Tag Archives: Dixieland Monterey

DAWN LAMBETH SWINGS SWEETLY! (Jazz Bash by the Bay, Monterey 2012)

Dawn Lambeth sings melodically, without strain, floating easily.  She doesn’t attempt to make each song into a deep dramatic statement; she doesn’t turn the lyrics into scat excursions; she honors the tune rather than demolishing it . . . her warm voice is a pleasure, never monochromatic but subtly full of colors and shadings.

She is serious and yearning on I COVER THE WATERFRONT here (resisting the temptation to copy Billie Holiday’s patented gestures), chipper and amused on DON’T FENCE ME IN . . . whatever she sings, she illuminates. Dawn is also a rare bird, someone hardly over-publicized, although she is well-loved in California . . . but she is worth following, as these videos will prove.  I have heard murmurings of a new DVD where she appears with the superb pianist Chris Dawson . . . I will tell you more when I know it.

Both of these performances come from the March 2012 Jazz Bash by the Bay / Dixieland Monterey.

The first, I COVER THE WATERFRONT, finds her with her friends the Reynolds Brothers: Marc Caparone, cornet; John Reynolds, guitar; Ralf Reynolds, washboard; Katie Cavera, string bass:

Delicacy, not melodrama characterizes her approach to that song — a winning naturalness.

And she’s just as comfortable with the broader sound and the broader comedy of the High Sierra Jazz Band accompanying her on DON’T FENCE ME IN.  The High Sierras — for this occasion — are Pieter Meijers, reeds; Bryan Shaw and Marc Caparone, cornets; Howard Miyata, trombone; Stan Huddleston, banjo; Charlie Castro, drums; Earl McKee, sousaphone; Bruce Huddleston, piano:

Sweet swing with expert rhythmic grace, heart, and wit . . .

May your happiness increase.

IN THE GROOVE with CARL SONNY LEYLAND, MARTY EGGERS, JOSH COLLAZO (Monterey 2012)

All the circumstances were against it: a Sunday morning session in a small room off the main stem at the 2012 Jazz Bash by the Bay (also called Dixieland Monterey) 2012.  But anyone who underestimates the superpowers of pianist Carl Sonny Leyland is in for a swinging series of shocks.  And on this session he was joined by the reliable Marty Eggers, string bass, and Josh Collazo, drums.  Power, style, grace, and the blues!

Here are a few selections from their exuberant commingling.

A nicely seasoned performance of the Albert Ammons BOOGIE WOOGIE BLUES:

Faster than a speeding bullet — and twice as accurate — SONG OF THE WANDERER:

Showing us all the subtleties and variations within the form: MR. FREDDIE BLUES:

Feeling like a few notes of Rachmaninoff would suit you nicely?  Here’s the RUSSIAN RAG, played at a splendidly leisurely tempo:

Be sure to hang on to the bannister, please!  OH, BABY! — evoking old Chicago:

Masters of swing!

May your happiness increase.

HOT AND READY: BOB SCHULZ’S FRISCO JAZZ BAND at DIXIELAND MONTEREY (March 3, 2012)

Here is a very generous helping from an old-fashioned stomping band — led by the very amiable cornetist and singer Bob Schulz — that played beautifully at the 2012 Dixieland Monterey Jazz Bash by the Bay.

There are thirteen songs for your listening and dancing pleasure (a set and a half).  If you think this unlucky, email me and I will do my best to allay your fears.

In the front line alongside Bob, we have Doug Finke — slippery and sly, someone I’d heard with great pleasure on his Independence Hall Jazz Band discs for Stomp Off — and the remarkable and always surprising Kim Cusack, now and again singing a song in what I think of as the subtlest barroom style.

Propelling the band is the dangerously swinging Hal Smith, the steady Jim Maihack on tuba, the engaging Scott Anthony on banjo, guitar, and vocals, and the inimitable Ray Skjelbred.  Quite an assortment of stars — with one purpose only.  You can guess what it is.

ROSETTA:

I’LL BE A FRIEND “WITH PLEASURE,” with its variant title, with a vocal by Scott that certainly makes us forget the original by Wes Vaughn:

THE GYPSY, sung by the romantic Mr. Schulz.  It would be such a pretty tune even if Louis and Charlie Parker had never taken charge of it:

BROTHER LOWDOWN, for Bob Helm:

GEORGIA BO BO, music to dance to:

SAND BAG RAG, featuring Ray:

MISTER JOHNSON, TURN ME LOOSE, where Kim voices the fears of all the potential miscreants in the audience:

THE LADY IN RED — catch Hal’s brushes and the rhythm section’s rocking start:

WHO WALKS IN WHEN I WALK OUT, featuring Kim and the front line in Nijinsky-inspired choreography.  Or is it Busby Berkeley?  You decide:

Then, a brief pause for deep breathing, battery changing, and healing infusions of food and drink.

BEALE STREET BLUES, a la 1954 Condon:

CAROLINA IN THE MORNING, sung sweetly by Scott:

ORIENTAL STRUT, in honor of the Hot Five:

LOUISIANA, with all the proper Bix touches:

I think that music is a tangible good-luck charm, thirteen or not!  Thanks again to Sue Kroninger and the wise folks who make Dixieland Monterey so fine for this rocking music!

May your happiness increase.

“WE’RE A HORNY BAND”: A REYNOLDS BROTHERS JAM SESSION at DIXIELAND MONTEREY JAZZ BASH BY THE BAY (March 3, 2012)

Before my title makes anyone flinch, permit to explain the context.  The Reynolds Brothers took the stand at Dixieland Monterey 2012 as the ordinarily brilliant quartet: John (guitar, vocal, whistling); Ralf (washboard); Katie Cavera (string bass, vocal); Marc Caparone (cornet).  That would have been enough sweetly incendiary music for anyone.

But soon they were joined by Howard Miyata (double-bell euphonium) and Bryan Shaw (cornet).  Knowing a good thing when they heard it, Flip Oakes (trumpet); Jerry Krahn (guitar) joined in.  If you count up the brass players, they certainly outnumbered the rhythm section.  At one point, Ralf looked around and said (approximately), “We’re a horny band!”  The crowd approved the sentiments and the evidence was visible.  After the session was over, I went over to the original RB, who were relaxing . . . and asked, most politely, “Would you mind if I used WAHB as the blog title?” surveying all four faces.  Major grinning resulted, and a unanimous Yes.

So there you have it.  With all that brass tubing and valve oil . . . I think my title is mild in comparison to more expansive ones that could have been.

Here’s the extravagant music!

The HB band began with the Claude Hopkins – Alex Hill anthem of love, I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR YOU.  Even a moribund sound system can’t stop this band:

Ready to launch, everyone?  Here’s the 1928 DIGA DIGA DOO.  Or KRAZY KAPERS if you like:

Now for some moralizing in swing — if you do naughty things, there will be divine retribution.  Or THERE’S GONNA BE THE DEVIL TO PAY (whose opening phrase looks forward two or three years to I HOPE GABRIEL LIKES MY MUSIC, doesn’t it?):

Attentive viewers will have noticed that trumpeter Flip Oakes [bearing his Wild Thing horn] and guitarist Jerry Krahn were indeed ready to launch at the end of that number (did they hear the sermon and decide to join in?) — Flip is seen adjusting his horn (understandably) but Jerry is heroically strumming away on ground level — a man with a mission!  Ralf directs the assembled masses into another kind of moral injunction — MAMA, DON’T GIVE ALL THE LARD AWAY — where the precious stuff is more than slightly metaphorical:

It was indeed a logical leap to Fats Waller’s FAT AND GREASY — which swings along because of or in spite of its rather revolting lyrics.  “I’m going in!” assures Ralf.  And Jerry Krahn slides home:

After all that jocular abuse of the imaginary plus-sized character, it’s a relief to have our Katie warble this pretty late-Twenties tune about the restorative benefits of astronomy and romance, GET OUT AND GET UNDER THE MOON, which begins with her vocal and then Bryan takes a very pretty solo (neither fat nor greasy):

And finally — HIGH SOCIETY (although it’s just the trio) which seems like a delirious meeting of Alphonse Picou and Rafael Mendez:

What a band, what a band!

May your happiness increase.

