Thanks to the indefatigable Franz Hoffmann, this treasure! Twenty-four minutes and thirty-five seconds of live music (and rare conversation) recorded between April 17 and 19, 1961, in Baden-Baden, Germany — by the Newport Jazz All Stars: Ruby Braff, cornet; Vic Dickenson, trombone; Pee Wee Russell, clarinet; George Wein, piano; Jimmy Woode, string bass; Buzzy Drootin, drums. The program is produced and narrated by the jazz scholar Joachim E. Berendt:
WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS / CONVERSATIONS / C JAM BLUES:
SUGAR (Pee Wee) / LOVER, COME BACK TO ME:
JAZZ TRAIN BLUES / WHEN YOUR LOVER HAS GONE (Ruby):
I know that we have a million reasons to thank George Wein — going all the way back to Forties Boston and up to this very moment — but I propose that this band and his continued stewardship of NJF All-Star bands is something that hasn’t been sufficiently applauded. At a time when most of these musicians would have been under-employed or under-paid, George had the foresight to get them gigs all around the world, to encourage them to play a loose personal version of the Mainstream jazz they created so beautifully (having an awfully good time at the piano, too). Here we have a very vivid reminder of a beautiful band, fueled in equal parts by fun and generosity.
This post is dedicated with gratitude to all the musicians and to Franz Hoffmann, and it is especially for Mal Sharpe, Austin Casey, Destini Sneath, and anyone else who understands hot lyricism. (And you can read more about this band in Tom Hustad’s monumental Ruby Braff discography, BORN TO PLAY.)
May your happiness increase.