Tag Archives: Australia

JOHN SCURRY’S “REVERSE SWING”: THURSDAYS IN MARCH 2012

Here’s the good news — guitarist John Scurry has announced some regular gigs for his lively band REVERSE SWING (which also features my multi-instrumentalist friend Michael McQuaid, trumpeter Eugene Ball, string bassist Leigh Barker, and singer Heather Stewart.

I looked at my calendar in the kitchen and saw that Thursdays in March were fairly free.  Ten dollars is a bargain for two hours of creative improvised music, certainly.

So how am I to get there?

I decided to check out the possible directions through Google Maps . . . and was somewhat dismayed.  I read the first two of three stern warnings: “This route has tolls. This route includes a ferry.”  I could deal with those details.  But “This route crosses through Japan.” gave me pause, as did the distance: 16, 139 miles, and the proposed time: 56 days, 7 hours.

John, I might not make it in time.

But if any JAZZ LIVES readers are closer to Melbourne, I hope they will attend, fill the tip jar (or whatever they call it in Australia) lavishly, perhaps take a few neat videos, and report back.  I can attend vicariously.

Advertisements

THE HOT JAZZ ALLIANCE SWINGS OUT (April 20, 2011)

When my learned and hot Australian friend Michael McQuaid (clarinet, alto sax, cornet, and leader of the Late Hour Boys) told me sometime last year about a tour he and his colleagues intended to do, I badly wanted to join them as an aging roadie, carrying the cases and music stands, finding places to recharge my video camera’s batteries, recording every second for posterity.  I would have worn a cap and held the door open.

My idea was one whose time had not yet come.  But thanks to fellow reed wizard Jason Downes, we now have eighteen video performances to thrill us.  Michael and Jason on their own are — to quote the late Pee Wee Erwin, “hotter than a depot stove” (you could look it up) . . . and here they are joined by guitarist / banjoist John Scurry, bassist Leigh Barker, and two Americans whose names will be familiar to JAZZ LIVES: Andy Schumm on cornet and Josh Duffee on drums.  The results are nearly incendiary, and would be so even if the surroundings didn’t suggest Hades reborn as a speakeasy in color and decor.

I think I am performing a public service by alerting my readers of these clips.  See if you don’t agree.  And I can’t wait for the double CD-DVD set.  (Yes, one of the titles below is DON’T WAKE ME UP, LET ME DREAM, but any causal connection here is incidental, of course.)

Wow!  As we say in the States.

This session was recorded on April 20, 2011, in Club Cursley, Near Cobargo, NSW, Australia.  I was told that this lavish interior is inside a generous host’s country house . . . one with its own stage.  Some people know how to live.

How about a searing WILD MAN BLUES, styled after Johnny Dodds’ Black Bottom Stompers — and hear young Mister Schumm get into his 1927 Louis-regalia in the most convincing way:

Here is the aforementioned request (or command?), DON’T WAKE ME UP, LET ME DREAM (which has a chorus-ending tag that sounds like a thousand other tunes — I thought of WHY COULDN’T IT BE POOR LITTLE ME and GOOD LITTLE, BAD LITTLE YOU but might be mistaken in both counts).  From the title, I would have expected a snoozy sweet composition, so this romper is a delightful surprise.  The closing chorus is superheated:

And a slow-drag, almost melancholy BABY, WON’T YOU PLEASE COME HOME? (in keeping with the yearning lyrics):

And a nearly ominous reading of BLACK SNAKE BLUES:

I have purposely left the remaining fourteen videos unposted: visit “jasondownes” on YouTube and enjoy yourselves.  If you are measured in your enjoyment, that’s two weeks of joy at breakfast.  I still wish with all my heart that I had been along on this tour — maybe next year if I buy a cap that has THE HOT JAZZ ALLIANCE embroidered on it in gold braid, the fellows will make room for me in the band bus?

MICHAEL McQUAID’S LATE HOUR BOYS at WHITLEY BAY (July 9, 2010)

At my first Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival last year, I met and instantly liked the young Australian jazz virtuoso Michael McQuaid — he plays alto saxophone, clarinet, and cornet — but didn’t get to hear him in his natural settings.  This year the fates were kinder: I saw Michael and the little hot band he leads, the Late Hour Boys, in two sets. 

After the first one, someone asked me what I thought.  Without thinking for a second, I replied, “Scalding!”  I think you will see that I wasn’t being hyperbolic.

The Late Hour Boys take their name, some of their repertoire, and their joyous attitude from the late Ade Monsborough, who named his group this way not because they favored midnight performances, but because he assembled his personnels at the last minute.  Michael McQuaid’s LHB summon up the kind of hot improvisation I associate with Spanier and Bechet, with a bare-knickle version of Soprano Summit in its closing choruses. 

You’ll hear evocations of Johnny Dodds and Pete Brown, of Teddy Bunn and Milt Hinton and Zutty Singleton.  It’s a two-man all reed front line, with Michael and the peerless wit Jason Downes switching off on clarinet and alto; the rhythm is taken care of by the splendid John Scurry on banjo and guitar and Mark (the Eel) Elton on bass.  Ian Smith, who also played cornet with Ade some years back, is a driving homespun drummer and washboardist who sings with great effectiveness — tenderly on a ballad, raucously on a jump tune.  And this band jumps for sure.

Here’s a rollicking CANDY LIPS (I’m STUCK ON YOU) from the Clarence Williams book:

Here’s a wartime composition by Monsborough, SORRY TO BE LEAVING:

PUT ‘EM DOWN BLUES is not the usual homage to Louis and the Hot Five.  It has its own romping momentum.  Although I don’t quite understand the emotional / romantic nuances of the lyric, I believe anything that Ian sings:

RAIN is a pretty tune that no one else seems to remember; Ian is in the moment on his sweet vocal:

EUROA, a Monsborough composition, honors a place that Michael suggests is improved by the song:

MELANCHOLY, which harks back to the glory days of 1927 Chicago with Johnny Dodds and Louis Armstrong:

BLAME IT ON THE BLUES, which I associate with Sidney Bechet and Albert Nicholas, intertwining:

Michael and the Late Hour Boys also have a new CD out which entirely captures the exuberance of these video performances.  Listening to it is also a much more focused experience, since you don’t have a running-shoes-for-sale poster in the background.  It is a limited edition, so I don’t know if this posting is too late, but I hope not! 

Check it out at http://www.jasondownes.com/lhbcd.

MICHAEL McQUAID’S RED HOT RHYTHMAKERS 2008

This is a wonderful young stomping band from Australia, playing PANAMA (a homage to the ferocious Luis Russell Orchestra of 1929-30) at a gig in Ireland.  If that doesn’t say that jazz is thriving, internationally, I don’t know what evidence would do it.  McQuaid is one of those youthful heroes who can play a shopful of instruments, in the fashion of the late Tom Baker.  Someone to watch (on YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook — he’s the very model of modernity even though he knows his jazz history from the inside)!

HE’S A SON OF THE SOUTH

louis_kids

Google Alerts is my pal, sending me news of Lester, Ruby, Big Sid, and Louis, whenever their names crop up online.  In Louis’s case, the Alert sometimes has nothing to do with music — there are schools, an airport, and a stadium named for him.  This latest bit of Armstrong-related news was surprising and more. 

A newspaper profile of a man named Herb Armstrong, a handsome Australian singer, appears in the Redcliffe & Bayside Herald.  That newspaper serves the area around Brisbane, including the colorfully-named Deception Bay

I found Herb’s brief sketch of his ancestry intriguing: 

The timbre in his voice is, perhaps, unsurprising.  Herb is a grandson of the late, great jazz musician Louis Armstrong.  “I’m a love-child,” he says.  Herb’s mother Decina met Louis Armstrong’s son, a drummer, in New Orleans.    They fell in love and the result was Herb.

None of the biographies of Louis have documented any children.  Perhaps Herb’s story should be included in the planned Forrest Whitaker film on Louis’s life?  Comments, anyone?

You can read the original profile:

http://redcliffe-and-bayside-herald.whereilive.com.au/lifestyle/story/herb-armstrongs-wonderful-world/

 

CLASSIC SMALL-BAND JAZZ: “MY BUDDY” (TWICE)

I keep returning to these two YouTube videos.  One reason is my fondness for Donaldson’s sweet song, written to mourn the death of his young wife, and how beautifully it lends itself to jazz improvisation.  (Benny Carter recorded it memorably in the late Thirties, as did Lionel Hampton.)

Another is my admiration for this variety of loose-limbed Australian jazz — here exemplified by the heart-on-sleeve playing of Neville Stribling and Bob Barnard, among others.  Barnard makes what he does seem so easy while he is pulling off breathtaking marvels.  Ask any trumpet player!  The rhythm sections rock; the soloists create friendly, cohesive ensembles.

The first clip features Neville Stribling’s Jazz Players at the Eureka Jazz Festival in Ballarat in 1986: Ian Smith (tpt), Neville Stribling (rds), Ade Monsbourgh (rds), Graham Coyle (pno), Joe McConechy (bs), Peter Cleaver (bjo/gtr), Allan Browne (dms).

The second version, from the same place, features “The Australians”: Bob Barnard (cnt), Stribling, Monsbourgh, Coyle, Conrad Joyce (bs), Cleaver, and Browne.

Thanks to Simon Stribling, himself an extraordinary trumpeter (catch his own sessions and his CD with Jon-Erik Kellso, KELLSO’S BC BUDDIES, on Gen-Erik Records, for evidence) for these clips.  And he’s living proof that children of artists do sometimes grow up to be wonderfully creative: he’s Neville Stribling’s son.

Category: Music