One of the pleasures of (let us say) 2010-2020 in New York City was the many opportunities to hear the brilliant pianist Ehud Asherie play — someone who knew both Bud Powell and Donald Lambert but was utterly himself, always unpredictable, always melodic and swinging. Here, Ehud takes us on a trip around the world, through every kind of pianistic expression from tango to reverie to explosive stride, with FON FON (Ernesto Nazareth), LUSH LIFE (Billy Strayhorn), and SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES (Carmen Lombardo):
I don’t know when Ehud will play his next New York gig, but I hope it’s soon: we need his quirky wise art.
I would ordinarily wait to post this but I think everyone needs to take a dip in the Lagoon of Joy. There’s no lifeguard needed because the only danger one might encounter might be excessive grinning and head-bobbing. The reason?
Here’s SWEETHEARTS ON PARADE, the love-child of Louis Armstrong and Carmen Lombardo (only figuratively) performed in the most delicate swinging manner by three Youngbloods: Guillermo Perata, cornet; Fernando Montardit, guitar; Ivan Chapuis, string bass. Recorded in Buenos Aires, on January 11, 2019. That’s 2019. That’s RIGHT NOW. Let that sink in, please?
I’ve had the true good fortune to meet Fernando at The Ear Inn: he makes me think of George Van Eps, while the other two brilliances summon up Ruby Braff and Milt Hinton, among others. Gorgeous music. It falls on the ear like loving words. More, please?
We didn’t miss the Saturday dance, I assure you. And they crowded the floor.
The event I’m referring to took place at the 39th annual San Diego Jazz Fest — a Saturday-night swing dance featuring Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenadersand Laura Windley, sharing the bill with the Mad Hat Hucksters. I could only stay for Michael’s opening set, but the music I captured was honey to my ears. And you’ll see many happy dancers too.
The Rhythm Serenaders were a mix of local talent and gifted people from New Orleans: Michael on string bass; Kris Tokarski, piano; Jonathan Stout, guitar; Josh Collazo, drums; Joe Goldberg, clarinet and tenor; Nate Ketner, alto and clarinet; Corey Gemme, cornet; Charlie Halloran; trombone; Laura Windley, vocals. Did they rock! And you’ll notice the delightfully unhackneyed repertoire: this is not a group with a narrow range: no IN THE MOOD here.
An incomplete PENNIES FROM HEAVEN (the late start is my doing: at swing dances I have a hard time finding a good place for camera and tripod, and at this one the music was so good that I decided to take the risk of being intrusive and set my tripod on the stage, right behind Kris at the piano. The dancers didn’t notice, or if they did, no one came over to object. Later on, I was able to achieve a pleasing split-screen effect.):
Laura sings IF DREAMS COME TRUE, and they do:
Rex Stewart’s ‘T’AIN’T LIKE THAT:
Laura’s homage to Teddy Grace, the charming I’VE TAKEN A FANCY TO YOU:
Laura’s warning, courtesy of Kay Starr: DON’T MEDDLE IN MY MOOD:
The Henderson COMIN’ AND GOIN’:
Sid Phillips’ MAN ABOUT TOWN:
Chu Berry’s MAELSTROM:
For Billie and Lester, Laura’s HE AIN’T GOT RHYTHM:
and the classic swing tune (Carmen Lombardo, don’t you know) COQUETTE:
Find Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders on Facebook here.
Ray Skjelbred and his Cubs have the magical ability to play with Time (Einstein would be pleased) so that a nice steady medium-tempo groove from the band can also be ornamented with dreaming, almost motionless ruminations on the theme: it happens beautifully here.
The song is famous for Billie Holiday and Lester Young, although in 1937 it was simply another new pop tune, composed by Carmen Lombardo and John Jacob Loeb. Carmen doesn’t get much credit for melodies — people are too busy sneering at the Lombardo reeds and vocalizing — but think of COQUETTE, SWEETHEARTS ON PARADE, RIDIN’ AROUND IN THE RAIN, and even BOO HOO (I hear Jimmy Rushing singing that one with perfect swing sincerity).
This isn’t a post about the glories of Billie and Lester (even though they can’t be celebrated too much) but rather a wholly instrumental and wholly satisfying version of this song in our century, created by Ray, piano; Marc Caparone, cornet; Jeff Hamilton, drums; Clint Baker, string bass; Katie Cavera, guitar:
What beautiful dreamy music. Blessings on these musicians and thanks for the San Diego Jazz Fest for providing a time and place (November 25, 2016) for the musicians and audience to feel such expansive comfort.
