Tag Archives: Brandon Au

THE GLORIES OF WALTER DONALDSON: JONATHAN DOYLE – JACOB ZIMMERMAN SEXTET at the REDWOOD COAST MUSIC FESTIVAL: KRIS TOKARSKI, KATIE CAVERA, CHARLIE HALLORAN, HAL SMITH, BRANDON AU (May 12, 2019)

Few people would recognize the portrait on its own.

But Walter Donaldson (1893-1947) wrote songs that everyone knows (or perhaps, in our collective amnesia, once knew): MY BLUE HEAVEN; LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME; AT SUNDOWN; YES SIR, THAT’S MY BABY; HOW YA GONNA KEEP THEM DOWN ON THE FARM?; MAKIN’ WHOOPEE; CAROLINA IN THE MORNING; LITTLE WHITE LIES; MY BABY JUST CARES FOR ME; WHAT CAN I SAY AFTER I SAY I’M SORRY; YOU’RE DRIVING ME CRAZY, and many more — six hundred songs and counting.  Ironically, the man who created so much of the American vernacular in song is little-chronicled, and if Wikipedia is to be believed, he is buried in an unmarked grave in Brooklyn.  So much for Gloria Mundi.

On May 12, 2019,  Jonathan Doyle (here playing bass saxophone) and Jacob Zimmerman (clarinet and alto saxophone) created a  wonderful exploration of Donaldson’s less-known and often completely unknown compositions for the Redwood Coast Music Festival.  Joining them were Kris Tokarski (piano); Katie Cavera (guitar); Charlie Halloran (trombone); Hal Smith (drums).  Charlie had to rush off to another set, so Brandon Au takes his place for the final number, JUST THE SAME.  There are some small interferences in these videos: lighting that keeps changing, dancers mysteriously magnetized by my camera, yet oblivious to it (a neat trick) but the music comes through bigger-than-life.

Ordinarily, I parcel out long sets in two segments, but I was having such fun reviewing these performances that I thought it would be cruel to make you all wait for Part Two.  So here are ten, count them, Donaldson beauties — and please listen closely to the sweetness and propulsion this ad hoc ensemble gets, as well as the distinctive tonalities of each of the players — subtle alchemists all.  At points, I thought of a Twenties tea-dance ensemble, sweetly wooing the listeners and dancers; at other times, a stellar hot group circa 1929, recording for OKeh.  The unusual instrumentation is a delight, and the combination of Donaldson’s unerring ear for melodies and what these soloists do with “new” “old” material is, for me, a rare joy.  In an ideal world, this group, playing rare music, would be “Live from Lincoln Center” or at least issuing a two-CD set.  We can hope.

LITTLE WHITE LIES, still a classic mixing swing and romantic betrayal:

DID I REMEMBER? — possibly best-remembered for Billie’s 1936 recording:

SWEET JENNIE LEE! which, for me, summons up a Hit of the Week paper disc and a Frank Chace home jam session:

MAYBE IT’S THE MOON — so pretty and surprisingly unrecorded:

YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO TELL ME (I KNEW IT ALL THE TIME) — in my mind’s ear, I hear Jackson T. singing this:

SOMEBODY LIKE YOU, again, surprisingly unacknowledged:

CLOUDS, recorded by the Quintette of the Hot Club of France:

TIRED OF ME, a very touching waltz:

REACHING FOR SOMEONE (AND NOT FINDING ANYONE THERE), which enjoyed some fame because of Bix, Tram, and Bing:

JUST THE SAME, which I went away humming:

Thoroughly satisfying and intriguing as well.

I dream of the musical surprises that will happen at the 2020 Redwood Coast Music Festival (May 7-10, 2020).  With over a hundred sets of music spread out over four days and on eight stages, I feel comfortable saying there will be delightful surprises.  Their Facebook page is here, too.

May your happiness increase!

PISMO JOYS (Part Three): “GEORGE’S ALL-STARS”: BOB SCHULZ, BRANDON AU, ADRIAN CUNNINGHAM, BOB DRAGA, JASON WANNER, LARRY SCALA, KATIE CAVERA, DANNY COOTS (October 26, 2018, Jazz Jubilee by the Sea)

Even more fun from the 2018 Pismo Jazz Jubilee by the Sea — two delightful performances from a Condonian ad hoc ensemble (never before and never again) assembled by George Smith, jazz musician, enthusiast, benefactor, and former director of the festival, someone who’s still deeply involved and makes good music happen.

Here are the two closing performances from “George’s All-Stars,” an old-fashioned group of hot individualists skilled at blending their individual sounds and styles into a band, Condon style.  From the back (for a change) it’s Danny Coots, drums; Katie Cavera, string bass; Larry Scala, guitar; Jason Wanner, piano; Bob Draga, clarinet; Adrian Cunningham, clarinet and tenor; Brandon Au, trombone; Bob Schulz, cornet, vocal.

First, the venerable yet heated I FOUND A NEW BABY:

and the Alex Hill-Claude Hopkins I WOULD DO [MOST] ANYTHING FOR YOU:

Wasn’t that nice?  Thanks so much, Mr. Smith.

May your happiness increase!

PISMO JOYS (Part Two): “SHAKE ‘EM UP JAZZ BAND and THE AU BROTHERS”: CHLOE FEORANZO, MARLA DIXON, MOLLY REEVES, DEFNE “DIZZY” INCIRIOGLU, JULIE SCHEXNAYDER, GORDON AU, BRANDON AU, JUSTIN AU (October 26, 2018, Jazz Jubilee by the Sea)

The temperature suddenly rose in Pismo, California, during the late October weekend that the Jazz Jubilee by the Sea transformed that salt-water-taffy town into a swing sauna, a hot haven.

You don’t have to take my word for it.  Conveniently, here is compelling evidence from Larry Scala, Dawn Lambeth, Marc Caparone, Bill Bosch, and Danny Coots.

Then, I was fortunate enough to capture three performances by what I’d call a Constellation of Youngbloods (no “Cats vs. Chicks” in this century), where the Shake ‘Em Up Jazz Band and the actual Au Brothers‘ front line (the band minus Howard Miyata, Danny Coots, and Katie Cavera) shared the stage.  For those keeping score, that’s Gordon Au, trumpet; Justin Au, trumpet; Brandon Au, trombone; Marla Dixon, trumpet and vocal; Chloe Feoranzo, clarinet and vocal; Molly Reeves, guitar; Defne “Dizzy” Incirlioglu, washboard and percussion; Julie Schexnayder, string bass.  (Trombone star Haruka Kikuchi, is — if my sources are correct — currently occupied with matters maternal.  I’m sure she’ll be back in the bass clef before long.)

