Tag Archives: Ed Wise

MIGHTY PROSPEROUS: MARTY GROSZ and his DIVIDENDS, 2013 and 2016 (ED WISE, DAN BLOCK, DANNY TOBIAS // JON-ERIK KELLSO, BILL ALLRED, DAN LEVINSON, SCOTT ROBINSON, EHUD ASHERIE, JON BURR, HAL SMITH)

I hope this news is true for everyone.

Source material, part one:

Part two:

Who knew that finance, 1933-style, could be such fun in this century? It is, when Marty Grosz, guitar and vocal, is setting policy and interest rates.

First, at the Mermaid Inn, Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, with Ed Wise, string bass; Danny Tobias, cornet; Dan Block, clarinet, on May 17, 2013.  Don’t let the apocalyptic color hues scare you: it’s dark in there:

Those three videos have been accessible on YouTube.  But here’s one you ain’t tuned in yet . . . Marty, with Hal Smith, drums; Jon Burr, string bass; Ehud Asherie, piano; Bill Allred, trombone; Scott Robinson, taragoto, Dan Levinson, tenor saxophone; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet: performed on September 17, 2016, at the Cleveland Classic Jazz Party:

Let’s hope that everyone has good reason to sing along.  And Marty will celebrate his 90th birthday next year.  Talk about wonderful returns on investment.

May your happiness increase!  

GOIN’ TO TISHOMINGO: A FEW WORDS FOR CONNIE JONES

This morning, I learned through Ed Wise and Tim Laughlin that Connie Jones died in his sleep at home next to his beloved wife Elaine.  Although I hold to cherished ideas about death and transitions — that those who leave their earthly form behind never leave us utterly, that they have merely moved to another neighborhood — I find it hard to write that Connie has left us. He was a great poet without a manuscript, a great singer of immediate heartfelt songs even when he wasn’t singing.

I had the immense good fortune to see and video-record Connie in performance from 2011 to 2015: mostly at the San Diego Jazz Fest, but once at Sweet and Hot and once during the Steamboat Stomp, and I’ve posted as many of those performances as I could.

We didn’t converse much: I suspect he had some native reticence about people he didn’t know, and perhaps he had a perfectly natural desire to catch his breath between sets, ideally with a dish of ice cream.

His playing moved me tremendously.  I tried not to gush, although my restraint failed me once, memorably.  After a particularly affecting set, I came up to him and said, more or less, “Do you think of yourself as a religious man?” and he gave me the polite stare one gives people who have revealed themselves as completely unpredictable, and said, after a pause, “Yes, I do,” and I proceeded to say, quietly, “Well, I think your music is holy.”  Another long pause, and he thanked me.  And I thanked him.  Which is what I am doing in this post.

With all respects to the people who recorded him and played alongside him in various recording studios, I think the real Connie Jones only came through complete when he was caught live — one reason I am proud that I had the opportunity to catch him, as it were, on the wing.  He was the bravest of improvisers, reminding me at turns of Doc Cheatham, of Bob Barnard, of Bobby Hackett — someone so sure of his melodies that he would close his eyes and walk steadily towards a possible precipice of music . . . but creating the solid ground of loving music as he went.

I expect to have more reason to celebrate and mourn Connie in the future, but I think this is one of the most quietly affecting vocal and instrumental performances I will ever hear or witness. See if you don’t agree: Connie, cornet and vocal; Tim Laughlin, clarinet; Doug Finke, trombone; Chris Dawson, piano; Katie Cavera, guitar; Marty Eggers, string bass; Hal Smith, drums, at the San Diego Jazz Fest on Nov. 29, 2014:

He was so unaffected, so generous in what he gave us.  No one can take his place.

May your happiness increase!

THE LESSONS OF THE MOST HUMBLE MASTER

Lessons for everyone, not only musicians.

Connie and Tim Laughlin at the San Diego Jazz Fest

I will write few words because Connie Jones is so much more eloquent.  Thanks to Joel Albert for photographing this at the New Orleans Traditional Jazz Camp, Banu Gibson’s dream, and for sharing it with us:

“There was just the way [Connie] played”:

And we can learn from Connie the way Ed did.

