2015)

I’m still grinning when I think of all the good music created last weekend (April 17-19) at the 26th Atlanta Jazz Party.

Here’s another leisurely sample, performed by Ben Polcer, trumpet; Allan Vaché, clarinet; Dan Barrett, trombone; John Cocuzzi, piano; Nicki Parrott, string bass; Danny Coots, drums.

It’s the ROYAL GARDEN BLUES.  Now, if I could see you, I would catch some of my readers in mid-wince.  “God, not that song again!  That’s what’s wrong with ‘traditional jazz’!”  Even I have been known to think and say, “I wish I could have a moratorium on ROYAL GARDEN,” but this performance reminds me again how little the repertoire has to do with the beauty created:

Although they play the song with the correct conventions, the appropriate gestures, there’s nothing locked-in here.  Once those gavottes are accomplished, you can feel the musicians relaxing into a medium-fast twelve bar blues . . . and each one has a beautiful story to tell.  Pay particular attention to that rhythm section!  And you all know and admire Messrs. Vaché and Barrett, but one of the great lyrical surprises of the AJP was Ben Polcer — who is so much more than just “Ed Polcer’s kid” — an easy, hot player with a fine range who knows the twists and turns but also has a swing feel . . . now and again reminding me of Buck Clayton, and that is high praise.

This performance was only one of more than a hundred at the AJP — and it is by no means the only standout.  Next year, the Party will be on April 15, 16, and 17. I hope to be there, and at Table Three.  My jazz home away from home for three days.

May your happiness increase!