Oh, how this Constellation wailed.

SHAKE IT AND BREAK IT was first recorded in 1921 — I am sure that it was being played before then — although my favorite versions are by Sidney Bechet and the Varsity Seven.  This twenty-first century explosion rocks along irresistibly, after Molly introduces everyone:

EMPTY BED BLUES is a Bessie Smith lament that Chloe Feoranzo has taken for her very own:

SAY “SI SI” (originally “Para Vigo me voy” by Ernesto Lecuona, who also wrote “Maria La O”) was a Thirties pop tune popularized here by Xavier Cugat, the Andrews Sisters, Glenn Miller, and many others — a song the New Orleans musicians who loved heating up melodic pop melodies took to happily, including Billie and DeDe Pierce, Kid Thomas Valentine, Paul Barnes, George Lewis, Emmanuel Paul, Louis Nelson, Alvin Alcorn — so it has a long and vibrant NOLA tradition.  Marla shows us her multi-lingual flair and grace:

Thanks to Linda and John Shorb and the rest of the Jubilee angels for making such good noises possible and accessible.

May your happiness increase!

CELEBRATING HOWARD MIYATA, MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR, AT DIXIELAND MONTEREY 2013

I waited to post this until the British heir to the throne safely entered this world, so as not to draw attention from that monarch-to-be.  But here’s another royal event, the jazz coronation of Howard Miyata as Musician of the Year on March 2, 2013, at Dixieland Monterey / the Jazz Bash by the Bay.  His regal attendants include Susie Miyata, Gordon, Brandon, and Justin Au (nephews three), and the High Sierra Jazz Band, with special commentary by Pieter Meijers and Bryan Shaw.

Where HAIL TO THE CHIEF meets TIGER RAG, and where “catcalls” are a good thing.  Congratulations to Uncle How!

May your happiness increase!

DAY INTO NIGHT, WITH SWEET SWING: TAMAR KORN, GORDON AU, DENNIS LICHTMAN, JARED ENGEL, JIMMY SPERO, JUSTIN AU, BRANDON AU (Conclusion): SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA / June 6, 2013

All good things must come to an end, so here (with regrets) are the last five performances from a magical evening of music.

George Esposito (georgeespo@sbcglobal.net) — well-known on KXJZ Sacramento public radio as a jazz host — has been staging lovely outdoor concerts for a long time: this is the ninth year of his Midweek Sunset Jazz Series. Email him to get on his mailing list for future concerts. On June 6, 2013, I and a large crowd enjoyed a singular concert in George’s spacious backyard, where the music was presented against the changing canvas of the sky, as afternoon shaded into night. And the music mixed sweetness, inventiveness, and surprise.

The creators: Tamar Korn, song; Gordon Au, trumpet / composition / arrangement; Dennis Lichtman, clarinet; Jared Engel, string bass; Jimmy Spero, guitar. And, on the final two tunes, the Au Brothers leaped in — Justin, trumpet; Brandon, trombone. The repertoire: three classics; two originals by Gordon (one with lyrics I’d not heard before).  

HEARTACHES:

Gordon’s evocation of Louis, Duke, and avian splendor, PAVONIS:

His romantic rhythm ballad, ONCE, DEAR:

And the family of Swing enlarges for OLD FASHIONED LOVE (with a remarkable first chorus):

LET YOURSELF GO:

May your happiness increase!

THE AU BROTHERS “TAKE OFF!”

Readers of JAZZ LIVES know Gordon Au (youthful brass Maestro / composer / arranger / occasional vocalist) but may be less familiar with his gifted younger siblings — Justin (trumpet) and Brandon (trombone).  They’ve played jazz festivals as the Au Brothers Jazz Band, keeping family ties strong with the addition of Howard (Uncle How) Miyata on tuba.  Friends who round out the band are guitarist / banjoist / vocalist Katie Cavera and swing percussionist Danny Coots.  On paper, especially for those used to the “traditional” line-up, this combination might look unorthodox, but it works beautifully.  I can prove it!

They’ve just released their debut CD, aptly called THE AU BROTHERS TAKE OFF! (with witty art by Molly Reeves of the Red Skunk Gipzee band, and characteristically literate liner notes by Gordon).

AU!

The CD features a few chestnuts given new life — JELLY ROLL (with a vocal by Uncle How that is reminiscent of a good bakery) and LIMEHOUSE BLUES, several songs from a century ago — WHEN FRANCIS DANCES WITH ME (vocal by the choreographic Katie) and CENTRAL, GIVE ME BACK MY DIME (a song new to me but one that gives Brandon an opportunity to rail at the limitations of the “new” technology when it’s involved in romance) — and originals by Gordon which show his range from wooing to hilarious, from swing to comedic grotesquerie: PISMO BEACH PARADE, STINKY FEET BLUES (not what you might expect), CAPITAL-BOUND, HOW COULD I SAY THAT I LOVE YOU, TANGO OF LOST LOVES, BROOKLYNBURG RAG — and a wonderful collage of themes from jazz classics, BIG CHIEF DADA’S AXE OF PLENTY STRAIN.  The interplay between the horns is marvelous; the rhythm section rocks, and the whole enterprises sits comfortably somewhere between the Hot Five, Gil Evans, Tom Lehrer, and Spike Jones, the balance shifting from song to song.

You can find out more about the band (their schedule of future appearances) and the CD here, and the Brothers have generously posted many videos of the band on this site.

I will take this opportunity to add to the Brothers’ video hoard — for current watchers and future generations as well as life forms on other planets who might be vibrating to the gigabytes in interstellar space — with some engaging evidence of the ABJB in action at the 2013 Jazz Fest by the Bay in Monterey, California. Gordon’s casual wardrobe was especially arranged by American Airlines’ baggage handlers.

PISMO BEACH PARADE:

PENNIES FROM HEAVEN:

BROOKLYNBURG RAG:

HOW CAN I SAY THAT I LOVE YOU?:

TANGO OF LOST LOVES:

WHEN FRANCIS DANCES WITH ME:

CAPITAL-BOUND:

In the words of the 1933 LAUGHIN’ LOUIE, “Take off, Gate!”

May your happiness increase!

FEEL LIKE A (JAZZ) BASH? (MARCH 1-2-3, 2013, MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA)

The music doesn’t start for another ten days, give or take — but we’re excited about the 2013 Jazz Bash by the Bay (or you can call it Dixieland Monterey . . . call it what you will as long as you support it by your presence!).

The Beloved and I will be there for as much of it as possible.  The music begins on Thursday night (Feb. 28, if my dates are right) with a special benefit concert by “We3” — Jeff Barnhart, Danny Coots, and Bob Draga — and runs like an express train until Sunday, March 3, late in the afternoon.

