I’m always slightly dubious about “all-star” groups, for occasionally these assemblages of stellar soloists aren’t the most cohesive bands. These performances can become a string of solos on over-familiar material.
Not so at the International Bohem Ragtime and Jazz Festival, obviously. Here are two delightful videos, just posted on YouTube, of two groups of international all-stars, producing very rewarding jazz at the 2009 festival. Incidentally, even though these songs are from the last century, the Bohem Festival is as technologically sophisticated as anyone could wish — imaginative camera work here and the 2009 bash was the first jazz festival ever broadcast live on the internet, with 30,000 online visitors during the weekend.
The first group features Matthias Seuffert on clarinet, Attila Korb on trombone and vocal, Herbert Christ on trumpet, on trombone and vocal, Paolo Alderighi on piano, Tamas Benyei on guitar, Ad van Beerendonk on bass, and Nick Ward on drums. Without copying the Waller record, they get into a surging yet relaxed groove on LULU’S BACK IN TOWN — that last bridge, featuring Matthias and Nick, is priceless! Some of the pleasure of watching / listening to this is, of course, finding more material by my heroes in top form — but there’s a deeper pleasure in meeting players previously unknown to me and savoring their mastery.
Another, entirely different group, featuring Bria Skonberg on trumpet, Russ Phillips on trombone, Craig Flory, reeds, Morten Gunnar Larsen, piano, Stuart Zank, banjo, Janos Mazura, tuba, and Jeff Hamilton on drums, rocks through BLUES MY NAUGHTY SWEETIE GAVE TO ME — with perfectly-played riffs at the end.