The 2013 Cline Wine and Dixieland Festival was a glorious success: a lovely setting, jubilant music both hot and sweet, with sweet-natured people enjoying themselves everywhere. I will be offering videos from that delicious day — featuring Clint Baker, Leon Oakley, Bill Reinhart, Marty Eggers, Scott Anthony, Bob Schulz, Ray Skjelbred, Robert Young, the Ragtime Skedaddlers, and other noble souls.
I unpacked my camera and settled down for the first band — noting the increased heat in the room. No surprise, when you consider who was on the stand: Leon Oakley, cornet; Robert Young, saxophone / vocal; Marty Eggers, piano; Clint Baker, banjo / vocal; Bill Reinhart, tuba: the Black Diamond Blue Five. The original BDBF began in 1992 as the inspiration of banjoist George Knoblauch (he left us in March 2012) as a hot two-horn quintet that played the music of Clarence Williams and other small Twenties bands. (You’ll notice, in the videos below, that Clarence’s picture is on the binder that is the band’s book.) The 1992-2012 band featured the same personnel except that George played banjo and Clint played tuba.
Now, I can find something to admire in improvising ensembles of all sizes. The twenty men gathered on stage at the end of an Eddie Condon Blue Network broadcast, a solo pianist or guitarist — equally promising. But I might be guilty of jazz frugality: I especially admire those small ensembles that give good value for their money: three players (Bent Persson – Frans Sjostrom – Jacob Ullberger) or four (Ruby Braff – George Barnes – Wayne Wright – Michael Moore) seem taut, slim, energized versions of the ideal.
So does the BDBF. Evidence below!
Clint tells us, politely but emphatically, about his reluctance to share his JELLY ROLL with anyone. Understandable, no?:
Robert’s singing of SWEETHEARTS ON PARADE makes me imagine an alternate universe where Carmen Lombardo, Lillie Delk Christian, and Louis get together to share stories of being excluded from romance. And Leon’s cornet is right on the money — searing, in fact:
This version of MY GAL SAL reminds me of the Deccas by the Alabama Jug Band — 1934, and it is just as much fun:
WIPE IT OFF, even when the lyrics are somewhat obscure, not to say arcane, is always good advice:
What a wonderful hot band! I will have more to share from the BDBF, I promise you.
In the name of accuracy, I must report that other copies of the sheet music for this song (circa 1935-6) have Kate Smith on the cover, so I don’t know if Louis ever performed it. But he did record Hill’s THERE’S A CABIN IN THE PINES, and he would have known his friend Bing’s recording of THE LAST ROUNDUP. The song seems to have been more popular with sweet bands — the lyrics below are connected in cyberspace to Eddy Duchin — but that doesn’t rule out Louis hearing or performing it, given his deep affinity for the Lombardo brothers.
A tangential Louis-connection is that LIGHTS OUT was recorded by a jazz combo — with a vocal by Chick Bullock — under tenorist Art Karle’s nominal leadership (January 1936, Brunswick) with Mezz Mezzrow on clarinet, Joe Bushkin on piano and legendary drummer George Stafford as well as Frank Newton!
Beyond that, we have to imagine Louis tenderly asking the Beloved to close her eyes and dream of him. I can hear the 1935 Decca band — think of THANKS A MILLION — doing this perfectly.
The lyrics aren’t complex or striving for cleverness, but they’re very touching in their simplicity:
Lights out, sweetheart, One more perfect day is through. Lights out, sweetheart, One more perfect dream come true. We’ve reached the hour of parting, So kiss me tenderly. Lights out, sweetheart, Close your eyes and dream of me.
Here’s a simple version of the melody, played sweetly by someone who may answer to “djweth”:
And a cover portrait of Billy Hill:
Let’s all sing!
And a postscript, sent to me from the invaluable Jack Rothstein, who knew “Arthur” Karle in Boston in the late Forties, about the LIGHTS OUT record date: “Arthur Karle told me they needed a piano player so he called Bushkin. His father answered the phone and told him Joey was at the movies. Arthur persuaded him to go get him. He went but they wouldn”t page him so he bought a ticket and from the balcony yelled for Joey to go home. And that’s how Bushkin got his first recording date. It was the little Loews on 86th St. between Lexington and Third, directly across the street from the Loews Orpheum (the big Loews).”