Here‘s the schedule.  And although my counting skills are imperfect, I see 149 or so sets in that weekend — because of simultaneous action in a variety of rooms.  What this means to me: Marc Caparone, Dawn Lambeth, Jeff Barnhart, Anne Barhart, Bryan Shaw, Howard Miyata, John Reynolds, Clint Baker, Ralf Reynolds, Katie Cavera, Carl Sonny Leyland, Banu Gibson, John Sheridan, John Cocuzzi, Allan Vache, Ed Metz, Paul Keller, Sue Kroninger, Eddie Erickson, Chris Calabrese, Jim Fryer, Danny Coots, Jeff Hamilton, Virginia Tichenor, Marty Eggers, Gordon Au, Justin Au, Brandon Au, David Boeddinghaus, Jason Wanner, Ray Templin . . . and you can add your own favorites, heroes, heroines, and heartthrobs.

Here‘s ticket information.  Few people I know are moved to take positive action because of fear and dread, but the evidence speaks for itself: many jazz festivals have vanished or morphed unrecognizably before vanishing: join us at the Jazz Bash by the Bay!

And for those readers who say, “I’m not convinced.  I need evidence before I get in the car, find someone to walk the dog, and unstrap my wallet,” will this do?  Recorded on March 2, 2012 — something to provoke SMILES:

May your happiness increase. 

THE JAZZ BASH BY THE BAY IS COMING! (March 1-3, 2013)

I’m happy, excited, bewildered, and reaching for the oaktag and the colored Sharpies.  No arts and crafts project is on the horizon, but Dixieland Monterey’s JAZZ BASH BY THE BAY has just published its 2013 schedule.  This moment is always a combination of elation and puzzlement.  “Are all my favorite bands playing or am I dreaming?” to quote a late-Thirties record.  Yes, there’s John Sheridan and Jeff Barnhart, Carl Sonny Leyland and the Au Brothers, High Sierra, The Reynolds Brothers, David Boeddinghaus, Banu Gibson, Katie Cavera, Marc Caparone, Eddie Erickson, Sue Kroninger, Danny Coots, Howard Miyata, Pieter Meijers, Allan Vache, Bob Draga, Ivory and Gold, Jim Fryer, Titan Hot Seven, John Cocuzzi, Virginia Tichenor, Marty Eggers, Ivory and Gold, Frederick Hodges, We 3, Jerry Krahn, Ed Metz, Paul Keller, and more . . .

That’s wonderful.  Then the headache starts to creep up my neck.  “All right.  I have to see X but Y is playing at the same time, and Z starts a half-hour later.  Where shall I go?”

We should all have such problems.  Plot out your perfect weekend — including dance lessons and a Thursday-night concert by We 3 (Barnhart, Coots, Draga) to kick things off properly.

Here is the schedule.

Try it for yourself.  You have seven weeks to calculate the possibilities that will bring the most joy.  But you can do it!

And I’ll see you in the Portola Room, or the De Anza, or the Bonsai . . . look for me and say hello!

May your happiness increase. 

THE BOYS AND THE BAND: JUSTIN and BRANDON AU VISIT HIGH SIERRA (Sacramento Music Festival, May 27, 2012)

Who says that hot jazz is solely the purview of a generation of elder statesmen?  Certainly not the young brassmen Justin (trumpet) and Brandon Au (trombone), who paid a social call to the High Sierra Jazz Band at the Sacramento Music Festival on May 27, 2012.

Justin and Brandon joined leader / reedman Pieter Meijers, their Uncle How (Howard Miyata on trombone and vocal), Bryan Shaw on trumpet, Stan Huddleston on banjo, Bruce Huddleston on piano, Earl McKee on sousaphone and vocals, and Charlie Castro, drums — for a program of hot cross-generational jazz and hijinks.

The HSJB began with a nineteenth-century favorite, sung with great honest feeling by Earl, THE OLD SPINNING WHEEL:

Then, one of the many animal-themed compositions dear to the Original Dixieland Jazz Band and, a bit later, Bix Beiderbecke, OSTRICH WALK:

Here, after Pieter introduces the boys, everyone creates a wonderful street-parade CANAL STREET BLUES:

Justin, Brandon (vocal), and Pieter swing out on NAGASAKI:

And, as an aside, here is what I believe to be the performance — captured for posterity — that Peter refers to.  A slippery composition, CAPITOL-BOUND, performed at the Pismo Jazz Jubilee by the Sea — October 28, 2011 — by Justin, Brandon, Gordon, Uncle How, Danny Coots, and Katie Cavera:

One of the High Sierra’s patented specialties, FROM MONDAY ON, with a vocal by Earl and a five-horn recreation of Bix’s solos at the end:

And, to close, a hot blues for Louis, MAHOGANY HALL STOMP:

Age doesn’t matter in jazz if the spirit is right.

May your happiness increase.

WISHING WILL MAKE IT SO, PERHAPS?

I always remember how Wild Bill Davison responded to an audience member’s request that the band play a particular tune, “Get your own band!”  So I write what follows with some amusement and some hope.

I have been able to post some extraordinary videos from the 2011 San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Festival thanks to Rae Ann Berry, and she hasn’t completely gotten down to the bottom of her hoard by any means.  But there is one set that has eluded both of us, and since the air seemed to be thick with video cameras at that festival, I am asking my readers to think of JAZZ LIVES kindly.

The set I am trying to find (and post) took place on Saturday night — around 9 PM.  It was originally scheduled as a Reynolds Brothers set, but word must have gotten around, as it does, and by the end of the whole glorious riotous enterprise, the quartet of John, Ralf, Marc, and Katie, had become an All-Star Orchestra, with visitors Brian Casserly, Jeff Hamilton, Tim Laughlin, Dawn Lambeth, Chloe Feoranzo, Peter Meijers, Howard Miyata, Bryan Shaw, Justin Au, Brandon Au, and Nik Snyder* — all on a tiny rectangular bandstand.

They played THREE LITTLE WORDS, FAT AND GREASY, I CRIED FOR YOU, an astonishing MY LITTLE BIMBO, and closed with ‘DEED I DO.

Did anyone capture this set, and (more importantly) are you willing to upload it to YouTube so that it can be posted here?  I would be eternally grateful — and if the music surfaces, other readers of JAZZ LIVES will truly understand why.

Imagine Bing and Eddie Lang working their way through PLEASE, and you’ll get the general idea of my current state of mind.

*Had Dave Frishberg been there, he could have created a wonderful song lyric from just those names alone.

