Forward to the 2022 Mike Durham Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party.
CHINATOWN, MY CHINATOWN might have stayed as an obscure pop tune, its lyrics more than slightly suspect, if Louis Armstrong — who loved Asian cuisine — had not recorded it. You can find his versions and those of Red Nichols, Fletcher Henderson, and the Cambridge University Quinquaginta Ramblers online without wrinkling your clothing through exertion.
But as an appetizer to the delightful cuisine that follows, I offer a recording that not enough people have heard, Reginald Foresythe’s HOMAGE TO ARMSTRONG:
You can also chase down versions by Art Tatum, Jack Teagarden, the Georgia Washboard Stompers, Hot Lips Page with Eddie Condon, Lionel Hampton, Roy Eldridge, Slim and Slam, Sidney Bechet, Teddy Wilson, Punch Miller, Kid Ory, Louis Prima, George Lewis.
But here’s a wonderful version from just a few days ago, captured at a night-time jam session at this year’s Mike Durham Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party by Emrah Erken, he of the roving iPhone (his YouTube channel, a basket of marvels, is “Atticus Jazz”). The participants are Jon-Erik Kellso, Puje trumpet; Graham Hughes, trombone; Michael McQuaid, clarinet; Lars Frank, tenor saxophone; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Felix Hunot, banjo; Harry Evans, string bass; Richard Pite, drums.
This music doesn’t come tepid in a little cardboard box. Thank you, all!
In the summer of 2021, Leo Forde, a young guitarist from Glasgow, living and playing in New Orleans since 2014, sent me a delightful new CD, which I praised here:
He’s done it again, with a new effort called DOUBLE WHISKY:
One no longer calls music “entertaining,” but this new CD is just that.
OH, LADY BE GOOD is an engaging sample, with legendary pianist David Boeddinghaus joining Leo, solo guitar; Ben Powell, violin; John Rodlii, guitar; Nobu Ozaki, string bass for nearly four minutes of time-travel . . . what if the Quintette of the Hot Club of France had met Teddy Wilson in 1937?
Leo and friends understand something about the genre termed “Gypsy jazz” that is not common practice. Yes, it is a music now often characterized by technical virtuosity. But even more, it is an embrace of melody and melodies. It’s ultimately not about how to execute Django Reinhardt’s gestures at top speed and even more ornately, but it is a passionate embodiment of the classic tradition created by Louis Armstrong and his colleagues. Even though there’s no vocalizing on this disc, Leo and friends sing out every note, fashion every phrase so it goes right to our deepest feelings.
Oh, they can bounce in the most sophisticated postwar ways — hear the title track DOUBLE WHISKY — but their joyous messages, their swing affirmations are never firing notes at the listener, who (even admiring) has to take a rest at the end of each track.
I say THANKS A MILLION — and the aural embodiment of gratitude is right here.
Details. Oh, details. The music is available here. The songs are MY BLUE HEAVEN / OH, LADY BE GOOD! / JUST A GIGOLO / DOUBLE WHISKY / THANKS A MILLION / IMPROVISATION ON TSCHAIKOVSKY’S ‘Pathetique’ / WHEN DAY IS DONE / LOUISE / I SURRENDER, DEAR / DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO MISS NEW ORLEANS? The recorded sound is warm and accurate, which means a good deal.
I can only explain the effect of this session, if it hasn’t come across to you by now, by saying it is like encountering a dear friend after a long absence. Heartfelt, playful, gentle sounds, a small treasure in this noisy world.
Ten years ago, this band changed my life. Because of RaeAnn Berry’s videos of the Reynolds Brothers, I urgently wanted to visit California, to hear and see them, which I did in 2011. I’d already admired Marc Caparone’s work on records with Dawn Lambeth as far back as 2003, so it was a natural development.
I had visited California once before, but that was in utero. There, no bands were playing, although my mother had a swinging 4 / 4 heartbeat and my father certainly knew how to arrange two-part harmony.
Back to our subject: here are four glorious jam-session styled performances, previously unseen, by the Brothers and Friends from March 1, 2013, at the Jazz Bash by the Bay, in Monterey, California, by John Reynolds, resonator guitar, vocal, whistling; Marc Caparone, cornet; Katie Cavera, string bass, vocal; Ralf Reynolds, washboard, and guests Bob Draga, clarinet; David Boeddinghaus, piano; later, Clint Baker, resonator tenor guitar.
Every jazz festival should have at least one Lillie Delk Christian tribute. Katie Cavera sings TOO BUSY with a band and guests never too busy to swing:
A riotously fast CHINA BOY, Clint Baker joining on resonator tenor guitar, in honor of the many Mike McKendricks:
Something tender to follow, EMBRACEABLE YOU, sung by John:
and a romping SOME OF THESE DAYS to close off this segment:
The next Jazz Bash by the Bay is planned for 2021, and we live in hope that such gatherings can happen again, and I can return, if not to the land of my birth, to the closest thing, for more joy. I know “you can’t go home again,” but you can park across the street and take phone pictures.
Al Gande, Bix Beiderbecke, Johnny Hartwell, from Dick Voynow’s scrapbook. Courtesy of Michael Feinstein and THE SYNCOPATED TIMES.
Here, on November 4, 2016, a group of International Bixians played a set of the dear boy’s music at the Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party. The premise was a small group modeled after the 1927 “Bix and his Gang” recordings for OKeh, but with some songs Bix would have known or did play but never recorded in this format.
The players should be familiar, but I will elucidate. Andy Schumm, cornet; Jim Fryer, trombone; Lars Frank, clarinet; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Robert Fowler, in his maiden outing on bass saxophone; Josh Duffee, drums.
Souvenirs of a brilliant weekend, even though many of us did not make it to the Village Hotel, Newcastle, for this Party, held annually in November, bringing together wonderful European, British, and American musicians. Three v.hot selections from the last jam session of the Party, captured for us by Chris Jonsson, the nattily dressed fellow next to Anne-Christine Persson in the photo. I know them as “Chris and Chris” on YouTube, they are neatly CANDCJ:
Here’s CHRIS and CHRIS
I’M GONNA STOMP MISTER HENRY LEE (I prefer the version without the comma, but grammarians who wish to explicate this title may email me):
Andy Schumm, clarinet; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Dave Bock, tuba; Josh Duffee, drums; Torstein Kubban, trumpet; Graham Hughes, trombone; Matthias Seuffert, clarinet; Stephane Gillot, alto saxophone; Jacob Ullberger, banjo.
