Tag Archives: Attila Korb

CELEBRATING ADRIAN ROLLINI, THEN AND NOW

Adrian Rollini has been gone from us for nearly sixty-five years, but his imagination, his huge sound, his virtuosity lives on.  He has been celebrated as associate of Bix Beiderbecke, Red Nichols, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, the California Ramblers and their spin-offs, Cliff Edwards, Frank Trumbauer, Annette Hanshaw, Vic Berton, Stan King, Abe Lincoln, Miff Mole, Fred Elizalde, Bert Lown, Tom Clines, Bunny Berigan, Eddie Lang, Joe Venuti, Lee Morse, Jack Purvis, Benny Goodman, Ethel Waters, Fats Waller, Gene Krupa, Wingy Manone, Joe Marsala, Pee Wee Russell, and many more; multi-instrumentalist: the premier bass saxophonist, a pianist, drummer, vibraphonist, xylophonist, and master of the goofus and the “hot fountain pen,” with recordings over mearly three decades — 473 sessions, says Tom Lord — to prove his art.

Here, in about six minutes, is Rollini, encapsulated — lyrically on vibraphone for HONEYSUCKLE ROSE, then playing TAP ROOM SWING (really THE FARMER IN THE DELL with a domino on) alongside Berigan, Teddy Wilson, and Babe Russin — for the Saturday Night Swing Club, with Paul Douglas the announcer. Thanks to Nick Dellow for this two-sided gem:

and later on, the vibraphone-guitar-trio:

I love the song — as well as the weight and drive Rollini gives this 1933 ensemble — to say nothing of Red McKenzie, Berigan, and Pee Wee Russell:

and the very hot performance of NOBODY’S SWEETHEART by Fred Elizalde:

Rollini died on May 15, 1956, not yet 53, so by most perspectives he is a historical figure, outlived by many of his contemporaries (Nichols, Mole, Hackett, Buddy Rich come to mind).  He made no recordings after December 1947.  But recently, several exciting fully-realized projects have made him so much more than a fabled name on record labels and in discographies.

The first Rollini exaltation is a CD, TAP ROOM SWING, by the delightful multi-instrumentalist Attila Korb, “and his Rollini Project,” recorded in 2015 with a memorable cast of individualists getting a full orchestral sound from three horns and two rhythm players.

Attila plays bass saxophone, melodica, and sings beautifully on BLUE RIVER and SOMEBODY STOLE MY GAL,  and is responsible for the magical arrangements; Malo Mazurie plays trumpet and cornet; David Lukacs, clarinet and tenor; Harry Kanters, piano; Felix Hunot, guitar and banjo.  Those names should be familiar to people wise to “old time modern,” for Felix and Malo are 2/3 of Three Blind Mice, and with Joep Lumeij replacing Harry, it is David Lukacs’s marvelous DREAM CITY band.  The selections are drawn from various facets of Rollini’s bass saxophone career: SOMEBODY LOVES ME / SUGAR / THREE BLIND MICE / BLUE RIVER / BUGLE CALL RAG / DIXIE / SOMEBODY STOLE MY GAL / PE O’MY HEART / TAP ROOM SWING / I LEFT MY SUGAR STANDING IN THE RAIN / SWING LOW / EMBRACEABLE YOU (the last a gorgeous bonus track, a duet for Attila and Felix that is very tender).  The performances follow the outlines of the famous recordings, but the solos are lively, and the whole enterprise feels jaunty, nothing at all like the Museum of Shellac.  You can buy the CD or download the music here, and follow the band on their Facebook page.

Here’s evidence of how this compact orchestra is both immensely respectful of the originals but — in the truest homage to the innovators — free to be themselves.

MY PRETTY GIRL (2018), where the Project foursome becomes the whole Goldkette Orchestra, live, no less:

THREE BLIND MICE, PEG O’MY HEART, SOMEBODY LOVES ME, BLUE RIVER (2016), showing how inventive the quintet is:

CLARINET MARMALADE, LULU’S BACK IN TOWN, BLUE RIVER, SOMEBODY STOLE MY GAL — with a caffeinated-Bach interlude, not to be missed (2017):

I would chase this band all over Europe if circumstances were different, but they already have expert videography.  And at the end of this post I will share their most recent delightful episode.