JAZZ PARADE AT PISMO (October 2011) with the AU BROTHERS JAZZ BAND and GUESTS

The family that plays together . . . creates beautiful music.  Here are some more performances by the Au Brothers Jazz Band from their October 28, 2011, appearance at the Pismo Beach “Jazz Jubilee by the Sea”: for this occasion, the band was Gordon Au, trumpet; Justin Au, trumpet; Brandon Au, trombone / English baritone; Howard Miyata, tuba.  (That’s “Uncle How” to those in the know.)  The friends were Katie Cavera, banjo / guitar; Danny Coots, drums — with a few added surprises.

Let’s start with Gordon’s own PISMO BEACH PARADE — a rollicking march which keeps its flavor no matter if it’s performed far from Pismo — say in Brooklyn, New York:

The Brothers welcomed the hot pianist Jeff Barnhart for a little meteorology in PENNIES FROM HEAVEN — sweetly expounded by Uncle How:

I WOULD DO MOST ANYTHING FOR YOU was an occasion to welcome other playful folks to the stand: Bob Draga and Peter Meijers, clarinet; Jeff Beaumont, alto sax — a reed section to match the Au /  Miyata brass:

Two satires follow — a slightly modified version of ROCKIN’ CHAIR (“Fetch me that ginseng,” is what I believe we hear):

and I’M GONNA SIT RIGHT DOWN AND WRITE MYSELF A LETTER, its Thirties lyrics updated and reconfigured:

Here’s a groovy SHE’S CRYING FOR ME — with an unidentified young washboardist, stage right, in dialogue with Gordon:

In memory of the Eddie Condon Town Hall concerts, a key-changing OLE MISS:

Although this is a thoroughly mischievous band, they play KEEPIN’ OUT OF MISCHIEF NOW (beginning with the tender verse). And, as for the vocal, it’s Crosby, Columbo, and Miyata:

Let’s conclude with a mellow Fiesta for Brass on the theme of STARDUST:

I doubt that I will ever organize a jazz festival in this life — but this band seems supremely good music and good value.  Is anyone listening?

All these nice videos were created by Gene Mondro: thanks and applause to Gene!  The comings and goings of the Au Brothers are ly documented here on “Dolphinhunter,” their YouTube channel.

GRATITUDE IN 4/4: THE 2011 SAN DIEGO THANKSGIVING JAZZ FESTIVAL: TIM LAUGHLIN – CONNIE JONES NEW ORLEANS ALL STARS, Part One (with thanks to Rae Ann Berry)

It’s a long title, but the music and the experience justify it.

The 2011 San Diego Dixieland Jazz Festival combined a number of “firsts” for me — my first time at this rollicking festival, my first visit to San Diego, first meetings with many lovely people (Justin, Brandon, and Yvonne Au; Susie Miyata; Janie McCue and Kevin Lynch; Allene Harding, Paul Woltz, Sue Fischer, Stephanie Trick, and two dozen more) . . . .

And then there was the gloriously familiar: Connie Jones, Tim Laughlin, Bob Havens, Hal Smith, Chris Dawson, Katie Cavera, Jeff Hamilton, Clint Baker, Carl Sonny Leyland, Marc Caparone, Dawn Lambeth, Ralf and John Reynolds — reasons to be happily jet-lagged both coming and going.

Because of Paul Daspit and his friends, the festival was a happy and musical place no matter where you turned; things ran efficiently without pressure; the audiences listened intently to the music, and the musicians soared.

I would have been presenting JAZZ LIVES with more than a hundred videos — except for the combined forces of accident, gravity, and hubris, which I have detailed elsewhere — so I turned to one of my dear friends who also happens to be the Uncrowned Queen of Bay Area Jazz — which extends down to San Diego and up to Olympia, Washington, but who’s worrying about such details?

You will know Rae Ann Berry from her two thousand-plus videos on YouTube (as “SFRaeAnn”) and her twenty-five years of vigorous advocacy of the music and musicians she loves.  She maintains an up-to-date list of hot jazz gigs in the area on www.sfraeann.com and you can visit her YouTube channel here.

So with thanks to all concerned both behind and in front of the camera, let me offer a short — but exciting — tour of the 2011 San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland frolic, beginning with four songs from a set recorded on November 25, 2011, by Tim Laughlin’s All-Stars: Tim, clarinet; Connie Jones, cornet; Bob Havens, trombone; Chris Dawson, piano; Marty Eggers, string bass; Katie Cavera, guitar; Hal Smith, drums.

I won’t praise individual solos or the way the band sounds as a unit — but everything is precisely where it ought to be, and all the parts are in balance, with each player offering a beautiful tone combined with deep intensity.  At times I thought of the finest recordings of Eddie Condon, the Teddy Wilson small groups, the Vanguard recordings of the early Fifties, nicely seasoned — but this band is no spinning disc or mp3: it’s being created right in front of us.

PALESTEENA:

SUGAR (with a charming vocal from Connie):

WHO’S SORRY NOW?:

and an utterly rocking WANG WANG BLUES:

More to come!

HOWARD MIYATA AND HIS MAGIC HORN (Jan. 7, 2012)

When the eminent brass player, teacher, and historian Howard Miyata and his wife Susan (she plays the French horn among other instruments) came to visit us this afternoon in Sonoma, California, I didn’t expect that there would be an impromptu concert-demonstration . . .but I am so delighted to be proven wrong!

For those of you who don’t know Howard, he is famous for playing with many bands — beginning with the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra and continuing up through the Zinfandel Stompers, the New Eldorado Stompers, Clint Baker’s New Orleans Jazz Band, and the High Sierra Jazz Band — which is where I first met him.  Howard studied at San Jose State University and directed bands for the Gilroy Unified School District. He also directs the Pacific Brass Band — one of only three authentic British style brass bands in California.  You might have encountered him on a JazzDagen cruise or at a jazz party; brass players will know him through his work as a tuba / trombone / euphonium artist and clinician for Kanstul (http://www.kanstul.com).  He is also a superb singer – vaudevillian (I’ve posted his performance of THE YAMA YAMA MAN here

and, more recently, A KISS TO BUILD A DREAM ON here.)

And before I had ever heard Mr. Miyata play, I had known of him as “Uncle How,” the man behind Gordon, Brandon, and Justin Au — and no doubt hundreds of grateful younger players.  (He is a superb teacher — but more about that in another post sometime.)  Most recently, I’ve posted videos of the Au Brothers Jazz Band with Uncle How, Katie Cavera, and Danny Coots in the rhythm section.

Howard had two horns in his car — a huge tuba and his Conn double-bell euphonium.  And when I said I had only heard of the latter horn in the lyrics to SEVENTY-SIX TROMBONES, he was more than happy to bring it in to show off how it sounded.  About ten seconds into his cheerful presentation, I asked him to hold everything, and I brought my video camera — thinking that this was too good not to share:

Even without a double-bell euphonium, Howard Miyata makes music wherever he goes.  We are very lucky to have him!

