One of the highlights of the 2023 Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California, was Hal Smith’s vigorous evocation of the El Dorado Jazz Band — not copying the records, but getting in the swing of things in the most inspired way. Here’s the second half of their set, down-home and expert all at once.They raised the room temperature in the most enlivening ways. “They” are Hal Smith, washboard, leader; Andy Schumm, cornet; Brandon Au, trombone; John Otto, clarinet; Jeff Barnhart, piano, vocal; Mikiya Matsuda, string bass; Matty Bottel, banjo. I published the first half of their set here and people loved it. Here’s more.
CAKE WALKING BABIES FROM HOME (with Parasol Parade free of charge):
ONLY YOU (AND YOU ALONE):
And to close it all, some authentic Mexican cookery, HERE COMES THE HOT TAMALE MAN:
Red hot indeed!
More to come . . . and this is only a taste of the delightful menu spread out for us (sometimes with eight sessions going on at once) that happened in Monterey.
P.S. I flew out there with a bad cold and cough, which has abated somewhat: if you hear coughing during any video, I am to blame, but the alternative would have been to stay home. Nay nay.
We’ve just returned from the 2023 Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California, and one of the highlights was Hal Smith’s vigorous evocation of the El Dorado Jazz Band — not copying the records, but getting in the swing of things in the most inspired way. Here’s the first half of their set, down-home and expert all at once.
They raised the room temperature in the most enlivening ways. “They” are Hal Smith, washboard, leader; Andy Schumm, cornet; Brandon Au, trombone; John Otto, clarinet; Jeff Barnhart, piano, vocal; Mikiya Matsuda, string bass; Matty Bottel, banjo:
THE BUCKET’S GOT A HOLE IN IT:
Lonnie Donegan’s EARLY HOURS:
A romping FLAT FOOT:
and the very pretty I’M A LITTLE BLACKBIRD:
More to come . . . and this is only a taste of the delightful menu spread out for us (sometimes with eight sessions going on at once) that happened last weekend in Monterey.
P.S. I flew out there with a bad cold and cough, which has not left me: if you hear coughing during any video, I am to blame, but the alternative would have been to stay home. Nay nay.
I could write this post in under ten words, like a telegram. GREAT MUSIC COMING. WE’LL BE THERE. SEE YOU TOO, but even my very hip audience might need some elaboration, so here goes.
The OAO and I will be going to the Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California. It’s held at the comfortable Portola Hotel and Convention Center, and the fun begins Thursday evening, March 2, and skitters to a stop on Sunday afternoon, March 5. It is one of the more convenient festivals I know, because all of the music is under one roof, so the most arduous walking one has to do is from one room to another, and when something nie is happening above, there’s an escalator. (Even youngbloods appreciate such conveniences.)
Here are some of the musicians who will be appearing, a list too long for me to pretend it will be complete: Brandon Au, Justin Au, Clint Baker, Anne Barnhart, Jeff Barnhart, Dan Barrett, Chris Calabrese, Marc Caparone, Katie Cavera, Josh Collazo, Danny Coots, Bob Draga, Chris Dawson, Marty Eggers, Eddie Erickson, Yve Evans, Corey Gemme, Paul Hagglund, Brian Holland, Marilyn Keller, Nate Ketner, Rebecca Kilgore, Dawn Lambeth, Carl Sonny Leyland, Howard Miyata, Don Neely, John Otto, Steve Pikal, Gareth Price, Tom Rigney, Sam Rocha, Andy Schumm, Hal Smith, Dave Stuckey, Stephanie Trick, Nathan Tokunaga, Jason Wanner, and a cast of hundreds.
Like most festivals, the opportunities for existential dilemmas abound, with sometimes eight events going on (separated at times by a half-hour start time) so there is too much going on to see and hear it all. To wit: the vertigo-inducing schedule. I suggest that one bring a highlighter or a set of Sharpies to delineate where one MUST be at any given time. Possibly people blessed with greater tech skills know how to do this on their new iPhone 206; perhaps someone will teach me.
I could go on about what a wonderful festival this is. How festivals, deprived of active support, dry up and fly away and are no more. But you know all this, or I hope you do. Rather, I’d present some delightful video evidence: I began coming to this festival in 2011, and I think I missed one year between then and 2020. So I will let the music, hot and sweet, do the explaining for me. I apologize to any musician who’s in a video who’s not at the Bash this year: I mean no offense, and hope to show off your glories to this audience.