Colin Hancock, cornet, and Henry Lemaire, string bass, come in for Gillot and Bock, and Graham Hughes sings MAMA’S GONE, GOOD-BYE (splendidly!):
and, finally, MILENBERG JOYS, with Boeddinghaus, Hancock, Kubban, Duffee, Ullberger, Lemaire, Lars Frank, clarinet . . . and if I am not mistaken, Torstein essays his own version of Louis’ Hot Chorus here, magnificently:
I would have expected more violent approval, but it was after 2 AM.
A word about my title. What, you might ask, is “v. hot“? It’s an inside joke for those of us — including percussion wizard Nicholas D. Ball, who have visited the Village Hotel in Newcastle with any regularity: a meant-to-be-terribly-cute advertising gimmick:
and a different view:
When I was there last in 2016, the elevator (sorry, the lift) had inside it a glossy photo of a larger-than-life young woman and the words “v. snuggly” or some such. We joked about this, and wondered if the toilets in each room were labeled “v. flushy” or the pizza “v. costly.” And so on. But nothing can take away from the jam session, which was indeed “v.hot.” Bless the musicians and both Chrisses (Christer and Anne-Christine) too.
Early on November 4, 2016, an august group of informally-attired gentlemen assembled within the Village Hotel in Newcastle, England, at what is now called Mike Durham’s Whitley bay Classic Jazz Partyto rehearse their set of songs and arrangements by the most-talented and most short-lived Alex Hill. Their aims: to have a jubilee and also do some needed functionizin’.
The truly all-star band was led by trumpeter / scholar / arranger Menno Daams, and was comprised of David Boeddinghaus, piano; Spats Langham, guitar and vocal; Henry Lemaire, string bass; Richard Pite, drums; Rico Tomasso, Duke Heitger, trumpets; Jean-Francois Bonnel, Richard Exall, Robert Fowler, Lars Frank, reeds; Jim Fryer, Alistair Allan, trombones.
This was a rehearsal: thus, not everything had already been polished through focused playing and replaying, but the absence of an audience occasionally lets musicians cut loose and experiment. I’ve intentionally left in the pre-and-post comments to give listeners the experience of being there.
And although they knew I was there, they happily managed to ignore me, which was fine then and turned into a great boon for all of us. I had a wonderful view of the chairs, but one must sit far enough back in the room to capture everyone in the band. My focus wasn’t perfect, but at least you can blame the camera rather than its operator. The sound is clear, and the absence of an audience, bringing pint mugs back and forth and chatting, is a great boon, although sharp-eared video observers will hear some commentary which usually stops when the band begins.
About the band name: I don’t think Menno and Co. had an official collective sobriquet in the program, and many of the original Hill sessions were issued as “his Hollywood Sepians,” and no amount of linguistic immolation on my part could convert that to a group title both appropriate and inoffensive. I will leave the possible variations on that theme to you, and comments offering such names will, alas, never see the light of cyber-day.
On to the blessed music. LET’S HAVE A JUBILEE:
SONG OF THE PLOW:
AIN’T IT NICE?:
DISSONANCE (Mezz Mezzrow took credit, but it is a Hill composition and arrangement):
DELTA BOUND (with wonderful singing by Mr. Langham, typically):
FUNCTIONIZIN’, a close cousin of SQUEEZE ME:
KEEP A SONG IN YOUR SOUL, wise advice:
One of the unannounced pleasures of this Party, held this November in the same space [the “v.snuggly” Village Hotel] is that well-behaved listeners are welcome to sit in on rehearsals — a rare pleasure. Blessings on Alex, Menno, and the wonderful musicians for their splendid work in keeping the good sounds alive.
And just so you know my enthusiasm is global, not local, this comment, relayed through my good friend Sir Robert Cox: “Tom [that’s Spats] said how brilliant Menno’s arrangements were and how much, to their astonishment, rehearsal had taken only 45 minutes. He said that, never in the history of the party, had a rehearsal lasted less than an hour.”
Now you know the truth — none of this New Orleans mythology. Jazz came here to Tiffin (south of Toledo) as the performance below shows.
The exultant event you will see and hear took place thirty years ago, in July 1989, and was recorded by Bob and Ruth Byler — before digital video, but the music roars through, sweet, hot, and expert. (Bob left us in April 2018 at 87; Ruth had died earlier.) While I was still hiding a cassette recorder in an airline bag, hoping to go undetected at concerts, Bob was capturing hours and hours of live music on video. Here is the 2016 post I wrote about Bob’s archive.
Banu Gibson and the New Orleans Hot Jazz Orchestra (properly titled) offer what I can only describe as a hustling lyricism — free-wheeling improvisations within carefully-worked-out routines, with a glorious sense of Show, even comedy (“Show ’em how it comes apart!”), as well as a marvelous intuitive synergy between the horns and the rhythm section. And Banu is so full of lovely energy that she never seems to stand still: her voice a caress a la Connee Boswell or a roof-raising shout, as the song dictates — full of power but also exquisitely controlled. Singers could learn so much from watching her perform, and the same is true for players.
This concert is a complete lesson in “how to put on a show,” and how to pace a program. Although the repertoire was far from new in 1989, not a note seems tired or formulaic (and the arrangements are both lovely and exceptionally well-played, often suggesting a 1936 swing band).
In case the players are not familiar to you (and how could this be?): Banu sings, plays guitar or banjo on the instrumentals; Charlie Fardella, cornet; David Sager, trombone, vocal on SOME OF THESE DAYS and MAKIN’ FRIENDS; Tom Fischer, clarinet, tenor saxophone, vocal on I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR YOU; David Boeddinghaus, piano; James Singleton, string bass; Hal Smith, drums. They are perfectly splendid.
The songs are DOWN IN HONKY TONK TOWN / THE WANG WANG BLUES / MAHOGANY HALL STOMP (instrumental) / TIN ROOF BLUES / HELLO, LOLA (instrumental) / I’VE GOT WHAT IT TAKES / MUDDY WATER / SOME OF THESE DAYS (vocal Sager) / I’M GOING TO CHARLESTON BACK TO CHARLESTON / CAKE WALKIN’ BABIES FROM HOME / intermission / TRUCKIN’ / I MUST HAVE THAT MAN / I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR YOU (vocal Fischer) / MAKIN’ FRIENDS (vocal Sager) / WHAT A LITTLE MOONLIGHT CAN DO / WHY DON’T YOU DO RIGHT? / I GOT RHYTHM //
I haven’t explicated all the delightful surprises — you can find them for yourselves, such as Banu’s duets with Fardella, and the exuberant solo work — but so much of the energy of this performance comes from Ms. Gibson herself, with the vocal power of a young Merman and the joyous energies of, let us say, Gwen Verdon. She captivated the audience then and does so now.
