Tag Archives: Cafe Borrone

WELCOME, JESS KING!* (with Clint Baker’s New Orleans Jazz Band, Jazz Bash by the Bay, March 8, 2020) [*AGAIN!]

It’s presumptuous of me to welcome Jess King — a warm-hearted swinging singer and banjo-guitarist-percussionist — to the world, since she has been making music in the Bay Area most happily for a time.  But this is the first opportunity I have to post videos of her performance, so that could count as a welcome — to JAZZ LIVES, at least.  [On Facebook, she’s Jessica King Music.]

I knew of her work for some time with Clint Baker’s All-Stars at Cafe Borrone, performances documented by Rae Ann Berry, and a few other lovely videos of Jess with hero-friends Nick Rossi and Bill Reinhart, and Jeff Hamilton at Bird and Beckett, have appeared in the usual places. . . such as here, which is her own YouTube channel.  I am directing you there because there are — horrors! — other people with the same name on YouTube.  The impudence.

In researching this post, however, I found that my idea of “welcome” above was hilariously inaccurate, because I had posted videos of Jess singing with Clint’s band at a Wednesday Night Hop on January 8, 2014.  That’s a long time back, and I am not posting the videos here because she might think of them as juvenilia, but both she and I were in the same space and moment, which shows that a) she’s been singing well for longer than I remembered, and b) that it’s a good thing that I am wielding a video camera rather than something really dangerous, like a scissors.  I tell myself, “It was really dark there.  I apologize.”

But enough verbiage.

Jess herself is more than gracious, and when I asked her to say where she’d come from, she wrote, “I’d say I’m inspired by blues, traditional jazz, swing, Western swing, and r&b.  Vocally, Barbara Dane has been a big influence on me. I also really love Una Mae Carlisle, Peggy Lee, Nat Cole, Bessie Smith, Anita O’Day, and of course Ella Fitzgerald. I grew up listening to a lot of Nat Cole, Patsy Cline, Aretha Franklin, and Lauren Hill. Random enough for ya? 😂 Clint Baker and Isabelle Magidson have both been so good to me as mentors and dear friends. They’re a huge part of my musical growth in this community.”

Here’s Jess, with Clint Baker’s New Orleans Jazz Band, on March 8, 2020, at the Jazz Bash by the Bay (the four selections taken from two sets that day).  The NOJB is Clint, trumpet; Ryan Calloway, clarinet; Riley Baker, trombone; Bill Reinhart, banjo; Carl Sonny Leyland, piano; [Jeff Hamilton is on ROSETTA]; Katie Cavera, string bass; Hal Smith, drums.

ROSETTA:

SAN FRANCISCO BAY BLUES:

HESITATIN’ BLUES (or HESITATING or HESITATION, depending on which sect you belong to, Reform, Conservative, or Orthodox):

and her gentle, affectionate take on SUGAR:

She has IT — however you would define that pronoun — and the instrumentalists she works with speak of her with admiration and respect.  And when the world returns to its normal axis and rational behavior is once again possible, Jess has plans for her first CD under her own name.  I suggested that the title be THE KING OF SING, but I fear it was too immodest for her.  She makes good music: that is all I will say.

May your happiness increase!

TALES OF THREE MEN: CLINT BAKER’S CAFE BORRONE ALL-STARS: CLINT BAKER, ROBERT YOUNG, DAN BARRETT, RAY SKJELBRED, BILL REINHART, MIKIYA MATSUDA, JEFF HAMILTON (Menlo Park, September 13, 2019)

Clint Baker has been leading various aggregations at Cafe Borrone since 1990, with no sign of stopping or slowing down, and for this we are grateful.  During my Northern California sojourn, it was an oasis — not only for the music, but the good food, the regulars I grew fond of, and the very friendly staff.  It was at least a two-hour drive each way down 101, but it was worth it.  And it remains a treasure, even though I am nowhere near Menlo Park (with its wonderful thrift stores).

Thanks to the indefatigable RaeAnn Berry, we have video evidence of those Friday-night jamborees.

September 13, 2019, was even more special, because of visiting luminaries Ray Skjelbred, piano, and Dan Barrett, trombone — in addition to Clint, trumpet and vocal, Robert Young, soprano and alto saxophone and vocal, Bill Reinhart, guitar and banjo, Mikiya Matsuda, string bass, and Jeff Hamilton, drums.

Cafe Borrone from the outside, in daylight.

In no way is JAZZ LIVES turning into a men’s support group, but these three performances are tied together by a male presence in their titles: wonderful hot music, in this case, out on the patio.

The first fellow is Sweet, perhaps someone’s Papa, but he’s gone away.  I hope he’s only gone to the supermarket for lowfat milk and cookies:

The second gent is a senior citizen, or perhaps Old is a term of affection and no one offers to help him put his carry-on bag in the overhead compartment, but he is known for being Solid:

The third brother is always welcome: he’s got Rhythm and it defines him, to everyone’s delight:

The world can’t do without those Rhythm Men.

I could  get nostalgic for Borrone’s fish sandwich and cakes, too.  A warm scene.

May your happiness increase!

MELLOW IN MENLO PARK: CLINT BAKER, JESSICA KING, BILL REINHART, ROBERT YOUNG, RILEY BAKER, JEFF HAMILTON (July 19, 2019)

Refreshing evocations of Thirties New York City and of late-Twenties Chicago, with cooling iced tea to spare, at Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park, California, captured for us by RaeAnn Berry on July 19, 2019.

Cafe Borrone from the outside.

The joyous creators are Clint Baker, clarinet and vocal; Robert Young, alto saxophone and vocal; Jeff Hamilton, piano; Riley Baker, string bass; Bill Reinhart, banjo; Jessica King, washboard and vocal.