“FAMILY-FRIENDLY”: THE REYNOLDS BROTHERS, FAMILY, AND FRIENDS at DIXIELAND MONTEREY (March 3, 2012)

“Family-friendly” often means that there will be a Children’s Menu, mac and cheese, crayons, and a paper tablecloth . . . or that the master of ceremonies will avoid anatomical jokes in favor of balloon animals.

But when it comes to hot jazz, the Reynolds Brothers are always family-friendly, since Ralf (washboard and commentary) and John (vocals, guitar, banjo, whistling, and commentary) are brothers.  Apparently they are friendly as well!  Katie Cavera (string bass, vocals) and Marc Caparone (cornet, vocals) are related only in their love of deep swing and an awareness of absurdities.

But this session — recorded on March 3, 2012, at the Dixieland Monterey Jazz Bash by the Bay — was seriously family-friendly in the most elevating way because Dave Caparone — Marc’s father — a superb swing trombonist, came along for the ride.  Dave never studied Benny Morton, but he has a good deal of the Master’s warm, burry sound in solo and his neat, unhackneyed ensemble playing.

The cosmic syncopations the Brothers and family created acted as jazz pheronomes, so other players joined in, as you will see.

Swing, you cats!

LADY BE GOOD:

SOME OF THESE DAYS:

Allan Vache brought himself and his clarinet for LOVE IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER:

Mark Allen Jones couldn’t wait to hear Katie’s Second Avenue turn on BEI MIR BIS DU SCHOEN:

I GOT RHYTHM:

WRAP YOUR TROUBLES IN DREAMS:

MY HONEY’S LOVIN’ ARMS:

HAPPY FEET:

May your happiness increase.

Incidentally, I have it on good authority that Ralf is going to be forming a Southern California chapter of the Anti-Defamation League exclusively for the aid and comfort of washboard players.  I’ve asked to be an honorary member, and remind the anti-washboardians that any instrument can swing when played with expertise and feeling.  And yes, I would be happy if my sister married a washboard player — if he swung like Ralf.  But she’s taken, so it might be a moot point.

RHYTHM SAVES THE WORLD: THE REYNOLDS BROTHERS and CARL SONNY LEYLAND at DIXIELAND MONTEREY JAZZ BASH BY THE BAY (March 3, 2012)

When the Reynolds Brothers assemble onstage, I know great things are going to happen.  They haven’t let me down yet.  The superb musicians who want to sit in with the Brothers are living testimony to their musical wizardry.  But you don’t have to take my words for it. 

It happened again at the 2012 Dixieland Monterey Jazz Bash by the Bay, when the hot pianist / singer Carl Sonny Leyland dropped by to join the Brothers on the afternoon of March 3, 2012.  The Reynolds Brothers are Ralf (washboard and traffic control); John (vocal, guitar, whistling); Marc Caparone (trumpet); Katie Cavera (string bass, vocals).

It wasn’t a national holiday, but it felt like one from the first notes.

Gather ’round that samovar, children — DARK EYES:

That’s the day when I’m with you!  Summon up the shades of Bix, Eddie Lang, the Keller Sisters and Lynch, if you please, for SUNDAY:

Sonny offers Washboard Sam’s LEVEE CAMP BLUES:

A very pretty version of I’M GONG TO SIT RIGHT DOWN AND WRITE MYSELF A LETTER — not an email, and with no help from Sir Paul McCartney, no, no:

If your romantic activity consists of writing love letters to yourself, then Katie’s question — posed at a rollicking tempo — would certainly be appropriate — DO YOU EVER THINK OF ME?:

Real affection doesn’t require wearing the digits off one’s Visa card — thus, I CAN’T GIVE YOU ANYTHING BUT LOVE at a nice Louis tempo, after John’s late-period Django architecture.  What a good singer he is!

PEPPER STEAK is really a close cousin of I’VE FOUND A NEW BABY — with beef, peppers, beans and cabbage making up a truly hot lunch:

What could follow that?  How about a boogie-woogie ST. LOUIS BLUES with habanera seasonings?:

We’re always thinking of you, MARGIE — even at this stomping eight-to-the-bar tempo:

We needed something tender, ethereal after that — so John whistled his own sweet version of DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME, a song with history before Mama Cass visited it:

And to close — a thoroughly elevated version of BLUE ROOM, with memories of Hot Lips Page and the 1932 Moten band:

If the Nobel Prize people ever come to their senses and institute the Nobel Prize for Rhythm, I know the people I’ll nominate.  Wouldn’t you?

May your happiness increase.

SWING SESSION at DIXIELAND MONTEREY 2012: ALLAN VACHE, JOHN COCUZZI, JOHN SHERIDAN, PAUL KELLER, ED METZ (March 3, 2012)

Here are Allan Vache, clarinet; John Cocuzzi, vibraphone; John Sheridan, piano; Paul Keller, string bass; Ed Metz, drums and master of jazz ceremonies, having a good time and making sure we did as well, on March 3, 2012, at Dixieland Monterey — the Jazz Bash by the Bay.

They began with a rocking DON’T GET AROUND MUCH ANYMORE, with a shuffle beat.  (Allan had changed the title, for all to hear, to DON’T GET MUCH AROUND HERE ANYMORE, a subtle but telling difference):

Then, after Ed had explained his unexpected proliferation of nouns and verbs, he led the band into that paean to familiar joys, BACK IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD:

Many jazz festivals are short on PRETTY — the prevailing winds are loud and fast — so this serene version of MORE THAN YOU KNOW was a deep delight, starting with Sheridan’s reading of the verse:

A romping SOME OF THESE DAYS, featuring Ed.  Himself:

Memories of Benny, Lionel, Teddy, and Gene — MEMORIES OF YOU:

For Bix, for Louis, and for fun — ‘WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS:

And another pretty tune — how lovely!  Johnny Mandel / Johnny Mercer’s EMILY:

The set closed with a paradox (among the musical vaudeville and tender ballads) — CALIFORNIA, HERE I COME — even though they were already there.  Paul Keller embodies “the walking bass” for us:

May your happiness increase.

ALL THE CATS JOIN IN (at SWEET AND HOT 2011): MOLLY RYAN, DAN LEVINSON, MARK SHANE, DAN BARRETT, MARC CAPARONE, COREY GEMME, CHLOE FEORANZO, CONNIE JONES

It began, as many good things do, with just a trio performing a late-night set (Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011) in the sports bar “Champions” at the 2011 Sweet and Hot Music Festival.  But by the end of the hour, the band had expanded considerably, with many delightful surprises.  The trio was reedman Dan Levinson, singer and guitarist Molly Ryan, and peerless pianist Mark Shane.  To me, that’s a full orchestra — as you can hear for yourself on their version of Jimmie Noone’s EL RADO SCUFFLE, named for a Chicago jazz club:

Molly sweetly sings (no surprise here) the national anthem of hot jazz fans, GET RHYTHM IN YOUR FEET — reminding me of the mid-Thirties Red Allen recording:

That would have been fun enough for anyone with ears!  But sharp-eyed viewers will notice two superheroes coming in to the Champions sports bar — cornetist Marc Caparone and trombonist-plus Dan Barrett.  Since Dan had been exploring the Jimmie Noone repertoire, he called READY FOR THE RIVER (one of those I’m-going-to-kill-myself-in-swingtime songs, which has the singer threatening to drown himself).  Watch closely, as the three members of the front line discover that 1) they have something in common, and 2) great minds think alike, even if Dan Barrett later characterized their shared knowledge as evidence of misspent childhoods.  (See below* for additional information!)

Perhaps that is true, but I got delighted chills up and down my spine, and it wasn’t the air conditioning:

This happy quintet (three horns, two rhythm, no waiting) then proceeded into SAN:

Molly honored a request for the lovely / wistful / witty song about dreams coming true when there’s no money to help them along (I know it from an Eddie Cantor record), WHEN MY SHIP COMES IN.  Talk abuot music that makes the most delicious lemonade when there are no lemons to work with!