The video isn’t a sophisticated multi-camera shoot; the audio is occasionally slightly hard to hear; the video has the slight murkiness of digitally-recovered VHS tape — but this is precious. And since I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and hearing in person every one of the stars on this stage with the exception of Charlie Fardella, whom I’ve only encountered on disc, I can say that this is a glorious record of the talent still at work in New Orleans and elsewhere.
I don’t know what the Tiffin audience members said when the powerful applause died down, perhaps, “That was a very nice show. Let’s buy one of her records?” but now, thirty years later, this video record of a concert seems a precious gift to us all. Thanks to everyone on the stage, to Bob and Ruth Byler, but especially to David Sager, who set this post in motion.
Our subjects today are the overlap of “madness” and “pleasure.” Please be prepared to take notes.
“But first, this,” as they used to say on public radio.
PLEASURE MAD, a Sidney Bechet composition, was recorded in 1924 but the vocal versions weren’t issued, except for this one. Did the record company find it too direct to be acceptable? Here’s Ethel Waters’ version, clear as a bell:
Perhaps the song continued to be performed with those lyrics, but I don’t have any evidence. However, it resurfaced in 1938 as VIPER MAD, new lyrics, as sung — memorably — by O’Neil Spencer:
There might be other ways to pose the rhetorical question, but at what moment in those fourteen years did sexual pleasure become a less interesting subject in popular song than smoking reefers?
While you consider that intriguing philosophical question, I have a new double-CD set (36 tracks! 12 pounds!) to share with you. A little personal history: I attended the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party, then renamed Mike Durham’s International Classic Jazz Party, from 2009 to 2016, and had a fine time: the best American, European, Australian, and occasionally South American musicians turned loose for a long weekend of hot and sweet jazz, its spiritual center the late Twenties and early Thirties.
Here are three samples, videoed by me, songs and personnels named:
I ended with GOT BUTTER ON IT so that JAZZ LIVES readers can — as they say — get a flavor of the experience. The Party continues to do its special magic splendidly, a magic that videos only partially convey. This year it’s November 1-3, and details can be found here. And if you search JAZZ LIVES for “Whitley Bay” or “Durham,” you will find a deluge of posts and videos.
But this post isn’t exactly about the Party as such, nor is it about my videos. Its subject — now, pay attention — is a 2-CD set of live performances from the 2018 Party, which is just thrilling. It’s called PLEASURE MAD: ‘LIVE RECORDINGS FROM MIKE DURHAM’S INTERNATIONAL CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY 2017 (WVR RECORDS WVR1007). As I wrote above, 36 live performances in beautiful sound.
And the sound is worth noting, with delight. At the Party, some fans record the music from the audience with everything from ancient cassette recorders to digital ones; when I was there, I videoed as much as I could. But this CD issue has the benefit of superb sound, because of the young Norwegian trumpeter and recording engineer Torstein Kubban, who has recorded every session for the past six years. Torstein is a phenomenal player, so I may be permitted this digression:
He’s got it, for sure. And his recordings are wonderful.
Here are the songs performed — referencing Duke Ellington, Ben Pollack, Bennie Moten, the Halfway House Orchestra, Alex Hill, Rube Bloom, Jabbo Smith, Louis Armstrong,Eddie Condon, Willie “the Lion” Smith, Clarence Williams, Luis Russell, King Oliver, James P. Johnson, and more:
And the musicians: Mike Davis, Andy Schumm, Duke Heitger, Jamie Brownfield, Malo Mazurie, Kristoffer Kompen, Jim Fryer, Graham Hughes, Ewan Bleach, Michael McQuaid, Richard Exall, Claus Jacobi, Matthias Seuffert, Lars Frank, Jean-Francois Bonnel, Emma Fisk, David Boeddinghaus, Martin Litton, Keith Nichols, Morten Gunnar Larsen, Martin Wheatley, Spats Langham, Peter Beyerer, Henry Lemaire, Jacob Ullberger, Phil Rutherford, Elise Sut, Malcolm Sked, Josh Duffee, Richard Pite, Nick Ward, Nick Ball, Joan Viskant, Nicolle Rochelle. If I’ve left anyone out, let me know and I will impale myself on a cactus needle as penance, and video the event.
I think it’s taken me so long to write this post because every time I wanted to take the CDs into the house to write about them, I would start them up on the car player and there they would stay. A few highlights, deeply subjective: Martin Litton’s sensitive and tender solo LAURA; the riotous hot polyphony of CHATTANOOGA STOMP (which I recently played six times in the car, non-stop); the exuberant GIVE ME YOUR TELEPHONE NUMBER; Spats Langham’s NEW ORLEANS SHUFFLE; a completely headlong RAILROAD MAN; a version of THE CHARLESTON that starts with Louis’ WEST END BLUES cadenza; SHIM-ME-SHA-WABBLE that rocks tremendously; I FOUND A NEW BABY that sounds as if Hines (in the guise of Boeddinghaus) visited a Condon jam session in 1933; SOBBIN’ BLUES with layers and textures as rich as great architecture. You will find your own favorites; those are mine of the moment.
My advice? If you can, get thee to the Party, where seats are going fast. Once there, buy several copies of this set — for yourself, national holidays, the birthdays of hip relatives — and enjoy for decades. If you can’t get to the UK, you can still purchase the set, which I urge you to do.
And when the authorities knock on your door to ask about the ecstatic sounds coming from within, you can simply show them this CD and say, “Well, Officers, I’m PLEASURE MAD! Would you like to come in?” And all will be well.
Although I grew up listening to recordings of people who had already moved on, I’ve tried hard to make this blog a chronicle of living music and musicians, so it isn’t JAZZ DIES. But I am still reeling from the deaths of Jim Dapogny and Connie Jones, and I do not use that cliche lightly. I will shine the spotlight more on Prof. in future, I guarantee you, but this post is all about Connie.
I was enthralled by the music Connie created so effortlessly, that I followed him when he appeared in California (2011, 2012, 2014) and once in New Orleans (2015). Others saw him more often, to be sure, but if you search this blog for “Connie Jones,” you will find more than fifty postings, all with video-evidence.
But here is something you haven’t seen yet, Connie and friends on their own magic carpet, taking us along to places unimagined yet familiar.
It is a glorious and mournful memory both: the last time I had the privilege of seeing, hearing, and recording Connie, here captured among brilliant friends Bob Havens, trombone; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Banu Gibson, rhythm guitar instead of her usual wonderful singing. This performance took place below decks on the steamboat Natchez, at the final Steamboat Stomp based in New Orleans. PERSIAN RUG is a song I associate with the Louisiana Sugar Babes but also with Jack Teagarden, with whom Connie worked at the end of Jack’s life. It is a charming piece of “Orientalia,” complete with verse, and it swings in celestial ways here.
