Tag Archives: Daniel Barda

SUPER SWING PROJECT: “CAN’T BELIEVE!”

 

SUPER SWING PROJECT

When you hear this new CD, you will, I assure you, repeat some variant of the truncated title to yourself.  Yes, it is just that satisfying, and to know that music at this level is being created is very reassuring.  The SUPER SWING PROJECT lives up to its name.

Music first, then words.  Here’s the SSP performing BLUE LOU live in February 2016:

and THEM THERE EYES, from January 2015:

Who are these heroes?  Jérome Etcheberry, trumpet; Daniel Barda, trombone; Louis Mazetier, piano; Charles Prevost, washboard.  Each one’s a brilliant soloist, but they also combine magnificently as a friendly exalted band, recreating no particular recording but playing soulfully and individualistically in an idiom I hope will never vanish from this planet.

Although I grew up on recordings where the band had a fixed instrumentation — trumpet, trombone, reeds, piano, guitar, bass, drums as the most common — I have a deep fondness for less orthodox arrangements of musicians, the sly and pleased groups of musicians who might assemble onstage to play their hearts out after the regular program had concluded.  Hence, the EarRegulars, the Braff-Barnes Quartet, Soprano Summit, memorable duos, trios, quartets, quintets of the last twelve years, seen and heard and revered live.  To this list of delightful musical entourages I happily add the SUPER SWING PROJECT.

Starting from the back.  The washboard — as a musical instrument — has received a good deal of scorn, some of it well-deserved.  But when well-played (as Charles Prevost shows he can!) it is a lovely alternative to the trap kit, being light, mobile, and less likely to overwhelm a delicate soloist or ensemble.  It stays in the treble register, and offers a delighted commentary to what horns and piano are doing, giving its own slightly more emphatic version of wire brush work.  Charles is subtle without being inaudible, witty without being jokey; he never gets in the way but he adds so much.

Hearing Louis Mazetier at the piano is one of the great experiences for any jazz listener.  At the beginning of any performance, a Mazetier introduction offers the same beguiling comfort as Ralph Sutton’s work did.  The ear hears it, and the body says, “This is going to be good; it is going to be inspired.  You can relax into the comfort of the music.  Welcome to the world of swing!”  Mazetier is a truly orchestral pianist, ever supporting the soloist and the band, but never demanding all of our attention.  He knows the great tradition, but his playing is not a series of learned modules (that Fats run, those James P. octaves); rather it is a beautiful personal synthesis of a very demanding piano tradition.  Here comes the band!

What Daniel Barda creates might look simple; he is never aiming for post-modern pyrotechnics.  But he is a peerless ensemble player, adding just the right touches, and a wonderful soloist, combining lyrical tenderness and propulsive gruffness in every phrase.  The trombone can — in the hands of an unsubtle player — become a clown or a bully, but Barda’s art is masterfully delicate even when he is executing an emphatic smear or growl.  He knows the tradition and embodies it in every phrase, but he is completely himself.

Jérome Etcheberry can play in many contexts, but he is an immensely lyrical hot player, someone who harkens back to Louis, of course, in simple, emotionally-charged phrases, passionate without ever being ostentatious, as well as the majestic players of the Louis-cosmos.  In his subtle, delicate but deep phrasing, I hear delightful echoes of Buck Clayton and early Cootie Williams, but often — a treasure indeed — he evokes Joe Thomas.  (Listen again to THEM THERE EYES and you’ll hear it too.)  I heard him first on CD with Les Swingberries, and was enchanted.

The new CD is a delight.  Although the repertoire is familiar, the band’s approach makes these old tunes gleam and dance: I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH ME / SISTER KATE / WHEN I GROW TOO OLD TO DREAM / FATS WALLER MEDLEY / DOCTOR JAZZ  (with a guest appearance by the fine banjoist Peter Gutzwiller) / BABY, WON’T YOU PLEASE COME HOME? / THEM THERE EYES / SUGAR / I WANT TO BE HAPPY /WHEN IT’S SLEEPY TIME DOWN SOUTH.  Recorded live and beautifully so, the session is relaxed and intense at once, a true delight.

Here’s the enthusiastic review (from February) of this CD in the Bulletin du Hot Club of France, and here you can “ecouter et achetez” the actual CD or a digital version.  One more: the band’s Facebook page — with their schedule, a new video, and more.

“Can’t believe!” indeed.  You, too, can be in that state of delighted incredulity.  Yes, such things are possible in 2016.

May your happiness increase!

THE IMPROBABLE MADE BEAUTIFUL (1977)

What if?

The Anachronic Jazz Band in 2012

The Anachronic Jazz Band in 2012

I hope all JAZZ LIVES readers are familiar with the Anachronic Jazz Band — loosely translated, that’s “going against time” — a beautifully-rehearsed and inspiring jazz ensemble that plays modern jazz standards in the styles of the Twenties and Thirties.  With sincerity, accuracy, and wit they not only imagine worlds that never existed but translate those worlds into glorious music.  The AJB is a joyously playful band but also an exact one; they don’t just play music in a vaguely historical style; rather they take, perhaps, a Mingus composition and reimagine it as a Luis Russell recording.  They admire and they do not satirize.