LOVE POTION NUMBER NINE:
SOLID OLD MAN:
TUCK ME TO SLEEP IN MY OLD ‘TUCKY HOME:
THE YAMA YAMA MAN:
I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS:
TENDER IS THE NIGHT / I GOT RHYTHM:
CHARLEY, MY BOY:
YOUNG AND HEALTHY:
To quote Mister Tea, “If that don’t get it, well, forget it for now.” See you there! And here‘s how to order, as they used to say.
This band rocked the church. Seismically, I mean. Christopher Street will never be the same.
I’ve shared several segments from this concert, and here’s the last dynamic offering. From the back, the New York Classic Seven are Colin Hancock, drums; Jay Rattman, bass saxophone; Vince Giordano, banjo; Andy Schumm, piano; Ricky Alexander, clarinet, alto saxophone; Sam Chess, trombone; Mike Davis, trumpet, vocal.
(For new visitors to this site: if you click on the post’s title, the still photographs below — if they are what you see — will open to reveal video-performances.)
For Bix, of course. THERE’S A CRADLE IN CAROLINE:
Hot needs sweet in the perfectly balanced cosmos, so here’s Romantic Mike Davis, pleading GUILTY. We pardon him:
And the gloriously futuristic BONEYARD SHUFFLE:
Here’s Andy Schumm’s Gershwin-inspired composition, LET’S DO THINGS:
A beautiful mini-Whiteman consideration of MY BLUE HEAVEN:
Don’t be afraid of the title. Colin and Mike aren’t truly ANGRY:
And the extravagantly “primitive” JUNGLE CRAWL by Tiny Parham:
What would a program of Twenties jazz and pop be without a song saying how much better everything is in the American South? Here’s a stellar example, THAT’S THE GOOD OLD SUNNY SOUTH:
This was the second — wonderful — US appearance by this band. If you want to hear them again, tell festival organizers and club-owners, tell your wealthy friends. They’re raring to go and play, as you can see and hear. And we need this kind of musical uplift.
Thanks again to Janet Sora Chung and St. John’s Lutheran Church (Christopher Street, New York City) for making this aesthetic gift-box possible, and for permitting me to video-record and share it.
And thanks to Red, Bix, Miff, Fud, Pee Wee, JD and TD, McDonough, Eddie, Challis, Artie, Vic, Adrian, and three dozen other luminaries for their inspiration.
Fortunately, the wooden benches were sturdy and solidly attached.
Here is the second (glorious) US appearance of the (glorious) hot orchestra, the New York Classic Seven, on May 18, 2022, at St. John’s Lutheran Church on Christopher Street (thanks to Janet Sora Chung). They are Mike Davis, trumpet, vocal, co-leader; Colin Hancock, drums, vocal, co-leader; Ricky Alexander, clarinet, alto saxophone, vocal; Sam Chess, trombone; Andy Schumm, piano; Vince Giordano, banjo; Jay Rattman, bass saxophone.
Hot enough for you?
The Gershwins’ DO DO DO (vocal, Mike Davis):
Sweetly durable: MY MELANCHOLY BABY:
A rousing ALABAMMY BOUND — another of the memorable songs about going South (Andy Schumm, arrangement):
THE WHISPER SONG (getting pastoral, with Mike Davis, vocal and vocal effects; Colin Hancock, whistling):
BUDDY’S HABITS (fashioned after the Red Nichols version):
Appropriately joyous, Mr. Morton’s MILENBERG JOYS:
In honor of the Sunshine Boys, Joe and Dan Mooney, here are Mike Davis and Ricky Alexander negotiating their way through WHEN I TAKE MY SUGAR TO TEA, which Sam Chess bowing low to Tommy Dorsey:
And finally, for this post — Cave canem — a growly low MEAN DOG BLUES, courtesy of Red Nichols and friends:
“What fun!” as Liadain O’Donovan says. More goodness on the way.
We need good news, so here’s something that will gladden the hearts of listeners who like barrelhouse originality: Andy Schumm, so wonderful on all his instruments, will be releasing his first solo piano CD (on Rivermont Records) later this year.
Here is Andy’s riotous piano feature — I call his style Elegant Savagery — at the second (glorious) US appearance of the (glorious) hot orchestra, the New York Classic Seven, on May 18, 2022, at St. John’s Lutheran Church on Christopher Street, New York City (thanks to Janet Sora Chung).
Andy is a spectacular pianist, and what I mean by “Elegant Savagery” has something to do with the confidence and energy with which he approaches the keyboard. His power, his range, his fearlessness. (Some pianists are timid, as if they were anxious: press the keys down too firmly, someone will notice and they will lose the gig.) He is a swashbuckler, a Douglas Fairbanks of the Steinway or perhaps Yamaha. But he does not pound. His aim is beautiful. He knows where he is going, so notes and runs are clear, ringing, not smudged or vague. And he’s improvising: there’s music on the piano in the photograph, but he’s on his own path in the video.