I offer this video with great reverence. To some casual viewers, it may simply be “another live video”; to me, it is touching evidence of what Connie did so nobly and with such apparent ease. He made magic.
Blessings on him, on Bob, David, and Banu also:
No one can replace Connie, although we should all try to create — whatever it is we create — as beautifully as he does here.
Many jazz bands that identify themselves as steeped in Twenties Hot are devoted to the Ancestors and the irreplaceable recordings, but have reduced their repertoire to a dozen-plus familiar songs: DIPPERMOUTH BLUES, SINGIN’ THE BLUES, TIN ROOF BLUES, THAT’S A-PLENTY, ROYAL GARDEN BLUES, STRUTTIN’ WITH SOME BARBECUE, and so on. Those songs achieved classic status for good reason, but they quickly come to feel like the same Caesar salad. (“Mainstream” groups do the same thing with PENNIES FROM HEAVEN, ALL OF ME, SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET . . . continuing forward to GROOVIN’ HIGH and the bop -OLOGIES also.)
But the noble and flourishing Andy Schumm is not only a marvelous multi-instrumentalist (on this session, cornet, clarinet, tenor saxophone, “Reserphone,” and one voice in the glee club) but a truly diligent researcher — coming up with hot tunes and lyrical songs that rarely — or never — get performed. At the end of the video presented here, you should observe the thickness of manuscript that he picks up off his music stand, and when he announces the next tune to the band by number as well as title, the numbers are notably three digits, suggesting a substantial “book.”
Andy and his Gang performed two wonderful sets of lively, “new” “old” material at the August 2018 Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Festival in Davenport, Iowa. The Gang was a streamlined version of the Fat Babies, with Andy; John Otto, reeds; Johnny Donatowicz, banjo / guitar; Dave Bock, tuba, and guest star David Boeddinghaus, piano. All of this good music was beautifully preserved for us by “Chris and Chris,” whose generosities you know or should know. My posting of the first set is here.
As far as arcana is concerned, here are the songs performed: CUSHION FOOT STOMP (Clarence Williams), EL RADO SCUFFLE (Jimmie Noone: supposedly the club was the ELDORADO but not all the letters in the sign were visible), AIN’T THAT HATEFUL? (Oliver Naylor), JUST LIKE A MELODY (a Walter Donaldson composition, one known in recent decades thanks to Scott Robinson’s recording of it), FLAG THAT TRAIN (watch out for the Reserphone), I MUST BE DREAMING (a sweet duet for John Otto and David Boeddinghaus), BEER GARDEN BLUES (Clarence Williams, with glee-club vocal; Williams also recorded this melody with different lyrics, perhaps called SWING, BROTHER, SWING, but not the Billie-Basie song), GRAVIER STREET BLUES (Clarence Williams again, his Jazz Kings — thanks to Phil Melnick for catching the title, something I didn’t recognize, which proves my point about arcana), CROSS ROADS (California Ramblers), WAILING BLUES (thanks to Cellar Boys Wingy, Tesch, Bud, and Frank Melrose), an impish Boeddinghaus chorus of WE’RE IN THE MONEY, perhaps a satiric reference to the undernourished tip jar? — and closing with a wild SAN in honor of Jimmie Noone’s Apex Club Orchestra.
Thanks to Andy, John, John, Dave, Dave, and Chris and Chris. (I see a pattern here, don’t you?)
“Chris and Chris” at the 2015 Steamboat Stomp in New Orleans. Photograph by Bess Wade.
Thanks to Chris and Chris! Here’s the first set at a bar called GRUMPY’S. Beautifully recorded and annotated, too:
Bix Beiderbecke’s 47th Annual Memorial Jazz Festival 2018 had a pre-arranged gathering at Grumpy’s Village Saloon, Davenport, Iowa, August 1st. The Fat Babies, here somewhat reduced in numbers, but with sit-in David Boeddinghaus on piano and Andy Schumm cornet, clarinet, saxophone, John Otto reeds, John Donatowicz banjo, guitar, Dave Bock tuba, gave us, the lucky ones that day, a jolly good time. This plus-hour full first set was videographed in one-go, in pole position, head on, with a handheld SONY Handycam, FDR-XA100 in quality mode. For those who couldn’t make it to Grumpy’s, this coverage might be the next best thing. Enjoy!
THAT’S A PLENTY (with a special break) / HOT TIME IN THE OLD TOWN TONIGHT / Andy introduces the band / HE’S THE LAST WORD (which I hadn’t known was by Walter Donaldson) where Andy shifts to tenor sax to create a section, and Maestro Boeddinghaus rocks / FOREVERMORE, for Jimmie Noone, with Andy and John on clarinet: wait for the little flash of Tesch at the end / Willie “the Lion” Smith’s HARLEM JOYS / a beautifully rendered GULF COAST BLUES, apparently a Clarence Williams composition [what sticks in my mind is Clarence, as an older man, telling someone he didn’t write any of the compositions he took credit for] / HOT LIPS / Alex Hill’s THE SOPHOMORE, and all I will say is “David Boeddinghaus!” / THE SHEIK OF ARABY, with the verse and a stop-time chorus. Of course, “without no pants on.” / Bennie Moten’s 18th STREET RAG / GETTIN’ TOLD, thanks to the Mound City Blue Blowers / Andy does perfect Johnny Dodds on LONESOME BLUES, scored for trio / For Bix, TIA JUANA (with unscheduled interpolation at start, “Are you okay? Can I get that?” from a noble waitperson) / band chat — all happy bands talk to each other / a gloriously dark and grieving WHEN YOUR LOVER HAS GONE that Louis smiles on / and, to conclude, STORY BOOK BALL (see hereto learn exactly what Georgie Porgie did to Mary, Mary, quite contrary. Not consensual and thus not for children.)
A thousand thanks to Andy, David, John, Dave, Johnny, and of course Chris and Chris — for this delightful all-expenses paid trip to Hot!
The band is slightly more than a year old, and it’s a wonder: T Werk Thomson, string bass; John Rodli, guitar; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Tom Fischer, alto saxophone; Charlie Halloran, trombone; James Evans, C-melody saxophone, clarinet, vocal; Ben Polcer, trumpet, vocal. The beautiful recording was done by John Dixon at the Spotted Cat; the singular typography is by SEEK1 and TOPMOB!.
