Tag Archives: Black Diamond Blue Five

“LAZY ‘SIPPI STEAMER GOING HOME”: LEON OAKLEY, CLINT BAKER, RILEY BAKER, MARTY EGGERS, BILL RINEHART (May 15, 2016)

LEON

I’d heard and admired Leon Oakley on records for a long time before I first met him in five years ago.  We became friends instantly because of our shared love for lyrical hot music and our reverence for Louis.

But in all the performances of Leon’s that I’ve been privileged to witness, I’d never seen him sing.  Although I’m sure he’s done it before in public, this is a first for me — and it’s so lovely.

A little background.  The group Leon is leading was originally called the Black Diamond Blue Five, founded by the late George Knoblauch — devoted to a particular sound and approach, that being Clarence Williams small groups of the middle Twenties.  “Hot and ready,” would be one way to describe it.  This version, called “Friends of the Blue 5,” a title combining “Friends of Jazz” and “Blue 5,” took the stage at the New Orleans Jazz Club of Northern California in El Sobrante, California, on May 15. 2016.  The recording was done by the indefatigable Rae Ann Berry, who’s captured so many hours of pleasure for us all.  The other members of the band are the always-amazing Clint Baker, clarinet, trombone, vocal; his son Riley Baker, tuba; Marty Eggers, piano; Bill Rinehart, banjo.  The song is a late-Thirties Louis composition about the joys of steamboat travel — going no place in a hurry — down the Mississippi River:

One way to “honor” Louis would involve a handkerchief, grins and grimaces — a caricature that barely evoked the surface.  (Joe Muranyi said more than once that Louis hated such acting.)  I delight in the approach that Leon takes: gently earnest heartfelt singing and playing, completely loving, completely authentic.

I look forward to the 2016 Steamboat Stomp — where Leon, Clint, I, and other heroes will be on the Natchez, up and down that river.  Perhaps Brother Leon can be talked into a few vocal choruses?

And this post is for Jean Knoblauch, a dear friend even when at a distance.

May your happiness increase!

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THE BLACK DIAMOND BLUE FIVE: CLINT BAKER, LEON OAKLEY, ROBERT YOUNG, BILL REINHART, MARTY EGGERS, ISABELLE FONTAINE, JUNE 1, 2014 (Part Two)

Jazz flourishes where you wouldn’t expect it, but always amidst its fervent supporters.  What follows was the second half of an afternoon concert for the San Joaquin Dixieland Jazz Society, held at an Elks Lodge in Stockton, California. (I posted the first half some weeks back here.)

It was worth the drive to hear one of the bands most effectively committed to a style, a period, an energized way of playing: the music that Clarence Williams and friends made between the early Twenties and the middle Thirties.

The Black Diamond Blue Five was created almost two decades ago by the banjoist George Knoblauch, sadly no longer with us, and George’s friends carry on the hot, earnest, deeply felt tradition: Clint Baker, banjo, guitar, vocal; Leon Oakley, cornet; Robert Young, soprano / alto saxophone, vocal; Marty Eggers, piano; Bill Reinhart, tuba, and special guest Isabelle Fontaine, washboard, vocal.

Here’s a second helping of hot jazz, dance tunes, blues, serenades to imaginary figures, mildly naughty inventions, and more:

COME BACK SWEET PAPA:

FOUR OR FIVE TIMES:

I’M NOT ROUGH:

DREAMING THE HOURS AWAY:

EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY:

WEST END BLUES:

WAIT ‘TILL YOU SEE MY BABY DO THE CHARLESTON:

Two postscripts.  The BDBF also appeared at the 2014 Cline Wine and Dixieland Festival, so more video performances will be gracing your screens before long. And this particular post was motivated by Andrew Jon Sammut’s offering on his THE POP OF YESTERCENTURY, where he focuses on the original Clarence Williams recordings of several of these songs.

May your happiness increase!

THE BLACK DIAMOND BLUE FIVE: CLINT BAKER, LEON OAKLEY, ROBERT YOUNG, BILL REINHART, MARTY EGGERS, ISABELLE FONTAINE, JUNE 1, 2014 (Part One)

Jazz flourishes where you wouldn’t expect it, but always amidst its fervent supporters.  What follows was one portion of an afternoon concert for the San Joaquin Dixieland Jazz Society, held at an Elks Lodge in Stockton, California.

It was worth the drive to hear one of the bands most effectively committed to a style, a period, an energized way of playing: the music that Clarence Williams and friends made between the early Twenties and the middle Thirties.