The heat he generates is awe-inspiring; he is orchestral in the best way. And he does the neat trick the greatest artists do: he has heard and absorbed everyone, from Joplin to Confrey to Melrose, Schutt, Seger Ellis, Cassino Simpson, and Alex Hill and beyond, Morton and the stride gang — ferociously precise barrelhouse like a Mack truck on a steep downhill incline (although his tempo is admirably steady) — but he sounds like himself.
Can you tell that I admire his approach and what he creates? Listen.
I can’t wait until the CD (with notes by Andy, in both senses) appears, but in the meantime I will admire his playing whenever I can. (You know, of course, that he is a splendid cornet, clarinet, saxophone, and drum wizard as well . . . )
Thank you for being, Maestro, and for so generously sharing your selves with us.
Jazz doesn’t often end up in church (or similar religious institutions) which is a pity, because its creativity shouts hosannas to the universe, and in secular terms, it praises the great glory of being alive in this cosmos. A great solo or ensemble or beautifully-turned phrase is not “like” a prayer; it is a prayer. And the most rewarding improvisations are authentic and thus to be revered. So it was so rich an experience when a great jazz orchestra romped, shouted, whispered, and exulted in a lovely New York City church (built in 1821) last night.
Here’s one side of the septet:
and the other:
and a much better shot by my friend since 1972, the esteemed Rob Rothberg:
It was the second (glorious) US appearance of the (glorious) hot orchestra, the New York Classic Seven, on May 18, 2022, at St. John’s Lutheran Church on Christopher Street (thanks to Janet Sora Chung). They are Mike Davis, trumpet, vocal, co-leader; Colin Hancock, drums, vocal, co-leader; Ricky Alexander, clarinet, alto saxophone, vocal; Sam Chess, trombone; Andy Schumm, piano; Vince Giordano, banjo; Jay Rattman, bass saxophone.
And they rocked the room. Here are their first half-dozen selections.
I NEED LOVIN’ (vocal by Mike):
CORNFED (for Red and Miff):
ARE YOU SORRY? (you know the answer is NO):
Fats’ MY FATE IS IN YOUR HANDS (vocal by Mike):
and HONOLULU BLUES:
There will be three more blogposts delineating the joys of this evening. Fervent thanks go to Janet Sora Chung and to the gentlemen of the ensemble.
I know this group would like opportunities to play for the widest variety of audiences, and their book is huge (and, as you can hear, varied). Promoters, producers, club-owners, concert organizers out there?
There they are, in all their hot pastoral glory: the New York Classic Seven, co-led by Colin Hancock, drums; Mike Davis, trumpet and vocal; with Andy Schumm, piano; Jay Rattman, bass saxophone; Josh Dunn, banjo and guitar; Josh Holcomb, trombone; Ricky Alexander, clarinet and alto saxophone. Their concert — two days ago, Sunday, May 15, 2022 — was made possible by the Tri-State Jazz Society(thanks to Bill Hoffman, as always, for his efficient kindnesses). I am told that the whole concert was live-streamed on YouTube and Facebook, but I wanted to bring my camera and gear there myself, so that the OAO and I could enjoy it hot. As we did.
When an interviewer asked Jelly Roll Morton, late in Jelly’s life, about jazz “styles,” and unrolled a list of them, Jelly was derisive, “Hell, it’s all Jelly Roll style!” Here are two jubilant examples to prove his point: hot music performances of the highest order.
MILENBERG (or MILNEBERG) JOYS:
Joys for sure. Colin told us that this version owed something to the recordings of New Orleans cornetist Johnny DeDroit — wait for the extended ending.
And the closing number of the concert, GOOD OLD NEW YORK (“Knife and fork / bottle and a cork / That’s the way you spell ‘New York’ are some words from the lyrics — true today):
Reiterating the obvious. These are extraordinarily gifted musicians who make music that others say is dead cavort joyously. And although we treasure our Morton Victors in any form, living musicians playing music in real time and space are an immense gift, and such a gift needs to be nurtured. Support jazz societies; make donations if you can’t or won’t be there in person; buy musicians’ CDs; go to concerts and gigs.
Jazz surely is nowhere near dead, but every time an audience member turns away, it gets closer to the morgue.
I could call this post OUTSTANDING IN THEIR FIELD, but that would be wrong.
