The Grand Street Stompers (led by trumpeter, composer, and arranger Gordon Au) made a return visit to the Radegast Bierhall on Wednesday, March 30, 2011 — and I got myself there without mishap. Brooklyn is still mysterious to me, but the mysts are beginning to lift.
With Gordon were Emily Asher (trombone), Dennis Lichtman (clarinet), Peter Maness (bass), Nick Russo (guitar and banjo and the proud father of five-month twins!), and Tamar Korn. A small firmament of jazz stars (who will blush at this characterization).
Please listen to the band — not only the soloists, but to the textures they and Gordon create, moving back and forth between the Creole Jazz Band of 1922 and the Birth of the Cool of 1949 and the Grand Street Stompers of 2011. No dull spots or routines: nifty head arrangements, split choruses, a neat orchestral sensibility!
I always found W.C. Handy’s OLE MISS irresistible — named for an especially speedy railroad train — whether it was played by the Condon gang at Town Hall or by Louis and the All-Stars. This version pleases me immensely: its leisurely, rocking tempo and the alternating keys (I asked Gordon — F and Ab) from chorus to chorus. And I love impromptu riffs:
Here’s Gordon’s own THIRTIETH STREET THINGAMAJIG, which would sound like a Sixties “Dixieland composition” (and that’s a compliment) until you notice the unusual chord changes throughout. Not the usual thing or thingamajig at all:
How about going UP A LAZY RIVER with Miss Tamar? A good idea:
Is it true that Glenn Miller was working undercover for Eisenhower and the entire “small-plane-and-bad-weather” story was made up to conceal the facts? It wouldn’t surprise me (Joe Yukl would now) . . . but what we have here is a pretty rendition of his theme, MOONLIGHT SERENADE, with unusual twists — Bubber Miley meets the Schillinger system:
And here’s CRAZY EYES — a hilarious modern love song with music and lyrics by Gordon. To learn the lyrics, I think you’ll have to purchase the Stompers’ new CD . . . watch this space for late-breaking news:
Thank you, gentlemen and ladies of the GSS!