Tag Archives: DIPPER MOUTH BLUES

WHEN IN DOUBT, PLAY THAT THING! (March 8, 2020)

From here

to here

is a wonderful wiggly line, elevated by individualism and joy, expertise and passion.

I present here a glorious burst of enthusiasm — in honor of Joe Oliver and Little Louis — created by Clint Baker, trumpet; Ryan Calloway, clarinet; Riley Baker, trombone; Carl Sonny Leyland, piano; Bill Reinhart, banjo; Katie Cavera, string bass; Hal Smith, drums. Jess King also sang, but not on this performance. And late in the video, we have an unscheduled cameo appearance by RaeAnn Berry, the queen of Bay Area videographers. Don’t miss it.

I was privileged to witness and record this on March 8, 2020, at the Jazz Bash by the Bay, Monterey, California.

A postscript, and those who are tired of words on a lit screen have my encouragement to skip it and watch the video again.  The other night, I had an extended telephone conversation with a person who might have become a new friend, who chose to tell me that my emphasis on happiness was inexplicable, because it meant I was ignoring the full range of emotions.  I wish I’d thought to play that person this DIPPER MOUTH BLUES: maybe it would have made tangible some of the things I believe in.  (If art doesn’t evoke feeling, it may be splendid intellectually, but to me it seems incomplete.)  And should you wonder, the conversation is not continuing.  There!  Ruminate on that, if you like.

For now, go and PLAY THAT THING! — whatever shape it might take.  You understand that you don’t need a cornet to be joyous.

May your happiness increase!

OH, PLAY THAT THING!

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The sheet of manuscript paper below — with thanks to Norman Field and David Weiner, rescuers and researchers both — is my idea of Holy Writ: the lead sheet for Joe Oliver’s composition DIPPER MOUTH BLUES, registered with the Library of Congress in 1923.  Does it get more magical than that?  And Norman thinks that “by Joseph Oliver” in the upper right is in the King’s hand.  (All that is missing is the royal seal, methinks.) 

This page originally belonged to or passed through the hands of Turk Murphy — who knew something about playing the blues in a style the King would have liked — thus the signature in the bottom right corner, in a handwriting that isn’t the same as that found top right.  JAZZ LIVES readers should consider themselves encouraged to play, sing, or hum along.  As for rehearsals, you’re on your own.   

OH, PLAY THAT THING!

Jamaica Knauer captured this inspiring performance of DIPPER MOUTH BLUES at the July 2007 Bix Fest in Davenport, Iowa — with a quintet of unusual suspects gathered together as the “Flatland Hot Five”: Sue Fischer (drums), Steve Pistorius (piano), Tom Fischer (clarinet), Dave Bock (trombone), and Andy Schumm (cornet).  It’s one of those performances that makes you rethink the emphasis on “originality” in jazz improvisation — for, although hardly a note in this cherished creation is new, the effect is still stirring, uplifting.  Everything old can be new again when approached as if old and new were lively, interchangeable . . .

Perhaps this is what it sounded like when Joe Oliver took the stage at the Lincoln Gardens?