There they are, in all their hot pastoral glory: the New York Classic Seven, co-led by Colin Hancock, drums; Mike Davis, trumpet and vocal; with Andy Schumm, piano; Jay Rattman, bass saxophone; Josh Dunn, banjo and guitar; Josh Holcomb, trombone; Ricky Alexander, clarinet and alto saxophone. Their concert — yesterday, Sunday, May 15, 2022 — was made possible by the Tri-State Jazz Society(thanks to Bill Hoffman, as always, for his efficient kindnesses). I am told that the whole concert was live-streamed on YouTube and Facebook, but I wanted to bring my camera and gear there myself, so that the OAO and I could enjoy it hot. As we did.
Here’s a hot performance of Tiny Parham’s JUNGLE CRAWL, transcribed by Mike Davis — so authentic, so slippery-lovely. (You know, Dick Wellstood said that the best jazz had “grease and funk.” The white walls of the little hall still gleamed when the concert was over, but a kind of lively unfettered human vitality was in the air:
Someone sitting near me said, when this was all through, “That was awesome,” and I agree. There’s more to come. You can find the whole concert, live-streamed,here — for free, but people who are hep to the jive will find the donation box and toss some love to the Society and their musicians. It’s only right.
And just to reiterate: “Jazz is dead?” “Young people today have no knowledge of the jazz tradition before Coltrane?” Derisive noises from your occasionally-humble correspondent.
News flash: the song is OH BABY — with or without comma and exclamation point — thanks to Rob Rothberg for the gentle correction. But I don’t have the time to fix the PETTIN’ references, so I hope readers will forgive me my ignorances, plural. The music remains!
It’s a wonderful song — verse and chorus — first made memorable in jazz by Bix Beiderbecke and the Wolverines, then by Bud Freeman’s Summa Cum Laude Orchestra and several other Bix-inspired groups.
The undocumented but hot version I present here comes from September 19, 2013, at the informal-jam session held before the Jazz at Chautauqua weekend officially began. The hero-participants are (from the back) Arnie Kinsella, drums; Kerry Lewis, string bass; John Sheridan, piano; Dan Levinson, clarinet; Andy Schumm, cornet:
and, just because JAZZ LIVES needs a regal guiding spirit, here’s someone who is always teaching the lesson: know when to pet, know when to stop:
My time machine won’t go back to 1935 and the Reno Club, nor to Fifty-Second Street, no matter how hard I twist the dials, but it does go back to 1970 — audio only — and 2009 — adding video. One of the great pleasures of this century for me was being allowed to bring my video camera to what was Jazz at Chautauqua and then took on different names and a different venue. We miss it terribly. But some wonderful evidence remains.
It was held during a long weekend late in September at the Athenaeum Hotel in Chautauqua, New York, and its founder Joe Boughton had certain rituals in scheduling. Friday afternoon, solo piano recitals in the parlor; Friday night, Saturday afternoon and evening, and Sunday afternoon were for organized sets in the large ballroom.
But Thursday night was informal, because musicians and guests arrived as they could — for me, it was about a seven-hour trip there whether I drove or flew to Buffalo — but certain rituals were observed. I believe the open bar opened itself around 5 PM, and the line for the buffet dinner began also. At around 6, music began in the smaller back room, and I learned quickly to bring my plate, my knapsack of video equipment there rather than dining like a civilized person at a table among others. (“I can always eat, but I can’t miss this set,” I reminded myself.)
I’m not exaggerating when I say some of the best musical moments of this century, for me, took place on those Thursday evenings. Sometimes the piano wasn’t perfect, or I had to sit behind friends and shoot video with their heads as part of the scenery, but those sessions are joyous memories. And they exist to be shared with the faithful. The little ad hoc groupings didn’t have official leaders, but someone might suggest a tune that everyone knew, they would agree on a ley and tempo, and magic would happen.
It did on Thursday, September 19, 2013, thanks to Dan Levinson, clarinet and tenor saxophone; Andy Schumm, cornet; John Sheridan, piano; Kerry Lewis, string bass; Pete Siers, drums. They did three classic standards; they had fun; so did we.
A SAILBOAT IN THE MOONLIGHT, which suggests what might have happened if Bix had lived into 1937:
For relief from my attempts to tidy my apartment (think Sisyphus with myopia and a short attention span) I turn to the more cheerful task of tidying my YouTube archives.
I have preserved somewhere around eight thousand videos, recorded from 2007 to this summer, and some of them are labeled in ways that make them elusive. But you and I benefit from my disorder, since wonders emerge and can be shared.
March 2019 seems like decades ago, but it wasn’t — in calendar time. Because of kind invitations from the Juvae Jazz Society, I found myself in Decatur, Illinois, for a one-day jazz festival that also featured Petra van Nuis and her Recession Seven and local hero Bob Havens. I video-recorded several sets by the Chicago Cellar Boys, and I think four posts on JAZZ LIVES resulted. But here are some you ain’t tuned in to yet. The CCB are Andy Schumm, cornet, clarinet, saxophones, arrangements; John Otto, clarinet, alto saxophone; Paul Asaro, piano, vocal; Dave Bock, tuba; Johnny Donatowicz, banjo and guitar.