They began in 1976 as a nine-piece orchestra led by pianist Philippe Baudoin and multi-instrumentalist Marc Richard, made several inimitable recordings, and then the members went their separate ways — reuniting in 2013.  Here ‘s my review of that CD.  And their website and Facebook page.

I want everyone to admire a particular AJB performance: a July 16, 1977 rendition — recorded and televised at the Nice Jazz Festival (“La Grande Parade du Jazz”) — of Thelonious Monk’s ballad ASK ME NOW.

Monk’s first recording, 1951, with Al McKibbon, bass; Art Blakey, drums:

But where Monk’s original is both passionate and spiky, the AJB reimagined this lovely ballad as played by Louis Armstrong (Louis, in this case, being Patrick Artero) with equally touching solos by Daniel Huck on alto saxophone and Philippe Baudoin on piano.

Patrick Artero, trumpet; Daniel Barda, trombone; Marc Richard, alto saxophone; André Villéger, tenor saxophone;  Daniel Huck, alto saxophone; Philippe Baudoin, piano; Patrick Diaz, banjo; Gérard Gervois, brass bass; Bernard Laye, drums.

Ricky Riccardi, who lives Louis in his waking hours and dreams Louis in the three or four hours he’s allowed to sleep, would tell us that Louis indeed had a Monk record in his library — and transferred it to tape, his highest tribute.  Who knows that the two men didn’t cross paths in 1941 or 1942 or later?  But the AJB doesn’t simply write this as a musical science-fiction story; their rendition of ASK ME NOW sends love all around: to Monk, to Louis, to anyone with ears.

It gives me great pleasure to know that such things are possible.

May your happiness increase!

FOR THE LOVE OF SWING (AND THE SWING OF LOVE): DANIEL BARDA, LOUIS MAZETIER, JERÔME ETCHEBERRY, CHARLES PRÉVOST: JANUARY 30, 2015

This delightful swing aubade came to me — and I hope many others — through Facebook, and I learned that this is trombonist Daniel Barda’s Super Swing Project, “Hommage à Fats Waller,” performed on January 30 of this year at Jazzclub Ja-ZZ Rheinfelden (www.ja-zz.ch).

I also must thank the recordist, Peter Gutzwiller, for making this delightful effusion both permanent and accessible to us.

Aside from Monsieur Barda, whom we know from Paris Washboard, there is the superb trumpeter Jerôme Etcheberry (of Les Swingberries), the most honored Louis Mazetier, a stride monarch, and the swinging washboardist Charles Prévost.

They pay tribute to Mister Waller in a charming and convincing way — not by offering their own faster-than-light improvisations on his compositions, not by singing YOUR FEETS TOO BIG, but by jamming in medium-tempo and a little faster on three lovely early-Thirties songs that have swing built in to them.  “Here’s another good old good one that all the musicians in the house love to jam,” as Louis would say.

I think it’s no accident that all three of these songs — if you consider their lyrics, which musicians used to do — are love songs.  One declares that they eyes are indeed the windows to the soul, and both entities entranced the singer; one wishes for a more perfect union of the singer and the Love Object; one expresses delighted incredulity that the blissful union has come to pass.  It just reinforces that love is an inexhaustible subject, and that the best music is love in action. Swing out, you lovers!

I dream of a time when one would give one’s Beloved some Commodore discs for a birthday present, for Valentine’s Day.

THEM THERE EYES:

IF DREAMS COME TRUE:

I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH ME:

It makes me very happy to experience these videos, and to be reassured that such beauty is taking place all around the world.  Blessings on these four gentlemen and also on the man behind the camera.

May your happiness increase! 

LIVE AND ENLIVENING: JEFF AND JOEL’S HOUSE PARTY RETURNS! (Oct. 11-13, 2013)

When asked about the origins of jazz and the blues, Willie “the Lion” Smith was certain that the music had originated in the brickyards of Haverstraw, New York, where he first heard it.

Official Jazz Historians may scoff at his theory, based on first-hand experience, but I do know that traditional jazz — hot and ready — flourishes in Guilford, Connecticut, as a rewarding seasonal event: JEFF and JOEL’S HOUSE PARTY — that’s Jeff Barnhart, piano, vocals; Joel Schiavone, banjo. Both men have been known to burst into song at intervals as well.

The autumnal event (a hot jazz solstice of sorts) will take place this year from Friday, October 11, to Sunday, October 13.  Details immediately below!

J and J flyer 10 13

My first-hand experience of two House Parties is that these events are delightful, with an authenticity not always found at more formal jazz events. Part of this comes from the easy friendliness of the people who run the House Party, people whom it’s easy to get to know.  But a good deal of the happiness here has to do with the physical setting — as if a group of jazz musicians just happened to be having a relaxed session in someone’s home.  Unlike some “jazz parties,” where the musicians are far away on a stage, the House Party is informal, and the barriers between musicians and audience are never quite established.  Not only do you get to hear your heroes; you might have a casual conversation over a sandwich, or find one standing outside on the porch, admiring the lovely fall landscape.  (The leaves are especially beautiful at this time of year.)  And the music-packed sessions are good value indeed (for the budget-conscious, Guilford has a number of pleasant inexpensive motels a few minutes’ drive away from the Schiavone farmhouse.)  For those who don’t see themselves getting to France any time soon, the extra-added-attraction on Friday of PARIS WASHBOARD is something you don’t want to miss.

The music has been blissfully wide-ranging, from Hot Five and two-trumpet King Oliver to Twenties New Orleans and early Ellington, Joplin as it might have been played in “Disneyland for adults” (a bordello circa 1904), a good deal of Bix-related music, evocations of early Bennie Moten and Willie the Lion Smith ensembles.  Chopin, Lil Hardin, Don Lambert, and other notables stopped by, too.

If you need some audible evidence (video provided by CineDevine), here is memorable music from the April 2013 party.  I present one of my musical heroes, John Gill, singing and accompanying himself of Ernest Ball’s classic SALOON — with friends Jeff, piano; Lew Green, cornet; Noel Kaletsky, clarinet; Brian Nalepka, tuba; Kevin Dorn, drums:

For more information and good times amidst hot music, click here.

May your happiness increase! 

STEPHANE SEVA PAYS US A VISIT! (Nov. 26-30, 2010)

I first encountered the swinging percussionist Stephane Seva on pianist Olivier Lancelot’s CD (“Lancelot and his Chevaliers”).  Although some washboardists can be heavy and overly assertive, Stephane had a light, tapping sound, and an irresistible beat.  He’s on two new, rewarding CDs.

But first — here’s Stephane in the setting most would have encountered him, as an integral part of the quartet PARIS WASHBOARD (captured by Jeff Guyot for YouTube), with trombonist Daniel Barda, clarinetist Alain Marquet, and pianist Christian Azzi, performing ROSE OF THE RIO GRANDE:

Stephane is in fine form on the quartet’s latest CD, LIVE IN MONSEGUR (which features Barda, Marquet, and pianist Louis Mazetier), recorded live on July 4, 2009 — at a festival titled “Les 24 heures de Swing.” 

It’s on the Black and Blue label (BB 708.2) and begins in high gear with a romping MINOR DRAG — followed by SQUEEZE ME, DINAH, KEEP YOUR TEMPER, ROCKIN’ CHAIR, THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE, UP JUMPED YOU WITH LOVE, CARAVAN, SWEET LORRAINE (with witty lyrics in French about the song itself, crooned by Stephane), and MAPLE LEAF RAG. 

Although Fats Waller avoided trombone in his Rhythm, Paris Washboard has the cheerful stomp and swagger of the Waller group. 

There’s more! 

Stephane hasn’t wanted the washboard to be identified exclusively with Twenties jazz and with revivalist bands, so he has performed with a variety of jazz players.  And the results, surprising and delightful, can be heard on another CD (on his own label — STEF 001 — with an unusual quartet, SWING ONDULE. 

It follows Paris Washboard’s format: piano (Ludovic de Preissac), trombone (Eric Fauconnier), clarinet (Stephane Chausse), Stephane on washboard and vocals, and guest saxophonist Eric Seva.  The CD is teasingly brief — fourtracks only — MINOR’S MOOD, CHEVAUCHEE A BOP-CITY, SWEET LORRAINE (vocal by Stephane), WASHBOARD WIGGLES.  The first two are originals by the pianist; the last track a famous composition of Tiny Parham’s. 

What distinguishes the group and the CD from its more traditional cousins is their gleeful breadth of influences.  In the first few minutes (at a rocking tempo) I thought of the Raymond Scott Quintette, Lee Konitz and Lennie Tristano, late swing and early bop . . . all flying by most joyously.  This CD cries out for Blindfold Testing across the civilized world.  The appropriate reaction would be, “I don’t know who they are, but they’re superb!” 

BUT WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!

Stephane is coming to New York for the last week of November, and will be doing four gigs.  Here are the details:

DOC SCANLON’S PAN-ATLANTIC SWINGSTERS with Stephane Seva:

Friday, Nov. 26, 2010:  Poughkeepsie Tennis Club
135 South Hamilton St., Poughkeepsie, New York
Tickets/Info: (845) 454-2571 benasilber@verizon.net
www.hudsonvalleydance.org

Saturday, Nov. 27:  “DAISY BAKER’S” (10 PM – 1 AM):  33 Second Street, Troy, New York  (518) 266-9200  http://www.daisybakers.com

Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010: Swing 46, New York City
349 W. 46th Street between 8th & 9th Avenues                              

Tuesday, Nov. 30:  The Bickford Theatre, Morristown, New Jersey 8 PM:       New York Washboard Band: Stéphane Séva, wasnboard and vocals; Dan Levinson, clarinet; Gordon Webster, piano; Matt Musselman, trombone.  

To keep up with Stephane’s comings and goings, and his debut on CD as a singer (paying heartfelt tribute to Sinatra and Ray Charles) visit www.stephaneseva.com. and http://www.myspace.com/stephaneseva.