Other musicians had obviously heard the good vibrations (one of the nicest aspects of both Sweet and Hot and Dixieland Monterey is the cross-fertilization, or — in less scientific terms — the exalted sitting-in): how about Chloe Feoranzo on clarinet and Corey Gemme on C-melody saxophone for that immortal yet nagging question, DO YOU EVER THINK OF ME?:

Then, presumably with pants on, the SHEIK OF ARABY:

And (in preparation for his set, which followed, but also because he wanted to get in on the fun), the superb cornetist Connie Jones joined in for Molly’s exultant rendition of CALIFORNIA, HERE I COME!  I would suggest that the state tourist board needs her to sing this song, but perhaps the people in power already know this:

Sweet and hot and irreplaceable, too.

*Some kind soul / hot music scholar transcribed the lyrics — verse and chorus! — for the Coon-Sanders recording, and I print the transcription below.  Possibly a song for group harmony on long car trips?

VERSE: Tell the world that I’m all through with it.
No more will I moan.
Burn my home. What can I do with it?
Can’t live all alone.
No use wastin’ time,
For I just know that I’m—

CHORUS: Ready for the river, the shivery river,
The river that goes down to the sea.
Gonna drown my troubles, and leave just the bubbles
To indicate what used to be me.
Made my will, wrote some notes,
Gonna keep a-walkin’ ’til my straw hat floats.
I’m ready for the river, the shivery river,
So get the river ready for me.

FEEL BETTER FAST, or “BEGONE, DULL CARE!”

“Telling other folks what to do is a bad bidnis,” said Flannery O’Connor. 

So I hope my readers will excuse my lapse into advice-giving.  Follow these simple steps to be happier. 

1.  Click on the link (or the video) below.

2.  Observe closely.  Notice any changes in your facial musculature.  It is possible that your limbs may wish to move rhythmically.  This is to be expected.  Do not be alarmed.  Do not seek medical assistance.  (This is a natural part of the process of JOY.)

3.  “If that don’t get it, then forget it for now,” sang Jack Teagarden.

I will let the music speak for itself — and it does!  Sweetly, hilariously, with plenty rhythm.

P.S.  My need to repost this video performance is because it always makes me happy, and I note that (as I write this) only sixty-one people in the whole YouTube universe have watched it so far — a number of those viewings being mine. 

If I had a natural joy-enhancer in my possession and I didn’t give it to any and everyone, what kind of spiritual miser would I be? 

So I urge you all to move the setting to “full screen,” and dig it.  If it doesn’t elate, illumine, and uplift, I’m sorry — I tried. 

But YOUNG AND HEALTHY is one of the best free, locally sourced, organic, no-side-effects cures for temporary relief of anhedonia known.

And for the record, this magic took place at the 2011 Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California (blessings on Sue Kroninger!) and the transformative alchemists and wizards up there on the stage are John and Ralf Reynolds, Katie Cavera, Dan Barrett, Jeff Barnhart, Marc Caparone, and Bryan Shaw — summoning up Bing Crosby, Eddie Lang, Putney Dandridge, Fats Waller, the Chocolate Dandies, and more.  I wish them all the joy they bring to us, tenfold.

SACRAMENTO, HERE I COME!: SACRAMENTO JAZZ FESTIVAL and JUBILEE 2011

The sheer numbers are impressive: over 450 sets of music planned in 24 venues with over 70 bands.  And the Sacramento Jazz organizers are not narrow in their tastes: in addition to traditional jazz, there’s blues, zydeco, and other forms of danceable music.

But for me the desire to go somewhere I’ve never been before is fueled by the jazz-lover’s carpe diem.  Inside me the sentence forms, more urgent than other impulses: “I have to go _____ because I could die never having heard _____ in person.”  The thought of my death or of someone else’s may seem morbid (especially over the Memorial Day weekend) but it is a profoundly deep motivator.

Awareness that the days dwindle down to a precious few got me on an airplane to hear and meet Bent Persson, Frans Sjostrom, Matthias Seuffert, Nick Ward, and two dozen others at Whitley Bay.

At Monterey, I met the Reynolds Brothers, Bryan Shaw, Sue Kroninger, Clint Baker, Carl Sonny Leyland, Danny Coots, Rae Ann Berry . . . as well as surprising the musicians I already knew (Dan Barrett, Joel Forbes, Becky Kilgore, Eddie Erickson, Jeff Barnhart, Marc Caparone, and Dawn Lambeth) by my presence.

At Sacramento, I will re-encounter some associates from New York end elsewhere: Jon-Erik Kellso, John Allred, Bill Allred, Jim Fryer, Bria Skonberg, Dan Block, John Sheridan, and Kevin Dorn . . . but I’ll also finally — meet up with Hal Smith and the International Sextet.  Here’s a taste of what Anita Thomas, Kim Cusack, Clint Baker, Katie Cavera, Carl Sonny Leyland, and Hal do with THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE:

Then, there will be clarinetist Bob Draga, cornetists Ed Polcer and Bob Schulz, pianists Johnny Varro and David Boeddinghaus, and the wonderful singer Banu Gibson (here’s a little taste of Banu with Jon-Erik, trombonist David Sager, reedman Dan Levinson, Kevin Dorn and others):

And because not everyone who lives with or loves a jazz fancier shares his / her obsession, there’s a Bloody Mary Festival, zydeco bands including Tom Rigney and Flambeau, blues, soul, rhythm ‘n’ blues, Johnny Cash and Steely Dan tribute bands, Latin bands, “Afrobeat,” marching bands and more — how can you lose, to quote Benny Carter?

I’ll be there — Rae Ann and I will be operating video cameras and wearing PRESS badges, so we’ll be hard to miss.  And here’s more information about the all-event price, hotel rates, and the festivities.  Something happening all through the weekend!

Don’t miss this party!

HOT STRINGS AT MONTEREY (Dixieland Monterey 2011: The Final Set)

I know it’s subjective, but I find some instruments intrinsically more pleasing than others.  I am slightly ashamed that when someone asked, “Are you going to hear the four-banjo set at the Wharf Theatre?” the words “four” and “banjos” in such proximity made me a little nervous.

But then I got more information.  “It should be good, Michael.  The four banjos will be played by Clint Baker, Katie Cavera, Paul Mehling, and John Reynolds.  Marc Caparone will play bass, and Ralf Reynolds will swing out on the washboard and blow his whistle whenever he hears a musical ‘Foul!'”

I headed north to the Wharf with expectations that it would be, well, not bad.  I could endure four banjos . . .

The music I heard not only lifted me out of my seat but is a rebuke to my inherent jazz snobbery.  This set swung as hard as anything I’ve ever heard live, and you will see that I ain’t jiving.

And since I am still grappling with a wicked cold as I write this post, I think of Aimee Gauvin’s words (when he put on his white coat and became Dr. Jazz): GOOD FOR WHAT AILS YOU!

For once, I will present with a minimum of comment.  If this music needs explanation (and the onstage speakers are wonderfully, hilariously articulate), you need more than Sudafed.

Politically incorrect intro, please?  CHINATOWN, MY CHINATOWN:

Something for Louis!  SOMEDAY YOU’LL BE SORRY:

John explains that shiny thing!  DIGA DIGA DOO:

Clint warns us — SOME OF THESE DAYS:

Did you know the secret rules of banjo culture?  Now you do.  And Katie (Baby Face) explains it all, in the key of Ab.  I wanted so badly to sing along but didn’t want my voice to overwhelm the video, so you are encouraged to sing loudly at home:

Something pretty — the 1931 DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME:

Paul reinforces the banjo’s international theme with DARK EYES:

Once Katie explains the great gender-divide, we can head into what I think is a highlight of my life in 2011.  If you watch only clip in this posting (perhaps being banjo-timid) please watch this one. Surprises abound!  Watch out for flying cornets on CHARLEY, MY BOY:

Something hinting at Claude Hopkins and Fletcher Henderson c. 1932-33, HONEYSUCKLE ROSE.  Identify the quotations and win the prize:

Since these folks love their home state, what would be a better closer than CALIFORNIA, HERE I COME with a cornet interlude:

My pal Ricky Riccardi says he wants to see the Reynolds Brothers on Mount Rushmore — a fine sentiment.  But I am a man of more modest dreams.  I’d like to hear the Reynolds Brothers’ music being played on jazz / vintage pop radio shows — do any of my readers have a radio program?  Get in touch with me!

I’d like to see the Brothers appearing at jazz festivals outside of their home state.  California will just have to stop being selfish and allow the boys to travel.  We’ll change that restrictive law.  What, New York doesn’t need ferocious, hilarious swing?  England?  Really!