GULF COAST BLUES:
I FOUND A NEW BABY:
WILD MAN BLUES:
BEER GARDEN BLUES comes from 1933, and celebrates the end of Prohibition: Clarence Williams gave it new lyrics and it became SWING, BROTHER, SWING a few years later:
I understand the CCB played splendidly at the most recent Bix Festival — may they once again delight us at many venues. Until then, I have posted nearly sixty performances by this flexible, inventive hot group, so there’s much more to delight you.
I did not take the pandemic lightly, and I spent a good deal of last year scared to bits . . . but I’m going. And I hope you will also, if you can.
Details here — but I know you want more than just details.
Although for those who like it very plain, some elementary-school math: four days, more than a hundred sets performed at eight stages, from intimate to huge. Dance floors. And the festival is wonderfully varied, presenting every kind of “roots music” you can imagine: “jazz, swing, blues, zydeco, rockabilly, Americana, Western Swing, country.”
Off the top of my head — when I was there in 2019, I heard the music of Charlie Christian, Moon Mullican, Pee Wee Russell, Kid Ory, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Hodges, Pete Johnson, Billie Holiday, and much more. Bob Wills said howdy to Walter Donaldson, which was very sweet.
And here are some of the jazz and blues artists who will be there: Carl Sonny Leyland, Duke Robillard, Dave Stuckey, Hal Smith, Andy Schumm, Dan Barrett, Jonathan Doyle, Jacob Zimmerman, Dan Walton, Marc Caparone, Joe Goldberg, Bill Reinhart, Joshua Gouzy, Joel Patterson, Katie Cavera, Dawn Lambeth, Clint Baker, Kris Tokarski, Nate Ketner, Brian Casserly, Josh Collazo, Ryan Calloway, and two dozen other worthies whose names don’t yet appear on the site. And of course, bands — ad hoc units and working ones.
For the justifiably anxious among us, here is the RCMF’s Covid update: several things stand out. First, California has mandated that ticket sales must be in advance. And understandably, there will be fewer people allowed in any space . . . so this translates for you, dear reader, as a double incentive to buy tickets early. I know that festivals always urge attendees to do this, but you can see these are atypical reasons.
How about some musical evidence?
CASTLE ROCK, by the Jonathan Doyle Swingtet:
WAITING AT THE END OF THE ROAD, by Dawn Lambeth and her Quartet:
REACHING FOR SOMEONE, by the Doyle-Zimmerman Sextet:
HELLO, LOLA! by Hal Smith’s SWING CENTRAL:
SAN ANTONIO ROSE, by Dave Stuckey – Hal Smith’s Western Swing All-Stars:
PENNIES FROM HEAVEN, by Marc Caparone and his “Louis Armstrong All-Stars”:
If the videos don’t act as proof, my words may be superfluous. But to paraphrase Lesley Gore, “It’s my blog and I’ll write if I want to.”
I come to this festival-jazz party circuit late — both late for me and for the phenomenon — September 2004. Chautauqua, California, Connecticut, Newcastle, Westoverledingen, and others. I’ve attended a hundred of them. Meaning no offense to any festival organizer, I think Redwood Coast delivers such quality and such range that it is astonishing. I told Mark Jansen that it was the SUPERMARKET SWEEP of festivals: so much to pick up on in so short a time. And readers will understand that my range is narrow: there is much music on the list of genres above that doesn’t stir me, although it might be excellent.
However: in 2019 I came home with over 150 videos in four days of enthusiastic observation-participation. I slept as if drugged on the plane ride home. I’d been perforated by music of the finest kind.
I also need to write a few darker sentences.
There is a blessed influx of younger people — dancers, often — to music festivals like this one. But festivals are large enterprises, costly to stage and exhausting to supervise. Those of us who want to be able to see and hear live music must know that this phenomenon needs what realistic promoters call Asses in Seats.
So if you say, “Well, I’ll come in a few years when I’m retired,” that’s understandable. But Asses at Home mean that this festival, and others, might not wait for you. Grim, but true.
So I hope to see you there. There are a million reasons to stay at home. But who will come in and dust you?
Is the world going a little too fast for you? Is this your internal soundtrack?
Do you feel like a character in a Fleischer cartoon where everything’s too speedy to be brought under control? (I mean no disrespect to the 1936 Henderson band — with spectacular playing on this fast blues, appropriately called JANGLED NERVES — from Chu Berry, Roy Eldridge, Sidney Catlett, Fernando Arbello, and Buster Bailey.)
