I considered two other titles for this posting. One, from pop culture, was, “I’ll have what they’re having!” The other, from Byron, was “Let joy be unconfined.” You’ll soon see why.
For nearly five years, the collective ensemble — an expandable quartet — known as The EarRegulars has been holding forth at The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City) on Sunday nights from 8-11 PM, with astounding results. If you’ve never been there or seen these videos, you might raise an eyebrow at “astounding.” Watch! Then, if you think the adjective hyperbolic, you can write to Customer Service for a refund.
On March 25, 2012, The EarRegulars began as Matt Munisteri, guitar; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Scott Robinson, taragota and tenor saxophone; Greg Cohen, string bass. Four of the finest; friends and intuitive colleagues.
Here’s their direct tribute to Louis Armstrong and the rocking New Orleans tradition (also perhaps a warning against the dangers of opium smoking, if you know the lyrics), WILLIE THE WEEPER:
Then, a direct tribute to Irving Berlin and Ruby Braff in RUSSIAN LULLABY (also an indirect memory of Louis, who — as a youth — warmed to the “Russian lullabies” that Mrs. Karnofsky sang to her baby):
The quartet slowly started to expand — in the most joyous fashion — with the addition of trombonist Art Baron and drummer Chuck Redd, the latter keeping time with wire brushes on the paper tablecloth, for PLEASE DON’T TALK ABOUT ME WHEN I’M GONE:
And the climax, reminiscent of the Fifty-Second Street jam sessions that most of us have experienced only in photographs — a nearly seventeen-minute exploration of the Ellington blues, THINGS AIN’T WHAT THEY USED TO BE*. Jon-Erik, Matt, Scott, Art, and Chuck were joined by Gordon Au, trumpet; Alex Hoffmann and Dan Block, saxes; Vinny Raniolo, acoustic guitar — for a wondrously sustained workout:
Oh, play those things!
The EarRegulars and Friends cast their bread upon the waters, and it comes back as buttered toast (to quote Sonny Greer).
May your happiness increase.
*Note. This blues was originally known under another name. Oddly enough, the members of the Ellington band were all devoted to healthy diet long before it became fashionable. Thus, when this blues emerged as a collective idea, they put a title to it: “All The Boys in the Band Eat Healthy,” and I am sure they did.