These are the last of the videos I took at Monterey — a mere ninety or so.  I am very proud of what I captured and have shared, and am only sad that I didn’t take more . . . But Rae Ann Berry (that’s SFRaeAnn to YouTube) has posted videos of a session or two that I didn’t catch, so head on over to YouTube to see more.

I know it is a bad idea to rush time away — with every day a wrapped box full of surprises! — but I can’t wait for the 2012 Jazz Bash By The Bay.  Thanks to all of the musicians for lifting the stage up and up and up; thanks to Sue Kroninger for creating a wonderful world for all of us to float in for that weekend.

I will close with a very personal note.

At the end of the set, Clint — who has a heart as big as the Bay Area — asked all the musicians to sign his banjo head.  I watched from a distance, not wanting to intrude.  How sweet!  His way of saying, “I never want to forget this moment, and we are all brothers and sisters.”  Then he asked me to sign it also.

I have never been so honored in my life.

I’ve won awards.  I’ve had my books reviewed in the New York Times.  But to be handed a Sharpie and encouraged to sign was something I wouldn’t have had the temerity to dream of.  I wrote only three words, “With deep love,” but that was what I felt and feel.  No one is going to ask me to sit in by playing, and that’s a good thing for the jazz cosmos, but I’ve been embraced by the people I love and admire.

WOW! to quote the Sage, Eddie Erickson.

MORE FROM CLINT BAKER’S NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND at DIXIELAND MONTEREY (March 6, 2011)

Through the magic of YouTube and the generosity of Rae Ann Berry, I had been watching the extraordinary Clint Baker lead bands, generate swing, and dazzle on a good number of instruments for years before I was privileged to meet him.

He turned out to be a real kindred spirit: funny, genuine, candid.  And he throws himself into whatever musical environment he finds himself, never standing back at a reserved distance.  His groups swing — you can take that for granted — but Clint has different varieties of swing for different musical contexts — as you will hear in this set.

Clint’s New Orleans Jazz Band is clearly a group of friends, which is always a plus.  There’s Marc Caparone on cornet; Howard Miyata on trombone; jazz patriarch Mike Baird on reeds; Dawn Lambeth on piano and vocals; Jeff Hamilton on piano and drums; Katie Cavera on guitar and vocals; Paul Mehling on bass . . . a versatile band of shape-shifters who are true to their own deep conception of rocking improvised music.

The set began with a funky ONE SWEET LETTER FROM YOU (its antecedent more Bunk than Hamp): Uncle How had to scurry from one set to another but did make it!

Katie came to the microphone to do one of her specialties, DO SOMETHING, what I think of as the flapper’s sweetly impatient updating of TO HIS COY MISTRESS, or “Shut up and kiss me, will you?”  I’ve posted several versions of this song from Monterey, and each one’s been a pleasure:

Now that we’ve gotten the erotic carpe diem out of the way (at least for the moment), it’s time to honor Paul Barbarin with BOURBON STREET PARADE and the appropriate vocal chorus:

Something a little closer to the North: the lovely singing of Dawn Lambeth (with Jeff Hamilton taking over at the piano bench) — turning this New Orleans street parade into a time-travel back to the Vocalion studios with everyone making it up for the first time on THEM THERE EYES:

And Dawn follows with the tender THEY CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME.  Listen closely to her sweet, original phrasing — a delight:

I knew MILENBERG JOYS was going to be something special when the ever-useful Jeff moved back to the drums, Dawn regained her seat at the piano, and Clint broke out his cornet.  Please sit a safe distance from the monitor!  The brass interplay is just extraordinary.  I was wiping the sweat from my brow, and I was only videorecording.  Later that day, I caught Clint taking a break betwen sets and I approached him with my best ominous look.  “That MILENBERG JOYS you played earlier caused me a real problem,” I said unhappily.  “Why?  What happened?” he said with the deep gloom of a teenage boy whose misdeed has been found out.  “It was so hot it melted part of my camera, you know!” I said, and he relaxed and grinned.  I felt guilty for tormenting him, but it was worth it:

I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS is often the closing song of a set — and this would have satisfied any dreamy jazzlover, with Dawn’s gentle, heartfelt vocal:

But this is a New Orleans band . . . so they had to go out with something assertive, even something feline.  Here’s TIGER RAG, which begins with a loud MEOW.  It offers more of that two-cornet arson!  And sharp-eyed cornet detectives will note that at some point in the performance (probably during the banjo solo) Marc and Clint switched cornets, although surely keeping their own mouthpieces.  No matter: this music brings down the house even when you watch it with your eyes closed:

Glorious!

And for those who can’t miss a minute or an alternate take . . . you should know that the devoted Rae Ann Berry has put her own videos of this band on YouTube (see “SFRaeAnn”) and you might find the variations in cinematography and sound of interest.  I know I do.  And I imagine someone with two computers, synchronized, digging Clint and this band in surround-sound-and-Hot-Cinerama.

CAUTION! HOT! THE REYNOLDS BROTHERS and FRIENDS at DIXIELAND MONTEREY (March 5, 2011)

Looking back on it, I believe my parents were over-cautious: the air was full of BE CAREFUL!  But perhaps they knew more than I gave them credit for at the time.

It is in their spirit that I post the following warning before my latest jazz videos, and I think you should take it very seriously:

The Reynolds Brothers could singe your fingers, your clothing, or anything else available.  They are dangerous!  I was driving home from work about ten days ago with one of their CDs in the player — it was on a seven-minute plus romp on HAPPY FEET featuring Scott Black, Dan Levinson, Allan Vache, and others — and I couldn’t help myself.  I am only glad that no police officer saw me joyously whacking my head into the headrest (what else is it there for?) on 2 and 4.  And then I played the track again.  Ecstatic jive!

By the Reynolds Brothers, I mean John (guitar, vocal, scat, whistling); Ralf (washboard, commentary, whistle-blowing); Marc Caparone (cornet); Katie Cavera (string bass); and special guest pianist Marc Allen Jones.  This set was recorded at Dixieland Monterey (the Jazz Bash by the Bay) on March 5. 2011.

Here we go!  And you can put the boys in white dinner jackets and bow ties, but you can’t stop them from swinging like mad.  How about a little FUTURISTIC JUNGLEISM to scare the next-door neighbors?

In the mood for something Asian?  Here’s CHINA BOY:

Be kind to all living creatures (say McKinney’s Cotton Pickers), so NEVER SWAT A FLY (and Ralf tells about Grandma ZaSu Pitts):

Something familiar — LADY BE GOOD in the key of love:

And Katie comes out to do her winsomely naughty-but-innocent DO SOMETHING.  (She’s happily married, though, fellows, so sit back down.):

I don’t know what the subconscious link between Katie’s song and the Boswell Sisters’ classic SENTIMENTAL GENTLEMAN FROM GEORGIA is, but if anyone could “do something” to relax those jangled nerves it would be this Southern swain:

Shelley Burns joins in for that sweet tune — Louis and Fats both loved it! — I’VE GOT MY FINGERS CROSSED:

In the name of geography, and for all the women named Merry in the audience, here’s CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS:

Homage to Jack Teagarden and Johnny Mercer, DR. HECKLE AND MR. JIBE (Mercer loved such wordpplay — a later song is DR. WATSON AND MR. HOLMES):

And, to finish, an ecstatic HAPPY FEET — which ours were!

Jazz ecstasy — or have I said that already?

WHAT HAPPINESS LOOKS and SOUNDS LIKE (at DIXIELAND MONTEREY): March 5, 2011

More from Dixieland Monterey 2011 (the Jazz Bash by the Bay)!

On paper, this was advertised as simply another session by the Reynolds Brothers, which was good enough for me: I had been following them around, a dazed and grinning hero-worshipper.  They’re John (National steel guitar, vocals, whistling), Ralf (washboard), Katie Cavera (string bass, vocal), Marc Caparone (cornet).  More than enough for anyone!

