Tag Archives: Alex Matthews

THE CAPTAIN STRIDES BY (Part One): JOHN ROYEN’S NEW ORLEANS RHYTHM and SOLO at the SAN DIEGO JAZZ FEST: DAN LEVINSON, KATIE CAVERA, MARTY EGGERS, HAL SMITH (November 29 / 31, 2019)

An authenticated signature.

Festivals and jazz parties make it possible for me to greet old friends again and bask in their music, but a great thrill is being able to meet and hear someone I’ve admired for  years on record — people who come to mind are Bent Persson, Jim Dapogny, Ray Skjelbred, Carl Sonny Leyland, Rebecca Kilgore, Hal Smith (it’s a long list) and now the wonderful pianist John Royen, whom I met for the first time at this year’s San Diego Jazz Fest.

At work / at play, 2014, with Marty Eggers and Katie Cavera.  Photo by Alex Matthews.

For John’s New Orleans Rhythm, the first set, he was joined by Dan Levinson, clarinet and tenor; Marty Eggers, string bass; Katie Cavera, guitar; Hal Smith, drums. I hear someone’s therapy dog, or an audience member was whimpering with delight.

SOME OF THESE DAYS:

WABASH BLUES:

WOLVERINE BLUES:

That was Friday.  We didn’t see John, and Conal Fowkes took his place at a set; we heard that John had decided (not really) on an internal home improvement, and had had a defibrillator installed at a nearby hospital.  This surprised me, because his beat has always been terribly regular.

But he reappeared magically on Sunday, looking like himself.  Virginia Tichenor graciously ceded some of her solo piano time so that he could play.  And play he did.

His solo playing was both assertive and delicate, spicy yet respectful of the originals.  John’s relations with the audience are so charming . . . and his playing, while not always fast or loud, is lively — lit brightly from within.

The Lion’s HERE COMES THE BAND:

ATLANTA BLUES, or MAKE ME A PALLET ON THE FLOOR:

and John’s delightful improvisations on MY INSPIRATION:

There will be a Part Two: John with Joe Goldberg, Marty Eggers, Riley Baker, and a brief visit from John Otto.  An honor to encounter the Captain, who creates such good music.

May your happiness increase!

“SUITABLE FOR DANCING”: THE ELLIS ISLAND BOYS (and GIRL) PLAY “I’M COMIN’ VIRGINIA” (for BIX and EDDIE LANG)

This wonderful impromptu video was created by Alex Matthews — his YouTube channel is called “talentedlosers,” make of that what you will.  He took his video camera to California Adventure Disney (in Anaheim) where the “Ellis Island Boys” are appearing three times a week for seven half-hour sets.

If you think of “Ellis Island Boys” as being a group of imitation immigrants, think again: how about Ralf Reynolds (washboard); John Reynolds (guitar and vocal); Katie Cavera (string bass); Bryan Shaw (sitting in for Marc Caparone, trumpet) — we know them as the Reynolds Brothers! — performing a truly Bixian version of I’M COMIN’ VIRGINIA that also pays homage to Eddie Lang:

Thanks to Ralf, John, Bryan, Katie, Alex, the ghost of Walt, Bix, and Eddie . . . for the lovely music and the lovely video!

SOUTHERN (CALIFORNIA) COMFORT: THE “ELLIS ISLAND BOYS (and GIRL)” at CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE DISNEY

It’s not too soon to make plans for hot jazz for the next two months.  For the first time in its existence, JAZZ LIVES can recommend a trip to California Adventure Disney in Anaheim — the Paradise Garden Bandstand, to be precise, where this band is playing seven half-hour sets (beginning at 11:50 AM and ending at 7 PM) three days a week:

Do they look familiar in this action shot taken by our friend Susan Miyata?  Yes — you guessed right — the “Ellis Island” crew is our Peerless Quartet, known to the authorities as the Reynolds Brothers, and sometimes as the Reynolds Brothers Rhythm Rascals.  From the left, that’s Marc Caparone, trumpet and vocals; Ralf Reynolds, washboard, vocals; Katie Cavera, string bass, banjo, guitar, vocals; John Reynolds, guitar, banjo, whistling, vocals.  We knew that the Ellis Island Boys had arrived when we saw they had their own Facebook page: Ellis-Island-Boys

For the remainder of January, they will be appearing on the 10, 14, 15, 19, 21, 22, 24, 27, and 30.  In February, they will be swinging out on the 3, 5, 8, 11, 12, 14, 17, 22, 24, 25, 26, 28.

Founder Walt had a real love for hot jazz and it looks as if the tradition is being carried on in the best way.  I want the great Disney marketing machinery to kick in — souvenir washboards would be the first step . . .

And here’s another photo — by Alex Matthews — that shows Bryan Shaw sitting in for Marc Caparone . . . same hot music and high-level entertainment!