And the repertoire — which tells an educated listener how wise and deep this hot band is: JUBILESTA / OH, PETER / AUNT HAGAR’S BLUES / JAMAICA SHOUT / POTATO HEAD BLUES / TIGHT LIKE THIS / BUGLE CALL RAG / RUMBA NEGRO (Latin) / RUMBA NEGRO (Swing) / IF I WERE YOU / SAN / OLD FASHIONED LOVE / BLUE BLOOD BLUES. Just to point out the forbears, how about Ellington, Red Allen, the Rhythmakers, Bennie Moten, Teddy Wilson, James P., Mister Jelly Lord, Louis. And there’s a delightful freedom in their homages: this music comes from the heart, not from someone’s imposed notion of what “trad” or “New Orleans jazz” is. It’s free-flowing and glorious.
Here’s T Werk’s own narrative about the birth of a band, verbatim from Facebook:
February 23 at 10:51am · About one year ago I got a call from John Rodli asking me if I wanted to play a gig with him at Three Muses on Friday night. I said something along the lines of “Duh, Idiot. Totally down.” Being Rodli, he didn’t book anybody for the gig and asked me to just throw something together last minute. That first gig had Ben Polcer, James Evans, Rodli, and myself on it. After that gig we immediately realized that we had something totally killer going on here. Once we locked down a weekly gig at Three Muses is when this band really took shape. We were able to add two of the most bad ass musicians I know to fill out the band’s lineup. Charlie Halloran and David Boeddinghaus (🛥🏠). With that killer lineup already rolling we had to add Tom Fischer on reeds as well because we’re all totally insane. After playing for a few months we realized that it was time to make a CD. In November we booked off two days to make a record not realizing that we would only need the first 3 hours and 8 minutes of the first day to record the whole thing. As a musician, going into a studio and coming out three hours later with a killer product is one of the best feelings you can have. That being said, we now have our first record available for purchase! A huge shout out goes to John A Dixon for absolutely CRUSHING the art work. Seek 1 & Top MOB for slaying the lettering and Sophie Lee Lowry and the staff at Three Muses for letting us have Three Muses as our homebase week after week. Keep an eye out for a CD release party coming up really soon. Until then you can purchase digital downloads of the album from band camp or through the Louisiana Music Factory later on today. Of course we will also have this CD for sale tonight at Three Muses from 9-12. I’ve never been so proud to have my name on a record as I am with this one. Polcer, James, Charlie, 🛥🏠, Fischer and Rodli are the best musicians to work with and we get to do it every week. LET’S DO SHOTS!!
I’d say it a little differently: this recording makes me bounce with happiness. The rhythm section is a thing of joy, and the soloists know how to speak in their own voices and to join as a choir — the goal of having a deeply melodic satisfying good time. I keep getting stuck on the first track, that growly piece of Thirties Ellingtonia, JUBILESTA. But I keep on playing this disc. And you’ll notice I’m not explicating the music: if I had to do that, I’d despair of my audience. You’ll hear just how fine DORO WAT is very quickly. It’s restorative music that I’d like everyone to hear.
And from another angle: I was on a wobbly barstool at The Ear Inn last week, talking with my dear friend Doug Pomeroy, and I said, “You know, THIS is a Golden Age right now.” DORO WAT is very convincing proof. Thank you, kind wild creators.
There are many magnificent jazz pianists. But there’s only one David Boeddinghaus. I’ve enjoyed his rollicking swing, his lyrical groove, his tender ballads (he is a master of Porter and Rodgers and Carmichael) and deep blues, his evocations of Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, and Frank Melrose — in California, in New Orleans, in Newcastle (thus my title as well as a reference to the 1920 pop tune below, because David gets us where we’d like to go and more).
You can read his biography online; you can ponder his discography thanks to Tom Lord. But his glorious playing needs no more explication than this: it is beautiful without commentary. David is especially exultant as an ensemble player, no matter what the tempo: a one-man rhythm section full of subtlety and strength. Meaning no disrespect to Duke Heitger, Alistair Allan, Lars Frank, Henry Lemaire, Malcolm Sked, and Josh Duffee, I think David is the great engine of this romping CALIFORNIA, HERE I COME, captured at the 2016 Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party:
and here’s another performance from that set that has justly garnered a good deal of praise — with David swinging like a wonderful amalgam of Joe Sullivan and everyone wonderful uptown as well:
Musicians I know speak of his accuracy, his scholarship: he knows the verses, the right tempos, the best changes. Ask Banu Gibson, ask Larry Scala and three dozen others. But for me, it’s something larger: David Boeddinghaus transports us through sound. Bless him.
I’m late to the party but happy to have been invited. Even without the proper apostrophe, STEPPIN ON THE GAS, the new CD by the Shotgun Jazz Band, is a total delight, a disc I play all the way through and want to rehear immediately.
The Shotgun Jazz Band has been recording for six years now, and their new disc offers the pleasure of richly-textured, solidly-grounded New Orleans jazz. Here they are at The Spotted Cat in April 2016, with Marla Dixon, trumpet; John Dixon, banjo; Charlie Halloran, trombone; Tyler “Twerk” Thomson, string bass / vocal; Craig Flory, alto saxophone; Ben Polcer, piano:
This is a very revealing profile of the band from the “Enjoying Traditional Jazz” blog, written by “a very old guy [from Nottingham, England] who got into traditional jazz late in life, with much to discover, learn and pass on.” The author calls himself “Pops Coffee” and his blog can be found here.
Back to the reason for this post, STEPPIN ON THE GAS, a consistently lively homage to the great songs — fully vitalized in this century — by Marla Dixon, trumpet and vocal; John Dixon, banjo; Charlie Halloran, “trampagne”; James Evans, C-melody saxophone, clarinet, vocal; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Twerk Thomson, string bass / vocal; and guests Ben Polcer, trumpet; Tom Fischer, alto saxophone / clarinet. The Shotgun ensemble is its own pleasure (beautifully recorded at Luthjen’s Dance Hall, utilizing the acoustics of that space, without an audience, so that we hear subtle shadings and bold statements). Special plaudits go to Earl Scioneaux III for engineering and mixing and to Bruce Barielle for mastering the disc.
The songs are GULF COAST BLUES*; WHITE GHOST SHIVERS; HOW AM I TO KNOW? (James, vocal); SHE’S CRYING FOR ME; MOONLIGHT BAY*; SMILES; I HATE A MAN LIKE YOU*; DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE* and band vocal; WHENEVER YOU’RE LONESOME*; ROSE OF BOMBAY; BREEZE*; CURSE OF AN ACHING HEART*; OLE MISS RAG; PRETEND*; MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME (Twerk / band vocal); GUILTY* (not the Al Bowlly ballad); STEPPIN ON THE GAS; DEEP RIVER. The asterisks are for the tracks Marla sings on, and she is such a varied singer — tender or raucous — that I never got weary of her voice.