But when I saw their friends — Jeff Barnhart (piano), Dan Barrett (trombone), Bryan Shaw (trumpet), I settled into my seat knowing that great things — a jazz colloquy on Olympus — would come.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

They began with I NEVER KNEW (homage to that wonderful recording by Benny Carter, Floyd O’Brien, Teddy Wilson, Chu Berry, Ernest Hill, Sidney Catlett, and Max Kaminsky, as “The Chocolate Dandies”).  Their reimagining has stunning brass playing and a delightfully weird harmonic interlude by Jeff — picked up by the horns — before they rock on out:

I adjusted my camera’s white balance so the scene looked less like a Vincent Price film in time for the second number, I WANT A LITTLE GIRL.  Originally recorded in 1930 by McKinney’s Cotton Pickers (with a vocal by George Thomas, if I remember correctly), it was rediscovered in 1945-6 by Buck Clayton and Louis.

The spirits of Mr. Strong and Mr. Clayton — tender yet annunciatory — permeate this performance.  And look at the faces of the musicians!  Watch Dan listening to Marc and Bryan!  Catch the dreamy don’t-wake-me-now look on Katie’s face!  It’s thrilling to see musicians afloat on mutual love for beautiful sounds:

I don’t know who suggested the next tune — a wonderful one, almost forgotten, by Harry Warren from FORTY-SECOND STREET, recorded by Bing Crosby and (much later) by Ruby Braff — another jazz carpe diem for the ages.  The clever lyrics are by Al Dubin.  This version has the approving ghosts of Bing and Putney Dandridge hovering around it — with the brass section discoursing in the happiest way on the beauties of Thirties and Forties swing epigrams.  And Jeff’s performance (swinging, hilarious, sweet) suggests what Fats might have done with the song:

Because I had made dinner plans with the irrepressible Jack Rothstein, I had to leave at this point, but I turned to my dear friend Rae Ann Berry and begged her in an insistent whisper, “Please.  Please tape the rest of this?  I have to go but I can’t stand missing the rest.”  And Rae Ann, truly a good sport, took over.  So the remaining videos exist because of her generosity.

And they are generous!

Katie asks the lover’s question — DO YOU EVER THINK OF ME?  Oh, we do, Katie.  Her sweetly unaffected vocal gives way to a brass fantasy (who needs clarinets?) in solos and riffs.  And in the middle, there is a perfectly astonishing piano solo — try this at home.  I dare you!  And catch Jeff watching John in delighted amazement while John scrolls through one of his amazing solos (Jeff is chording with his left hand).  Another Katie chorus, and then Brass Ecstasy — circa 1933 (I think), with everyone shouting for joy to the heavens:

Then something beautiful and rare — a Bryan Shaw ballad feature!  It’s I’M CONFESSIN’ (with the bridge of his first solo loving embodiment of Buck Clayton) — again embodying the tradition of singing trumpets born from Louis.  (I’ve heard that Bryan has completed a new Arbors CD with Dan Barrett and friends, coming soon!)  Then a weirdly sweet Jeff Barnhart piano interlude before Bryan offers his own mixture of drama and sweetness:

Back to Louis and Fats (what could be wrong?) for the 1935 GOT A BRAN’ NEW SUIT — in the key of G, by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz.  About a minute into this performance, you’ll hear that delicious sound of a band locking into swing — a swing that some bands reach only in the last chorus and some never reach at all!  John’s sweet, flying vocal is appropriate for this song and for a man so beautifully dressed:

I’ve already written encomia for Becky Kilgore’s guest appearance with this band on WHEN I TAKE MY SUGAR TO TEA — but I’m including this video because I think it cannot be seen too many times:

And to close — a simple Louis blues, MAHOGANY HALL STOMP, absolutely exultant:

This music gave and gives so much pleasure that I had trouble finding a title for this posting.  I am content with mine — see the smiles on the faces of the musicians! — but have to share another story, with apologies for the dropping of names.  When I was fortunate enough to chat with clarinetist Frank Chace (now more than a decade ago), he remembered that he and Marty Grosz had listened, rapt, to Pee Wee Russell’s solo on SWEET SUE with the Muggsy Spanier Ragtimers.  Marty’s comment was, “Well, if that doesn’t scrape the clouds . . . !” which is as good a summation of what artistic bliss feels like.

Thank you, Jeff, Dan, Marc, Ralf, Bryan, Katie, John, and Rae Ann — for keeping Beautiful Music Alive!

THE TITAN HOT SEVEN at DIXIELAND MONTEREY (March 5, 2011)

The Titan Hot Seven is (are?) a lively, multi-faceted, energetic band — full of jostling good humor.  They aren’t locked into one narrow style or approach; they are popular and swinging both.  A full-service jazz band!

The band is spearheaded by pianist / singer / raconteur Jeff Barnhart, someone you’ve just heard about on JAZZ LIVES for his Fats Waller CD.  Then there’s the multi-talented Jim Fryer (trombone, vocals, euphonium) and the swinging Danny Coots, master of the matched grip and rocking down-home rhythms.  Danny’s partners in the rhythm section are the very able guitarist / banjoist Jerry Krahn and the powerful bassist Ike Harris.  Up in the front, there’s the splendidly assured pairing of Flip Oakes (trumpet / fluegelhorn) and reedman Jim Buchmann.  A hot band and a great show!

Here they are at Dixieland Monterey, the Jazz Bash by the Bay.

Danny Coots and Jeff start things rocking instantly with the Twenties favorite (it seems one of those bits of Oriental exoticism — here given a Krupa SING SING SING kick-off) SAN:

And for an instant change of pace, how about the TH7’s romantic side?  Here Flip Oakes dedicates Porter’s I LOVE YOU to his wife, in the audience:

Deadpan comic raconteur Jim Fryer brings us to France to honor Sidney Bechet, on the latter’s PROMENADE DES CHAMPS-ELYSSES:

I don’t think the Titans know my dear Aunt Ida Melrose, but they take an easy lyrical trot through “her” song.  Listen for Jim Buchmann’s sweet soprano and booting tenor, and Jeff’s irresistible late-vaudeville singing, mixing sincerity and just a hint of Wallerian satire:

I’m sorry that the variety shows on television no longer exist: it seems to me that I’M GOING TO SKEDADDLE BACK TO SEATTLE would have been perfect as a production number for Carol Burnett or Jackie Gleason.  Where did the June Taylor Dancers go?

In honor of young Bella Coots, a rocking (klezmer-tinged) I FOUND A NEW BABY:

Something for everyone and then some!

BE A TITAN!  CLICK HERE TO GIVE TO THE MUSICIANS YOU SEE IN THESE VIDEOS (ALL MONEY COLLECTED GOES TO THEM):

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

SWING MASTERS: BECKY KILGORE and FRIENDS at DIXIELAND MONTEREY (March 5, 2011)

I’ve admired Becky Kilgore’s singing and grace for some years now: her creamy voice, her understated, convincing dramatic sense, her innate swing.  And although she is poised, she is also a great chance-taking improviser, someone able to abandon herself to the song, shining her light through it, letting it reveal its beauties to us.

At Dixieland Monterey, she was most often joined by the noble members of her Quartet: Dan Barrett on trombone, vocals, and piano; Eddie Erickson on banjo, guitar, and vocals; Joel Forbes on string bass.

But there came a time when a few more pals — old and new — crept onto the stage to create a lovely little jazz party within the jazz party: Carl Sonny Leyland, rocking piano man; Bryan Shaw, trumpet wizard; Jeff Hamilton, drum stylist.

I am thrilled to be able to share some of the music created that evening with my readers.  It is a special pleasure — everyone was so happy and relaxed, witty and swinging.  Propulsive and gentle, masterful and casual: the great art that is a matter of skill, practice, nonchalance, and relaxation.

Let’s begin with I’M GOING TO SIT RIGHT DOWN AND WRITE MYSELF A LETTER that swings so persuasively from the first note — and Becky gets herself up on the streamline train without spilling her coffee!  Hear the horns and that rhythm section — eloquent and easy.

I would like my friends to use this clip as a Blindfold Test.  Say, for instance, you have friends who “don’t like jazz,” or “don’t get that old jazz,” or find “Dixieland” boring.  Let them hear this — without naming anyone’s name or explaining a thing.  Then ask, “Does that make you feel good?”  Let them get into the absolutely impromptu Kilgore – Hamilton discussion: it makes everyone on stage feel BETTER!

(Musicians’ in-joke: this song is sometimes called I’M GOING TO  SIT RIGHT DOWN AND KNIT MYSELF A SWEATER, but the weather is warming up rapidly, even in Farmer City, Illinois, so a letter might be all that was needed.)