The Black Diamond Blue Five was created almost two decades ago by the banjoist George Knoblauch, sadly no longer with us, and George’s friends carry on the hot, earnest, deeply felt tradition: Clint Baker, banjo, guitar, vocal; Leon Oakley, cornet; Robert Young, soprano / alto saxophone, vocal; Marty Eggers, piano; Bill Reinhart, tuba, and special guest Isabelle Fontaine, washboard, vocal.

Here’s a theraputic offering of hot jazz, dance tunes, blues, serenades to imaginary figures, mildly naughty inventions, and a song about obsessions.  Just the right mixture:

BALTIMORE:

PAPA DE-DA-DA (“He’s the ladies’ man!”):

DOCTOR JAZZ:

ORGAN GRINDER:

I’VE GOT HORSES AND NUMBERS ON MY MIND:

JACKASS BLUES:

JELLY ROLL:

Thanks also to the ladies — not seen on the stand — who make good things happen in hot jazz: Brenda and Jean.

The Black Diamond Blue Five will be making another appearance — and they aren’t as frequent as we’d like — at the Cline Cellars jazz extravaganza that will take place in a week at the Cline vineyards in Sonoma, California.  Details here. I’ll be there.

May your happiness increase!

FINE TIMES AT CLINE, 2013 AND COMING SOON (July 12, 2014)

One can get tired of the settings in which most jazz is found: small rooms, dark and dense with chatter; larger windowless ballrooms. Even someone who spends as much time indoors as I do enjoys hearing the music in a beautiful setting out of doors — where the only sound competing with the hot music for our attention is birdsong.

We had a wonderful time at the 2013 Cline Wine and Dixieland Festival: music hot and sweet in the open air, delicious wine and good food, and delight everywhere.  I can’t offer JAZZ LIVES readers a plate of oysters or pour anyone a glass, but I can share three videos I recorded on that fine summer day.

Ray Skjelbred in a pastoral solo recital:

The Black Diamond Blue Five (Clint Baker, Leon Oakley, Robert Young, Marty Eggers, and Bill Reinhart):

Scott Anthony’s Golden Gate Rhythm Machine (Bob Schulz, Jim Maihack, Clint Baker, Robert Young, Bob Hirsch, Bill Maginnis):

This year, Cline Cellars offers another delicious experience, on Saturday, July 12, 2014, from 11 AM to 6:15 PM, at Cline Cellars, 24737 Hwy 121, Sonoma, California, four miles north of the Sears Point (Infineon) Raceway.  Bands invited to perform — at this writing — are Black Diamond Blue Five, Devil Mountain Jazz Band, Golden Gate Rhythm Machine with Pat Yankee, Jambalaya Big Swing Band, Natural Gas Jazz Band, Ray Skjelbred and his Cubs, Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, and there will be piano mini-concerts by Ray Skjelbred, Bob Hirsch, Marty Eggers, Virginia Tichenor, Tom Barnebey.

Admission: $30 advance (before July 10), $35 at the gate. Wine, beer, food available. Or, bring your own picnic. Call 707-940-4025 for reservations, information.  Click here to buy reservations online. For those who don’t feel like walking long distances, there is a shuttle bus to the festival from the Jacuzzi Winery parking lot across the street. Wine enthusiasts who like to buy wine at Cline Cellars can receive a 15% discount on bottle or case sales on the festival date: show your festival badge. And other creature comforts: there are always several sites for music going on at once; shady or in the sun, with comfortable places to sit. We’ll be there.

May your happiness increase!

FINE VINTAGE! THE BLACK DIAMOND BLUE FIVE at CLINE CELLARS (June 13, 2013)

The Beloved and I had a fine time at the Cline Wine and Dixieland Festival, and here are the last videos I took of that day as proof.  Fine fellows on the stand:  Leon Oakley, cornet; Robert Young, saxophone / vocal; Marty Eggers, piano; Clint Baker, banjo / vocal; Bill Reinhart, tuba: the Black Diamond Blue Five.  The original BDBF began in 1992 as the inspiration of banjoist George Knoblauch (he left us in March 2012) as a hot two-horn quintet that played the music of Clarence Williams and other small Twenties bands.  (You’ll notice, in the videos below, that Clarence’s picture is on the binder that is the band’s book.) The 1992-2012 band featured the same personnel except that George played banjo and Clint played tuba.

Here they are for a fine — although too-brief — rousing set.

BALTIMORE:

JACKASS BLUES:

WAIT ‘TILL YOU SEE MY BABY DO THE CHARLESTON:

MANDY, MAKE UP YOUR MIND:

WEARY BLUES:

For us, this was the closing set of a delightful day: we are looking forward to the 2014 Cline Wine and Dixieland Jazz Festival in Sonoma, California.

