Tag Archives: cats

THEY’RE THE TALK OF THE TOWN: THE BARNHARTS, JEFF AND ANNE, COME OUT TO PLAY at MONTEREY 2013 (as IVORY&GOLD)

It might take a village to raise a child.  But it only takes Jeff and Anne Barnhart to entertain an audience for an hour.  Jeff (piano, vocals, puns) and wife Anne (flute, voice, comedy and organization) held a group in thrall at the 2013 Dixieland Monterey / Jazz Bash by the Bay — with a delightfully varied program, mixing stride piano, sweet and raucous singing, vaudeville, old songs and new, sentimental melodies (that’s a compliment), Broadway and film songs.  It all swung; it was all expertly done and masterfully improvised.

Ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages, I present IVORY& GOLD (named after aspects of their respective instruments), Jeff and Anne Barnhart!

BLESS THE BEASTS AND CHILDREN / PINEAPPLE RAG:

A wild and woolly version of THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER YOU:

WATER FROM AN ANCIENT WELL:

EXACTLY LIKE YOU:

ALICE IN WONDERLAND:

IT’S THE TALK OF THE TOWN:

For the felines among us, MEMORY:

Bob Barta’s I’M IN HEAVEN:

‘S’WONDERFUL:

TENDER IS THE NIGHT / I GOT RHYTHM:

You can follow IVORY&GOLD here — Jeff and Anne are always on the move, which means you have a better-than-average chance of seeing and hearing them in person someday soon.  Jeff’s singular website can be found here.

May your happiness increase!

SWING, YOU CATS?

Mr. Todd, making a theoretical point. Photograph by Michael Steinman

Mr. Edward Todd, of San Geronimo, California, is a devoted reader of JAZZ LIVES.  He is also deeply thoughtful.  I received the following missive from Mr. Todd just the other day.

Dear Michael,

If I may.

I have noted with great interest the long-standing connection between the jazz musicians you celebrate and the members of the apparently domesticated Feline tribe.

This, at its simplest level, takes its utterance in the desire to call said musicians CATS.  This nomenclature is not to be taken casually; it is as great a mark of respect as can be bestowed on humanity. 

Permit me to speculate on some of the similarities.

Jazz musicians are notably independent.  They may appear modest and even self-doubting, but deep down they are exceedingly proud creatures who know their worth.  They will join together in groups for their common happiness and interest, but they are truly reluctant to be led unless they truly respect and love their leader.  Even then, it may take some time to assemble them into an apparently obedient group.  They have a fine disdain for the ordinary.

They are individualistic.  They do not resemble one another, nor do they sound alike. 

Treat them badly and they do not forget.  The offender may get swatted, scratched, nipped, or satirized.  Treat them kindly and they may permit you a small space on the pillow.  They are particular about whom they love but their loyalty is powerful.

They are capable of an unimaginable variety of sounds; with voices and instruments, they purr, hiss, meow, and caterwaul.  They like warmth — thus, the expression GET HOT.  Just as we Felines can find comfort in the smallest of spaces, the best jazz musicians can find memorable ways to express themselves in a rimshot, a four-bar break, a tonal shading.  They have many lives — not merely in calendar years, but in variety.  They land on their feet.  A few of them are known to scatter litter all around, but most pride themselves on being clean.  Like Kittens, they love to play, and many enjoy fast tempos, racing around when the mood strikes.   

We Felines prize these jazz musicians and admire their efforts to emulate us.  At their most highly evolved, they approach some small portion of our majesty.  Hence, CATS. 

Thank you, wise Mr. Todd!

May your happiness increase.

“UP JUMPED YOU WITH LOVE” and MORE: JON-ERIK KELLSO and EHUD ASHERIE at SMALLS (Jan. 20, 2011)

GENEROSITY FEELS GOOD, SO CLICK HERE.  THE MUSICIANS WILL THANK YOU!

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The Beloved and I went to see two of our favorite musicians (and people!) in duet at Smalls (that’s 138 West 10th Street, New York City) on January 20, 2011.  Here are some of the songs they played — classics and rarities (many of the latter by Fats Waller and James P. Johnson, disciple and master). 

My title refers to the opening song — recorded late in Fats’s career — but also to a delightful happening that took place early in the evening.  But now, settle in to UP JUMPED YOU WITH LOVE, which has a deliciously unexpected bridge:

Then, moving more towards the familiar, Ehud and Jon-Erik settled on another Waller song, I’M CRAZY ‘BOUT MY BABY — which Ruby Braff always remembered as being titled WALKIN’ ON AIR, from the opening phrase of the verse.  Jon-Erik and Ehud remind me mightily of Ruby and Dick Hyman — listening, playful, balancing their individual styles to create something even more gratifying:

Another lovely obscurity (Ehud brings new tunes to gigs like this one, knowing Jon-Erik’s ears and bravery) was APRIL IN MY HEART — from 1939, recorded by Billie Holiday with an amazing band including Herschel Evans, Lester Young, Harry James, Benny Morton, Teddy Wilson, Jo Jones . . . a song written by Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer. 

That in itself would have been bliss — but someone from the club couldn’t stand being left out and, like Lester, leaped in, around ninety seconds into the performance.  You can’t miss her:

Let me introduce you to Minnow, the Maine Coon cat who lords it over Smalls.  She’s a “ham,” says Spike Wilner, “there are a million pictures of Minnow floating around the web,” but she wanted her place in the sun. 

Either Minnow wanted to be closer to the musical action (look how contented she is!) or she knows that my YouTube channel is called SWINGYOUCATS and felt it needed the real article.  One never knows, do one? 

If her timing had been better and she had entered the scene for UP JUMPED YOU WITH LOVE, I would have been even more astonished.

As a favor to JAZZ LIVES that costs nothing — if you know a cat-lover, send this clip out his or her way.  I want fame for Minnow!  (And do applaud my restraint.  I could have called this blogpost KITTEN ON THE KEYS or ALL THE CAT JOINS IN, but decided to err on the side of restraint and decorum.) 

Onwards!

PERDIDO (by valve-trombonist Juan Tizol) is in the odd position of being a jazz standard played and overplayed — now, as fashions change, it’s refreshing to hear it, especially by this duo:

James P. Johnson’s AIN’T CHA GOT MUSIC? is — in its lyrics — a faux-spiritual, but having heard Henry “Red” Allen and Dick Wellstood’s recordings of it, I treasure it — and having your life uplifted through music is an idea JAZZ LIVES seeks to embody.  In the second chorus, hear how Jon-Erik becomes a whole brass section, sermonizing, and Ehud’s beautifully varied striding would have pleased Jimmy no end:

Keeping James P. in mind, Ehud proposed a surprise — THE LOVE BUG — one of the Master’s unknown tunes (I think I’d only heard it from a piano roll).  No problem for our man Kellso here:

Now for three classics — a majestic reading of BODY AND SOUL, imploring and powerful; Ehud’s sophisticated wanderings reminding us that he knows Bud Powell’s world deeply and well:

And the perennially versatile ONE HOUR, again by James P., one of those songs that sits so well at a variety of tempos, its hopeful message intact:

And (to close this posting, although the music at Smalls went on for a long time), SWEET GEORGIA BROWN — once a well-known pop song, then a set of changes for jazz improvisers to float over, now, perhaps, nearly returning to obscurity unless you’re over fifty?  I don’t know — but this performance, beginning with variations on the original melody, is as charming as hearing the melody of I GOT RHYTHM nowadays:

Thank you so much, gentlemen, and Minnow (of course), who offered paws for the cause — not lightly and politely, but in the only we she could.  And when you hear the music, you know why Louis is grinning down on the stage.