HARD-HEARTED HANNAH comes from the intersection of vaudeville, pop music, and hot improvisation.  Once she’s been properly attired in Guitar, she treats the hyperbolic lyrics with just the right mixture of amusement and seriousness.  And, dear viewers, look how happy everyone on that stand is!  That isn’t always the case, and it is meaningful — a tribute to the easy grace of all concerned.  The interplay between Dan and Bryan is priceless (think of Teagarden and Davison, please?) over that splendidly-swinging Vanguard Records rhythm section (could someone direct me to the Reno Club or the Famous Door, 1938?).  Eddie digs deep into his stash of bent notes and witty banjo run before Dan decides to let us know all about the verse — in his upper register, but we get the point!  And Becky rocks us out through the rather gruesome lyrics (she is a stellar musical comedienne, isn’t she, in the great tradition?):

Although both Eddie Erickson and Thomas Waller are usually associated with hi-jinks and romping jazz, both of them shared a deep yearning tenderness.  (Hear Fats’ late recording of I’LL NEVER SMILE AGAIN if you need proof.)  Eddie is often asked to make people laugh, but his first vocal chorus is a sweet, feeling masterpiece in miniature — followed by Dan’s Dickensonian ruminations on the theme and Carl’s special mixture of Fats, Pete Johnson, and Jess Stacy, to great effect.  After Joel’s deep-down chorus, the key changes so that Becky can come in and float over the band.  She’s more than believable: the embodiment of tender commitment!

Even if you had left all your mischief behind, you might have to take a fast train to see your Beloved — and Carl Sonny Leyland, Joel Forbes, and Jeff Hamilton show us how with an easy but intense HONKY TONK TRAIN BLUES, with its own deep swinging pulse:

Less expert musicians would have tried to top the HONKY TONK TRAIN with something faster and louder — but not this group.  Becky chooses ALL OF ME, which (since 1931) has been turned into a jaunty offering.  But it’s really a song of near-romantic immolation: let me take myself apart to offer the pieces and the totality to you, as complete tribute to you and love.

She never sounds soggy or self-pitying, but she offers the imagined hearer and the audience her entire being.  Eddie’s chiming guitar solo doesn’t lose the mood (and Jeff’s cymbals are just-right commentary); Dan plays around wtih the opening phrase of the song in the best singing Benny Morton tradition, handing off to Carl (who is ornate without a superfluous note).  Becky, soaring and crooning, improvising without smudging a note or a word, is absolutely compelling without seeming to strain even the smallest muscle.  A perfect rhythm ballad and dramatic utterance:

I think it was an honor to be in that audience, a stroke of good fortune to have my video camera, and a privilege to be able to share this music with the readers of JAZZ LIVES.

These video performances were made possible by the editorial stewardship and support of the Shuzzit Charitable Trust.  JAZZ LIVES thanks to the SCT and to all the artists for performing as they did and do!

OH, SHAKE THAT THING!  CLICK HERE TO GIVE SOMETHING BACK TO THE MUSICIANS YOU SEE IN THESE VIDEOS (ALL MONEY COLLECTED GOES TO THEM):

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

THE HIGH SIERRA JAZZ BAND with MARC CAPARONE at DIXIELAND MONTEREY (March 5, 2011)

First off: the High Sierra Jazz Band is color-coordinated.  They have red shirts for one gig, teal (or is it mint green?) for another.  Very snappy.  Nattily dressed.  It also makes it easy to identify the guest star, who has different plumage.  In these five performances from Dixieland Monterey 2011, that stellar personage was our friend, cornetist Marc Caparone, standing next to Bryan Shaw to give the music a wonderful Louis (Armstrong) and Papa Joe (Oliver) flavor.

The High Sierra Jazz Band is led by reedman Pieter Meijers — very articulate and witty, even when he is measuring out the amount of applause he expects for the next song and threatening the audience (gently) that he will speak more if the applause is inadequate.  The front line is filled out by the beaming Howard Miyata on trombone, euphonium, and vocals.  Clint Baker calls Howard “the happiest man in Dixieland” and that might be an understatement or it might unintentionally restrict Howard’s range: he glows like the sun.  The rhythm section is a fraternal affair, with Bruce Huddleson on piano and Stan Huddleston on banjo and guitar.  Then there’s the singing tubaist Earl McKee and drummer Charlie Castro.

All aboard!

This session began with a nicely rocking ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND, in what I think of as Joe-and-Bessie Smith tempo (and it is one of the lesser-known Louis Deccas):

Then, after an elaborately funny Pieter Meijers shaggy-dog-in-Dixieland announcement, we had FIDGETY FEET:

Howard came into his own with a soulful A KISS TO BUILD A DREAM ON: another Louis-homage, full of sweet feeling:

We never did find out Pieter’s explanation of what Mabel was dreaming of, but the band played MABEL’S DREAM (with its down-home hymnlike trio strain) with mutes in, passions to the forefront:

Finally, a romping CAKE WALKING BABIES FROM HOME:

They do take the cake, don’t they?  And Marc Caparone is the fellow who’s not wearing a red shirt.  All hail the rest of the band, but the interplay between Bryan and Marc brings tears to my eyes.  I don’t know which of them is Little Louis and which is Papa Joe (my guess is that the roles, after nearly ninety years, have fused into one Mobius strip of hot cornet / trumpet) but they sound lovely!

SWING OUT TO GENEROSITY: CLICK HERE TO GIVE SOMETHING BACK TO THE MUSICIANS YOU SEE IN THESE VIDEOS (ALL MONEY COLLECTED GOES TO THEM):

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

THE REYNOLDS BROTHERS AND FRIENDS: DIXIELAND MONTEREY, March 4, 2011

If you’d never heard the Reynolds Brothers, you might not give them sufficient credit for being Gods of Hot Jazz.

After all — one fellow plays an amplified National steel guitar, sings, and whistles in the best Crosby manner (that’s John); his brother holds a washboard with a cymbal mounted on top, blows a referee’s whistle to signify when a musical foul has been committed, and has a fine walrus mustache (that’s Ralf).

Most times they are joined by the eternally cheerful and swinging Katie Cavera (smart hat, glowing smile, string bass, vocals) and Hot Man Supreme Marc Caparone (cornet, a wide assortment of mutes, the occasional vocal, and manifester-of-Louis).

It sounds like a truly mixed bag, and when they first appeared at the 2011 Dixieland Monterey weekend, they had the extra added attraction of clarinetist, satirist, and uninhibited man-about-town Bob Draga . . . sitting somewhere between Omer Simeon and Groucho Marx.

Here are eight hot tunes from the Golden Era, complete with odd and occasionally semi-illicit stage behavior: you’ll have to watch for it.  But do they swing!

They started with something everyone knows — LADY BE GOOD.  And it swung from the opening phrase and only got hotter:

Then, after some rodomontade, badinage, and commedia dell’arte, Bob called for HELLO, MA BABY — although from a different corner of the jazz universe, it was a success as well:

ROSETTA used to be a song that everyone played — now, it’s a rare treat.  And to hear Marc swing out on it — a la Red Allen (cornet AND vocal) — is precious:

AT SUNDOWN speaks of pastoral pleasures, and it’s so fitting to have sweet unaffected Katie sing it — one of those Walter Donaldson compositions that works beautifully at many tempos.  And the hilarious unscripted interplay is an extra bonus:

I’M CRAZY ‘BOUT MY BABY celebrates Fats Waller and 1931 washboard ecstasy — John brings us in, an utterly convincing singer:

OUT OF NOWHERE was another 1931 hit for a fellow from Spokane named Crosby.  Bob finds his way cautiously through the first chorus and is secure in time for what follows:

I love THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN, but have never been able to make up my mind about it.  Is it an exultation of life without materialism, a life lived in Nature in the best Emerson / Thoreau way, or is is another Depression-era attempt to say “You lost your job and your house and your family: isn’t sleeping outdoors with nothing at all such fun?”  Comments appreciated — but it’s a great song:

SWING THAT MUSIC begins with some fascinating dialogue, worth considering closely, and eventually goes into the most unusual clarinet / string bass duet in recorded history.  Was it the “feather-nesting” Katie sang of before, or was it Bob’s locally sourced apple juice?  One never knows.  I think I did a good turn for surrealist drama by recording this for posterity:

Thank you all for helping keep LIVE MUSIC ALIVE!