May your happiness increase!

HOT JAZZ, FRESH AIR, GOOD TIMES: THE BLACK DIAMOND BLUE FIVE at the CLINE CELLARS WINE and DIXIELAND FESTIVAL, JULY 13, 2013: CLINT BAKER, LEON OAKLEY, ROBERT YOUNG, MARTY EGGERS, BILL REINHART

Hot jazz sounds very good if you are crouched in front of the speaker of your Victrola; hearing it through earbuds connected to your iPod; having it come through the car speakers.

But best of all is sitting in front of the musicians themselves, and although some prefer the hard chairs, uneven food and drink of a nocturnal jazz club or bar, there is a good deal to be said for hearing hot jazz in the outdoors on a beautiful day.

The 2013 Cline Wine and Dixieland Jazz Festival neatly filled all those requirements, as this compact set by the Black Diamond Blue Five proves.  The BDBF is or are Clint Baker, banjo, vocals; Robert Young, reeds, vocals; Leon Oakley, cornet; Marty Eggers, piano; Bill Reinhart, tuba.

You will notice who is on Leon’s binder of music: the very singular Clarence Williams, and his ebullient spirit illuminates the music of this set.

I don’t ordinarily post snippets of performances, but the Williams PAPA DE DA DA is a favorite of mine, and it would have pained me to leave it out (I was setting up my camera for the opening portion of this video):

BOTTOMLAND (which I assume is a reference to rich dark fertile soil, beloved of farmers, rather than an equally admirable posterior. Research?):

Our delight, doing things right, FOUR OR FIVE TIMES:

CUSHION FOOT STOMP:

NEW ORLEANS HOP SCOP BLUES — which always makes me think of Bessie Smith’s extraordinary recording.  Slide, glide, prance, dance, take it easy!

CAKE WALKING BABIES FROM HOME — for Louis, Sidney, Alberta, and all the heroic illuminators:

Hot music in the open air — couldn’t be nicer.

May your happiness increase!

CAREFUL, THAT’S VERY HOT! (Part One): BLACK DIAMOND BLUE FIVE at CLINE CELLARS (June 13, 2013): CLINT BAKER, LEON OAKLEY, ROBERT YOUNG, BILL REINHART, MARTY EGGERS

I’ll say it again:

The 2013 Cline Wine and Dixieland Festival was a glorious success: a lovely setting, jubilant music both hot and sweet, with sweet-natured people enjoying themselves everywhere. I will be offering videos from that delicious day — featuring Clint Baker, Leon Oakley, Bill Reinhart, Marty Eggers, Scott Anthony, Bob Schulz, Ray Skjelbred, Robert Young, the Ragtime Skedaddlers, and other noble souls.

I unpacked my camera and settled down for the first band — noting the increased heat in the room.  No surprise, when you consider who was on the stand: Leon Oakley, cornet; Robert Young, saxophone / vocal; Marty Eggers, piano; Clint Baker, banjo / vocal; Bill Reinhart, tuba: the Black Diamond Blue Five.  The original BDBF began in 1992 as the inspiration of banjoist George Knoblauch (he left us in March 2012) as a hot two-horn quintet that played the music of Clarence Williams and other small Twenties bands.  (You’ll notice, in the videos below, that Clarence’s picture is on the binder that is the band’s book.) The 1992-2012 band featured the same personnel except that George played banjo and Clint played tuba.

Now, I can find something to admire in improvising ensembles of all sizes.  The twenty men gathered on stage at the end of an Eddie Condon Blue Network broadcast, a solo pianist or guitarist — equally promising. But I might be guilty of jazz frugality: I especially admire those small ensembles that give good value for their money: three players (Bent Persson – Frans Sjostrom – Jacob Ullberger) or four (Ruby Braff – George Barnes – Wayne Wright – Michael Moore) seem taut, slim, energized versions of the ideal.

So does the BDBF.  Evidence below!

Clint tells us, politely but emphatically, about his reluctance to share his JELLY ROLL with anyone.  Understandable, no?:

Robert’s singing of SWEETHEARTS ON PARADE makes me imagine an alternate universe where Carmen Lombardo, Lillie Delk Christian, and Louis get together to share stories of being excluded from romance.  And Leon’s cornet is right on the money — searing, in fact:

This version of MY GAL SAL reminds me of the Deccas by the Alabama Jug Band — 1934, and it is just as much fun:

WIPE IT OFF, even when the lyrics are somewhat obscure, not to say arcane, is always good advice:

What a wonderful hot band!  I will have more to share from the BDBF, I promise you.

May your happiness increase!