SOME RIGHTEOUS JIVE: THE AU BROTHERS JAZZ BAND (October 28, 2011)

This is the good stuff.  Give up the multi-tasking for about ten minutes and relax into the sweet and hot sounds of the Au Brothers Jazz Band.

They are Gordon on trumpet / vocal / composition;  Justin, trumpet; Brandon, trombone / English baritone; Howard Miyata (Uncle How), tuba; Katie Cavera, banjo / guitar; Danny Coots, drums.  These four performances were recorded at the Pismo, California, Jazz Jubilee “By the Sea,” on October 28, 2011.  And if you have any skepticism about how the balance would work — four brass, no piano — worry not.  Splendid soloists, great riffers, wonderful team players!

Here’s Gordon’s own romantic rhythm ballad, SOMEHOW THE WORLD HAS TURNED UPSIDE-DOWN, which he sings in a way both unaffected and effective.  The song is straight out of the Thirties but has much more clever lyrics.  Energized playing throughout and good feeling on the stand: see Katie and Danny smiling while Justin and Uncle How explore:

Another surprising composition of Gordon’s is PAVONIS (named for the genus of the peacock).  Gordon’s originals shift and turn as you listen, so I hear in this a moody ballad that could be scored for Bobby Hackett, late Louis Armstrong, or even Johnny Hodges.  But the ABJB — by their sweet understated playing — brings us to 2011, with no rhapsodizing about the past.  And by the end, all I could think of was the words “soaring lyricism” — from the whole band:

I don’t know how old any of the players was when Disney’s THE JUNGLE BOOK appeared on movie screens in 1967, but I would guess it predates a few of them.  Gordon has a not-so-secret fondness for odd Disney songs (many of them neglected classics) and BARE NECESSITIES is one of them.  Brandon not only utilizes his English baritone horn (in a cross-stage series of trades with his uncle) but offers a vocal chorus in the manner of Louis.

And speaking of Louis, this was one of the songs he performed on television that year — was it the HOLLYWOOD PALACE?  I have a very clear memory of watching him sing this ditty — then a man in a bear suit came out from the wings; “bear” and Louis did a few turns and a do-si-do, then the “bear” went back to his cave — perhaps the greenroom.  If you see your hero cutting a rug with a man in a bear suit, you don’t forget it:

To close the session, something familiar — a good old good one complete with hot drum solo!  LIMEHOUSE BLUES with the verse.  And, yes, that riff before Katie solos is indeed an Au-variation on DIZZY ATMOSPHERE:

Californians are so lucky!  (Although we have a firm grip on Gordon here in New York City: I saw the Grand Street Stompers at the Radgast Bierhalle last night, and they were wonderful.  Stay tuned.)

I JUST FLEW IN FROM SAN DIEGO!

. . . and boy, are my arms tired!  But my ears are still full of wonderful music.  I don’t mean “San Diego” as a city, but the 32nd annual San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival, which began for me on last Thursday night and continued into the middle of Sunday afternoon.

Festivals and parties take on the personalities of their organizers, and this one benefited so much from Paul Daspit, who stepped in after the death of the much-loved trombonist Alan Adams.  Paul is tall, soft-spoken, carefully-dressed, usually sporting a nifty hat (no beanie with a propeller for this gent), and his demeanor is both calm and amused.  Even when he was dealing with a series of flooded hotel rooms, he seemed to know that getting all flurried would do him — and us — no good.  So it was a great delight to see Paul come in, savor the music with a quiet smile on his face, and move on to something else.  His generosity of spirit made it possible for me to attend, for the musicians to play their best.  By the way, when I asked Paul about this, he said he was only carrying on Alan’s philosophy: to establish a space where everyone would be so comfortable and easy that the music would flow out and around everyone.

And it did.  I am a devoted follower of a few bands — my heroes are the Reynolds Brothers and the Tim Laughlin-Connie Jones All-Stars, the Yerba Buena Stompers, High Sierra, as well as the individual musicians Clint Baker, Jeff Hamilton, Sue Fischer, Bryan Shaw, Dawn Lambeth, Hal Smith, Carl Sonny Leyland, Marty Eggers, Kevin Dorn, Marc Caparone, the amazing Paul Woltz, and a dozen others . . . but I looked at the schedule more than a dozen times and figured that if I had been able to see all the sets I’d wanted to, the number would have been more than fifty . . . not possible for one person.  Because the festival was unashamedly a cornucopia, with six or more bands playing at once in different venues, I would have had to be willing to run from the middle of one set to the middle of another, which I wasn’t willing to do.

Too many highlights, and I won’t list them here for fear of leaving something out that was good, better, best.  I think I liked the surprises, though: being outside the main building, coming back from dinner, and hearing a band — it turned out to be Grand Dominion — and recognizing, “My goodness!  That’s Clint Baker — on trumpet — beating out JOE LOUIS STOMP!”  Or, again, hearing music from afar of a small group, around 9 AM, working its way through MUSKRAT RAMBLE — with an absolutely spine-tingling trombone solo . . . none other than tne Saint of Dixieland, Uncle Howie Miyata, playing that thing.  I also had my spirits lifted by people who don’t play instruments, at least not professionally: Jane Lynch and husband Kevin; Allene Harding; Frank Selman; Susie Miyata, Yvonne and Bill Au, Brandon and Justin of the same lineage.  I got to sit between Jane, Laurie Whitlock, and Carol Andersen . . . fun times in SoCal!

I’ll be posting my videos in a few weeks (I have Whitley Bay to share with you) but would point out that my newly-mobile West Coast doppelganger Rae Ann Berry had her video camera, her tripod, and many batteries . . . and she’s already posted a great many videos which would warm the coldest day.

But I’ll just say that there was a Reynolds-Brothers-plus jam session on Saturday night . . . where fourteen musicians got onto a tiny bandstand to wail — and I don’t use that word lightly — on MY LITTLE BIMBO and DIGA DIGA DOO.  You could hear the angels stomping.

More to come . . . . but I have already made a mental space for Thanksgiving 2012.

CLINT BAKER’S NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND: DIXIELAND MONTEREY, March 4, 2011

Clint Baker is an inspiring multi-instrumentalist (everything from brass to reeds to strings to drums to vocals) and here at Dixieland Monterey 2011, he contented himself with leading a small hot group from his drum set — he is a master of percussive sounds and propulsions.  With him were hot cornetist Marc Caparone, pianist / singer Dawn Lambeth (united in connubial bliss), trombonist and euphonist Howard Miyata (that’s Uncle Howie to Gordon, Brandon, and Justin Au), reedman Mike Baird, bassist Paul Mehling, and guitarist / banjoist Katie Cavera.