But first, reading matter of the finest kind.  For a number of years now, there has been excited whispering, “How soon will the Rollini book come out?”  We knew that its author, Ate van Delden, is a scholar rather than an enthusiast or a mere compiler of facts we already know.  ADRIAN ROLLINI: THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF A JAZZ RAMBLER is here, and it’s a model of the genre.  I confess that I am seriously tardy in adding my praise to the chorus, but it’s an example of “Be careful what you wish for.”  I always look for books that will tell me what I didn’t already know, rather than my thinking, “Yes, I read that story here, and this one in another book.”

RAMBLER, to keep it short, has so much new information that it has taxed my five wits to give it a thorough linear reading.  I’ve been picking it up, reading about Rollini’s early life as a piano prodigy (and the piano rolls he cut), his associations with the famous musicians above, his thousands of recordings, and more.  van Delden has investigated the rumors and facts of Rollini’s death, and he has (more valuable to me) portrayed Rollini not only as a brilliant multi-instrumentalist but as a businessman — opening jazz clubs, hiring and firing musicians, looking for financial advantages in expert ways — and we get a sense of Rollini the man through interviews with people who knew him and played with him.

He comes across as a complex figure, and thus, although van Delden does give loving attention to Rollini on record, the book is so much more than an annotated discography.  In its five hundred and more pages, the book is thorough without being tedious or slow-moving, and if a reader comes up with an unanswered Rollini question, I’d be astonished.  The author has a rare generous objectivity: he admires Rollini greatly, but when his and our hero acts unpleasantly or inexplicably, he is ready to say so.  Of course, there are many previously unseen photographs and wonderful bits of relevant paper ephemera.  The book is the result of forty years of research, begun by Tom Faber and carried on into 2020, and it would satisfy the most demonically attentive Rollini scholar. And if that should suggest that its audience is narrow, I would assign it to students of social and cultural history: there’s much to be learned here (the intersections of art, race, economics, and entertainment in the last century) even for people who will never play the hot fountain pen.

And here’s something completely up-to-date — a social-distancing Rollini Project video that is characteristically emotionally warm and friendly, the very opposite of distant, his nine-piece rendition of SOMEBODY LOVES ME, which appeared on May 23.  Contemporary jazz, indeed!

How unsubtle should I be?  Buy the CD, buy the book — support the living people who are doing the work of keeping the masters alive in our heads.

May your happiness increase!

STUDY YOUR PRONOUNS at THE EAR INN with THE EARREGULARS (JON-ERIK KELLSO, MATT MUNISTERI, SCOTT ROBINSON, ATTILA KORB: January 25, 2015)

A pronoun takes the place of a noun in a sentence, so, rather than saying “Emily,” we might say “her.”

First, THEM: a personal pronoun referring to a group of people or objects. “Move them off the table so we can eat, please,” is one example.

THEM THERE EYES (although more casual than formal) is another:

Second, THAT: a demonstrative pronoun that demonstrates or indicates.  I always think of these pronouns as fingers pointing our eyes to something specific.  “That‘s a horrible tie you’re wearing,” is one possibility.

THAT’S A PLENTY (again, more casual than formal) is another, full of delicious thrilling mutant sounds:

(It may strike some as ego-display, but I love the woman — who’s a fixture on Sunday nights — passing the Bucket, who says to me at :08, “Oh, great, you’re taping this.  That’s awesome!”  Thank you, dear lady, wherever you are.)

The grammar lesson is concluded.  Those who wish to correct my grammar are kindly requested to line up at the outer door marked JAZZ LIVES and wait patiently until it opens.  Bring something to read.

And by the way, this magical music took place on Sunday night, January 25, 2015, at The Ear Inn, the home of happy sounds in Soho, 326 Spring Street, New York City.  The heroic participants are Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Scott Robinson, bass saxophone; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Attila Korb, trombone.

Bless Them; That music is spectacular, isn’t it?

May your happiness increase!

A SHORT TRIP TO THE SWING SHRINE: THE EARREGULARS CREATE BEAUTY (JON-ERIK KELLSO, MATT MUNISTERI, SCOTT ROBINSON, ATTILA KORB, JANUARY 25, 2015)

Here are two glowing lessons on how to make the familiar brightly new: taught to us in the most endearing ways by Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Scott Robinson, bass sax and taragoto; Attila Korb, trombone.  Vocal interjections by Barry Foley, the temporarily landlocked pirate of Soho.

