Tag Archives: After You’ve Gone

“FESTINA LENTE”: RAY SKJELBRED, CLINT BAKER, RILEY BAKER at BIRD and BECKETT (July 11, 2019)

σπεῦδε βραδέως.  “Make haste slowly.” 

Yes, this post begins with classical Greek and a photograph of Louis Armstrong singing to a horse — all relevant to the performances below, recorded just ten days ago at the remarkable cultural shrine of San Francisco, Bird and Beckett Books and Records (653 Chenery Street).  Thanks, as always, to the faithful Rae Ann Berry for documenting this facet of Ray Skjelbred’s California tour.

As bands play familiar repertoire over the decades, tempos speed up.  Perhaps it’s to stimulate the audience; perhaps it’s a yearning to show off virtuosity . . . there are certainly other reasons, conscious as well as unexamined, that are part of this phenomenon.  But Medium Tempo remains a lush meadow for musicians to stroll in, and it’s always pleasing to me when they count off a familiar song at a groovy slower-than-expected tempo.  I present two particularly gratifying examples, created by Ray Skjelbred, piano; Clint Baker, trumpet; Riley Baker, drums.  Here, JEEPERS CREEPERS is taken at the Vic Dickenson Showcase tempo, or near to it, reminding us that it’s a love song, even if sung to a horse:

and a nice slow drag for AFTER YOU’VE GONE, in keeping with the lyrics:

I don’t know how many people have seen the film clip below from the 1938 Bing Crosby film GOING PLACES, where Louis Armstrong introduced the Harry Warren – Johnny Mercer song JEEPERS CREEPERS.  (There is a brief interruption in the video: the music will resume.)

For the full story of Louis, the horse (a mean one), and the movie, you’ll have to wait for Ricky Riccardi’s splendid book on Louis’s “middle years,” 1929-47, HEART FULL OF RHYTHM.  For now, who knows the uncredited rhythm section on this clip?. I imagine it to be Joe Sullivan and Bobby Sherwood, but that may be a fantasy, one I happily indulge myself in.

And what Eric Whittington makes happen at Bird and Beckett Books is no fantasy: he deserves our heartfelt thanks, whether in classical Greek or the San Francisco demotic of 2019.

May your happiness increase!

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A LITTLE JAM AT THE EAR INN: DANNY TOBIAS, SCOTT ROBINSON, FELIX LEMERLE, JOANNA STERNBERG (Sunday, August 14, 2016)

EAR INN sign

Sometime in July 2017, the EarRegulars will celebrate ten straight years of improving the universe through swing on Sunday nights at The Ear Inn (that’s 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City).  One of the conventions of their collective frolics is that the first set is usually devoted to the quartet — most often led by Jon-Erik Kellso, with guitarist Matt Munisteri the most Regular of the EarRegulars.  The second set welcomes approved musical guests who are invited to join in.  Last Sunday, the “house band” was Jon-Erik, Scott Robinson on wondrous reeds and brass — Eb clarinet, Eb alto horn, tenor saxophone — Adam Moezinia, guitar; Rob Adkins, string bass.

For the final performance of the night, Felix Lemerle took Adam’s place (and borrowed his guitar), and Joanna Sternberg did the same with Rob’s string bass. Jon-Erik ceded the trumpet chair to our friend Danny Tobias, trumpet.  And this happened.

“The Ear.  So dear,” is what I think.  See you there some Sunday or another!

This post is dedicated to the Professor from Bahia, the source of many goodnesses.

May your happiness increase!

BENT PERSSON, FRANS SJOSTROM, BOB ERWIG

This video performance of “After You’ve Gone,”  taken at a Polish jazz festival last August, is a prize because it captures two of my heroes in performance: the astonishing trumpeter Bent Persson and bass saxophonist Frans Sjostrom.  The footage comes to us (via YouTube) courtesy of the generous patron of jazz video Bob Erwig, a fine trumpeter himself.

The band, the Malmo Jazz Kings, is led by trombonist Dymitr Markiewicz, who provided the film for Bob to share.

Bob explains, “Dymitr surrounded himself with some great Swedish musicians. On trumpet we see world renowned Bent Persson playing together with a young trumpet player of great talent who I noticed first with Gunhild Carlings Big Band.  Then also from Sweden is Max Carling on clarinet.  Another world famous musician is Frans Sjostrom on bass sax.  They are backed up by the Polish musicians pianist Wojtek Kamisky, drummer Bobby Sakowicz and banjoist Pawel Tartanus.  The free spirit of a jam session comes through, darn good musicians who know the jazz standards. Unfortunately it is so hard to get the right balance in a tent or a small room, both drums and banjo sound somewhat overamplified, but then it is the jazz that counts and these jazzmen certainly know what they are doing.”

Enthusiasm, skill, beauty — who minds a few rough edges?  And if you would like to admire Bent and Frans in a more intimate — but no less intense — context, look for a CD on the Kenneth Records label, HOT JAZZ TRIO, which is both a tour-de-force and a casual example of fine chamber jazz.