Tag Archives: Allegheny Jazz Festival

ROSSANO SPORTIELLO, HARRY ALLEN, DAN BARRETT: TWO DUOS, A ROMP THROUGH HOAGY and A LOVELY BALLAD (Sept. 20, 2013)

The youthful Maestro Rossano Sportiello inspires his friends, musical and otherwise, to great things.  Witness these two performances (recorded on September 20, 2013) at the party formerly known as Jazz at Chautauqua — now it’s the Allegheny Jazz Festival.

On the first, he and the nimble Harry Allen delight in exploring Hoagy Carmichael’s I WALK WITH MUSIC in many ways:

And then Rossano and Dan Barrett tenderly explore a little-played Thirties ballad, WHAT WILL I TELL MY HEART?:

Exuberance, delicacy, mastery by all concerned.

May your happiness increase!

LIFE, MEMORIES, YOUTH, HAPPINESS: DUNCAN SCHIEDT AT THE PIANO (September 2013)

Even if many jazz fans don’t know his name, we’ve all seen the photographs of Duncan Schiedt, who began chronicling the music in 1939.

I’ve been encountering Duncan at the Athenaeum Hotel — for the annual September Jazz at Chautauqua (now the Allegheny Jazz Festival) — for the past nine years, and have always enjoyed his impromptu solo piano recitals in the parlor.

Undismayed by whatever might be going on around him — consider the wedding party trotting through the scene during YOUTH — Duncan moves easily from one song to another, keeping his left hand gently moving, modestly embellishing the melodies as he goes, making the piano sing in an understated way.  I had my camera with me this last September, and at the Beloved’s urging, I recorded a few minutes of an informal Schiedt recital.

Piano aficionados will hear the kind of sweet melodic homages we associate with Jess Stacy and with the more obscure Chicagoan Jack Gardner (with touches of Bix and Joe Sullivan also!) — a style that is tenderly respectful yet always moving along. I like to imagine that Duncan, without camera or notebook, himself embodies a great tradition by playing piano the way it used to be played, the common language of song in motion.

AS LONG AS I LIVE / MEMORIES OF YOU:

BLAME IT ON MY YOUTH:

SOMETIMES I’M HAPPY:

Now, knowing that Duncan goes back to 1939 in his jazz photography, one might guess that he is an Elder of the Tribe, and we know him to be an honored one.

But I offer him as proof that music — making it or being absorbed in it wholly — is a sure way to stay young.  The man at the piano was born in 1921, which would make him 92, more or less, at the time of these performances.

And whether subliminally or intentionally, his song choices come back to the verities of our and his existence: Life, Memories, Youth, and Happiness.  Thank you, Duncan, for reminding us of the beauty that never grows old.

May your happiness increase!

WELCOME, NICOLE HEITGER!

I had the pleasure of hearing Nicole Heitger for the first time at the 2013 Jazz at Chautauqua (now the Allegheny Jazz Festival: read more here) — and I was devastated, in a good way.  What a voice!  And her unaffected stage presence.  Marvelous.  Yes, she comes from a noble lineage: her father, clarinetist Ray Heitger, founded the Cakewalkin’ Jass Band; her brother, trumpeter / singer Duke Heitger, is well known to JAZZ LIVES.

The players here are Ray, Jon-Erik Kellso, James Dapogny, Kerry Lewis, and John Von Ohlen.  And I’ve intentionally left more than two minutes of preliminary chat and setting-up because I think it’s witty and sweetly candid:

TROUBLE IN MIND:

WHAT A LITTLE MOONLIGHT CAN DO:

I asked Nicole to tell us a little about herself:

My life is simple.

I started singing at 16 with the “Cake Walkin’ Jass Band” (my father’s band) and became a full time member around six years later. I sing with the “Easy Street Jazz Band” in Ann Arbor once a month and have recorded with them recently. This band includes Paul Klinger, Jim Dapogny, Paul Keller, Pete Siers, and more. I have also recorded with a local band “New Orleans Party Asylum” (NOPA) on 2 of their CD’s.  

Growing up with the music was fabulous.

The highlight of my early years was going to “Tony Packo’s Café” with my dad every weekend. This is where the CJB played for over 30 years. I listened to Bessie, Ma Rainey, and Billie in the beginning. As I got older, Ella Fitzgerald became one of my favorites.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and have been working at the East Toledo Family Center for 16 years now. I supervised several grant funded programs. I am married to Aaron Shetterly and we have two amazing children, Elijah and Ella.

I feel honored to have been in that room to hear and record Nicole, and to share her music with you on JAZZ LIVES.  She’s got it — the real thing.

May your happiness increase!

ON THE MOVE (WITH THE SAME SUPERB MUSIC): WELCOME THE ALLEGHENY JAZZ FESTIVAL 2014!

I just found out that the September weekend jazz extravaganza I’ve been calling “Jazz at Chautauqua” for the last nine years is on the move to a new city.  The reasons are too complex for me: I’m just a simple fellow with a tripod, a camera, and a notebook.  But I know the results will be good!

However, the same stellar musicians will find themselves in a congenial place on September 19 – 21, 2014, for the ALLEGHENY JAZZ FESTIVALunder the very generous and astute leadership of Nancy Hancock Griffith, a good and trusted friend of the late Joe Boughton.

Visit www.alleghenyjazz.org to find out what’s happening.  I will keep you posted as soon as I know specifics.  Tell your friends who don’t live through the computer!  And if tell the Allegheny Jazz folks your contact information, you would be assured of getting the news while it is like the music, which is to say hot.

Speaking of hot: how about Andy Schumm, cornet; Dan Levinson, reeds; John Sheridan, piano; Kerry Lewis, string bass; Pete Siers, drums (with a visit from Dan Block on the final song):

OH BABY! (the Wolverines’ song, not the later one):

A SAILBOAT IN THE MOONLIGHT (for Billie and Lester):

RUSSIAN LULLABY:

SWEETHEARTS ON PARADE (more a romp than a stately procession):

I’ll see you at the ALLEGHENY JAZZ FESTIVAL next September 19-21, wherever it finds itself.

May your happiness increase!