Oh, they did rock!

Their first selection was a request — from Dottie Baird, Mike’s wife, who always asks for WHEN MY DREAMBOAT COMES HOME, on which Mike has to play saxophone.  A wonderful idea:

One law of performance is “Get the crowd involved: engage the audience!”  So here’s a bit of audience participation — feel free to join in at home in the HOLLER BLUES with shrieks or howls:

Dawn Lambeth (who is moderately pregnant — we wish her the world’s easiest delivery!) is also a spectacularly gifted singer.  Here she introduces IT HAPPENED IN MONTEREY, written by Mabel Wayne, as a song with a great deal of sentimental depth for Marc and herself — the sad lyrics notwithstanding.  Even with a terrible cold, Dawn sounds so fine:

A good old good one — what could be better than PANAMA by William H. Tyers, king of the Exotic Landscape (he also wrote MAORI):

And a tribute to Papa Joe Oliver, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong’s spiritual father, SNAG IT (An idle thought: where did the inspiration for that slang phrase come from?  I take it to mean “Oh, get it!”  From fishing?  From baseball?):

Finally, something personally pleasing.  SWEETHEARTS ON PARADE is one of my favorite songs — even though it’s not exactly harmonically taxing — perhaps because I heard Louis’s recording of it early in my life.  And I felt very much embraced at and by Dixieland Monterey (a weekend of many hugs, all given and received happily), no more so than when Marc asked me if I had any requests and then played this one.  You know you’ve arrived!  Two by two, they go marching through:

This band is the absolute equivalent of a big plate of down-home red beans and rice: spicy, colorful, hot, satisfying for a long time afterwards.  And look how happy they look!

A footnote: JAZZ LIVES readers who energetically watch “SFRaeAnn”‘s channel will see her videos of these performances.  She is Rae Ann Berry, a wonderful archivist and deep friend to me and to many musicians . . . and we were often sitting at the same concert in Monterey and videotaping.  Why, then, you might ask, why post my versions as well as hers?  I have this fantasy that someone more technically gifted than myself will find a way to screen both her video and mine on a particular song – – – synchronized, to provide something like Dixieland Cinerama, or Hot Technicolor.  Just imagine!

GIVE SOMETHING BACK TO THE LIVING MUSICIANS!  ALL MONEY COLLECTED GOES TO THEM:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

THE WORLD’S JAZZ CRAZY: THE NEW EL DORADO JAZZ BAND! (Feb. 12, 2011)

Rae Ann Berry is back on the case — and we are so much richer for her diligence.  Here she captures a rocking session with the New El Dorado Jazz Band, that hot group honoring cornetist Papa Ray Ronnei and his friends. 

In its current incarnation at the Sounds of Mardi Gras in Fresno, California, it is made up of Hal Smith, drums (he’s the co-leader); Marc Caparone, cornet (subbing for co-leader Clint Baker); Howard Miyata, trombone (“Uncle Howie” of Gordon, Justin, and Brandon Au); Mike Baird, clarinet (a charter member); Katie Cavera, banjo, guitar, vocals; Carl Sonny Leyland, piano; Georgia Korba, bass.

Katie assures us THE WORLD’S JAZZ CRAZY (AND SO AM I):

Do you like Mexican food?  HERE COMES THE HOT TAMALE MAN:

The soaring, pensive FAR AWAY BLUES:

GATEMOUTH BLUES (harking back to Miss Lil and the Dodds brothers):

OLE MISS (named for a very fast train) has Kim Cusack subbing for Mike Baird:

THAT’S A PLENTY (how true):

Hotter than that!

FEELING JAZZ CRAZY?  CLICK HERE TO GIVE SOMETHING BACK TO THE MUSICIANS!

https://.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQASwww

AUGUST IN NEW YORK: FOUR DAYS WITH JIM FRYER

Photograph by Lorna Sass, 2008

(This is trombonist / euphonist / vocalist Jim Fryer’s essay on life-as-a-hard-working-jazz-musician . . . as printed in the November 2010 edition of The American Rag and reprinted here with everyone’s permission)

ME & NYC

6 gigs in 4 days: a life of slice

August 15–18, 2010

This is a somewhat random “Report From NYC,” based on a few days of “feet on the sidewalk” activity. It’s certainly not an exhaustive accounting of the activity around here, although it was a bit exhausting. There is so much great music, great jazz, and great trad jazz around here. This is just a slice, my little slice, of the scene. I think it was Hemingway who said you should write about what you know, and what you know best is your own life. It is also true, in my experience, that narcissism is one of the few skills that can improve with age, and I’m definitely on that bandwagon. So here goes. I hope someone else may find this interesting. I know I do.

* * *

Following a big chunk of time and energy expended (along with Jeff & Anne Barnhart) in helping our 5 “International All Stars” from the UK have a swell time in Connecticut, New York, and California (including doing double duty at the Orange County Classic Jazz Festival with the Titan Hot 7, the band that most readers of this journal will know me from), I enjoyed a respite visiting my parents at their house in the Maine woods. A short time after my return to New York, I found myself back on the busy streets & subway trains: the Asphalt Jungle. A small flurry of local gigs helped reorient me to this place where I am trying to live the good – or at least, the interesting – life.

Sunday August 15: From our domicile in West Harlem, I drove south on the Henry Hudson Parkway and West Side Highway, down to the Fat Cat Café, just off Sheridan Square in the West Village. This is one of my favorite joints ever: down the stairs to a very large room that contains games such as ping pong, pool, scrabble, chess, and beer and wine drinking. And oh yes, a small music area off to the side, easy chairs and sofas, a grand piano and a sound system (with a sound engineer!). When I die, if I’m lucky enough to choose my personal heaven, it will look a lot like the Fat Cat. (Our younger daughter once came along to a gig there, and decided that was where she wanted to get married.)

The band at the Fat Cat was a classic: Terry Waldo leading his Gotham City Jazz Band from the piano, singing & striding along; Peter Ecklund (tpt), Chuck Wilson (clr/as), Brian Nelepka (sb), John Gill (dms),and me (with my euphonium along for the ride). Nice, relaxed, easy. Good IPA on tap. 2 sets, no muss, no fuss, just plain fun. Girls boogie to our music while playing foozball. I’m very thankful that there are bandleaders who hire me for such good times. John Gill sang a lovely rendition of Irving Berlin’s When The Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves For Alabam’. John continues vocalizing (accompanying himself on guitar) later on Sunday nights over at the National Underground, where he, Brian, & drummer Kevin Dorn play good old rock and roll & country/western.