I believe the following interlude will calm and enliven your nerves at the same time. It happened here, in a vanished but remembered past — the third weekend in September 2009 at Jazz at Chautauqua, Joe Boughton’s creation, at the Athenaeum Hotel in Chautauqua, New York.
Joe loved to begin and end his weekend programs with ballad medleys, and here is a segment of one of them, featuring Duke Heitger, trumpet; Andy Schumm, cornet; Dan Barrett, trombone; Scott Robinson, tenor saxophone; Bob Reitmeier, clarinet; Ehud Asherie, piano; Marty Grosz, guitar; Frank Tate, string bass;, Pete Siers, drums. The bill of fare is MEMORIES OF YOU (Duke), STARDUST (Bob), PRELUDE TO A KISS (Scott), OLD FOLKS (Andy), IF I HAD YOU (Dan, with the ensemble joining in):
Let’s see how you’re feeling tomorrow. Leave a message with Mary Ann.
News flash: Laura Beth Wyman, the CEO of Wyman Video and a fellow videographer, has pointed out that in September 2014, Jazz at Chautauqua had morphed into the Allegheny Jazz Party and moved west to Cleveland. Since a lesson of later life is that I have to live with my errors, I do so here: some of the prose details that follow are now in the wrong state, but the music still gleams.
Making the annual trip to the Athenaeum Hotel for the Jazz at Chautauqua weekend was never that easy, so once there I felt relief as well as excitement. But it was heavenly once I could see the people I love whom I saw so rarely, and even more blissful once the music began. Now, through the lens of 2020, Jazz at Chautauqua seems poignant as well as heavenly.
So it’s with those emotions — joy, nostalgia, wistfulness — that I offer you eight minutes of an elixir for the ears and heart: ‘WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS, which used to be a medium-tempo saunter. I present the first recording of this 1922 Creamer and Layton song, with its “Spanish tinge” verse. And note that the Crescent City angels are wearing blue jeans, a garment that goes back to the end of the nineteenth century: see here:
But we can talk about clothing another time. Now, a mighty crew of hot players take this jazz standard for a gentle yet propulsive ride: Marty Grosz, guitar; Andy Schumm, cornet; James Dapogny, our Prof., piano; Bob Havens, trombone; Dan Block, clarinet; Scott Robinson, tenor saxophone; Jon Burr, string bass; Pete Siers, drums. I offer a special bow of gratitude to Nancy Hancock Griffith, who we see briefly at the start: she never sat in on an instrument, but she and her mother, Kathy Hancock, made it all happen.
Such a weekend will probably never come again, but I bless the players and the organizers . . . and I’m grateful for my little camera, that made audio-visual souvenirs like this possible.
Today, Saturday, October 31, is Halloween — but no “spooky” posts, because the holiday is eviscerated for valid health reasons. And at my age, the only costume I don is my own, and I don’t buy candy bars for myself.
But Sunday, November 1, is the official end of Daylight Saving Time in most of the United States, “giving us” an extra hour of sleep or some other activity. (Sundays are reserved for the EarRegulars, which is why this post comes early.)
I encourage all of you to enjoy the faux-gift of sixty minutes in some gratifying ways. But here are my suggestions about how you could happily stretch out in the extra time: versions of IF I COULD BE WITH YOU ONE HOUR TONIGHT, the unaging classic by James P. Johnson and Henry Creamer, which speaks to our desire to spend time in pleasurable ways.