All of this beauty took place on January 25, 2015, at the Swing Shrine — The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York, where the EarRegulars uplift us on Sunday nights from 8-11 PM.

ROYAL GARDEN BLUES:

DINAH:

If you want to observe virtuosic solo playing; it’s all here.  If you want to marvel at a small community of like-minded souls who work together to make orchestral joy, that too.

A few other blissful moments from this session can be found here and here.

Bless these musicians for bringing swing to us.   And it continues.  Find your way to The Ear Inn on a Sunday night while these miracles can be experienced first-hand.

May your happiness increase! 

SWEETHEARTS, NAUGHTY AND UNTRUSTWORTHY: THE EARREGULARS at THE EAR INN: JON-ERIK KELLSO, MATT MUNISTERI, SCOTT ROBINSON, ATTILA KORB (January 25, 2015)

Not all sweethearts are easy to deal with.  When they’re ON PARADE, they remind you that you’re alone. Nobody wants you to join in the amorous festivities.  That pretty young thing with the rouged cheeks?  She’s fallen from grace and is NOBODY’S [                 ] NOW.

Here, the mightily eloquent yet light-hearted EarRegulars — the Saints of Soho, known far and wide — give us two musical dramatizations of Sweetheart-ness gone awry.  They are Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Attila Korb (visiting from Hungary), trombone AND trumpet; Scott Robinson, bass saxophone AND taragoto.

The first composition is the 1919 BLUES MY NAUGHTY SWEETIE GIVES TO ME — whose lyrics are a complete theatrical performance — read them here — an encyclopedia of sure-fire jokes of the time.  For me, this song comes in to the jazz repertoire with the lovely slow-drag version by Jimmie Noone and his Apex Club Orchestra, later by Eddie Condon on the JAMMIN’ AT CONDON’S recording (whose cover features Cliff Leeman’s right leg and the essential thermos).   But this SWEETIE offers up some mean blues in the eye and heart of the beholder, or perhaps the endurer.

The EarRegulars adopt a tempo that honors both ideas, and the result is glorious, a masterpiece of versatility, as Scott moves from bass sxophone to taragoto, and Attila takes up his trumpet to have a fascinating chat with Jon-Erik:

SOMEDAY SWEETHEART

Later, they explored SOMEDAY, SWEETHEART (I am used to it with the comma) — written that same year, a song of sullen unhappiness, sung by the lover who has been betrayed.  Oddly enough, the furious hurt lyrics are married to a very sweet melody, both of which can be explored here.

And here is the EarRegular performance — superficially less ambitious, with no instrument-swapping, but expressing the highest degree of lyricism and sonic variety:

I don’t know the moral of this offering, except to wish that all Sweeties be Naughty in the most gentle pleasing way, and that no Sweetheart be a betrayer. I hope for nothing but Sweetness for all of you.  And that the EarRegulars continue for as long as they want to, since they bring the deepest pleasure and restoration to us.  Catch them almost every Sunday night from 8-11 (approximately) at The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City.

May your happiness increase!

THE FORTUNATE ISLAND, FOUND!

To the most erudite readers, those who consult Geoffrey of Monmouth more than Facebook, the legendary island of Avalon is deeply significant in Arthurian legend: the Fortunate Island, the Island of Apples, the place where King Arthur’s sword Excalibur was forged and where Arthur went to die but remained immortal.  The best guess — only a guess — places the island somewhere near Wales.

Al_Jolson_Avalon_cover (1)

To others, AVALON is a hit popular song of 1920, composer credit going to Al Jolson, Buddy DeSylva, and Vincent Rose, yet its opening motif so close to a Puccini aria that the composer sued for plagiarism and won. (Knowing Jolson’s habit of cutting himself in on songs — that is, “Put my name on it as co-composer and thus give me one-third of the royalties, and I will sing it, making it a hit” — I think the song’s credit goes only to the other two writers. (Why only Rose and Jolson are credited on this cover is mysterious.)

Still others, and I am one of them, associate this song with unforgettable jazz performances by Red Nichols, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Louis Armstrong and the Dukes of Dixieland, and many others.  The Goodman Quartet version has its own conventions: a descending riff near the end accented by a drummer — originally the Blessed Eugene Krupa — playing the pattern on the wood rim of the snare.  Charlie Parker recorded his own improvisations over the Quartet version, and the song continued to be immensely durable: ask Al Haig, Ted Brown, Lester Young, Art Pepper, Elmo Hope, Eddie Condon, Mel Powell, and Don Byas.

But back to myth and evidence.

Recent archaeological research now suggests that the Fortunate Island is located near or in Kecskemét, Hungary.  I could fill pages with the documentary evidence, but offer this video as proof.  This musical evocation of AVALON is so vividly alive here that I am convinced.  The researchers — a gallant international team — assembled at the 24th International Bohém Ragtime & Jazz Festival held in Kecskemét, Hungary, March 27-29, 2015.  The team had an informal name, but it will make sense once you understand the video revelations — Attila’s International All Stars, and they are Malo Mazurié (France) – trumpet, Evan Arntzen (Canada/USA) – clarinet, tenor sax, Attila Korb (Hungary) – trombone, Dave Blenkhorn (Australia/France) – guitar, Sebastien Girardot (Australia/France) – string bass, Guillaume Nouaux (France) – drums.

As a reward for patiently reading (or scrolling down through) my japes, here is a wondrously swinging AVALON by a band worthy of Arthurian legend:

I am especially delighted to see Attila Korb appropriately adorned, but that IS a stage joke.

You may order the festival DVD (in English) here.  And for more information about the festival, visit here.  All of this is thanks to the Producer,Tamás Ittzés, Kecskemét Jazz Foundation, who is a splendid musician himself, and to the legendary musicians who transport us to AVALON.

If you are ideologically fierce, hewing to your conviction that only people born in a certain nation or with a certain ethnicity or racial background can play “America’s classical music,” I propose an intensive course of aesthetic rehabilitation: listening to this video, eyes closed, for as many times as it takes to loosen the death-grip of those beliefs.

May your happiness increase!

A DEEP QUESTION, THE RIGHT ANSWER at THE EAR INN: JON-ERIK KELLSO, MATT MUNISTERI, SCOTT ROBINSON, ATTILA KORB, EVAN ARNTZEN (January 25, 2015)

Sunday, January 25, 2015, the generous and inventive EarRegulars laid out a big banquet of delicious sounds at The Ear Inn in Soho — 326 Spring Street, where they are every Sunday evening from about 8 to about 11 PM.  Here are two tastes — to me they are precious, creations that do not and will not diminish.

But The EarRegulars proved once again that life is the best fiction writer.  You’ll see what I mean.

Later in the evening one of the Majesties called an old favorite, DO YOU EVER THINK OF ME? (There have been several songs with this title — understandably — but this is from 1920, by Harry D. Kerr, John Cooper, and Earl Burnett. )

In its 1920 incarnation, it must have been a very sad ballad: the forgotten lover wondering just how deeply and why (s)he has been forgotten.  But The EarRegulars are not always given to maudlin expressions like that; they follow the great jazz tradition of turning pathos into swing.  As they did here:

What next?  Someone then suggested a great 1927 hot number by William H. Butler (not the ballad of a decade later) made famous by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five.  The brilliant young clarinetist Evan Arntzen had dropped by and was all ready to join them, too.

The title?

ONCE IN A WHILE:

Imagine the dialogue between those two song titles at your leisure, please.

Don’t miss the entirely impromptu duet for taragoto (Robinson) and guitar (Munisteri) late in the performance, and the band’s collective decision to visit Dardanella in her tent.

It’s just one of the brilliant moments in art-becomes-life-while-life-is-being-artistic that happens every Sunday evening at The Ear Inn. . . . a pleasure that started in summer 2007.  Get some for yourself.

May your happiness increase!

TWO GALS FROM SOHO (Jan. 25, 2015)

What you’re about to see is true.  And I will testify to this under oath.  It happened at The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City) on Sunday night, January 25, 2015, when The EarRegulars were nobly ensconced, as they should be.  (May they always be!)

That Sunday’s version of The EarRegulars was Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Scott Robinson, bass saxophone; Attila Korb (our friend from Hungary) trombone.

Midway through the first set, the wise suggestion was made that Scott Robinson could play the lead on a selection of his choice.  I know that Scott is renowned for interstellar explorations of the most courageous kind, but he is also a deep loving melodist — and here is SLEEPY TIME GAL as proof:

(SLEEPY TIME GAL, if you are not familiar with it, would suggest a cozy woman, ready to curl up in bed — ideally with the singer cuddled alongside — ready for sweet dreams.  But the lyrics are different: the singer is a little concerned that his Gal never seems to want to come to bed at all before daybreak.  A very different scenario.)

This version, so sweet and tender, reminds me of an unissued Seger Ellis side from 1929 with accompaniment from Jack Purvis, apparently doubling trumpet and trombone — a rare masterpiece.  Even the faint annoying tinkling of someone’s smartphone a few barstools away in the beginning of this performance did not ruin the mood.

Later in the evening, musicians made the trip to the Shrine, and some of them had brought their instruments (physical and vocal).  The penultimate selection of that night was MY GAL SAL, and the guest artists were Charlie Caranicas, trumpet (seated on the barstool to my left, so you see only the bell of his horn, rising and falling like a heartbeat, but you know he’s there);  Evan Arntzen, clarinet; Will Reardon Anderson, alto sax.  And they romped:

(SAL, by the way, is much less complex than her SLEEPY TIME compatriot.  I can’t speak to SAL’s nocturnal rhythms, but she is a pal, dead on the level . . . someone who would pull your car out of a ditch if you asked her.)

The Ear Inn is a sacred place.  I hope you’ve been there and can continue to support this beauty.

May your happiness increase!

TAL RONEN and FRIENDS at FAT CAT: JON-ERIK KELLSO, ROSSANO SPORTIELLO, KEVIN DORN, ATTILA KORB (October 1, 2014)

When on October 1 I saw on Facebook — my current energetically subjective news source — that the wonderful string bassist Tal Ronen was leading a small group at Fat Cat on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, I shook off my lassitude and headed there.

I had never heard this combination of heroes before, although I’ve been following three of them for a decade.  Along with Tal, there was Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Rossano Sportiello, piano; Kevin Dorn, drums, and for the closing two tunes, Attila Korb, trombone, sitting in on his first New York trip. (I knew Attila well from his work with the Bohem Ragtime Jazz Band, although we’d never met in person.)

This is really Tal’s International Group, its members hailing from Israel, Italy, Hungary, Allen Park (Michigan), and New York City — not that anyone really needs proof that the fine musicians exist all over the world.

The lighting at Fat Cat is properly subdued, as befits a Greenwich Village basement / recreation center, and the youthful crowd behind me was on its own path, but the band was a dream come true.

WHEN YOU’RE SMILING:

SEPTEMBER IN THE RAIN:

OUR / MY / A MONDAY DATE:

BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA:

ROYAL GARDEN BLUES:

THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE:

After a brief break, the Quartet became a Quintet, thanks to the esteemed Mister Korb:

COQUETTE:

STRUTTIN’ WITH SOME BARBECUE:

You already know this, but music is one of the surest pathways to joy.

May your happiness increase!

CATHERINE RUSSELL SWINGS IN (M)ANY LANGUAGE(S)!

Hearing Catherine Russell, I am always reminded of Eddie Durham’s sentence in praise of Ed Hall: “He didn’t know how not to swing!”

And when you put Catherine in front of a hot band — the evidence follows immediately! — the effect is happily seismic.

Here she is at the 22nd International Bohém Ragtime & Jazz Festival in Kecskemét, Hungary, singing EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY (the arrangement is by Andy Farber and Attila Korb) with the Hungarian Bohém Ragtime Jazz Band . . . József Lebanov, trumpet; Attila Korb, trombone; Zoltán Mátrai, reeds; Tamás Ittzés, piano; György Mátrai, guitar; József Török, string bass; Alfréd Falusi, drums.  Recorded March 23, 2013.  More information: bohemragtime and catherinerussell.

Here Catherine ventures into Hungarian melody and lyrics.  True, she has to put on her glasses, but she does such a nice job — her singing comes from the heart!  The band is almost the same, but Tamás Ittzés switches to violin, with Miklós Lázár alongside him.  The song is “miért szerettem bele magába,” which I believe translates to WHY I FELL IN LOVE, and it’s a neat rhythm ballad.  Can’t you hear Louis or Fats doing it, around 1936?  (I am sure that one of my readers can tell us all more about this composition by Mihály Eisemann and László Szilágyi.

And some wonderful swing dancing, too.

For those who wish to sing along, the lyrics are:

Mért szerettem bele magába? Gondolkodom, de már hiába.

Bármi rosszul esik, a szív beleesik egy ilyen kis hibába.

Ki gondolta volna előre, hogy ez lesz a végén belőle?

Máris odavagyok, majdnem belehalok, mi lesz ebből jövőre?

Ez egy olyan dolog, amin muszáj zokogni,

E sok közül éppen magát kellett kifogni.

Mért szerettem bele magába? Gondolkodom, de már hiába.

Bármi rosszul esik, a szív beleesik egy ilyen kis hibába.

Catherine Russell is a star — wherever we find her!

And that reminds me.  If you don’t see yourself as going to Hungary in the next two weeks, or you have mislaid your passport, swing relief is in sight.  Catherine will be appearing with a beautifully hot band on Monday, April 15, 2013, at a concert given by the Sidney Bechet Society.

RussellApril15_PC

That, as Keats said, is all you need to know.  See you there!

May your happiness increase.

“SAY A WEE PRAYER” FOR MIKE DURHAM

Mike Durham (left) and Rene Hagmann, pensive, at Whitley Bay, probably 2010.  Photo by Michael Steinman

Mike Durham (left) and Rene Hagmann, pensive, at Whitley Bay, probably 2010. Photo by Michael Steinman

I last saw trumpeter / singer / benefactor / tireless festival organizer Mike Durham in November 2012 at the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party.  Although he was recovering from minor surgery, he was entirely himself, masterfully running the huge enterprise with wit and love.

A few weeks into 2013, I was told that he was suffering from a grave illness and would not recover — news I was asked to keep to myself.

Yesterday, his daughter posted this on Facebook:

Dear Mike’s Facebook friends….for those of you that do not know already, I have some sad news.  This is Cassie Durham, Mike’s daughter, and I am writing to tell you that Dad is seriously ill having being diagnosed with terminal (and untreatable) brain tumours on January 22nd.  Things have moved on very fast and he is now in a hospice in Newcastle.  I could not think of another way of letting everyone know and this seemed a good an option as any.  As you can imagine, it has been a huge shock to Mum and Dad and my brother and I and all I can say is that he is comfortable and is not in any pain….say a wee prayer for him all of you – thanks.

This news makes me so sad.  I will have more to say about Mike eventually, but I thought, “Since we can send love through the universe just in our focused thoughts, why not send some of it to a man who has brought nothing but love to us?”  

I don’t mean a message to his family — who must be suffering with what is unendurable already.  But I would like to imagine Mike comforted by love.   

If you’ve appreciated any of the videos I and others have taken at Whitley Bay; if you’ve dug Mike’s own playing live or on disc; if you’ve had a good time because of him, send him a wordless THANKS.  

A “wee prayer” is never wasted.    

And here’s a JAZZ LIVES prayer suggestion.  Find a track with a hot trumpet passage and play it louder than usual.  Play it again.  

May the gentle spirits of Louis, Papa Joe, Muggsy, and Mike’s other friends and heroes guide him from one bandstand to the next.

“This one’s for you, Papa Mike.”

Here’s Mike in action — as trumpeter and spiritual leader — in a jam session at the Victory Pub in July 2010, with friends Andy Schumm, Martin Seck, Attila Korb, and ten others, moving easily through MY GAL SAL.  Mike gave us two gifts: not only did he play his horn but he made it possible for lovely jazz to go on all around him:

And the 2013 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party is rolling along — musicians booked, tickets sold, everything pointed forward under the guidance of some of Mike’s devoted musician friends and his two young lieutenants Julio Schwarz Andrade and Jonathan David Holmes . . . so the music will go on, as he would have wanted.

May your happiness increase.

THE SECOND WHITLEY BAY JAM SESSION (July 10, 2010)

Jam sessions don’t always work out.  But the one that took place in the Victory Pub on Saturday, July 10, 2010, during the Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival, succeeded nobly.  And I stopped finding the television screens distracting as soon as the music began. 

The core group, “Doc’s Night Owls,” remained — and grew.  Michel Bastide, cornet; Matthias Seuffert, reeds; Jacob Ullberger, banjo; Christian LeFevre, brass bass, Martin Seck, washboard, were joined by Mike Durham, trumpet and master organizer; Andy Schumm, cornet; Ian Smith, cornet; Jean-Francois Bonnel, reeds; Attila Korb, trombone; Nicolas Montier, alto sax . . . and various gifted enthusiastic players.  I apologize to anyone I haven’t identified above: it’s not discourtesy, but having my hands full (thus taking poor notes).  And the players at a jam session don’t always introduce themselves.  So I will add identifications if and when they are supplied!

Perhaps owing to the previous set, the repertoire had a deep Twenties feel.  They began with the Dodds classic, FORTY AND TIGHT.  A prize to the reader(s) who can unravel the etymology of that slang praise.  “Tight,” I can certainly guess at, but “forty” as an accolade?  Research! — while the music is playing, please:

The next song was again associated with Johnny Dodds (and in more recent times, Soprano Summit), OH, DADDY (with or without comma or exclamation point, the meaning is clear):

In memory of Clarence Williams, Alberta Hunter, Sidney Bechet, and Louis Armstrong, someone suggested CAKE WALKING BABIES FROM HOME (although there were no titanic solo duels here — the atmosphere was more friendly than combative):

With Andy Schumm in evidence, there is always the possibility that the Twenties will include that young fellow from Davenport, Iowa, whose shade surfaced most pleasingly for SAN.  How nice that this band knew the verse as well:

And the last song I captured was (and is) a good old good one from the Midwest, full of sweet sentiment, MY GAL SAL (by Paul Dresser, brother of the more celebrated novelist Theodore Dreiser — I prefer Paul’s works to his brother’s, but that’s a purely personal statement — they get to the point more quickly and with greater effectiveness):

The collective ensemble began AT THE JAZZ BAND BALL — which, in retrospect, I regret having missed — but my video-taping arm had begun to quiver and I feared the rest of me would shortly follow suit.  But I hope that these videos suggest some of the delicious enthusiasm and deep artistry that ruled this evening.  Victory indeed!

DO THAT THING!

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.     

In 2010, two festivals will take place in Hungary, with world-class players.  Start making plans!  For more information visit: www.bohemragtime.com.  (DVD’s are also available.)

HUNGARIAN JAZZ RHAPSODIES

It’s not something I like to admit, but until a few hours ago I was unaware of the fine hot jazz in Hungary.  Carol Baer had given me a CD by the Bratislava Hot Serenaders, but my world geography is so weak that I never quite figured out where Bratislava was, although I liked the band.

But I’ve just heard from Tamas Ittzes, of the Bohem Ragtime Jazz Band and the Bohem Ragtime and Jazz Festival.  And I’m delighted to add his site to the blogroll: http://www.bohemragtime.com.  If you are still burdened by a narrow world-view, here are some of the players who have appeared at the Festivals in the past: Paul Asaro, Bria Skonberg, Matthias Seuffert, Nick Ward, Russ Phillips, Paolo Alderighi, Morten Gunnar Larsen, Bob Barnard —  are you convinced?  The RJB has also recorded with Barnard, George Kelly, Zeke Zarchy (!), and Joe Muranyi.

But this isn’t an instance of a European group that needs the visiting stars to bolster itself.  Proof is here, in their  March 2007 live version of Ellington’s BLACK BEAUTY.  The players are Attila Korb, cornet (normally trombone); József Lebanov, trumpet; Zoltán Mátrai, tenor; Tamás Ittzés, piano, leader; József Török, bass; György Mátrai, guitar; Alfréd Falusi, drums.

And here’s more evidence of the worldwide connections amongst swinging jazz musicians — an entertaining (and well-edited) mini-documentary filmed at the 2009 Festival.  Watch closely and you’ll see your favorites, and some players you hadn’t known but obviously should.

I’ll be posting more about the CDs and the festivals to come in Hungary in 2010 — one in March and a Louis Armstrong Festival in June.  Obviously, NOBODY’S SWEETHEART and TIGER RAG transcend any language barriers, as we always knew they did.