The pleasures start immediately with GULF COAST BLUES –David Boeddinghaus, sounding like a modern James P. Johnson alongside Marla Dixon’s powerful but understated blues singing; then James Evans adds his emotive, conversational alto saxophone and Twerk his beautifully centered string bass (a gutty yet swinging accompaniment that — heretically perhaps — is the ideal world that Bessie Smith rarely got to experience on records) . . . to James’ exquisite vocal on HOW AM I TO KNOW (which Louis performed on his first European tour!); a performance of ON MOONLIGHT BAY (one of those songs that hits me in some deep nostalgic part of my being, as does SHINE ON, HARVEST MOON) that lingers over the verse and then turns the second chorus into a shouting near-blues; a very fast, rollicking SMILES (with a stomping Boeddinghaus solo). . . I could go on, but I will leave the rest of the delights for the listeners.
The disc shows off beautiful vocalized instrumental solos, neither timid nor rough, shifting ensembles (this is neither a “recorded jam session” nor a banquet of recreations, but a comfortable middle ground) — where the lead moves around within the band, and instruments pair off in ways we might not expect: subtle harmonic depths, and an unfailing swing. Nothing more to ask for!
The six selections with an expanded front line: WHITE GHOST SHIVERS, SHE’S CRYING FOR ME, DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE, OLE MISS RAG, GUILTY, STEPPIN ON THE GAS — adding Ben Polcer, trumpet; Tom Fischer, clarinet and alto saxophone — are extraordinary examples of ensemble playing that borders on the ecstatic while being expertly under control — a paradox when seen on the page, but completely understandable when heard.
If someone asks you what hot jazz sounds like in this century, or tells you that New Orleans jazz no longer exists, or that swing is a dying phenomenon — play that misguided soul STEPPIN ON THE GAS. I would.
Simply stated, this is a second disc (recorded on February 7-8 of this year) by one of the world’s most satisfying jazz trios: Tim Laughlin, clarinet (and a few originals); David Boeddinghaus, piano; Hal Smith, drums. Volume Two, logically, is the successor to Volume One, issued three years ago. I loved the first one and said so here.
But a New York winter has been very hard on my adjective hoard, so I called upon two of the musicians to help me out — fellows who can write as well as play. (David, terribly articulate, was otherwise occupied.)
I went deeply into the Obvious and asked Tim about the arresting cover, and he said, “I ran out of pictures of steamboats and wrought iron. I have new frames for my glasses and decided to grow a pencil-thin to complete the caricature.” And we agreed that “iconic black and white” really stands out, which is what you want from multi-tasking easily distracted (my words, not Tim’s) music purchasers.
Then I thought I’d ask another member of the trio for his thoughts, and the logical choice was Hal Smith, jazz scholar and former journalism major (if we want to go back a piece):
“It amazes me that Tim continues to come up with outstanding original material — especially ‘Gert Town’ and ‘Roundabout,’ which refer to an area of New Orleans and a traffic circle, respectively. Tim has a genuine NEW ORLEANS sound on clarinet; rich and woody in all registers. He also has a natural swing in his playing that is infectious (especially for his accompanists)! David’s playing encompasses many of the best traditions of Classic Jazz and Swing piano — Morton, Waller, Hines, Sullivan, Wilson — but it always comes out sounding like Boeddinghaus. That’s the way piano was meant to be played! Drumming with these guys is as easy and pleasurable as putting on slippers and settling into the recliner with a good book, an adult beverage and a black cat.”
“Easy and pleasurable” nicely characterizes the comfort this CD offers us. It’s miles away from EASY LISTENING, but there’s no strain, no chasing after crowd-pleasing effects. Melody, rhythm, subtle harmonies, all combine in performances that are both logical and warmly inviting.
More about the repertoire, and the sound. The familiar songs are presented with their rarely-played verses, which are wonderful surprises in a few instances: THANKS A MILLION, ALL BY MYSELF, CABIN IN THE SKY (a small poignant masterpiece), LA VIE EN ROSE, I’VE GOT A FEELING I’M FALLING, UP A LAZY RIVER. Then, some hot classics: WOLVERINE BLUES and PONCHARTRAIN BLUES for Mister Morton, MESSIN’ AROUND, and THERE’S YES, YES IN YOUR EYES — which has a surprise at its center, and an arrangement credit for Dan Barrett. (Extra credit for those who know which Arbors Records session this one came from.) Then Tim has contributed two of his own, ROUNDABOUT — where the reference is to rapid-fire playfulness in the band as well as the traffic circle — and GERT TOWN BLUES, named for a New Orleans neighborhood that is explained more fully here.
The sound of this disc deserves its own paragraph, at least. Thanks to Ben Lario, recording engineer, and David Farrell, mastering, this is one of the most authentic-sounding CDs I’ve heard. I have to preface this by saying I’ve heard the three members of the trio in a variety of settings, with David’s piano and Hal’s drums the least victimized by amplification, but often I have been seated at a distance from those instruments in a large hall. Even in small venues, the sound is compromised by people gently moving or rattling paper. Tim’s clarinet, its sound so delicious, I’ve heard out-of-doors or again through amplification for the most part. (And when I’ve video-recorded these players, the sound of my videos, even through a good microphone, is at some distance from the real thing.) This CD sounds gorgeously authentic, as if I were seated in front of the trio in a moderate-sized living room. Nothing harsh or shrill, nothing unnatural, and the balance between the three instruments is as fine as I would hear in life.
You can hear samples and buy the disc hereor download the music here.
Menno Daams is one of the great trumpet players (arrangers, composers, bandleaders) of our era, but, better yet, he is a sensitive imaginer, someone who understands intuitively how to make even the most familiar standards glisten.
He does it here in his brief but very fulfilling tribute to Hoagy Carmichael at the 2016 Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party, with the help of five kindred spirits who get the feeling and never lose it: Josh Duffee, drums; Graham Hughes, string bass; Martin Wheatley, guitar; Richard Exall, tenor saxophone; David Boeddinghaus, piano. (And — consciously or unconsciously, perhaps because one thinks of Louis and Hoagy in the same moment — there are two lovely delicate slow-motion homages to Louis as well. You’ll hear them.)
For RIVERBOAT SHUFFLE, rather than go all the way back to Bix — with the Wolverines or with Trumbauer — Menno and band take what I would call a 1936 Fifty-Second Street approach to this song, with echoes of Berigan or Hackett, Forrest Crawford or Joe Marsala, Teddy Wilson or Joe Sullivan, Carmen Mastren, Sid Weiss, and Stan King — light-hearted yet potent):
A thoughtful, gentle exploration of LAZY RIVER:
Then, something gossamer yet imperishable, a medley of SKYLARK / STAR DUST that begins as a cornet-guitar duet, and then becomes a trio. But allow yourself to muse over David’s incredibly deep solo exposition:
And because we need a change from those subtle telling emotions, Menno offers an audio-visual comedy, then THANKSGIVING, featuring a rocking and rocketing solo by Josh. Appropriate, because I was thankful then and continue to be now:
THINGS I LEARNED (OR RE-LEARNED) AT THE 2016 SAN DIEGO JAZZ FEST:
1. Never set up a travel schedule that gets you home (after a long weekend of life-changing music) at 5:20 AM Monday. Not “sleeping” on a plane is worth a higher fare.
2. Music is best experienced in the company of friends — those on the bandstand, those in the audience. The former, a partial list: Marc Caparone, Dawn Lambeth, Ray Skjelbred, Conal Fowkes, Kris Tokarski, Clint Baker, John Gill, Duke Heitger, Jeff Hamilton, Kevin Dorn, Orange Kellin, Leon Oakley, Dan Barrett, Tom Bartlett, Stephanie Trick, Paolo Alderighi, Katie Cavera, Josh Duffee, Andy Schumm, John Otto, Dave Stuckey, Dan Barrett, Larry Scala, David Boeddinghaus, Nobu Ozaki, Virginia Tichenor, Marty Eggers, Mike Davis.
Off the stand: John Ochs, Pamela Ochs, Donna Feoranzo, Allene Harding, Rae Ann Berry, Barbara L. Sully, Judith Navoy, Mary (“The Ambassador of Fun”) and her twin, Chris and Chris, Paul Daspit, Jim and Mary McNaughton, Gretchen Haugen, Patti Durham, Angelica, Carol Andersen, Bess Wade, Cat and Scotty Doggett, Ed Adams.
Much-missed and I await their return: Hal Smith, Janie McCue Lynch, Donna Courtney, Mary Cross.
I know those lists are incomplete, and I apologize to any reader I’ve accidentally omitted.
3. This festival is delightfully overwhelming. At any given time, music was happening in seven rooms simultaneously. There was a Wednesday night session, a Thursday night session, full days on Friday and Saturday (with approximately seventy offerings of music, most an hour long) and a full afternoon on Monday. By six PM on Monday, I was full and sloshing.
4. I am a man of narrow, precisely defined “tastes.” I didn’t grow up sitting in Turk Murphy’s lap — now there’s a picture! — I began my listening education with Forties and Fifties Louis, so I need lyricism and melody the way plants need sun and air.
Many of the bands so dear to my California friends strike me as perhaps over-exuberant. And when a fellow listener, politely curious, asked me “When did you get into trad?” I had to consider that question for a moment before saying, “I didn’t start listening to ‘trad’ . . . ” As I get older, I find my compass needle points much more to subtle, quiet, sweet, witty, delicate — rather than the Dixie-Apocalypse. Each to his or her own, though.
5. Videos: I videoed approximately eighteen sets, and came home with perhaps ten times that number of individual videos. They won’t all surface; the musicians have to approve. And I probably didn’t video your favorite band, The New Orleans Pop Tarts. Rather than mumble about the unfairness of it all, come to next year’s Fest and live in reality rather than virtually! Or buy an RV and a good camera so that you can become an official NOPT groupie-roadie-archivist.
6. For the first time in my life I helped sponsor a group. It was extremely rewarding to think that I had helped some music to be heard in public that otherwise would not have. I’ve offered to do it again for 2017. And, not incidentally, sponsors get to sit in the very front row, a great boon for people like me who want to capture the music to share with you. Videographers like myself want to be made welcome.
7. Moral tradeoffs are always possible and sometimes happily inevitable. At the San Diego Jazz Fest, one can share a large platter of tempura-batter-fried pickle slices and fresh jalapenos . . . because one is doing so much walking that the second activity outweighs the first. Or one tells oneself this.
8. On a darker note, odd public behavior is more pungently evident. People who call themselves jazz fans talk through a whole set about the new puppy (and I like puppies). Years ago I would have blamed this on television and the way viewers have been able to forget the difference between private and public behavior. Now I simply call it self-absorption, and look for a window that I can open.
Others stand up in front of a band to take iPhone photos of the musicians, pushing their phones into the faces of people who are playing and singing. Photographers have treasured costly cameras that beep, whir, and snap — we ignore these aberrations at many events (I think some photographers are secretly excited by such things) but at musical performances these noises are distracting.
I won’t say anything about those folks who fire off flash explosions in well-lit rooms.
I cannot be the only person who thinks of creatively improvised music as holy, a phenomenon not to be soiled by oblivious behavior. As a friend of mine says, “You’re not the only person on the planet.”
9. The previous paragraph cannot overshadow the generosity of the people who put on the Fest and the extreme generosity of those who create the music. Bless them. And the nice young sound people who worked hard to make music sound as it should!
It’s appropriate that the Fest takes place at Thanksgiving: I feel so much gratitude as I write these words, upload videos, and look at my notes of the performances I attended.
More — including videos! — to come. Start planning to come to the 2017 Fest, to bring your friends, to sponsor a band. Any or all of these activities are so much more life-enhancing than Black Friday.
If we believed in the narratives forced on us by advertisers, we would know that NEW is best, NEW AND IMPROVED better still, and anything OLD is to be discarded. I present joyous evidence to the contrary. Here’s a tune all the musicians like to jam. And even though it is nearly a hundred years old, no one worries about having to dust it.
This performance was created on November 6, 2016, at the Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. The band was originally called DUKE HEITGER’S RHYTHMAGICIANS, a name Duke politely disavowed, but I hope he doesn’t mind my retitling this group his JOYMAKERS, because that is truth in advertising. This performance speeds my heart rate in the most healthy ways.
The Romping Masters here are Duke Heitger, trumpet; Alistair Allan, trombone; Lars Frank, reeds; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Henry Lemaire, banjo; Malcolm Sked, string bass; Josh Duffee, drums. Please notice Duke’s little Louis-flourish at 3:20 onwards and the immense wisdom of his putting an ensemble chorus at 4:38, in the middle of the performance, to keep it rollin’. Also, riffs, backgrounds. a drum solo with stop-time accents. These fellows are my heroes and I hope yours too.
Once you’ve caught your breath, you may read on.
For the past eight years, I’ve attended the Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party with great pleasure, and I’ve come home with a basketful of videos, which the musicians allowed me to disperse for free. This was generous of them, and it took a good deal of labor for me to create and distribute them.
This year, a variety of difficulties — technical and logistical — got in the way of my being an unpaid Jazz Cornucopia. There will be videos, but perhaps two dozen rather than four times that. I wish it were otherwise, but not everything is within my control.
I write this in sadness, but also with a point.
Several jazz fans, who I am convinced are good people who love the music as I do, came to me during the weekend and were unhappy with my news: “This is not good for us!” said one to me in the hallway.
I am sorry to have let the imagined Team down, but I am not a natural resource like the sun, and I cannot reproduce an entire event for public consumption, nor do I want to. Let these words be a reminder that not everything is for free, nor can it be, and let these sentences act as encouragement for people to slowly and carefully — those who can! — get out of their chairs in front of their computers and GO SOMEWHERE in front of the actual musicians rather than expecting it all to be given to us.
I hope this doesn’t sound excessively rancorous, but it is the truth, at least what the man behind the camera perceives it to be. And I plan to be very selective about posting comments, pro and con, on this point. (To paraphrase Lesley Gore, “It’s MY blog and I’ll post if I want to.”) Exultant praise of Duke and his band is, as always, welcome.
And to mute any bad feelings, or to attempt to, here are Duke and his Joymakers again. I could watch and listen to this a dozen times and not stop marveling:
Thanks to CineDevine for rescuing me so graciously from some of the technical problems: without him, this video would not be shared with JAZZ LIVES.
You don’t have to be a specialist in Morton’s neuroma to appreciate this excursion into happiness: a delicious romp on the 1930 Yellen and Ager paean to dancing, written for THE KING OF JAZZ.
That is an image — the famous Paul Whiteman recording. Here’s something that is even more multi-dimensional. The performance took place on September 23, 2016, at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe, as part of the Steamboat Stomp (thanks again and again to Duke Heitger for making his and our dreams come true). The noble participants here are James Evans, clarinet; Andy Schumm, cornet; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Tom Saunders, bass saxophone; Hal Smith, drums. And do they rock!
I find it hilariously fitting that because of the intermittent lighting in the room (everyone knows that jazz clubs, to be atmospheric, must be dark) that the most brightly lit area of this video — leaving aside James’ brilliantly white shirt — is one or both of Andy’s shoes. HAPPY FEET, no doubt.
There’s more to come from the Stomp and other joyous events . . . so keep following JAZZ LIVES. Good value for your money, if I may be so bold.
One way to celebrate Thanksgiving — eating a communal meal:
(In honor of my vegan / vegetarian friends, among them Lisa, Susan, Hedda, Sam, Melissa, and others yet unmet, a photograph free from animals and relatives with knives.)
But there are other ways to celebrate gratitude — although we know such celebrations should be every day.
I am not light on my feet, and my usual dance partner is a camera tripod, so I might simply be observing this . . . but please note that it is just one part of the very pleasing San Diego Jazz Fest— which has been my Thanksgiving celebration for the last five or six years.
Here’s one of the great pleasures of last year’s Fest — thanks to Hal Smith! Dawn Lambeth (more about her below) introduces Ray Skjelbred and Marc Caparone for a tribute to Jim Goodwin, Bing Crosby, and Louis Armstrong:
It would be unkind to relegate Dawn to the role of M.C., so here she is — one of the most subtly swinging singers I’ll ever hear:
Ray, Marc, Dawn, Carl Sonny Leyland, the Yerba Buena Stompers, David Boeddinghaus, Paolo Alderighi, Stephanie Trick, Grand Dominion, High Sierra, Kris Tokarski, Lakeshore Syncopators, Chloe Feoranzo, Hal Smith, Virginia Tichenor, Katie Cavera, John Gill, Marty Eggers, and more. But you don’t have to imagine who might be playing and singing: you can visit here — with colored markers — to begin arranging a weekend of Thanksgiving pleasures, including parasol parades, brass bands, rockabilly, zydeco, and other dishes.
More about the bands here, and the crucial page — how to buy tickets! — here. The whole website lives here on Facebook.
You’ll be grateful, I promise you. So much more refreshing than carb-induced slumber, sports on television, and a week of turkey sandwiches, getting less appealing by the day.
I confess that I’ve let some days go by without blogging. Unthinkable, I know, but I (gently) throw myself on the mercy of the JAZZ LIVES court of readers.
Permit me to explain. From Thursday, September 15, to Sunday, the 18th, I was entranced by and at the Cleveland Classic Jazz Party. Consider these — randomly chosen — delights. Jim Dapogny playing IF I WERE YOU (twice) and some of his winsome original compositions. Rossano Sportiello, Frank Tate, and Hal Smith swinging like no one’s business. Rebecca Kilgore singing KEEP A SONG IN YOUR SOUL in the Andy Schumm-Hal Smith tribute to Alex Hill. Andy, on piano, with Paul Patterson and Marty Grosz — once on banjo! — in a hot chamber trio (a highlight being LOUISE). Wesla Whitfield in wonderfully strong voice. Dan Block and Scott Robinson romping through HOTTER THAN ‘ELL. A Basie-styled small band led by Jon Burr, offering (among other pleasures) IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS OF THE MORNING. A string bass trio — Burr, Tate, and Kerry Lewis — showing that no other instruments need apply. Harry Allen and Jon-Erik Kellso playing ballads, and Dan Barrett, too. Tributes to Nat Cole, Harry Warren, Isham Jones, and Bill Evans. Many videos, too — although they take some time to emerge in public.
I came home late Sunday night and on Monday and Tuesday returned to normal (employed) life as Professor Steinman: John Updike, Tillie Olsen, William Faulkner.
Tomorrow, which is Wednesday, September 21, I get on a plane to New Orleans for Duke Heitger’s Steamboat Stomp. Obviously I can’t report on delights experienced, but I can say I am looking forward to hearing, talking with, and cheering for the Yerba Buena Stompers, Miss Ida Blue, Banu Gibson, Tim Laughlin, Hal Smith, Kris Tokarski, Andy Schumm, Alex Belhaj, David Boeddinghaus, Ed Wise, Charlie Halloran, James Evans, Steve Pistorius, Orange Kellin, Tom Saunders, Debbie Fagnano, and many others.
So there you have it. I could sit at home blogging, or I could be on the road, collecting gems, some of which I will be able to share.
My counsel in all this has been the most eminent solicitor, Thomas Langham, who will now offer his closing argument to the jury: