Tag Archives: Copenhagen

CELEBRATING DAN MORGENSTERN, WHO GIVES SO MUCH TO US

On October 24, 1929, Bennie Moten, Lud Gluskin, Horace Heidt, Junie C. Cobb, Jack Hylton, and a few other bands made records.  In the United States, terrible things were happening to the economy.  But in Munich, Germany, our hero Dan Morgenstern was born.  Whether his first cries were in 4/4, there is no evidence,  but I would venture that it was an early example of spontaneous scat singing.

Given the math above, even I can add up the figures to write that Dan will be 88 this week.  I’m not the only one celebrating.  There will be a musical birthday party hosted by David Ostwald, who leads the Louis Armstrong Eternity Band, at Birdland, 315 West 44th Street, New York City, this Wednesday, the 25th, from 5:30 to 7 PM.  And I’ll bet Dan chirps a few with the Band. You can reserve online (and you should) here.

On Saturday, October 28th, from 1-4 PM, Loren Schoenberg (a very good friend of Dan’s and a scholar in his own right) will host a celebration / interview of Dan at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, 58 West 129th Street, New York City. Details — to reserve a seat / buy a ticket at a nominal price — here — or here.

While you’re making your reservations, a little Morgenstern-music to accompany your mouse-clicks:

I don’t have a jazz club or museum as a place to honor Dan.  But JAZZ LIVES is not without its resources, and as readers know, I have had the honor of interviewing Dan at length . . . an utterly gratifying experience for me, so I will share two as-yet-unseen segments.

One takes Dan back to Copenhagen in 1938.  I knew he had delighted in Fats Waller on Fats’ European tour, but I hadn’t known he had seen the Quintet of the Hot Club of France AND the Mills Brothers.  Dan also recalls his first jazz records.  Wonderful memories:

Remembering the Quintet also led to Dan’s enthusiastic portrait of violinist Svend Asmussen:

“A wonderfully enveloping good nature,” Dan says of Fats.  He would never say it of himself, but it is no less true.  It is our immense good fortune to know Mr. Morgenstern.

May your happiness increase!

Advertisements

NEW ORLEANS STYLE, FROM THE HEART: IB K. OLSEN and JAZZ FRIENDS PLAY FOR LOUIS

Tomorrow, July 4, Louis Armstrong would have celebrated his birthday.  If you read this post in time, know that Columbia University’s radio station — streaming in cyberspace — WKCR-FM — plays Our Hero for twenty-four hours.

I dream of an alternate universe where at some agreed-upon time, everyone goes to his / her home stereo system (archaic word) or iPod or phone or car system and kicks off TWO DEUCES or WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR or ON A COCOANUT ISLAND — we could perhaps agree on the chosen performance in advance . . . so that the whole world vibrates with love of Louis.

But here’s something for right now.  This music comes from a recent practice / get-together of like-minded friends in Copenhagen or nearby, captured for us by Lars Ole Christiansen on YouTube.

The performers are Ib K. Olsen, cornet; Johannes Wrisberg, Bent Tranberg, clarinet; Finn Wellejus, trombone; Jörgen Möller, piano; Per Krogh, banjo.  Ordinarily they have a string bassist as well.

What first caught my attention was the pairing of songs — 1930 and 1929 — that I love, recorded so sweetly and memorably by Louis.  Then, as I got deeper into the performances, which have their rough edges, I was won over by their naturalness, their steadiness, their sincerity.  They might not be cozy virtuosi to everyone’s taste, but they are deeply IN the music they play.

See and hear for yourself.

I’M IN THE MARKET FOR YOU:

SWEETHEARTS ON PARADE:

I am a truly amateur cornetist now: in my dreams (if I practiced regularly) I would be the second cornet player with a band that has sessions in someone’s home.  Its easy stride would be embracing and forgiving.  How do you say, “In Bb, please, and not too fast!“?  I know the Danes know English well, but I want to try to fit in.

May your happiness increase!

GO, LITTLE BAND! — THE SCANDINAVIAN RHYTHM BOYS

Some governments know how to support the arts.