IF I WERE YOU would have been a fairly obscure 1938 song by Buddy Bernier and Robert D. Emmerich had it not been recorded by Billie Holiday, Fats Waller, Teddy Wilson (with Nan Wynn) and Hot Lips Page — more recently, by Rebecca Kilgore and Dawn Lambeth.  Bernier is not especially famous as a composer, although he wrote THE NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES, but he adapted melodies from other cultures — POINCIANA and OUR LOVE perhaps the most famous, so he is responsible for rewarding pop music.  Emmerich’s lyrics are sly, clever, another example of the Brill Building genius of making memorable songs from common phrases.

Jessica sings it with sweet understated conviction, supported in the best Fifty-Second Street tradition by Clint, Jeff, and Riley (without the dark haze of smoke and the taste of watered drinks that I am told were characteristics of Swing Street):

SWEET SUE, JUST YOU moves us back a decade and east to Chicago’s South Side, with Robert Young and Bill Reinhart added — Noone, Poston, and a vocal duet.  What could be sweeter?  Victor Young just texted me to say he approves:

California dreamin’ isn’t the property of the Beach Boys, I assure you.  If you can get to Cafe Borrone while Clint and friends are playing and singing, you will drive home with a smile.

May your happiness increase!

SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT: CAFE BORRONE, MENLO PARK: CLINT BAKER, RILEY BAKER, JEFF HAMILTON, BILL REINHART, TOM WILSON, CRYSTAL HOLLOWAY (June 7, 2019)

Cafe Borrone from the outside.

In my brief and sometimes intermittent California sojourn (2011-14) in Marin County, one of my pleasures was in going to Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park to hear and video Clint Baker’s Cafe Borrone All Stars.  It was like a regular transfusion of joy and hope, even though the drive was over two hours from where I was living.  I knew not only that I would hear vital music but that I would meet friends — musicians, fellow listeners and dancers, waitstaff, a combination that means the world to me.  The Cafe was another home.  I was welcome there, and I was able to meet people I admire: Clint Baker, Leon Oakley, Bill Reinhart, Bill Carter, Jim Klippert, Tom Wilson, J Hansen, Robert Young, Jason Vandeford, and some whose names I am forgetting, alas.

Today I present a few videos taken on June 7, 2019, by Rae Ann Berry, not because of nostalgia, but because I am captivated by the band’s easy swing.  Borroneans will note that this is a slightly streamlined band, but that’s fine: what you hear is honest unaffected music, no frills, no gimmicks, no group vocals, no tight-and-bright polo shirts.  The generous-spirited creators are Riley Baker, trombone; his father Clint, trombone, trumpet, vocal; Bill Reinhart, banjo; Jeff Hamilton, piano; Tom Wilson, string bass; Crystal Holloway, washboard.  The whole band is in some mystically satisfying way engaged in heartfelt relaxed conversation, a great thing to behold.  I’ve left several tracks for you to find on Rae Ann’s YouTube channel, the California traditional jazz rabbit-hole to end all such diversions.

About the band here.  Yes, I could quip, “Two Bakers!  No Waiting!” but I need to be more serious than that.  Clint has long been one of my heroes, not only for what he plays, but for his religious devotion to the Music.  He understands its Holiness, as I do, but he can then pick up any of several instruments and make that Holiness manifest for all of us.  He is always striving towards the great goals, with Hot Lips Page as one of our shared patron saints.  I met Riley, his son, at Borrone, when Riley was starting to be the superb musician he is now — first on drums, then tuba.  And Riley has blossomed into a wondrous young man and player: I am especially taken with his nicely greasy trombone playing, which you will hear here.  And the emotional telepathy between father and son is both gratifying on a musical level and touching on a human(e) one.  A third horn in the front line would be an intrusion.  Such lovely on-the-spot counterpoint; such delightful lead-and-second voice playing, which isn’t an easy thing to do.  You might think that a trombone-clarinet front line would be automatically New Orleans old-school, but Clint and Riley understand the sweet play of swinging voices: people whose love comes right out to the back of the room without the need to get louder.

Riley will be playing the role of Edward Ory in Hal Smith’s On the Levee Jazz Band at San Diego this Thanksgiving, and I look forward to that: I’ve already videoed him with Dave Stuckey’s Hot House Gang: check those appearances out for yourself.

Jeff Hamilton is such a joy — not only one of the handful of drummers who lifts any band, but also an enlivening pianist who swings without getting in the way, constructs generous accompaniments and memorable melodies.  He has other musical talents that aren’t on display here, but he never lets me down.  Bill Reinhart knows what he’s doing, and that is no idle phrase.  He understands what a rhythm section should do and, more crucially, what it shouldn’t.  And his solos on banjo or guitar make lovely sense.  Tom Wilson’s rich tone, great choice of notes, and innate swing are always cheering.  And Crystal Holloway (new to me) tames that treacherous laundry implement and adds a great deal of sweet subtle rhythm.  Taking nothing away from Clint and Riley, one could listen to any one of these performances a second or third time exclusively for the four rhythm players and go away happier and edified.

I NEVER KNEW, with nods to Benny Carter and Jimmie Noone:

AS LONG AS I LIVE, not too fast:

BLUES FOR DR. JOHN, who recently moved to another neighborhood.  And — just between us — themeless medium-tempo blues are such a pleasure and so rarely essayed:

I always had trouble with math in school, but FOUR OR FIVE TIMES is just what I like:

TRUE, very wistful and sweet:

THE SWEETHEART OF SIGMA CHI, a song I last heard performed by (no fooling) Ben Webster with strings [a 1961 record called THE WARM MOODS].  Sounded good, too:

Asking the musical question WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE?

IT HAD TO BE YOU.  Yes, it did:

Bless these folks, this place, and bless Rae Ann for being there with her camera and her friend Roz (glimpsed in little bits to the right).

May your happiness increase!

PAINTED LIPS, PAINTED EYES

Clara Bow

Clara Bow

One more from this delicious band — Ray Skjelbred and his Cubs — on their 2015 West Coast Tour.  I posted a life-affirming (no, life-improving) selection from their July 9, 2015 concert at the Rossmoor Jazz Club here, and you could do worse than watch it again.

This delight  — again thanks to SFRaeAnn  (who is known to the law as Rae Ann Hopkins Berry) — comes from the very next night, when Ray and his Cubs performed at Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park, California. For those who haven’t kept up, the band is Ray Skjelbred, piano / vocal; Kim Cusack, clarinet / vocal; Katie Cavera, guitar / vocal; Clint Baker, string bass / vocal; Jeff Hamilton, drums.

(About Cafe Borrone, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, were I there, I would be there.)

I pointed out in my previous post how much I enjoy Kim Cusack’s singing. Perhaps to the uninitiated, he sounds a little like a character in a good Warner Brothers film circa 1933, his phrases clipped, his delivery conversational (a useful corrective to so many singers orally swooning over their own long vowel movements).  But listen closely to how he lingers over a note here and a note there, how he swings, how he delivers the goods.

I belong to a small select group of people who not only delight in Kim’s singing, but who treasure his elongation of certain sounds, especially in this case — at the end of the chorus, what he often does to NOW, stretching it out so that it reminds me of the annoyed comment of a Siamese cat whose imperial will is being disregarded.  On this July 10 performance, it’s a little less cheerfully caustic than usual, but perhaps this was the last tune before a break and everyone was thinking of dinner.

I also adore — and I will stop shortly — his final hand gesture, amused yet charming: “Ladies, don’t rush the band.  Don’t knock me off my stool.  Form a single line and don’t push.  Thank you, my people!”

AND THE BAND ITSELF.  Swing made lucent and portable — the music stand on Ray’s keyboard was not the only thing rocking, I know.  The ripe-peach rhythm wave of Clint and Katie, and the beautifully melodic waves of sound that Jeff creates.

If you’re not smiling, I urge you — as a healing practitioner — to play the video again until it has its proper palliative effect.

May your happiness increase!

HIS WESTERN SWING (Marty Grosz / Clint Baker’s Cafe Borrone All Stars, August 15, 2014)

Marty Grosz, a citizen of the world who has spent much of his time in the eastern United States, visited California for nearly two weeks in August 2014.  I’ve documented some of his musical activities, especially a glorious afternoon at Cafe Divine with Leon Oakley and Craig Ventresco here and here, but the Grosz Tour also touched down on Friday, August 15, at the nexus of Hot, Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park, to play some with Clint Baker’s Cafe Borrone All Stars: Clint, string bass / vocal; J Hansen, drums; Bill Reinhart, banjo; Leon Oakley, cornet; Robert Young, soprano saxophone; Jim Klippert, trombone.

Here are three highlights of that session.

A 1936 song we associate with Louis, Red Allen, and Wingy Manone: ON TREASURE ISLAND:

A nineteenth-century favorite that I heard in childhood, both in a lewd parody and in the Louis / Mills Brothers disc, IN THE SHADE OF THE OLD APPLE TREE:

And a classic song to send the dancers home in a romantic haze — here performed at a groovy dance tempo with a heartfelt sing-along that almost took off, I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS:

Thank you, Marty, and the gentlemen of the ensemble.

May your happiness increase!

EVERY EVENING: RAY SKJELBRED AND THE CUBS at SAN DIEGO (November 29, 2013): RAY SKJELBRED, KIM CUSACK, CLINT BAKER, KATIE CAVERA, MIKE DAUGHERTY

Pianist, bandleader, composer, and occasional vocalist Ray Skjelbred is gently but obstinately authentic, a prophet and beacon of deep Chicago jazz — whether it’s tender, gritty, or romping.  He and the Cubs proved this again (they always do) at their November 2013 appearances at the San Diego Jazz Fest.  For this weekend, The Cubs were Kim Cusack, clarinet, vocal; Clint Baker, string bass, tuba, vocal; Katie Cavera, guitar, vocal; Mike Daugherty, drums, vocal.

SIX POINT BLUES:

EVERY EVENING:

A highlight for all of us — heartfelt and quietly fervent — ANY TIME, ANY DAY, ANYWHERE:

Alienation of affections or kidnapping was never so festive as this rendition of SOMEBODY STOLE MY GAL:

HO HUM!:

PIANO MAN:

DARKTOWN STRUTTERS BALL:

That music is good news for us all.  But more good news — larger and more tangible than the computer monitor — is coming: the Cubs are making a California tour in early July 2014, beginning in two weeks. Jeff Hamilton will be on drums, along with the regulars you see above.

Thursday, July 10: Rossmoor Dixieland Jazz Club in Walnut Creek CA. For more information visit here.

Friday, July 11: Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park, California. 7:30 – 10:00 PM. (1010 El Camino Real, dress casual, good food and drink and a sweet atmosphere).

Saturday, July 12: Cline Wine and Jazz Festival in Sonoma, California. The Cubs will play three sets: for details, visit here.

Sunday, July 13: Napa Valley Dixieland Jazz Society. For more information visit: here.

Monday, July 14: Le Colonial in San Francisco, California (20 Cosmo Place). For more information visit here.

The admiring shades of Alex Hill, Sidney Catlett, Lee Wiley, Eddie Condon, Count Basie, Earl Hines, Sippie Wallace, Louis Armstrong, Jimmie Noone, Cassino Simpson, Tut Soper, Frank Melrose, Pee Wee Russell, Joe Sullivan, Jess Stacy, Wellman Braud, Frank Teschemacher, Gene Krupa, and scores of unheralded blues musicians stand behind this band — as the Cubs make their own lovely ways to our ears and hearts.  Panaceas without side-effects.

May your happiness increase!

FRIDAY NIGHT SWING SESSION AT CAFE BORRONE: CLINT BAKER, LEON OAKLEY, ROBERT YOUNG, BILL REINHART, SAM ROCHA, TOM WILSON, RILEY BAKER (June 13, 2013)

We didn’t dream it.  It happened last Friday night at Cafe Borrone (1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, California) — exalted swing time-travels thanks to Leon Oakley, cornet; Robert Young, alto and soprano saxophone; Clint Baker, guitar; Tom Wilson, string bass; Bill Reinhart, banjo; Riley Baker, drums — a 1937 Fifty-Second Street group transplanted south and west.  The evidence, please.

A good tune to jam on, and one Charlie Christian knew well, ROSE ROOM:

SEPTEMBER IN THE RAIN was the first song played at Eddie Condon’s Third Street club, and the one Ed Polcer chose to close the midtown incarnation, forty years later:

Delighting in the sound of that floating rhythm, a nod to Count Basie and SWINGIN’ THE BLUES:

And a sweet homage to Mister Strong, the wellspring, with THAT’S MY HOME:

After a brief break for nourishment and friendly conversation, the band reassembled itself — with Clint shifting over to trombone and Sam Rocha joining on guitar.

Louis was still on everyone’s mind with BYE AND BYE:

Robert Young sang his own regional lyrics to AVALON:

Blues from that exalted meeting of Django and the Ellingtonians, SOLID OLD MAN:

More Louis (and why not?) with BIG BUTTER AND EGG MAN:

Memories of Wild Bill Davison, who loved to play BLUE AGAIN:

Care for some Hot Five?  Not only ONCE IN A WHILE:

ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET, with an unexpected reference to someone who is rich in music:

Magic. (To say nothing of the sweet-natured staff at Cafe Borrone, the good food and drinks — a wonderful experience and place.)

May your happiness increase!

NEW ORLEANS JOYS: CLINT BAKER, BILL CARTER, JIM KLIPPERT, MONTE REYES, BILL REINHART, SAM ROCHA, J HANSEN at CAFE BORRONE (June 6, 2014)

A few nights ago, on Friday, June 6, 2014, Clint Baker and friends turned Cafe Borrone (1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, California) into a New Orleans dance hall for two sets from 7:30 to 10 PM. Clint and friends are usually known as Clint Baker and his Cafe Borrone All Stars; for this night, because of so many long-time friends and colleagues gathered together to make music, they were his New Orleans Jazz Band.  Appropriately!

“Hear me talkin’ to you!” Clint, trumpet, vocal; Bill Carter, clarinet, ensemble vocal; Jim Klippert, trombone, ensemble vocal; Monte Reyes, banjo, vocal; Bill Reinhart, guitar; Sam Rocha, string bass, vocal; J Hansen, drums.

PUT ON YOUR OLD GREY BONNET (with ensemble warbling):

CARELESS LOVE:

BUGLE BOY MARCH:

I’M ALONE BECAUSE I LOVE YOU (vocal by Sam):

THE SECOND LINE:

SOME OF THESE DAYS (vocal by Clint):

OLE MISS:

SWEET LOTUS BLOSSOM (vocal by Clint):

ICE CREAM (ensemble chorusing. no artificial ingredients):

“KEEP IT REAL” Bb BLUES:

JUST A LITTLE WHILE TO STAY HERE (that rocking carpe diem):

LADY BE GOOD (with Monte’s justly famous vocal):

A friend gave me a copy of the latest issue of DOWN BEAT — with nice coverage of Eric Alexander, Brian Blade, Sonny Rollins, even a review of a new Bucky Pizzarelli CD.  But no feature on Clint Baker or the wonderful happenings at Cafe Borrone.  Their loss.  What would it take to get DOWN BEAT to come down here? I would buy the reporter a nice plate of polenta, carrots, kale, and cauliflower, or something else from their good kitchen: you have my word.  Until then, if you can get down here, you won’t regret the trip; if it’s too far away, please share this blogpost with people you know who would like it.  Clint and his pals are creating hot, subtle delights regularly — and your attention is perhaps the best tribute.

 May your happiness increase!

“BAKER, RILEY (tuba);”

I celebrate the public performance and video debut of Riley Baker. You’ve seen and heard (and I trust admired) him on drums, but this is his first appearance in public with a band while he is so allied to metal tubing.

This took place a few days ago — May 30, 2014 — at Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park, where Riley’s father (that fellow Clint) put down the tuba so that Riley could join in. The other members of the All Stars are Leon Oakley, cornet; Jim Klippert, trombone; Robert Young, soprano and alto saxophone; Jason Vanderford, guitar; Bill Reinhart, banjo; J Hansen, drums.

BOURBON STREET PARADE:

MECCA FLAT BLUES:

Except for one chorus on BOURBON STREET PARADE, you can’t see a great deal of Riley’s face, but you can hear and feel him.  His tone is nice and full; he’s playing the right notes; his time is good.

And don’t rely on me: look at Jason’s face on MECCA and look at Leon’s enthusiastic “Welcome to the brotherhood!” grin and gesture at the end of that same tune.

Welcome, young Mister Baker!  And for the detail-obsessed, Riley and twin sister Ramona (a brilliant star in her own orbits) were born on November 28, 2000.  Not yet fourteen.  Hooray for the youngbloods!

May your happiness increase!

“A SINGABLE HAPPY FEELING”: CLINT BAKER’S CAFE BORRONE ALL STARS (May 16, 2014)

The Friday-night Hot Spot of Rhythm isn’t Boston’s Savoy Cafe on Mass. Avenue, nor is it the Savoy Ballroom uptown: it’s Cafe Borrone, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, California, on Friday nights from 7:30 to 10 PM, when Clint Baker and the Cafe Borrone All Stars arrange themselves on plain wooden chairs and swing out.

On May 16, 2014, the All Stars were Clint, trombone and vocal; Robert Young, soprano and alto sax and vocal; Leon Oakley, cornet; Nirav Sanghani, guitar; Bill Reinhart, banjo and National guitar; Tom Wilson, string bass; Steve Apple, drums.

Jazz detectives will hear evocations of Dicky Wells, the Rhythmakers, Fred Astaire, Bessie Smith, Clarence Williams, Ruby Braff, Wild Bill Davison, Louis Armstrong, Django Reinhardt, Red Allen, Rex Stewart, the Apex Club Orchestra, and much more. But this music is — blessedly — taking place in 2014, created on the spot by musicians who revere the old records enough to refrain from copying them. The result is simply uplifting.

BIG BUTTER AND EGG MAN:

EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY:

I’M NOT ROUGH:

JELLY ROLL:

RED SAILS IN THE SUNSET:

A SHINE ON YOUR SHOES:

YOU’RE LUCKY TO ME:

MANDY, MAKE UP YOUR MIND:

SISTER KATE:

MONTMARTRE:

MARGIE:

SEE SEE RIDER:

SWEET SUE:

CRAZY RHYTHM:

I assure you that my videos can’t capture all the joy of hearing this band at close range, live, creating as they go. I waited a long time before making the southerly trek to Cafe Borrone. Don’t let this happen to you. . .

Thanks to Jeffrey Frey and his very pleasant people for making Cafe Borrone a nice place to visit, to hear music, to eat and drink and socialize.

May your happiness increase!

HOT MECCA IN MENLO PARK: CLINT BAKER and the CAFE BORRONE ALL STARS (May 2, 2014)

They did it again — that is, Clint Baker and his New Orleans Jazz Band turned a Menlo Park, California restaurant into a New Orleans dance hall with fervent heartfelt jazz. For this occasion (May 2, 2014), the NOJB was Clint, trumpet and vocal; Bill Carter, clarinet; Jim Klippert, trombone, vocal; Riley Baker, drums; Bill Reinhart, banjo; Jason Vandeford, guitar; Tom Wilson, string bass.

I so admire the band’s tempos, their dynamics, their sweet hot energies.  They are, as Clint said, “a delightfully analog experience.”

SOME OF THESE DAYS:

BLACK SNAKE BLUES:

GYPSY LOVE SONG:

TRUE (a/k/a THOUGH YOU DON’T LOVE ME, a/k/a YOU DON’T LOVE ME):

MOBILE STOMP (based on THE WALTZ YOU SAVED FOR ME):

BILL BAILEY:

MUSKRAT RAMBLE:

Bill Carter preaches his own hot sermon on the spiritual WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS:

STREETS OF THE CITY (a/k/a RED RIVER VALLEY):

CARELESS LOVE:

PANAMA:

I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS:

Clint and groups of friends will be at Cafe Borrone (1010 Camino Real, Menlo Park, California) on May 30, June 6, 13, 20 — with more Friday night soirees to come.  They play two hour-long sets, beginning at 7:30 and ending at 10.  The food is very good and the staff is gracious. Call 650.327.0830 for details.  And say hello to me, to Rae Ann, John Plut, Donna Courtenay, Pat Patterson, Roz, Ramona, and some energized dancers when you’re there, too.

Incidentally, I come to this Hot Mecca late (although not too late!) because Clint and friends have been playing at Cafe Borrone for a mere twenty-four years. If you want more, Rae Ann Berry has been video-recording them for a good long time (see her YT collection) and I’ve posted two other evenings at Cafe Borrone on this site . . . but best of all is to see them Hot.

May your happiness increase!

I’LL TAKE A DOZEN: FRIDAY NIGHT WITH CLINT BAKER and the CAFE BORRONE ALL-STARS (April 18, 2014)

A good time was had by all at another happy Friday at Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park, California (1010 El Camino Real: 650.327.0830).

Yes, good food, cheerful staff, beaming friends, but most of all because of the wonderful music provided by Clint Baker’s Cafe Borrone All Stars. This night they were Clint, trombone and vocal; Leon Oakley, cornet; Robert Young, saxophones, vocal; Jeff Hamilton, keyboard; Bill Reinhart, string bass; Nirav Sanghani, rhythm guitar; J Hansen or Riley Baker [Riley sat in for SWEETHEART and TELEPHONE], drums. You can note the noble associations.  Louis, Goodman, Django, Rex Stewart, Jelly Roll, Red Allen, J. C. Higginbotham, Bill Coleman — but this band (although everyone’s deeply immersed in the tradition) is playing itself, which makes us glad.

SHINE:

ON TREASURE ISLAND:

EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY:

WHEN I GROW TOO OLD TO DREAM:

ONCE IN A WHILE:

BUDDY BOLDEN’S BLUES:

AFTER YOU’VE GONE:

SOMEDAY SWEETHEART:

GIVE ME YOUR TELEPHONE NUMBER:

COME BACK SWEET PAPA:

SOLID OLD MAN:

JOE LOUIS STOMP:

Clint and friends will be back at the Cafe on May 2, 16, and 30; June 6, 13, 20 — with more Fridays to be announced.

May your happiness increase!

WHEN THE MUSIC REWARDS YOU: CLINT BAKER’S CAFE BORRONE ALL-STARS (Part Two) APRIL 4, 2014

For a New Yorker in California, it’s always seemed like a long trip from Novato, through San Francisco, down to Menlo Park to enjoy the Friday-night jamborees that Clint Baker has put on for many years, with his “Cafe Borrone All-Stars.”

But I’ve had a conversion experience because of the delicious hot music I saw and heard a few nights ago, on April 4, 2014.  And you can share the experience, too. Here is the first part.

Clint played banjo and guitar and sang, leaving the front-line responsibilities to men stout-hearted and true: Jim Klippert, trombone, Bill Carter, clarinet; Robert Young, cornet and vocal.  The rhythm section was completed by Bill Reinhart, string bass, and thirteen=year old Riley Baker, drums, who knows how to roll and  swing and how to stay out of the way for the collective pleasure of the band.

Here are six delights from the second set, a lovely mix of gutty blues, venerable pop tunes, and a folk-spiritual.

MAKE ME A PALLET ON THE FLOOR:

SWEET SUE:

SWEETHEARTS ON PARADE:

SEE SEE RIDER:

WE SHALL WALK THROUGH THE STREETS OF THE CITY (also known as RED RIVER VALLEY):

MY LITTLE GIRL:

Clint will be back at Cafe Borrone in April and May — and he has many other gigs. You can check here for details of his future escapades in the name of swing.

May your happiness increase!

WHEN THE MUSIC REWARDS YOU: CLINT BAKER’S CAFE BORRONE ALL-STARS (Part One) APRIL 4, 2014

For a New Yorker in California, it’s always seemed like a long trip from Novato, through San Francisco, down to Menlo Park to enjoy the Friday-night jamborees that Clint Baker has put on for many years, with his “Cafe Borrone All-Stars.”

But I’ve had a conversion experience because of the delicious hot music I saw and heard a few nights ago, on April 4, 2014.  And you can share the experience, too.

Clint played banjo and guitar and sang, leaving the front-line responsibilities to men stout-hearted and true: Jim Klippert, trombone, Bill Carter, clarinet; Robert Young, cornet and vocal.  The rhythm section was completed by Bill Reinhart, string bass, and thirteen=year old Riley Baker, drums, who knows how to roll and  swing and how to stay out of the way for the collective pleasure of the band.

Here are six delights from the first set.

ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND:

SOMEDAY SWEETHEART:

ORIENTAL MAN:

WHEN ERASTUS PLAYS HIS OLD KAZOO:

PUT ON YOUR OLD GREY BONNET:

IT’S TIGHT LIKE THAT:

Clint will be back at Cafe Borrone in April and May — and he has many other gigs. You can check here for details of his future escapades in the name of swing.

May your happiness increase!

THOSE RHYTHM MEN: CLINT BAKER’S CAFE BORRONE ALL-STARS (April 1, 2011)

We know that we’ve made it through a very extended winter when we can hear Clint Baker’s Cafe Borrone All-Stars swing out (thanks to the devotion of Rae Ann Berry and her Magic Tripod). 

Recorded April 1, 2011, but everything here is for real. 

The CBAS are Clint, banjo / guitar / vocal; Leon Oakley, cornet; Jim Klippert, trombone; Robert Young, soprano sax; Bill Reinhart, bass; Steve Apple or Riley Baker, drums, joined by Jason Vanderford, banjo.

Here’s a very sweet-hot WHISPERING:

A perfect combination: Clint sings I’M CRAZY ‘BOUT MY BABY (and the band goes back for the verse in the middle:

How about SOME OF THESE DAYS (catch Leon’s riffing behind Robert and more — including a group vocal behind Clint):

I know why I waited . . . no one does those love scenes EXACTLY LIKE YOU (Leon in a very Beriganesque mood, ten-year old Riley Baker on drums):

Another one for Fats and Louis — THAT RHYTHM MAN:

If your GPS is recalculating, you might sing “Where shall I go?” or the SONG OF THE WANDERER:

Finally, since candor is a beautiful thing, remember IT’S A SIN TO TELL A LIE:

To prepare for your trip to Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park (where Clint’s All-Stars play most Friday nights), do visit http://www.cafeborrone.com.  The Beloved and I are looking forward to our first in-person visit this summer! 

Thanks to the gentlemen of the ensemble, to Rae Ann, and to Roy Borrone, the rhythm man of great renown who has kept hot jazz alive at his restaurant for two decades.

More videos from this session can be seen at “SFRaeAnn” on YouTube — if you haven’t subscribed, you’re missing a great deal of inspired elation.

FIFTY-SECOND STREET WEST (Cafe Borrone, Oct. 15, 2010)

Because of the wonderful photographs that Charles Peterson and others took, some of my readers will be able to visualize the bandstand at Jimmy Ryan’s sixty-five years ago — crowded with hot musicians jamming on, say, BUGLE CALL RAG, with every luminary in New York City eagerly improvising at the peak of their powers.

Now imagine that scene with additions.  A wondrous singer — let’s say Connee Boswell, Lee Wiley, or Mildred Bailey is joining in for a few numbers. 

And, if your imagination can hold this, Django Reinhardt and some members of his group are also there, off to the side, having a fine time.  Bob Wills is coming through the door, too. 

Did this happen?  If it did — in New York City, circa 1945 — it hasn’t been documented.  But something very much like it happened last Friday, October 15, 2010, in Cafe Borrone, which sits happily in Menlo Park, California.

Cafe Borrone has — through the generosity and prescience of its owner, Roy Borrone — having Clint Baker’s All-Stars as its Friday night jazz band.  For twenty years of Fridays, mind you.  And the 15th was a twentieth-anniversary party.

And “SFRaeAnn,” who is Rae Ann Berry on her driver’s license, was there to record this occasion.  Clint’s regulars were in attendance, but so were some instrumentally-minded friends.  As was the eloquently hot Gypsy-tinged small group Gaucho, and New York’s own wonder, Tamar Korn.  The musicians (collectively) are Clint Baker, playing everything expertly; Robert Young, saxophone; Leon Oakley, cornet; Katie Cavera, banjo, guitar; Tom Wilson, trombone; Jim Klippert, trombone; Dave Ricketts, guitar; Rob Reich, accordion; Mike Groh, guitar; Ari Munkres, bass, J. Hansen, drums, Riley Baker, drums.

A word about GAUCHO — a group I’ve seen in San Francisco (and I’ve also listened happily to their recordings): many “Gypsy swing” groups that loosely resemble this one specialize in superhero-speedy readings of the Reinhart-Grappelly repertoire.  In such cases, I agree with my friend Anthony Barnett when he proposes a moratorium on such endeavors.  In my case, all I want is not to be pummelled with notes.  But GAUCHO is superbly different.  The overall affect is superficially of music you’d hear on the porch or in the living room, but that feeling is undercut by the instant awareness that no amateur musicians ever, ever sounded this good.  Its two guitarists play and swap roles with grace and a stylish casualness.  Rob Reich makes the accordion an instrument I would happily listen to, as he spins out wandering lines (I was traumatized by an accordion as a child.)  And Ari Munkeres brings together Pops Foster and Paul Chambers very adeptly.  The overall feeling brings together Teddy Bunn and Western swing and a whole host of refreshing improvisations on various subtle, profound models.   

Here’s part of a delightful EXACTLY LIKE YOU, where Tamar and Leon converse:

And a full-fledged YOU’RE DRIVING ME CRAZY — where Tamar’s eyes and facial expressions reveal a great comic actress, singing the twisty lyrics at a rapid clip.  (Not only that: she sings the verse twice!)  This performance becomes a series of witty conversations and overlapping monologues, most fetchingly: 

How about SOME OF THESE DAYS, with an incredible outchorus where instruments and Tamar (the Mills Sister) blend so exuberantly:

Here’s a  delicate, unaffected I’M CONFESSIN’ — a performance where Ari’s arco bass, Leon’s Ziggy Elman – Harry James emoting, Robert’s sweet alto, and more theoretically disparate elements come together to create something terribly moving:

The simplistic philosophy of WHEN YOU’RE SMILING remains true — complain too much and even the dog walks out of the room — but what catches my eye in the first minute of this performance is that an audience member has asked Tamar to dance (unless I am missing the essential subtext).  At what other site do band members dance with the audience?  I ask you!  And don’t miss the vocal duet between Tamar and Jim Klippert, a man who is having just too much fun to keep it to himself:

Tamar sat out PLEASE DON’T TALK ABOUT ME WHEN I’M GONE (perhaps the jitterbugging had worn her out for the moment?) and Clint took the vocal, with solos from everyone: 

And the evening ended with a romp nothing short of ecstatic on BILL BAILEY (or, as Joe Wilder calls it, THE RETURN OF WILLIAM BAILEY), which should have you grinning for days:

I’m thrilled that this music was created and that the apparently tireless Rae Ann Berry saved it for us and for posterity.  Bless Roy Borrone, all the musicians, and our own devoted videographer, too.

P.S.  And I have it from good authority that GAUCHO’s new CD has Miss Korn and Mister Oakley in attendance — with some songs that Tamar has written lyrics for.  I check the mailbox every day . . . and will let you know when it arrives!

VIDEOGRAPHERS THREE!

What do Rae Ann Berry, Elin Smith, and Lisa (Mook) Ryan have in common?  They’re all women who have a deep involvement in jazz, even though they don’t play instruments.  Nor are they married to instrumentalists or players. 

All three are very creative members of the jazz audience — which is often more male than female.  But they do more than sit and applaud: they are improvisers behind the camera, video artists. 

Rae Ann is known to many by her YouTube channel name — SFRaeAnn — and she takes her camera to jazz happenings on the West Coast: regularly, she finds Clint Baker and his band at Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park, or a solo piano recital by the esteemed Ray Skjelbred at Pier 23 in San Francisco, as well as regularly videorecording jazz fetival performances.  Here are two of her most recent captures:

From July 20, 2010, here’s Ray working his deep-blue way through KMH DRAG, an impromptu blues line created by Max Kaminsky, Freddie Moore, and Art Hodes for a memorable Blue Note record date in (I believe) 1944:

And ten days later, Rae Ann recorded Clint and friends at Cafe Borrone, playing HINDUSTAN.  That’s Clint, clarinet; Leon Oakley, trumpet and necktie; Jim Klippert, trombone; Jason Vanderford, guitar; Bill Reinhart, bass; Steve Apple, drums; and Robert Young, banjo.  There’s good rocking tonight, New Orleans-style:

Elin Smith lives in England, and it was my good fortune to meet her and Ron, her husband, last year at Whitley Bay and again this year.

Elin loves to record jazz performances, but also is fascinated by composing films: her YouTube channel is “elinshouse,” and here she’s trained her lens on two performances by Thomas Winteler, who sounds more like Sidney Bechet than anyone I’ve ever  heard.  These songs are from the most recent Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival, where Thomas was joined by my hero Bent Persson on trumpet, Michel Bard on reeds, Lou Laprete on piano, Henri Lamaire on bass, and Ron Houghton on drums for ALLIGATOR CRAWL:

And a triumphant POTATO HEAD BLUES.  Like its predecessor, it suggests what might have happened if Sidney had brought his clarinet into the OKeh studios while Louis and his Hot Seven were recording:

Finally, there’s Lisa (Mook) Ryan, another Californian. 

Lisa is intrigued not only by the music of Bix Beiderbecke but by the people who continue to investigate it, play it, and keep his legacy alive.  She’s done wonderfully atmospheric films set to Bix’s music.  Here’s IN THE DARK (as played by Dick Hyman) which she’s used atmospherically — creating juxtapositions of slowly-observed still photographs — to muse on what Bix experienced and felt in the year 1928, all seen as shades of light, shadow, and blackness.  Other impressionistic creations of Lisa’s can be seen on her “MookRyan” channel:

 Most recently, under the heading of “MookCam,” she’s captured cornetist Andy Schumm in performance.  Although youthful, Andy has so many fans with video cameras (including myself) that he might be the most-documented jazz musician of the last two or three years — a singular tribute to his talent and the affection it inspires! 

Here are Andy and His Gang at the Putnam Museum, on July 22, 2010.  Andy is playing Bix’s cornet, John Otto on clarinet and sax, Vince Giordano on bass sax/tuba/string bass, Dave Bock on trombone, David Boeddinghaus on the Beiderbecke family piano, Leah Bezin on banjo, and Josh Duffee on drums for a merging of CLARINET MARMALADE and SINGIN’ THE BLUES:

The generous creativity of RaeAnn, Elin, and Lisa inspires us!

SMILES (June 11, 2010)

There are smiles / that make us happy . . . !

And there’s music that makes us smile. 

A case in point, thanks to Rae Ann Berry, Clint Baker’s Cafe Borrone All-Stars, and this wonderful ancient song (I hear Chick Bullock singing it circa 1940 — a touching performance).  Here it’s played by Leon Oakley, trumpet; veteran Bob Mielke, trombone; Robert Young, reeds; Ray Skjelbred, keyboard; Bill Rinehart, bass; Clint Baker, guitar plus!; Jeff Hamilton, drums.

You’ll notice a few delightful sidelights: what other band has its leader put down his guitar, play a hot clarinet chorus, and then go back to rhythm?  I love the Skjelbred – Hamilton interplay late in the performance, and I am especially amused by the young man (is he officially a “toddler”?) with his picture book, who seems transfixed by the music.  He’ll grow up to have his own jazz blog at the very least.

I find myself smiling: I hope you are doing the same.

“I’M THE WININ’ BOY (DON’T DENY MY NAME)”

Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park, California, looks like a perfectly nice restaurant in the middle of a shopping mall — but it has hot jazz every week.  (Wish that the mall nearest to me could get this idea.)  And Rae Ann Berry is there, faithfully. 

She captured a particularly rewarding session by Clint Baker’s Cafe Borrone All-Stars on May 14, 2010, from which I’ve taken Jelly Roll Morton’s WININ’ BOY (there’s been a small fervent discussion of whether it’s WININ’ or WINDIN’ or WINDING or WiNDING BALL and what those terms suggest . . . the usual consensus is that they refer to various types of male sexual prowess: use your imaginations). 

On this lengthy soulful version, Clint is at the drums, doing splendid things with cymbal accents; Bill Reinhart is providing a powerful string bass pulse; Jason Vanderford takes a rare acoustic guitar solo late in the performance; Robert Young emotes beautifully on the soprano sax; Jim Klippert not only anchors things on trombone but takes an impassioned vocal; trumpeter Leon Oakley finds just the right mute for each chorus; Ray Skjelbred “makes that old piano [in this case an electric keyboard] sound exactly like new,” or even better, with right-hand splashes and solid chords. 

A wonderfully cohesive group – – – especially in the middle of grilled chicken salads.  Don’t deny their names!

Thanks, as always, to Rae Ann, to the band, and even to the shoppers and diners who make this gig possible.

LEON OAKLEY SMILES!

“RaeAnn Berry” is, I believe, what it says on her driver’s license — but for fans of Hot Music, she’s “SFRaeAnn,” and we owe her many thanks for the jazz she posts with unflagging regularity on YouTube.  She takes her camera down to Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park, California, to record a few performance by Clint Baker’s All-Stars, and every week I watch the clips with pleasure.  Two tiny mysteries always are a part of the experience: Clint is truly multi-instrumental and multi-talented, so I always wonder, “What instrument(s) will he be playing this week?”  And most sessions feature the wonderful work of trumpeter Leon Oakley.  But Leon always looks serious, pensive, even when he’s just played a beautiful impromptu creation.  I was beginning to wonder about his worldview, although no unhappy man could play so well.

Thus, it is with elation and relief that I post two clips from the All-Stars’ performances of October 23, 2009.  And, rather like the advertisements for early sound pictures that told us GARBO TALKS! — I report with pleasure that 1) Leon is playing splendidly, beyond splendidly, and 2) he grins now and again through these two performances.  You had me worried, my man!

The first performance is EXACTLY LIKE YOU — which Leon starts off with a melodic improvisation instead of a straight melody line — quite fetching — and things get hotter from then on!

Then, a rarely-played Twenties favorite, paying tribute to that kid from New Orleans, PAPA DIP.  Here, I delight in Clint’s directing of musical traffic during the breaks.  Good job!

The other All-Stars are having a good time, as always: Clint on clarinet; Katie Cavera, banjo and vocal; Robert Young, alto and tenor sax; Jim Klippert, trombone; Bill Reinhart, bass; Tom Wilson, guitar; J. Hansen, drums.  Visit Clint at: http://www.clintbakerjazz.com

IN A LOUIS MOOD: CLINT BAKER and FRIENDS

Milt Hinton used to say, “If you don’t like this, you don’t like broccoli.”  (Readers who loathe that delicious green are advised that here at Jazz Lives substitutions are possible, even encouraged.)

Courtesy of SFRaeAnn (is that her dainty manicured hand descending from the right of the frame in “Come Back Sweet Papa”?) I present some fine jazz from Clint Baker’s Cafe Borrone All-Stars, recorded live just a few days ago (June 5, 3009) in Menlo Park, California.  The CBAS are Clint Baker, clarinet; Leon Oakley, cornet; Jim Klippert, trombone; Evan Price, guitar; Bill Reinhart, bass; Tom Wilson, guitar; and J. Hansen, drums. 

First, they swing out on the Hot Five classic (a favorite of Vic Dickenson’s, when he could surround himself with people who knew the changes), COME BACK, SWEET PAPA — notable for Oakley’s stop-time excursion, Hansen’s old-time melodic solo, and the general ebullience.  

Here’s SOME OF THESE DAYS, not too fast:

I especially admire the flourishes Clint gets into at the end of his chorus (he was ready to go for another one), Leon’s soaring eloquence (and no one applauded?  for shame!), the four-bar trades that precede Clint’s nicely offhanded vocal, and Hansen’s energetic tom-tom accents in the final eight bars.

Since I’ve been only recently reminded that Louis did, in fact, record SOMEDAY, SWEETHEART, I felt obliged to include this version — complete with verse and neat horn backing to Clint’s clarinet chorus.  Leon leaps into his solo almost aggressively and returns in the same mood after Jim has had a brief comment.  (Need I say that I am exceedingly envious of Clint’s abilities on what are apparently a half-dozen instruments?)

James P. Johnson’s sweetly sentimental paean to romantic love, IF I COULD BE WITH YOU ONE HOUR TONIGHT, begins with some down-home Oakley eloquence (his solo begins with a sidelong remembrance of WE JUST COULDN’T SAY GOODBYE, which is both musicially and thematically apt).  Nice rhythm section playing — subtle harmonies — behind Clint’s clarinet, as well. 

These clips make me want to take a plane to Cafe Borrone some Friday (8-11 PM, I’m told) and experience this band in person.  Broccoli, anyone?