Normally, after the Fat Cat, I have the option to sit in with the Dixie Creole Cooking Jazz Band (led by cornetist Lee Lorenz) at Arthur’s Tavern, right around the corner from the Fat Cat, on their weekly Sunday gig; and then travel a few blocks down to The Ear, New York’s oldest saloon, for another fantastic session with the Ear-Regulars (led by Jon-Erik Kellso and Matt Munisteri). But today, it’s back into the car and a scramble against heavy crosstown traffic and over the Williamsburg Bridge, to the Rose Café in Brooklyn. The gig thankfully started late anyhow! I played a duo set with Bliss Blood, the talented singer/songwriter/ukelele-ist from Texas via Brooklyn. We followed a young violinist/singer/synthesizer player who managed to sound like a rock band and symphony orchestra, all by herself. Playing old blues and Bliss’s original songs, our music sounded simple in comparison (one of my goals, actually), but the ‘elite’ (small) audience seemed to enjoy it.

Monday August 16: Every Monday brings me a steady musical diet. I play with a rehearsal big band in the afternoon. Working jazz musos the world over know what that means: get together for a few hours every week and ‘read’ (play) big band ‘charts’ (arrangements) for no commercial purpose whatsoever. The opportunity to sight read new material (often written by someone in the band) and schmooze with friends is sufficient compensation. If you hang out at the American Federation of Musicians Local 802 building on West 48th Street for a week, you’ll hear dozens of these bands, taking advantage of the very low room rental rates.

Next comes one of the musical highlights of my life for the last several years: Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks making their weekly Monday appearance at Club Cache, downstairs from Sofia’s Restaurant in the famed Edison Hotel on West 46th Street, just a few feet west of Times Square. I’m not enough of a wordsmith to adequately bring to life the excitement and dynamism that Vince Giordano brings to each & every gig he plays. He is a one man tornado, playing hot string bass, tuba, and bass sax, singing, performing mc duties, meeting & greeting each customer who comes down the stairs into our subterranean cabaret, and setting up & breaking down equipment for hours each week. A characteristic touch is added by our technician & ‘introducer,’ John Landry (aka Sir Scratchy), and we couldn’t do without our various ‘Mikes’ (Mike being the generic term to describe anyone who helps out on the gig, from moving equipment to playing music). Our steadiest Mike is Carol, Vince’s partner, who [wo]mans the door and seats patrons; we also are lucky to have Earl, who in addition to schlepping equipment, spends his ‘down’ time translating Vince’s antique arrangements into modern notation via Sibelius software – at an incredible clip (he will complete a full 13 piece arrangement during the course of the 3 hour gig, something that would take me weeks).

Vince’s Monday night gig has become enormously popular since its debut in May of 2008. A great dance floor brings in the rugcutters (including many athletic young lindy hoppers), and the room is typically full of customers from the world over. The legendary 88 year old clarinetist Sol Yaged is featured on a tune each set. Vince is the Toscanini of the evening, conducting our journey through the sublime world of Fletcher Henderson, Paul Whiteman, Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Jelly Roll Morton, and a plethora of songwriters & arrangers: Bill Challis, Raymond Scott, Fats Waller, Irving Berlin. From the downbeat at precisely 8pm to the closing at 11pm, it is truly a world of amazing music & delight. We often have quite well known folks ‘sitting in:’ singers like Michael Feinstein, Nellie McKay, and Daryl Sherman; instrumentalists from around the world; the comedian Micky Freeman; and famous audience members such as cartoonist R. Crumb, a big classic jazz fan.

This particular Monday included all members of what I call the “A Team;” that is, all the first call musicians. (The band hardly suffers when subs come in: John Allred in the trombone chair could not be described as bringing the level down!). Many of these players are quite well known in a variety of genres. Here they are:

Reeds: Dan Block, Dan Levinson, Mark Lopeman

Trumpets: Mike Ponella, Jon-Erik Kellso

Trombone: your humble (ahem!) reporter

Violin/Sax: Andy Stein

Piano: Peter Yarin

Banjo/Guitar: Ken Salvo

Percussion: Arnie Kinsella

Basses/Everything: Vince Giordano

Tuesday August 17: Tuesday daytime may bring a few trombone students to me (in the summer, a handful; during the school year, a full day – if I’m lucky); or an occasional concert in a Connecticut school, with a band called the Cool Cats; then comes a reprise of Monday night. Vince has been working hard since this past June to get a second night established. It’s still the quieter night, and I bet Vince is counting audience members as he’s counting off tunes; but it also can work more as a rehearsal, Vince handing out charts on stage from his vast collection (60,000 in the archives).

At 11:40pm, I’m back on the train from Grand Central Station (busy place, that) to Rye, 25 miles NE of the city, where my wife (sometimes described as “long suffering”) works at a private school, which offers on-campus housing as a benefit for her very hard work. I love the view walking east on 43rd Street, with the Chrysler Building looming over the majestic train terminal. By 12:30am I’m strolling down our very quiet and pretty suburban street, where Peter Cottontail may sometimes be seen munching lettuce in the garden. This particular night a local cop car slows to a stop as I’m walking up to our place. The cop looks me over (trombone, wheelie bag for mutes etc, garment bag with tux), and says, “Ya got everything?” Funny guy. It’s good to know they’re out on the beat. Sometimes I stay “in town,” at the apartment we have in West Harlem (currently also the abode of our eldest daughter, a fervent New Yorker).

Wednesday August 18: Wednesday brings another doubleheader (paydirt for us musos; even better, the rare tripleheader; many years ago I played 4 gigs on the Fourth of July). First the late afternoon session at Birdland, the world famous club on West 44th: David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Centennial Band. This long running (10+ years) weekly gig features a rotating roster of the finest trad players in town. Today, in addition to tuba player & leader Osti, I had the pleasure of being on stage with Jon-Erik Kellso (tpt), Anat Cohen (clr), Ehud Asherie (pn), & Marion Felder (dms). Yours truly was the old guy on stage. (I’m trying to get used to that.) David’s bands are some of the most ‘diverse’ in the biz, in terms of not only age but also gender and race. The general lack of diversity can be a slightly touchy issue in the trad jazz arena, so it’s nice to see Osti put together bands that ‘look like America’ – and also swing like crazy! This Wednesday session was a very special one: Dave Bennett, the young clarinet virtuoso from Michigan, sat in, along with a young also sax player (from Russia, I believe; I didn’t catch his name); and in the audience, 91 year old George Avakian, one of the most esteemed figures in jazz history (George has produced hundreds of classic jazz albums).

Then to Brooklyn (by subway), to play again with Bliss Blood, this time with the Moonlighters (20s/30s swing, with a Hawaiian flavor). Bliss’s vocals & uke are joined by Cindy Ball (guitar & impeccable vocal harmonies), Raphael McGregor (lap steel), Rus Wimbish (string bass), & the horn section: me! I love being the only horn player, it’s nice & quiet, with no temptation to engage in technical battles: who can play faster, higher, or more cleverly. As I get older, I feel pleasure in knowing how to add a bit of value to the music, no pyrotechnics, please. I’m trying to play better by playing less. It’s a thrill to learn brand new songs that Bliss and Cindy write. The art form continues to evolve. I also love this venue. The Radegast Beer Hall, a big open space, with fine beer (of course) and hearty German food, is in the heart of Williamsburg, a neighborhood that feels young and vibrant. It restores my faith in humanity when the band is fed so well on the gig! All kinds of bands play here, including several youthful units, such as Gordon Au’s Grand Street Stompers, and the Baby Soda band (which includes trombonist Emily Asher of Mighty Aphrodite Jazz Band fame). Several times folks got up and danced around the bar area, in most cases to our music. Finishing after midnight means arriving back in Harlem close to 2am – fortunately, not driving, which reduces the danger and risk (seriously, everyone who’s been in the music business knows musos who have fallen asleep at the wheel late at night); as long as I don’t sleep through my subway stop and end up in Riverdale (a nice neighborhood, but miles north of my pad).

* * *

It was a great little run of gigs. I feel quite lucky to be able to work with so many interesting people. And if sometimes being the oldest on stage is a bit of a bittersweet experience (I guess I ought to get used to it as “As Time Goes By”), it is certainly encouraging for the future of the music. From long time residents (like drummer Kevin Dorn, born in Manhattan about 30 years ago – his band, the Traditional Jazz Collective, gigs all over town) to those newly arrived, NYC is still, as ever, a magnet for young, ambitious, and hardworking people. A few of the young “immigrants:” trombonist Emily Asher, transplanted from Washington state for a couple of years to get her Masters degree; trumpeter Gordon Au, from California (I should mention Gordon’s very musical family: brothers Justin and Brandon are fine players who have blown with the Titans in Pismo Beach CA, and Uncle Howard Miyata plays a mean tailgate trombone with High Sierra Jazz Band); young trombonist Matt Musselman from Maryland, a recent graduate of Manhattan School of Music, and one of my subs in the Nighthawks (his band is called Grandpa Musselman and His Syncopators); and trumpeter/vocalist Bria Skonberg, due to arrive any second now. There is most definitely a youth movement going on! I wouldn’t know how to advise these young people about putting together an actual living in NYC: this is one tough town to pay your bills in – but somehow they are doing it. Perhaps I should ask them for advice! The total take from my 6 gigs (minus the expenses) will buy a few bags of groceries, pay back the loan for a couple of textbooks for my younger daughter’s college degree, with about $1.13 left for my pension contribution. Guess I can’t retire yet. I’ll get up tomorrow and go off in search of more students and gigs. I know one musician who was heard to say: “Retire! How can I retire? I’ve never had a job!”

I would be remiss if I didn’t also tip my cap to the folks around here who have been promoting the classic jazz scene for many years, such as: Bruce McNichols, musician, impresario, and radio OKOM producer; Jack Kleinsinger, whose “Highlghts In Jazz” series has run for 37 years; the Sidney Bechet Society, which puts on fine concerts in Manhattan; New Jersey folks like Bruce Gast & the New Jersey Jazz Society; Connecticut jazzers who put together the Hot Steamed Festival and the Great Connecticut Traditional Jazz Festival; & radio hosts such as Rich Conaty on WFUV-FM and Phil Schaap on WKCR-FM. Youth combined with Experience will carry the day for the music we love!

Jim Fryer

August 2010

For more info:  www.jfryer.com, www.terrywaldo.com, www.blissblood.com, www.myspace.com/vincegiordanothenighthawks, http://www.ostwaldjazz.com/., www.coolcatjazz.info,

AN OSCAR FOR HOWARD!

I nominate Howard Miyata for an Academy Award: BEST ACTOR IN A PERFORMANCE BY A JAZZ BAND.  Here’s why:  

Rambling around YouTube, I saw a clip posted by Tom Warner (his channel is “tdub1941”) of the High Sierra Jazz Band performing at the 17th Annual Glacier Bay Jazz Stampede in Kalispell, Montata, earlier this month.  The band is led by reedman Pieter Meijers.  Its other members in this clip are Bruce Huddleston, piano; my man Marc Caparone, trumpet; Howard Miyata, trombone / vocal; Charlie Castro, drums; Stan Huddleston, banjo; Earl McKee, sousaphone.

This would have been enticement enough. 

But then I saw the clip was of THE YAMA YAMA MAN with Howard Miyata singing.  I am very fond of that song for purely sentimental reasons: when I was young, perhaps still in the single digits, Ray Nolan, a friend of my father’s used to sing it (in part) and I was enraptured.*  Both my father and Ray are gone now, and the sound of this song is one of the many comforting memories of my childhood. 

And anything that features Howard Miyata is, as they used to say, just my dish.  We’ve never met, but he has a special place in my heart as “Uncle Howie” to Gordon, Justin, and Brandon Au — one of the true up-and-coming dynasties of jazz.  I first saw Howard as part of a High Sierra brass trio playing POTATO HEAD BLUES on cornets with unforgettable accuracy and power.

So be brave and watch this performance:

Even though the Yama Yama Man might be hiding behind the armoire, just tell him that you’re a friend of Uncle Howie’s and everything will be fine. 

P.S.  An easy question: just which irreplaceable vocalist and trumpet player, initials L. A., does Howard remind you of?  Hilariously from the heart!  

*Off the track of jazz: Ray also sang something which was presumably a Civil War song (!) although he must have heard it from his grandfather or father.  The singer is presumably a young man going off to fight, and what I remember of the lyrics are, “Good-bye, Ma / Good-bye, Pa / Good-bye, mule with the old hee-haw / I may not know what this war’s about / But you bet by gosh that I’ll sure find out.”  Can any reader identify this?

THE FAMILY THAT PLAYS TOGETHER

. . . creates delightful jazz! 

Here is the Au Brothers Jazz Band, captured at a Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society concert at the Dante Club on January 10, 2010, playing SAN, long associated with Bix Beiderbecke and Paul Whiteman. 

That’s Gordon (in the red shirt) on trumpet, Brandon on trombone, Justin on trumpet.  Their friends are Darrell Fernandez on bass, Jim Maihack on piano, and Ron Jones on drums. 

This video comes from Brandon’s YouTube channel, “Dolphinhunter,” which features other performances by the three Au brothers and an amusing series of “Name That Song” videos.