In Denmark, “Nyboder” (which means “new houses”) refers to a historic district of yellow row houses in Copenhagen — houses that were once a naval barracks, built in the early seventeenth century during the reign of King Christian IV.  In 2011, the Danish Ministry of Defense created a documentary film about Nyboder.

One of my favorite hot bands — the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys — were invited to play the theme song.  IN PRAISE OF NYBODER (“Nyboders Pris”) sounds like a traditional air, but it was written in 1930.

The Boys are Robert Hansson, trumpet; Frans Sjostrom, soprano sax; Ole Olsen, bass; Michael Boving, banjo/vocal.  And the fine cinematography is courtesy of Flemming Thorbye, a good friend of JAZZ LIVES:

That song sticks in the memory . . . and here’s one more familiar, the ROYAL GARDEN BLUES (offered at the leisurely Bixish Twenties tempo that Basie and Goodman recalled in the early Forties):

ROYAL GARDEN is also appropriate here because Nyboder is a part of the complex of Rosenborg Castle and the Royal Garden, in the historic part of Copenhagen.  A far cry from South Side Chicago, but Joe Oliver would have admired both performances.  (Incidentally, a vocal chorus on this song is now a rarity, but in its heyday the lyrics were part of the performance: think of the 1931 Ted Lewis recording on which Fats Waller sings.)

For more from the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys, visit them here

— they obviously know how to create beautiful rhythms and melodies!

JAZZ ON THE RIVER in COPENHAGEN (May – October 2011)

 

One of my favorite small jazz bands is the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys, pictured above (Michael Boeving, banjo, vocals; Robert Hansson, trumpet, Ole Olsen, bass, clarinet; Frans Sjostrom, bass sax, soprano sax).  They spend a good deal of time on land, but regularly play gigs on the canals of Copenhagen.

Michael sent me information about a series of jazz cruises taking place on Sundays and Thursdays — late afternoon and early evening — with the SRB, Doc Houlind, the Copenhagen Washboard Five, and a band with a delectable name, “Henning Munk and Plumperne.”  The tours set forth from Nyhavn; the trip lasts for ninety minutes and costs 140 kroner.

During July 1-10, there’s also the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, featuring the same round of bands.  For more information, call +45 3296 3000 or visit www.jazzcruise.dk

I am reasonably phobic about small boats, which have a naughty tendency to go up and down without telling me first, but if a small boat had the SRB on it, I would conquer my fears . . .

Here’s a sample from YouTube, brilliantly captured by JAZZ LIVES’ friend Flemming Thorbye — which has a wonderful impromptu moment when Michael Boeving improvises lyrics so that one of the passengers doesn’t get a concussion — watch this even if you will never get to Copenhagen!  (And the SRB has made a number of fine CDs, especially their latest, CHARLESTON MAD, which I’ve praised on this blog.)

<object width=”640″ height=”390″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/REd77A1Nn1o?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US”></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/REd77A1Nn1o?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”640″ height=”390″></embed></object>

All aboard!  (And watch your head.)

ALL AROUND US on MAY 23, 2010

YouTube provided a very encouraging coincidence — two inspiring jazz events taking place on the same day, May 23, 2010 — one in Denmark, one in Arizona.  I always hope that Hot jazz is ubiquitous, that somewhere the Ghanian Revelers or the Croatian Wanderers are playing MABEL’S DREAM or DICKIE’S DREAM or SOLID OLD MAN — and these two clips suggest the truth might not be that far away. 

First, the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys on a Copenhagen canal boat — recorded in lovely HD by Thorbye Flemming.  Their choice is LOUIS-I-AN-I-A (by Joe Darensbourg, I think?) with a very lively and current impromptu set of lyrics by banjoist Michael Boving, who has a remarkable shouting style.  He’s joined here by Robert Hansson, trumpet; Frans Sjostrom, bass sax; Ole Olsen; bass.  Sit down, you’re rocking the boat!

Rae Ann Berry went to the Arizona Classic Jazz Society’s May meeting (how lucky for us!) and had a hand in this concert appearance by Ray Skjelbred and his Cubs, who are Ray on piano; Kim Cusack on reeds; Katie Cavera on guitar; Clint Baker on bass; Hal Smith on drums.  (Hal would have me tell you, in the spirit of full and frank disclosure, that he had a terrible cold and was filled to the gills with immobilizing medicine.  He sounds fine to me.)

Here’s their slow-burning take on IDOLIZING, which is entirely associated with Bix and Jean Goldkette, who took it at a much faster tempo:

And some Western Swing (I think of Retta Christie’s great version) on RIDIN’ DOWN THE CANYON, a special treat being Ray’s laconic but utterly idiomatic vocal:

And in honor of Lillie Delk Christian, Billie Holiday, and Benny Goodman, here’s I MUST HAVE THAT MAN:

This is only a sample: the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys also favored the passengers with CLARINET MARMALADE, and Ray and the Cubs performed about twenty more songs: enjoy what happened on May 23, 2010!

SERENITY AND PASSION, 1971

A moving lesson about feeling and technique, and how to sing through your instrument.  Without sounding reproachful or didactic, I would like every singer and instrumentalist and critic and listener to watch and absorb this performance many times: it is instructive as well as uplifting.

The details scroll across the screen at the start, but the facts are: Ben Webster / Duke Ellington / 1971 / I Got It Bad:

Thanks to “mugge62” for posting this beauty on YouTube.

COPYRIGHT, MICHAEL STEINMAN AND JAZZ LIVES, 2009
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.  Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael Steinman and Jazz Lives with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

THE PIANIST IN QUESTION

weinI was in the middle of writing an ambivalent review for All About Jazz of the Mosaic reissue of George Wein’s Newport All-Stars 1967 concerts when I stopped.  The CD, GEORGE WEIN IS ALIVE AN WELL IN MEXICO, features Ruby Braff, Pee Wee Russell, Bud Freeman, and Jack Lesberg.  It was originally issued on Columbia Records, and Mosaic has added three previously unissued tracks.  The slow numbers offer poignant playing from Russell late in his career, with Freeman and Braff in peerless, musing form, Lesberg giving great support.  And reissue producer Michael Cuscuna, long may he wave, apologizes for reproducing the dreadfully insulting cover photograph and tells a wonderful story about two of the faux-Mexican banditos, who are doing their best to summon up the spirit of Alfonso Badoya.   

But Lamond’s drums pummel the listener, which could be more the fault of the hall and the recording engineer.  And all of Wein’s pianistic shortcomings are brilliantly audible — the heavy touch, the clogged phrasing, the repeated formulas, the dragging rhythms.

In the interest of fairness, I took a YouTube break to check myself, to see if I was being unjust to Wein.  As an impresario, he has contributed immeasurably to jazz.  Imagine if the Newport Jazz Festivals had never existed! 

But as a pianist and bandleader? 

I found this performance of LADY BE GOOD — from Copenhagen, dated 1974 (although it might be 1969) with Braff, Red Norvo, bassist Larry Ridley, Barney Kessel, Lamond, and Wein.

Wein kicks off a very brisk tempo and all is well, sometimes inspiring, until he solos, perhaps becase Kessel and Ridley’s strong rhythmic pulse keeps the band on track.  But Wein then launches complicated figures that he is just-nearly-able to play at this tempo.  The solo isn’t disastrous, but it offers evidence to support what I’ve been hearing on records and in person for a long time.  Unkind, perhaps; unjust, no.  Imagine this band with a young Mark Shane, with Dick Hyman, John Bunch, Hank Jones, or Jimmy Rowles.  How they would have flown! 

And since there is more to life and to this post than pulling anyone to pieces in public, I encourage vewers to delight in the solos by everyone else in this performance — Norvo’s limber arpeggios, a floating phrase Braff pulls off in his second bridge, Kessel’s bluesy intensity. 

Should the philosophical question come up, “Is it better to have this performance, with its flaws, then not?” my answer would be a quick Yes.  But it reminds us just how marvelous it is when everyone in an improvising jazz group is emotionally and technically on the same wavelength, and perhaps just how hard it is to accomplish that special creative unity.