Here’s a pretty, loose version from the September 2010 Jazz at Chautauqua, performed by Marty Grosz, guitar, vocals, and commentary; Randy Reinhart, cornet; Dan Block, Scott Robinson, reeds; John Sheridan, piano; Vince Giordano, string bass, tuba, bass sax; Arnie Kinsella, drums:
Two years later, Andy Schumm’s evocation of the Mound City Blue Blowers, at the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party, paying tribute to one “Red” McKenzie, hot ambassador of the comb / newspaper — here, with Andy, comb; Jens Lindgren, trombone, off-screen because of a patron’s coif; Norman Field, Jean-Francois Bonnel, reeds; Emma Fisk, violin; Spats Langham, banjo, vocal; Frans Sjostrom, bass saxophone; Malcolm Sked, brass bass; Josh Duffee, drums:
and, from the 2018 Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Sedalia, Missouri, here’s the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet, for that set, Brian Holland, piano; Danny Coots, drums; Evan Arntzen, tenor saxophone, vocal; Marc Caparone, cornet; Marty Eggers, string bass (subbing for Steve Pikal, who was on secret assignment):
1944, for V-Disc, with Jack Teagarden, trombone and vocal; Bobby Hackett, cornet; Lou McGarity, trombone; Ernie Caceres, clarinet; Nick Caiazza, tenor saxophone; Bill Clifton, piano; Herb Ellis, guitar; Felix Giobbe, string bass; Cozy Cole, drums — one of those perfectly memorable recordings I first heard decades ago, with its own sweet imperfections: some uncertainty about the chords for the verse, and the usually nimble Caiazza painting himself into a corner — but it’s lovely:
Of course, we have to hear the composer, in 1944, with Eddie Dougherty, drums:
Marion Harris, 1930:
Sidney Bechet, Muggsy Spanier, Carmen Mastren, and Wellman Braud, 1940:
Helen Humes and Buck Clayton with Count Basie, 1939:
Ade Monsbourgh and his Late Hour Boys, 1956, with Bob Barnard, trumpet; Ade Monsbourgh, reeds, vocal; Graham Coyle, piano; Jack Varney, banjo, guitar; Ron Williamson, tuba; Roger Bell, washboard:
George Thomas with McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, 1930:
and at the very summit, Louis in 1930:
Now, you’re on your own: use the time for pleasure.
A homeopathic practitioner would tell us that “like cures like”: if you’re suffering from an excess of X, take a tincture of more X. I don’t know how it works, but allium cepa works on my allergies. You heard it here first. Many people I encounter these days are unhappy as can be — for a multiplicity of reasons that I don’t need to explore here. So I offer some mournful music by Andy Schumm, clarinet; Paul Asaro, piano; John Donatowicz, banjo, performed at last year’s San Diego Jazz Fest on November 30, 2019. (This trio is a band-within-a-band from the esteemed Chicago Cellar Boys, whom I’ve praised and posted often here.) And Andy is working in and around Johnny Dodds’ choruses on the Louis Armstrong Hot Five recording — the composition is by Lil Hardin:
Feeling better? I thought not. Tune in tomorrow for more attempts at spiritual rescue.
Another of the wondrous ballad medleys that used to begin and end the splendid jazz weekend, Jazz at Chautauqua: here, from 2013. And, because it’s daylight, it was the medley that sent us all home, exhausted by pleasure, on a Sunday afternoon.
The roadmap: After a few of the usual hi-jinks, the rescue squad finds a second microphone for Marty Grosz, Harry Allen plays EASY LIVING; Dan Block, DAY DREAM; Bob Havens essays CAN’T HELP LOVIN’ THAT MAN; Duke Heitger finishes off this segment with I KNOW WHY (And So Do You):
I had to put a new battery in at this point, so I missed a few choruses (you’ll see Dan Levinson leaving the stage — my apologies to Dan and the other musicians I couldn’t capture).
Then, Randy Reiinhart plays MY FUNNY VALENTINE; Andy Schumm follows, politely, with PLEASE; Andy Stein calls for LAURA; Marty takes the stage by himself for the Horace Gerlach classic IF WE NEVER MEET AGAIN; Rossano Sportiello plays SOPHISTICATED LADY, so beautifully:
Those would have been the closing notes of the 2013 Jazz at Chautauqua: another unforgettable interlude of music and friendship. Bless the musicians, bless the shade of Joe Boughton and bless his living family, bless Nancy Hancock Griffith and Kathy Hancock. Those experiences are unforgettable evidence that once, such things were beautifully possible, and we witnessed them — me, with a video camera. How fortunate we were!
This post is part three of three. I wish it were part three of ten, but one can’t be greedy. Here’s part one, and parttwo. And here is the 1927 Oldsmobile.
And now . . . . four classic performances that we all associate with Jean Goldkette, Bill Challis, Bix Beiderbecke, and Frank Trumbauer, music conceived in 1927 and revisited for enthusiasm, style, and expertise in 2015.
I’M COMIN’ VIRGINIA:
IN MY MERRY OLDSMOBILE (the 4 / 4 version), with Mike Davis blowing a scorching chorus where the vocal once was:
CLEMENTINE (From New Orleans), the last side this band recorded for Victor:
MY PRETTY GIRL:
It was an honor to be there, and it is a privilege to share these dozen performances with you. Blessings on the musicians, on Chauncey Morehouse’s friends and family, and, as before, this post is dedicated to Susan Anne Atherton.
Here‘s the first part of my trip to the Capitol Theater in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania — Chauncey Morehouse’s home town — including performances of I’M GONNA MEET MY SWEETIE NOW, SLOW RIVER, DINAH, and MIDNIGHT OIL by Josh Duffee’s Graystone Monarchs, a wonderful orchestra of musicians from New York, Iowa, and Australia. And, yes, that gun is loaded.
Here are the next four delightful performances.
THE PANIC (a musical satire on the unwise rush to get married):
CONGOLAND, a Morehouse composition, whose title Josh explains:
And back to the Goldkette book, with the ODJB’s OSTRICH WALK:
And the hot-romantic IDOLIZING (which is all that seems worthwhile):
This post, as are the others in this series, is dedicated to Susan Anne Atherton.
I hadn’t heard of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania before the summer of 2015, when drummer-percussionist-archivist Josh Duffee announced his intention of giving a concert with his ten-piece Graystone Monarchs to celebrate the appearance of the Jean Goldkette Orchestra at the Capitol Theater on May 4, 1927, which was a triumphant evening, made even more so because Chambersburg was legendary drummer Chauncey Morehouse’s home town.
As you will see, the modern evening was triumphant also. And a fact that says something about Josh’s devotion to the jazz heritage — the 2015 concert was free to the public (I am sure the 1927 one wasn’t).
Of course, I asked Josh if he needed a videographer, and he did, so you can see highlights of that concert here. The band — expert and hot — was Josh on drums; Leigh Barker, string bass; John Scurry, banjo / guitar; Tom Roberts, piano; Jason Downes, Michael McQuaid, Jay Rattman, reeds; Jim Fryer, trombone; Andy Schumm, Mike Davis, trumpets.
Twelve performances from this evening have been approved for you to enjoy, and I have taken the perhaps unusual step in presenting them in three portions, as if you’d bought two new records from the local Victor dealer and would have weeks or more to savor them. But eight more performances will follow.
An exuberant start:
SLOW RIVER, arranged by Bill Challis, who told Phil Schaap he hated the limp melody and tried to bury and sabotage it:
DINAH, harking back to the 1926 version featuring Steve Brown:
And the fourth “side,” from Chauncey’s days with the 1935 Russ Morgan orchestra:
When a relative or friend returns from a trip, children sometimes burst out, free from polite inhibition, “What did you bring me?” Adults may think this, yet the more well-brought up ones say, “Did you have a good time?”
The 2015 photograph is of Laura Wyman of Ann Arbor, CEO of that enterprise, devoted to videography of jazz, dance, recitals, and more. I first met Laura at Jazz at Chautauqua in September 2013, when we were introduced by our mutual friend Jim Dapogny: she was part of the Michigan contingent there: Jim and Gail Dapogny, Pete Siers, Sally and Mick Fee. Laura was then an expert still photographer then, but became an avid videographer less than a year later.
She’s been going through the archives of Wyman Video and has shared two early efforts with us — capturing music from the September 2014 Allegheny Jazz Party that we would never have experienced without her.
First, THE MOOCHE (originally a dance), with commentary, by Dan Levinson, clarinet / leader; Dan Block, clarinet and tenor saxophone; Scott Robinson, taragoto; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Dan Barrett, trombone; Howard Alden, banjo; James Dapogny, piano; Jon Burr, string bass; Ricky Malichi, drums.
Dan Levinson: “First, I don’t know that this tune has ever been attempted on 2 clarinets and tarogato, but there’s one thing I do know, for sure, is that the note that Scott is about to start on does not exist on that instrument! Never been played before!
The version of “The Mooche” that we played was my own transcription from the original Ellington recording, which featured three clarinets. Scott Robinson, in typical – and admirable – Scott Robinson fashion, showed up at the event with a tárogató instead of a clarinet. The tárogató is an instrument used in Hungarian and Romanian folk music that looks kind of like a clarinet but uses a different fingering system and has a smaller range. So I gave Scott the clarinet part that would be best suited to his instrument’s range. He looked at the music, worked out some fingerings, and then he was ready. Although I announced that the first note he was going to play was out of his instrument’s range, I didn’t realize that I had inadvertently given him the wrong clarinet part, and that it was TOTALLY out of his instrument’s range. There was no moment where he seemed concerned or hesitant. In a few seconds, he merely reinvented his instrument by working out fingerings for the notes that didn’t exist on it prior to that performance. There’s only one Scott Robinson on the planet!” – Dan Levinson, May 2020
THAT is completely memorable, no argument. And a gift.
And since we need to live in a major key as well, here is Professor Dapogny’s romping chart on CALIFORNIA, HERE I COME, performed by Dan Block, clarinet; Scott Robinson, tenor saxophone; Andy Schumm, cornet; Dan Barrett, trombone; James Dapogny, piano / leader; Marty Grosz, guitar; Frank Tate, string bass; John von Ohlen, drums: