Everyone on stage!
This ROYAL GARDEN BLUES, a hilarious jazz extravaganza, closed the festivites at the 2011 Sweet and Hot Music Festival. You’ll have to navigate the solo order yourself, but the participants (more or less) include the guiding genius of festival, Wally Holmes. Then you’ll encounter John Sheridan, piano; Allan Vache, Bob Draga, clarinet; Richard Simon, bass; Connie Jones, cornet, Jennifer Leitham, Nedra Wheeler, bass; Jim Galloway, reeds; Ed Polcer, Corey Gemme, Randy Reinhart, cornet; Tim Laughlin, Dan Levinson, reeds; Russ Phillips, John Allred, Dan Barrett, trombones; Mark Shane, Johnny Varro, piano; Howard Alden, guitar; Dick Shanahan, Frank DiVito, drums . . . and perhaps some unidentified flying swingers in the background as well.
When the applause had died down, I heard a woman near me say happily, “Boy, that was fun!” Absolutely right, ma’am. I never thought I would want to spend Labor Day weekend in Los Angeles, but I’ve already (mentally) marked my 2012 calendar. You come, too.
Posted in "Thanks A Million", Ideal Places, Pay Attention!, Swing You Cats!, The Heroes Among Us, Wow!
Tagged Allan Vache, Bob Draga, Connie Jones, Corey Gemme, Dan Barrett, Dan Levinson, Dick Shanahan, Ed Polcer, Frank DiVito, Howard Alden, Jazz Lives, Jennifer Leitham, Jim Galloway, John Allred, John Sheridan, Johnny Varro, Mark Shane, Michael Steinman, Nedra Wheeler, Randy Reinhart, Richard Simon, Russ Phillips, Sweet and Hot Music Festival, Tim Laughlin, Wally Holmes
Underestimate pianist / composer / arranger John Sheridan at your peril. Neatly dressed, apparently serious-minded, he is really a volcanic eruption of swing just waiting for the proper moment. Yes, he can play the most delicate traceries behind a soloist or our Becky Kilgore, and when he sits down at a new piano he is more likely to venture into IN A MIST than HONKY TONK TRAIN BLUES (although his version of the latter song is peerless). But he’s a Force of Nature when seated at the piano. No cascades of notes; no violent runs up and down the keyboard; no “displays of technique”: John simply starts plainly and builds and builds — at these times, the pianist he summons up most is the much-missed Dave McKenna, without consciously aping the Woonsocket, R.I. master’s locomotive patterns.
Sheridan remains Sheridan, and that’s a good thing.
Here he is (with Richard Simon, bass; Dick Shanahan, drums) in the final set of the final afternoon of the 2011 Sweet and Hot Music Festival. All the musicians and the varied audiences were in a state of Jazz Satiety: whatever could have been played or heard was in the preceding four days.
So wily Mr. Sheridan eschewed his stride extravaganzas and tender ballads: instead, he suggested something both elementary and profound, Sonny Rollins’ calypso ST. THOMAS. And from those simple chords and potentially repetitive rhythmic patterns he built a powerful edifice — a masterpiece of variations on themes, of creative improvisation. And it rocked the house there — as I think it will do for yours now:
Another winning play from John Sheridan, man of many surprises!
Posted in "Thanks A Million", Irreplaceable, Jazz Titans, Pay Attention!, Swing You Cats!, The Heroes Among Us, The Real Thing, The Things We Love, Wow!
Tagged Becky Kilgore, calypso, Dave McKenna, Dick Shanahan, Jazz Lives, jazz piano, John Sheridan, Michael Steinman, Rebecca Kilgore, Richard Simon, Sonny Rollins, stomp, stride, Sweet and Hot Music Festival