Tag Archives: bass sax

GRATITUDE IN 4/4 (Part Six): THE UPTOWN LOWDOWN JAZZ BAND at the 2011 SAN DIEGO THANKSGIVING DIXIELAND JAZZ FESTIVAL (thanks to Rae Ann Berry)

Uptown and Lowdown . . . not only but also!  Recorded at the 2011 San Diego extravaganza on November 25, 2011.  Bert Barr, leader, cornet; Tom Jacobus, trombone; John Goodrich (on left), reeds; Paul Woltz, reeds; Rose Marie Barr, piano; Al Latourette, banjo; Paul Hagglund, tuba; Sue Fischer, drums.

The band has a diversified repertoire — and to prove it, here’s BOMBAY:

And how about a brisk BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA that begins with an adept exposition of the melody by Paul Hagglund:

Paul Woltz gives the rather vindictive lyrics of GO BACK TO WHERE YOU STAYED LAST NIGHT a very cheerful reading:

Finally, here’s the theme song for all the eager videographers (including myself) in the JAZZ LIVES audience, I MUST HAVE IT — a performance that has special pleasures in Paul’s bass sax solo and the muted cornet / tuba duet:

As always, thanks to Paul Daspit, who assembled these sets into a very rewarding weekend.  More of the same to our own “SFRaeAnn,” Rae Ann Berry, whose reverence for the music comes through in her up-to-date list of hot jazz gigs in the area on www.sfraeann.com and her YouTube channel here.

Advertisements

CLASSIC BALLADS FROM JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA (Sept. 19, 2010)

The late Joe Boughton, commander-in-chief of Jazz at Chautauqua and other jazz parties, had very definite ideas about what should go on in a jazz performance and what was verboten, taboo, unforgivable.  So it would have caused him some astonishment to be told that he and Norman Granz (whose Jazz at the Philharmonic — with its long themeless blues, drum solos, and explorations of I GOT RHYTHM changes — represented everything he deplored) agreed on anything.  But they both understood something crucial about the performance of jazz ballads before a live audience.

Both men knew, through experience, that having all the musicians on the stand play BODY AND SOUL, for instance, each one taking two choruses, could lead to a certain sameness, not only for the audience but for the players.  Granz got there first with the solution: a ballad medley, where each of the horn players told the rhythm section what their chosen song was, the key (the tempo remained fixed throughout) and played a chorus in leisurely fashion.  You can hear this on Granz’s recordings, live and in the studio.

Joe Boughton didn’t release any of his ballad medleys, but the one that closed off the 2010 Jazz at Chautauqua — the most recent party, and not the last — was particularly moving.  Here are three videos that capture most of it (with some editing for a variety of reasons, none of them musical).

We begin with an extraordinary rhythm section of Rossano Sportiello, piano; Marty Grosz, guitar; Jon Burr, bass; Pete Siers, drums, and an unusual combination of songs: Rossano tenderly delineates I GOT IT BAD (AND THAT AIN’T GOOD) then turns it over to Marty, who sings and plays the Louis Armstrong – Horace Gerlach IF WE NEVER MEET AGAIN:

Randy Reinhart climbs the stage to deliver an absolutely velvety APRIL IN PARIS, a performance that seems untoppable until Dan Barrett convincingly explains how THAT OLD FEELING is still in his heart.  (The crowd properly gives it a small ovation, and Dan looks does a comic double-take of surprise, “Me?”  Yes, you!) 

The very gentlemanly and polite Bob Havens asks PLEASE — doing Bing very proud.  Continuing in this most gallant fashion, clarinetist Bob Reitmeier very quietly asks us in for TEA FOR TWO.  Harry Allen sweetly tells us I WISH YOU LOVE, with Dan Block coming up immediately after!  

The Man of Feeling, Dan Block, assures us (the stakes are getting higher with each delicious cameo) that EVERYTHING I HAVE IS YOURS.  Scott Robinson isn’t a combative, competitive player, but his version of SLEEPY TIME GAL — on the bass sax, which he carries — would be a masterpiece anywhere.  Scott Robinson heroically lifts the bass sax for SLEEPY TIME GAL.  Bobby Gordon tenderly whispers his love for the music in SUGAR; Andy Stein devotes himself to LAURA; Jon Burr emotes lyrically with PRELUDE TO A KISS — which is received with the proper hush (how nice to hear a bass solo receive such quiet attention):

Extraordinarily lovely, with not a hackneyed or overdramatized note in the bunch.  I’d like to make these clips required viewing for jazz musicians and singers of all vintages — to say nothing of those of us who can’t live without beauty.  And not incidentally — the 2011 Jazz at Chautauqua will be held from September 15-18.  If you have already purchased your 2011 calendar . . . .

“OH, MERCY!”: MARTY GROSZ PLAYS JAMES P. JOHNSON at CHAUTAUQUA (Sept. 18, 2010)

Twenty years ago and more, Marty Grosz told an interviewer, somewhat wistfully, “I would have been dynamite in 1933.”

I agreed wholeheartedly when I read those words, and although time has passed, Martin Oliver Grosz can still create spontaneous combustion on the bandstand.

It’s not just his chordal acoustic guitar playing, nor his sweet ballad singing or his romping comedy (vocally and in his extended introductions to each song): it’s the combination of all three.  Marty summons up not only Fats Waller and Red McKenzie but also Dick McDonough and Carl Kress, with a healthy overlay of wicked humor. 

Marty was in characteristic form at Jazz at Chautauqua 2010 — leavening his own recipe for hot music with acidic commentaries.  He had been assembling obscure material and writing charts for a CD devoted to the music of pianist-composer James P. Johnson (pictured above in a 1946 photograph), but when Marty arrived at Chautauqua, he decided to improvise his tribute to James P. — with delightful results.  (I’ll have more to say about that Arbors CD when it appears.)

Marty’s friends and colleagues here are the blazing cornetist Randy Reinhart, reed wizards Dan Block (here on clarinet and bass clarinet) and Scott Robinson (on alto clarinet, I think, and a German version of the echo cornet whose name I have forgotten), the steadily rollicking John Sheridan on piano and double-takes, Vince Giordano on string bass, and Arnie Kinsella on drums.

They began with a sweet ONE HOUR (properly called IF I COULD BE WITH YOU ONE HOUR TONIGHT) which had the right spirit all the way through.  Marty doesn’t recycle Vic Dickenson’s naughty gesture — when Vic, singing, came to “one hour,” he held up two fingers — but he puts his own spin on it, turning this pretty rhythm ballad into a Fats Waller and his Rhythm evocation (what a pity Fats never recorded this one!).  And what a front line — bass clarinet, cornet, and alto clarinet!  Watch Dan Block delight in Randy and Scott; hear Arnie behind Sheridan; savor Marty’s guitar propulsions, pure Albert Edwin Condon — appropriately leading into a modern version of a 1938 Commodore ensemble.  “Oh, mercy!” indeed:

Then, one of Marty’s specialties, A PORTER’S LOVE SONG TO A CHAMBERMAID (even though he required a second take — jazz while you wait! — to get Andy Razaf’s lyrics in the correct order) — after one of Marty’s ad libs cracks Sheridan up completely.  But once things get properly underway, everyone is in the groove — beautiful horn solos and rocking piano from John, then a surprise bass sax solo from Vince and an interlude from Marty:

Finally, Marty has said that he finds James P.’s most famous song a little limiting as it’s written and performed — so here’s CHARLESTON performed as if Bizet’s Carmen had decided to go uptown (after a let’s-put-on-a-show-in-my-father’s-barn prelude).  Habanera?  Tango?  Spanish tinge?  Whatever it is, does it ever swing (after John delineates the verse in near-classical shadings).  I don’t exactly remember the name of Scott Robinson’s new find (is it a love-child of the echo-cornet?) but he plays it splendidly, even though it was a very new acquisition — leading into Dan on bass clarinet with band interjections behind him (and Arnie’s Cuban enthusiasms), then Randy, soaring, Sheridan rollicking, Arnie stomping — and it gets even better:

Have my viewers guessed just how much I loved this little set?  Or have I successfully concealed my enthusiasm in the name of objectivity?  It’s hard, no, impossible, to be objective about what these musicians create — especially when they are led by M. Grosz.  He can make as many savage jokes as he likes or forget the proper order of lyrics: he’s still dynamite.

ADRIAN ROLLINI ON FILM, 1948

The song is THE GIRL WITH THE LIGHT BLUE HAIR — I assume a play on THE MAID WITH THE FLAXEN HAIR — performed by Rollini, vibes and tubular bells (on which he demonstrates great dexterity), Allan Hanlon, guitar; George Hnida, bass.  It comes to us through the courtesy of “lindyhoppers” on YouTube, who is indebted to the late Tom Faber, Dutch discographer of Rollini.

Musically, I admit it wouldn’t be my first choice — Rollini on bass sax in 1934 is impressive although brief, and I’d rather have seen him in a hotter context.  But this will have to do until more of the real thing surfaces!

HOT JAZZ TRIO, July 11, 2009

The name is simple, accurate, not the slightest bit hyperbolic.  They’re a compact, thrifty jazz orchestra, getting the maximum of variety and orchestral scope — not to mention a plunging swing on hot tunes, a delicate depth on slow ones — out of this apparently-improbable combination of instruments.  Bent Persson plays trumpet, cornet, occasionally Eb alto horn (at Whitley Bay, he borrowed a valve trombone from Mike Durham); Frans Sjostrom is majestic yet mobile on the bass sax; Jacob Ullberger holds it all together on banjo and guitar.  Sadly, their schedules keep them from playing together: Frans said that they have sessions like this only once a year, so I was delighted to be able to capture this one on video.  But they did record an extraordinarily fine CD on Gosta Hagglof’s Kenneth label under this title: look for it wherever better books and records are sold!

The critical viewer might catch a fluffed note or a missed cue — but I have chosen to post their entire hour-long set because this group gets together to play so infrequently.  And I think that the without-a-net quality of these performances makes them irreplaceable. 

Their Whitley Bay program alternated between Jelly Roll Morton, early Ellington, and Bix — to great effect.  Here they are on KANSAS CITY STOMPS, summoning up a seven or eight piece band.  I didn’t miss any of the Red Hot Peppers in this version:

Early Ellington followed, the pretty but moving BLACK BEAUTY:

Bix was all around us, so the Hot Jazz Trio took off on SOMEBODY STOLE MY GAL:

Sidney Bechet’s pretty SOUTHERN SUNSET (WHEN THE SUN SETS DOWN SOUTH):

Bix and Company again (as well as Eddie Condon) on Hoagy Carmichael’s RIVERBOAT SHUFFLE:

Their adaptation of Frank Trumbauer’s take on JAPANESE SANDMAN:

PEE WEE’S BLUES featured Frans and Jacob, while Bent rested his lip for a few minutes:

STEAMBOAT STOMP, complete with whistle, returned to the world of Jelly Roll Morton, with the Hot Jazz Trio becoming a whole roomful of Red Hot Peppers:

On DUSK, they magically evoked the 1940-1 Ellington band, with Bent picking up a valve trombone he had borrowed from Mike Durham for the occasion:

MOVE OVER returned to an earlier Ellington Era:

CLARINET MARMALADE for Bix, Tram, and Lang:

Finally, a jubilant BLACK BOTTOM STOMP to conclude the hour:

Is it hot in here ot is it just the Trio?

SCENES FROM RACINE: THE BIX FEST, MARCH 2009

These clips aren’t nearly as good as being there, but they are wonderful experiences created by Andy Schumm, cornet; Dave Bock, trombone; John Otto, sax and clarinet; Paul Asaro, piano; Leah Bezin, banjo; Vince Giordano, bass and bass sax; Josh Duffee, percussion.

Here, the Gang rocks through the Goldkette favorite “Idolizing,” without embarking on a vocal tribute, though:

And another version of the ODJB / Bix classic “Clarinet Marmalade,” which has the right exuberant spirit without rushing:

A privilege and a pleasure to see and share these clips!