HOT ISN’T FREE!  CLICK HERE TO GIVE SOMETHING BACK TO THE MUSICIANS YOU SEE IN THESE VIDEOS (ALL MONEY COLLECTED GOES TO THEM):

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

BECKY CREATES JAZZ SATORI

“Knock-knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“Becky Kilgore.”

“Oh, my goodness!  Come in!  May I make you some tea?”

Our Rebecca

Entirely fanciful, I know, but I am honored to welcome the most esteemed Ms. Kilgore to JAZZ LIVES in all her glory.

Becky (or Rebecca), citizen of the world, bringer of joy, much-loved swingstress — all I can say is that when she sings, I feel the same pleasure as when I hear Ben or Bobby or Vic.  Enough said!

Here is a video performance by Becky, the Reynolds Brothers (sublime hot men and no fooling: John on guitar, Ralf on washboard), cornetist Marc Caparone, trumpeter Bryan Shaw, trombonist and wit Dan Barrett, pianist Jeff Barnhart, and bassist Katie Cavera — onstage at Dixieland Monterey, March 5, 2011.

And we owe this video to my pal, saintly and salty and tireless Rae Ann Berry.

One of the things I love most about the great recordings of the Thirties is their sweet seamless ability to mix fun and swing: Fats.  Louis.  Mildred.  The Boswell Sisters.

Perhaps the closest I will ever get to Satori — at least Jazz Satori — is the state of laughing, nearly crying, and moving my body in time, helplessly surrendering myself to joy.  This performance of WHEN I TAKE MY SUGAR TO TEA, both impromptu and cohesive, makes me feel just like that.  But onwards.  See for yourself, brothers and sisters:

Readers who wish to watch the clip again (I can’t watch it only once) are allowed to skip what follows — the spectacle of a man deep in love with this music and so grateful for it, explicating it at length — and go back to the clip.  I have put my enthusiasm in italics for those who are enthusiasm-averse or for whom it is contraindicated.  Meet me at the end of the post!

Comedy and deep feeling and joy and swing all intertwine here.  My pleasure starts instantly with Jeff’s sweet, insinuating piano introduction — you know you’re in for a good time when the music starts that way (bless you, Jeff!) and Becky’s got the feeling right off — dig her playful, floppy hand gestures and the smile on John Reynolds’ face.  Katie Cavera hasn’t yet started to swing out, but she’s in the groove — listening to Ralf’s beat.

And Ms. Kilgore starts, in the easiest, most unaffected way, to tell the story of the verse (I’ve found love and my life has changed — let me tell you all about it!) as if she were telling us a life-story, rather than Singing A Song.  Feel the difference?  It’s a deep yet casual human narrative our Becky is unreeling for us.  When Becky gets to “done” and “Mmmmm,” I’m entranced . . . she has my rapt attention!  Notice the expressions on the musicians’ faces — the brass section alternates between puppyish joy (bouncing around in happiness) and deep contemplation.  And how does Ralf swing out so much on one cymbal?  I have to sign up for the correspondence course.

Then we turn the corner into the chorus . . . the audience recognizes the song (you can hear sighs of pleasurable relief-of-suspense) — they relax even more because of the way Becky is floating over that rhythm section.

(Make note: send thanks to Ralf, Jeff, Katie, and John for swinging so luxuriantly.)

Deep listening — being Present — enhances every experience, even if it’s drinking your breakfast coffee — and there is a perfect example of that here: Jeff hits a bass note three times to emphasize a Becky-phrase and the brass section — as one — silently says, “Hey, what a good idea!” and picks it up as a riff.  That phrase is a Louis-idea that the Basie boys picked up . . . all roads lead back to Louis.

And Becky is both deep inside the music and lying in a hammock, free to sing the melody straight while simultaneously embellishing it with bends and dips, changes in timbre, shadings.  A fellow named Bing comes to mind, also a gal named Connee — but it’s all Becky.  Singers, take note!  Players, take note!  What she does with sound, with the beat — a light shines out of her to us.

Dan Barrett.  Ain’t he something?  Hilarious and profound, bringing together Vic and Dicky Wells and Louis and a little bit of Jackie Gleason — showing us how to construct a solo by putting together different pieces, in thirty-two bars, less than a minute.

Bryan and Marc — children of Louis — begin their exalted conversation.  They shout for joy.  I have watched this clip many times since Rae Ann posted it and this is always the moment I find it hard not to cry.  As the late Sam Parkins used to say, “Gets me right in the gizzard!”  I still can’t locate my gizzard, but I know what he meant.

Becky returns for another exploration of the chorus — looser, more playful, gliding like an Olympic ice skater over the notes, over that brass section, over Jeff’s traceries, over that rocking rhythm section.  Her witty blues inflections while Jeff is playing at being Earl Hines!  And the last minute or so of this clip is so full of marvels that to tell all the tale would tax my five wits (memories of Sir Gawain and his Green Stompers) . . . it’s the performance of a lifetime.  Mister Barnhart offers a gallant arm to Miss Kilgore and they walk off the stage . . .

In some ways, the twenty-first century has proven to be grueling.  You can supply your own examples.  But isn’t it a blessing that we can hear and see WHEN I TAKE ME SUGAR TO TEA whenever we want?  It is an honor to live in the same world as the one Becky, Jeff, Dan, John, Ralf, Marc, Bryan, Katie, Rae Ann, and the Brooklyn Kid do.  Thank you.  I bow low before you and your generosities.

And that’s no stage joke.

SATORI DESERVES GENEROSITY: LOVE THE LIVING MUSICIANS.  CLICK HERE!  ALL MONEY GOES TO THEM:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

CLINT BAKER’S NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND: DIXIELAND MONTEREY, March 4, 2011

Clint Baker is an inspiring multi-instrumentalist (everything from brass to reeds to strings to drums to vocals) and here at Dixieland Monterey 2011, he contented himself with leading a small hot group from his drum set — he is a master of percussive sounds and propulsions.  With him were hot cornetist Marc Caparone, pianist / singer Dawn Lambeth (united in connubial bliss), trombonist and euphonist Howard Miyata (that’s Uncle Howie to Gordon, Brandon, and Justin Au), reedman Mike Baird, bassist Paul Mehling, and guitarist / banjoist Katie Cavera.

Oh, they did rock!

Their first selection was a request — from Dottie Baird, Mike’s wife, who always asks for WHEN MY DREAMBOAT COMES HOME, on which Mike has to play saxophone.  A wonderful idea:

One law of performance is “Get the crowd involved: engage the audience!”  So here’s a bit of audience participation — feel free to join in at home in the HOLLER BLUES with shrieks or howls:

Dawn Lambeth (who is moderately pregnant — we wish her the world’s easiest delivery!) is also a spectacularly gifted singer.  Here she introduces IT HAPPENED IN MONTEREY, written by Mabel Wayne, as a song with a great deal of sentimental depth for Marc and herself — the sad lyrics notwithstanding.  Even with a terrible cold, Dawn sounds so fine:

A good old good one — what could be better than PANAMA by William H. Tyers, king of the Exotic Landscape (he also wrote MAORI):

And a tribute to Papa Joe Oliver, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong’s spiritual father, SNAG IT (An idle thought: where did the inspiration for that slang phrase come from?  I take it to mean “Oh, get it!”  From fishing?  From baseball?):

Finally, something personally pleasing.  SWEETHEARTS ON PARADE is one of my favorite songs — even though it’s not exactly harmonically taxing — perhaps because I heard Louis’s recording of it early in my life.  And I felt very much embraced at and by Dixieland Monterey (a weekend of many hugs, all given and received happily), no more so than when Marc asked me if I had any requests and then played this one.  You know you’ve arrived!  Two by two, they go marching through:

This band is the absolute equivalent of a big plate of down-home red beans and rice: spicy, colorful, hot, satisfying for a long time afterwards.  And look how happy they look!

A footnote: JAZZ LIVES readers who energetically watch “SFRaeAnn”‘s channel will see her videos of these performances.  She is Rae Ann Berry, a wonderful archivist and deep friend to me and to many musicians . . . and we were often sitting at the same concert in Monterey and videotaping.  Why, then, you might ask, why post my versions as well as hers?  I have this fantasy that someone more technically gifted than myself will find a way to screen both her video and mine on a particular song – – – synchronized, to provide something like Dixieland Cinerama, or Hot Technicolor.  Just imagine!

GIVE SOMETHING BACK TO THE LIVING MUSICIANS!  ALL MONEY COLLECTED GOES TO THEM:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

SONNY’S BLUES (and MORE): DIXIELAND MONTEREY, March 4, 2011

When the sweet-natured pianist and singer Carl Sonny Leyland took the stage at Dixieland Monterey, I expected rocking rhythms and down-home singing.  I wasn’t mistaken.

But mere recordings and videos don’t entirely summon up the romping momentum and good humor of this entirely complete player / vocalist / understated showman.  Carl does nothing more dramatic than pat his foot, adjust his glasses, speak softly to the audience between sips of water.  But he’s a jazz and blues volcano, someone whose motion is perpetual and perpetually exciting.  On the surface, he might initially sound like “a boogie-woogie pianist,” which he is — but he has (like Pete Johnson) tugged at the form to make it less restrictive.  He isn’t locked into eight-to-the-bar and his swing is ferocious but light, with echoes of Hines and Fats and Stacy woven into a beautifully organic style.

In this session, he had the finest musical comradeship in bassist Marty Eggers and drummer Jeff Hamilton (“our” Jeff Hamilton, I will point out).  The teamwork of this trio is sensational.  Marty plays the bass with the grace and fervor of Pops Foster or Milton John Hinton, no less.  And Jeff could swing a seventeen-piece band with just his hi-hat, and creates swaying columns of sound all over his set.

Without a hint of antiquarianism, we’re back in the Thirties with Little Brother Montgomery’s SHREVEPORT FAREWELL:

Groovy as a ten-cent movie!  Jimmy Yancey’s JIMMY’S ROCKS:

Sad, wistful, and blue: W.C. Handy’s variations on a folk lament, LOVELESS LOVE:

A favorite rag, BLAME IT ON THE BLUES:

Just an ordinary BOOGIE WOOGIE, inspired by Meade Lux Lewis:

For my dear Aunt Ida Melrose, a rocking OH, BABY:

YANCEY SPECIAL (plus litigation):

You made me what I am today — that’s THE CURSE OF AN ACHING HEART:

Carl’s own RAT CATCHER’S BLUES, funny and gruesome too.  To paraphrase Ogden Nash, “I’d hate to be  / the rat / That Carl is angry / At.”:

An exuberant HINDUSTAN BOOGIE:

And a romping set closer for Pete Johnson and Big Joe Turner, ROLL ‘EM PETE:

Want to learn more?  Visit http://www.carlsonnyleyland.com., http://www.jeffhamiltonjazz.com.  It doesn’t seem that Marty has his own website — he has bigger and better things to do (such as play the bass in a way that reminds me of Walter Page) — but you can find him in many places online and in real life.

Carl Sonny Leyland is so much more authentic than James Baldwin’s story.

THE MUSICIANS GIVE US SO MUCH: CLICK HERE!

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

SUE, EDDIE, and CHRIS: “HOW THEY HYPNOTIZE!” (Hidden Valley Music Seminars: March 4, 2011)

I had an extraordinarily good time at Dixieland Monterey 2011 (March 4-6) which took place at the Convention Center and other venues.  For those who might quail at the word “Dixieland,” there wasn’t a sleeve garter in sight — at least not among the musicians.  And there was plenty of soaring hot jazz, as my videos will show.

But the weekend started off in a more lovely pensive fashion: Sue Kroninger (vocals, commentary, washboard); Eddie Erickson (vocals, banjo); Chris Calabrese (hot piano) gave a lighter-than-air presentation on five great American songwriters — Irving Berlin, Walter Donaldson, George Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, and Hoagy Carmichael.

All this took place at the Hidden Valley Music Seminars in Carmel Valley, California — in a beautiful room with wood walls, a lovely piano, a delighted audience.  Click here for more details: http://www.hiddenvalleymusic.org/.

Here is the whole precious program (I couldn’t bear to keep a note of it to myself).  Catch the wonderful interplay, wit, and feeling.  Unlike other programs of the sort I’ve seen, this one is beautifully balanced among the three players, who obviously like each other a great deal.  And Sue knows her stuff without being stuffy!

(A note to the suspicious, something perhaps superfluous.  Some of my readers will see a woman with a washboard and two whisks to keep time, a banjo player, a pianist . . . and they will think, “Oh, no . . . ” and skip these videos.  I understand their terror — their primeval fears.  But this trio makes such beautiful swinging deeply-felt music that nothing they do could scare off anyone.  I promise.  Or your money back.)

Sue began the program with a 1913 Irving Berlin tune, AT THE DEVIL’S BALL — which features both hilarious vaudeville lyrics and a tune that, once heard, is impossible to extract from your cortex.  And Sue is having the time of her life.  And ours:

Then, Eddie took on a wonderful song (I associate it with Louis and the Mills Brothers — can you blame me?) from 1927, THE SONG IS ENDED.  It might seem an odd choice for the second song of a program, but it’s such a good song!  And Eddie, dear Fast Eddie, sings it so beautifully:

Finally (for Berlin), Chris took a wonderful turn at ALWAYS — with hints of the Master, Dave McKenna:

Less well-known than Mr. Berlin was Walter Donaldson (but think of AT SUNDOWN, MY BUDDY, and fifty others).  Sue called for Eddie to perform a hit from the early Twenties — nothing could be sweeter than Eddie singing CAROLINA IN THE MORNING.  Hear the variations he brings to his timbre and delivery — and how Chris rocks:

Then a rollicking rarity (a bit of social commentary) that Sue explains, with the irreplaceable title YOU HAVE TO PUT A NIGHTIE ON APHRODITE TO KEEP THE MARRIED MEN HOME (or words to that effect).  I think hearing that song was worth the airfare from New York.  Hope you agree.  Sue is a born entertainer who grabs any audience as soon as she opens her mouth to sing:

And what might be the best-loved song in America (easier to sing than STARDUST), MY BLUE HEAVEN — with the lovely verse, delightfully played by the quiet man Sue calls “Mr. Excitement”:

Onward to the deservedly famous — and short-lived — George Gershwin, with an old favorite, SOMEBODY LOVES ME, winningly sung by Sue.  She isn’t Lily Pons or Sarah Vaughan when it comes to a four-octave range, but this is all to the good: her casual, understated delivery comes from the heart:

STRIKE UP THE BAND shows off Chris (and friends) without ever being militaristic:

Then, a high point for me — Eddie’s rendition of EMBRACEABLE YOU.  Eddie gets terribly embarrassed when I praise him, so I’ll go easy in print here (but I might just say very quietly that I’ve called him “our Sinatra” and I mean it).  Chris’s subtle traceries make me think of Tommy Flanagan:

Changing the mood, here’s Johnny Mercer’s cheerful life-affirmation, AC-CEN-CHU-ATE THE POSITIVE, always good advice:

From a title that’s nearly impossible to spell to one of the simplest — Chris leads the trio through a jaunty version of DREAM:

And as a special favor to me (I had said that I would like to hear Sue “unplugged”) she indulged me with an acoustic JEEPERS CREEPERS, happy as the day is long:

The trio’s version of RIVERBOAT SHUFFLE calls to mind the young man from Davenport, Hoagy Carmichael’s pal Bix — note the funny little personalizing Sue does with the bouncy lyrics (after Chris makes sure that the joint is entirely jumping):

LAZY RIVER (not UP A) shows off the easy grace of Mr. Erickson, Louis-inspired without a bit of gravel in his hopper:

And — instead of the more hackneyed Fourth of July closing — Sue chose one of the most tender songs in the last century, the Carmichael-Loesser TWO SLEEPY PEOPLE, where the melody, the lyrics, and the loving wit come together exquisitely for Sue, Eddie, and Chris:

My weekend at Dixieland Monterey was off to the most gratifying start: these three dear artists already had me floating with pleasure, and it wasn’t even lunchtime.

CELEBRATE THE LIVING MUSICIANS: CLICK HERE!

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS