Category Archives: Pay Attention!

“A GREAT PRESENCE”: DAN MORGENSTERN RECALLS DEXTER GORDON (July 8, 2018)

More tales from our favorite storyteller.  Dan remembers Dexter Gordon, musician and man, actor, father, and friend.

I’d asked Dan about a small slew of saxophonists, but Dexter was the one he really wanted to talk about that afternoon:

and here’s Dexter in Switzerland, 1963, playing YOU’VE CHANGED:

May your happiness increase!

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“FINE RIFFIN’ THIS EVENIN'”: DAVE STUCKEY and the HOT HOUSE GANG at FRESNO: DAVE STUCKEY, MARC CAPARONE, GARETH PRICE, SAM ROCHA, NATE KETNER, DAVID AUS (February 9, 2019)

Seat belts fastened, seat backs upright, tray tables in the upright position?

As the ebullient guitarist / singer / bandleader Dave Stuckey says, “Come on, cats!”

Here are three Stuckey-beauties from the Fresno “Sounds of Mardi Gras,” last month, in which our heroes teach the Gentle Art of Swing and the Arcane Secrets of Riffing.  (See: “Arrangement, head” in the index.)

The rollicking heroes are Dave Stuckey, guitar, vocal, imagination; Marc Caparone, cornet; Nate Ketner, reeds, David Aus, piano; Sam Rocha, string bass; Gareth Price, drums.  Special plaudits go to Youngbloods Rocha and Price, who make seismic upheaval fun.

FROM MONDAY ON, for Bix, Bing, and Eddie:

I NEVER KNEW, for Benny Carter:

YOU’RE GONNA LOSE YOUR GAL, for Red Allen:

“Wow wow wow!” as my friend Anna Katsavos says.

“May your happiness increase!”

ZIGZAG BEAUTIES: RAY SKJELBRED at the PIANO (San Diego Jazz Fest, Nov. 27, 2016)

Ralph Waldo Emerson would have admired Ray Skjelbred, who trusts himself, listens to his own heart, knows the sources and honors them but goes his own beautiful zigzag ways.  Soulful, whimsical, making the piano sing songs it didn’t know it could sing.

Here are four solo transformations created by Ray at the 2016 San Diego Jazz Fest.  How lovely and how surprising they — and he — are!

K.M.H. DRAG, in honor of Max Kaminsky, Freddie Moore, and Art Hodes:

You may call it MUSKRAT RAMBLE or SAVOYAGER’S STOMP.  Either will receive full credit:

Ellington’s 1933 BUNDLE OF BLUES (“from the motion picture of the same name”) — melodic and quixotic both:

I don’t think that there’s an alternate title for STRUTTIN’ WITH SOME BARBECUE, but please notice the cheerful subversions Ray works on it from the inside . . . laproscopically, perhaps?

When Ray sits down to the piano, beautiful memorable surprises spring up.

May your happiness increase!

“OH, MEMORY! ” MARC CAPARONE, JACOB ZIMMERMAN, STEVE PIKAL, BRIAN HOLLAND, DANNY COOTS at MONTEREY (March 1, 2019)

 

The star dust of a song.

Great artists know that passion without control is nothing.  Together, they scrape the clouds.

Here are Marc Caparone, cornet; Jacob Zimmerman, clarinet and alto; Brian Holland, piano; Steve Pikal, string bass; Danny Coots, drums, the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet, recorded live at the Jazz Bash by the Bay on March 2, 2019, playing Hoagy Carmichael’s STAR DUST:

Hearing that performance, one can talk or think of Bunny Berigan, Louis Armstrong, Artie Shaw, and many others.  But for once, let us celebrate  Caparone, Zimmerman, Pikal, Holland, Coots: people who understand how difficult it is to create Beauty and then do it, in front of our eyes, time after time. Those moments when the dancer and the dance are one: so rare, so compelling.

May your happiness increase!

THEM THERE BOYS: THE CHICAGO CELLAR BOYS at the SAN DIEGO JAZZ FEST: ANDY SCHUMM, JOHN OTTO, PAUL ASARO, DAVE BOCK, JOHNNY DONATOWICZ (November 24, 2018)

They’re back!  And below I’ll have news of their appearance at a one-day Midwest festival on March 30, 2019.

The Chicago Cellar Boys made beautiful music at the 2018 San Diego Jazz Fest, and I caught as much of it as I could.  (Type in CELLAR on the search bar and see for yourself.)

Here is part of a set that I recorded on November 24.  The CCB are Andy Schumm, cornet, tenor saxophone, clarinet; John Otto, alto saxophone, clarinet; Paul Asaro, piano, vocal; Johnny Donatowicz, guitar, banjo; Dave Bock, tuba.  Dee-lightful.

INDIAN CRADLE SONG (in honor of the Dorsey Brothers and, faintly, Louis Armstrong).  Andy told me that he had hidden another song in the “chorale” section, but he’s too smart for me.  Maybe you’ll recognize it?:

BOSTON SKUFFLE (something for and by Jabbo Smith):

HOME, CRADLE OF HAPPINESS (a song popular in the early Twenties, recorded by a Sam Lanin group and by Ethel Waters):

FIDGETY FEET (a tribute to Bix and the Wolverines):

KING PORTER STOMP (the CCB’s homage to the 1924 Autograph duet session by King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton — also the band-within-the-band):

Aside from their inspiring playing and singing, hot and sweet, there are the marvelous arrangements that make this two-horn quintet sound like a large group, and the positively exciting repertoire.  I know the music of this period fairly well, but I always go away from even one CCB set saying to myself, “I’ve never heard that wonderful tune before.”

And here — because listeners need to get away from their computers now and again (it’s good for us!) — is the festival they will be illuminating at the end of this month, along with Petra’s Recession Seven (featuring Petra van Nuis, Andy Brown, Russ Phillips, and other luminaries):

May your happiness increase!

LET’S GET GROOVY: The HOLLAND-COOTS JAZZ QUINTET at MONTEREY (BRIAN HOLLAND, DANNY COOTS, MARC CAPARONE, JACOB ZIMMERMAN, STEVE PIKAL: March 1, 2019)

When it’s in the groove, you know it.  And this was: BEI MIR BIS DU SCHOEN, by Brian Holland, piano; Danny Coots, drums; Jacob Zimmerman, clarinet and alto; Marc Caparone, cornet; Steve Pikal, string bass — recorded on the first day of the 2019 Jazz Bash by the Bay, Monterey, California.  (Evan Arntzen is pictured above.)

Sonic note: about twenty-five seconds in, you’ll hear a noise to the right: the gentleman in the adjacent seat was savoring his hotel cookie in its crackly paper bag (Danny mimes the appropriate response).  To my left, a poised woman from the East Coast — I didn’t get her name — was grooving silently.  Bless you, Sister, wherever you are.

That’s some band, as E.B. White used to say.  Formed in 2017, they are steadily gaining devoted fans at festivals (details here): Three Rivers, Evergreen, the Stomptime cruise, Hot Jazz Jubilee, Sun Valley, San Diego — and that’s just for now.  (Have you heard their debut CD, devoted to Fats?)

I am a devoted fan and supporter, so if you type their name into the JAZZ LIVES search bar, you will find many more wonderful performances . . . and they played magnificently at Monterey.

May your happiness increase!

GRANDMA SAID “GET HOT!”

A new old tune — thanks to the diligent Janette Walker — that has everything one could want in a memorably silly ditty.

And the first page (courtesy, like the cover, of eBay):

A wonderful version — love those saxophones! — thanks to Nick Dellow.  Legend has it that Jackson held and recorded jam session parties.  Anyone got those discs in paper sleeves in the attic?

Another contemporaneous version, positively lilting.  Speculation about the trombonist will be welcomed:

And a treat from this century: Peter Mintun, 2010.  JAZZ LIVES has made many pleasurable experiences possible for me, but one of the nicer ones is that I met Peter a few years back when he visited New York City (at an uptown corner pub called the Tryon) where there was good music: he knew my work and I certainly admire his:

Remember to first clear all requests with the proper authorities, no matter what Grandma says . . . unless she has a legal staff and can pay your bail.  You’ve been warned.

May your happiness increase!