“Here’s one of the good old good ones that musicians all like to jam . . . the ROYAL GARDEN  BLUES!”  From the San Diego Jazz Fest, November 30, 2014, you can hear Connie, Tim Laughlin, Doug Finke, Chris Dawson, Katie Cavera, Marty Eggers, Hal Smith.

What are the lessons of the Master?

Humility before the Music.  Devotion to one’s Art.  Honoring the tradition and honoring one’s Self.  Willingness to work to create Beauty.  Actions more than words.  “I cannot be alive without hearing a melody.”  It’s all about love, which should be evident, and it’s a living, life-long focus on what’s important.

Bless the humble Master Connie Jones, who blesses us.

May your happiness increase!

THE REMARKABLE MS. GIBSON, BETTER KNOWN AS BANU: “BY MYSELF”

Banu Gibson, triumphant, by Elsa Hahne

Banu Gibson, triumphant, by Elsa Hahne

The ebullient woman shining her light in the photograph, Banu Gibson, is a superb singer who doesn’t get the credit she deserves as a singer.

If you have no idea of what she sounds like, here, take a taste:

Banu, Bucky, and Berlin — endearing adult music, no tricks.

I think Banu is undervalued because she is so powerfully distracting as an entertainer, and this is a compliment.  We hear the wicked comic ad-libs, we see the flashing eyes, we admire the dance steps, we are entranced by the Show she puts on (that, too, is a good thing) but I think we don’t always hear her fine voice as we should — her warm timbre, her dramatic expression, her phrasing, her intuitive good taste, her swing.

banu-by-myself

But with her new CD, we have a chance to hear her, deeply.  That CD, BY MYSELF, is delightfully swinging, at times poignant.  The song list is a perceptive assortment of songs that haven’t been overdone: BY MYSELF / MEET ME WHERE THEY PLAY THE BLUES / ILL WIND / THE MOON GOT IN MY EYES – MOONRAY / WAITIN’ FOR THE TRAIN TO COME IN / YOU LET ME DOWN / UNTIL THE REAL THING COMES ALONG / THEY SAY / STOP THE SUN, STOP THE MOON (MY MAN’S GONE) / MY BUDDY / NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS / OH! LOOK AT ME NOW / DAYTON, OHIO – 1903 / OUR LOVE ROLLS ON / LIFE IS JUST A BOWL OF CHERRIES.  And Banu’s wonderfully empathic band is Larry Scala, guitar; Ed Wise, string bass; Rex Gregory, tenor sax and clarinet; Tom McDermott, piano on DAYTON and OUR LOVE.

Banu is a great connoisseur of songs, with a wide range of under-exposed great ones, as opposed to the two dozen that many singers favor.  I’ve only heard her in performance a few times, but when she announces the next song, I always think, “Wow!  How splendid!  She knows that one!” rather than thinking, “Not another MY FUNNY VALENTINE or GOD BLESS THE CHILD, please, please.”

Song-scholars will notice that a number of these songs have sad lyrics, but this is not a mopey or maudlin disc.  Every performance has its own sweet motion, an engaging bounce, as the musicians explore the great veldt of Medium Tempo.

Although a handful of songs on this disc are associated with other singers — Mildred Bailey, Lee Wiley, and Billie Holiday — BY MYSELF is not in a tribute to any of those great foremothers, nor is there any ill-starred attempt to recapture those recorded performances.  If Rex and Larry happen to sound a little like Pres and Charlie Christian on these sides, that is a wonderful side-effect, but no one’s been asked to pretend it’s 1937 and John Hammond is in the studio.  Everyone swings gently — the shared goal, with no artificial ingredients.

The disc is not narrow in its conception, either.  Banu and the band approach each song as a separate dramatic playlet with its own mood, tempo, and feeling. It’s one of those rare and delicious discs where the emotions are not only intense but fully realized.  I could not listen to it all in one sitting — not because it bored me, but because I felt full of sensations after a few tracks, and few CDs are so quietly arresting.  Each song is treated tenderly and attentively, and although I suspect the underlying theme of this disc is deeper than “Hey, I haven’t made a CD in a few years and here are some songs I like,” we’re not whacked over the head with one emotion.  Rather, it’s as if Banu wanted us to consider the whole spectrum of intimate personal relationships.  She and her band have deep true stories to tell, but you have to figure out what they are, performance by performance.

Incidentally, I am snobbish, narrow, hard to please (ask people who have heard me discuss what I do and don’t like) but I fell in love with this disc in the first twenty or so seconds of BY MYSELF, which is a rubato duet between Banu and Larry Scala.  (When is the world going to wake up about Scala?  Come ON, now! But I digress.)  Her diction is remarkable; her solo swing a model, and her voice is rich and full of feeling.  Her sweet vibrato is so warm: there’s nothing mechanical in her delivery and her superb phrasing: the second variation on the theme is never a clone of the first.  (Hear her variations on “He made a toy of romance!” in MOONRAY: nothing that a lesser artist could do or what have envisioned.)  By the way, the Gregory-Scala-Wise swing machine (with two interludes from McDermott) is perfectly lyrical and swinging — Basie plus Lester with Basie taking a smoke break in the hall, or perhaps Skeeter Best / Oscar Pettiford / Lucky Thompson if you prefer.  On many singer-plus-band sessions, the disparity between one and the other is sharp, so the listener waits through the instrumental interlude for the Singer to come back, or vice versa.  Here, every note seems right, and the result is very affecting.

In the ideal world, Banu and her band would be touring the world — giving concerts and clinics and workshops — and I would hear this music from other cars’ radios when we were at red lights.  But until this happens, I commend this splendidly-recorded disc to you: the emotional density of a great volume of short stories combined with the elation of a book of coupons to your favorite ice-cream shoppe.  BY MYSELF — after many listenings — seems a series of gems.  You can buy it here.  You will rejoice.

May your happiness increase!

GUILTY, WITH AN EXPLANATION (September 2016)

judges-gavel

I confess that I’ve let some days go by without blogging.  Unthinkable, I know, but I (gently) throw myself on the mercy of the JAZZ LIVES court of readers.

Permit me to explain.  From Thursday, September 15, to Sunday, the 18th, I was entranced by and at the Cleveland Classic Jazz Party.  Consider these — randomly chosen — delights.  Jim Dapogny playing IF I WERE YOU (twice) and some of his winsome original compositions.  Rossano Sportiello, Frank Tate, and Hal Smith swinging like no one’s business.  Rebecca Kilgore singing KEEP A SONG IN YOUR SOUL in the Andy Schumm-Hal Smith tribute to Alex Hill. Andy, on piano, with Paul Patterson and Marty Grosz — once on banjo! — in a hot chamber trio (a highlight being LOUISE).  Wesla Whitfield in wonderfully strong voice.  Dan Block and Scott Robinson romping through HOTTER THAN ‘ELL.  A Basie-styled small band led by Jon Burr, offering (among other pleasures) IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS OF THE MORNING.  A string bass trio — Burr, Tate, and Kerry Lewis — showing that no other instruments need apply.  Harry Allen and Jon-Erik Kellso playing ballads, and Dan Barrett, too.  Tributes to Nat Cole, Harry Warren, Isham Jones, and Bill Evans.  Many videos, too — although they take some time to emerge in public.

I came home late Sunday night and on Monday and Tuesday returned to normal (employed) life as Professor Steinman: John Updike, Tillie Olsen, William Faulkner.

Tomorrow, which is Wednesday, September 21, I get on a plane to New Orleans for Duke Heitger’s Steamboat Stomp.  Obviously I can’t report on delights experienced, but I can say I am looking forward to hearing, talking with, and cheering for the Yerba Buena Stompers, Miss Ida Blue, Banu Gibson, Tim Laughlin, Hal Smith, Kris Tokarski, Andy Schumm, Alex Belhaj, David Boeddinghaus, Ed Wise, Charlie Halloran, James Evans, Steve Pistorius, Orange Kellin, Tom Saunders, Debbie Fagnano, and many others.

So there you have it.  I could sit at home blogging, or I could be on the road, collecting gems, some of which I will be able to share.

My counsel in all this has been the most eminent solicitor, Thomas Langham, who will now offer his closing argument to the jury:

May your happiness increase!

COME TO PHILLY FOR JOY: MARTY GROSZ, DANNY TOBIAS, DAN BLOCK, BRIAN NALEPKA (Sept. 25, 2016)

I’m going to be in New Orleans on the night of September 25, otherwise I’d be here.  And with me absent, there will be one, perhaps two empty seats.  Do you need any more inducement?

"Tell us a story, Mister Grosz!" Photo by Lynn Redmile

“Tell us a story, Mister Grosz!” Photo by Lynn Redmile

Oh, yes.  It will be a concert — hugely informal, of course — by Marty Grosz, guitar / vocals / badinage / vaudeville; Danny Tobias, cornet; Dan Block, reeds, Brian Nalepka, string bass.  “Four of the best,” as they used to say in English boarding schools.  The host will be Philadelphia guitarist Barry Waharhaftig, leader of the Hot Club of Philadelphia.

Here’s three of the four heroes, with a typical Grosz free-association interlude, from 2013.  It was terribly dark at the Mermaid Inn, but we could still hear Marty, Danny, Dan, and Ed Wise, string bass:

I would point out, most gently, that Marty is now 86.  (And I don’t mean “86” in the bartending sense, but his chronological age.)  So the race is to those who do not delay.

Marty and his friends will be appearing on Sunday, September 25, from 8-10:30 PM.  The jollities will take place at the Venetian Club Ballroom, 8030 Germantown Avenue, in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, under the swinging aegis of Barry Waharhaftig and the Hot Club of Philadelphis.  Tickets are $20, with 5% going to the Weavers Way Food Co-op “Food Moxie” Program.

For tickets, visit http://MartyGrosz-Quartet.BPT.me.  For further information, contact Barry Wahrhaftig at 215-380-2588 or HotClubPhilly@gmail.com.

May your happiness increase!

IT’S TIME TO STOMP (Steamboat Stomp, September 23-25, 2016)

Today is the first day of class, so I handed out papers for my students to read and a questionnaire to fill out.  But turnabout is fair play: my friend, Professor Hal Smith, sent me some pages worthy of deep study: the schedule for the 2016 Steamboat Stomp.

steamboatnatchez-paddle

I’ve written with great admiration of my experiences at the 2013 and 2015 Stomps here and here and here (and more, for the curious) — but I want to share with you the Coming Attractions that are less than a month away.  For full details, of course, you should visit here.  And, without being too pushy, may I suggest that space on the Steamboat Natchez is not infinite, and that lodgings in New Orleans are equally finite, that time is of the essence.

640_steamboat-natchez-new-orleans-reviews

There are four sessions: Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and evening, and Sunday afternoon, each of them introduced by a steam calliope recital by the dextrous Debbie Fagnano.  I should also mention that the Natchez has three areas for music: the main cabin, the top deck, and the Captain’s Salon.  So there are always simultaneous sessions going on.

On Friday night, there will be two delights: on the boat itself, sessions by Tuba Skinny and the Yerba Buena Stompers; at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe, the Steamboat Stomp All-Stars (David Boeddinghaus, James Evans, Andy Schumm, Tom Saunders, Hal Smith) will hold forth.

On Saturday morning and afternoon, sessions by the Steve Pistorius Quartet (Steve, James Evans, Orange Kellin, Tom Saunders), the YBS, and Tim Laughlin (with Neil Unterseher, Alex Belhaj, and Ed Wise); later, at dockside, the Cakewalkin’ Jass Band (Ray Heitger, Tom Saunders, Alex Belhaj, Jamie Wight), Tim Laughlin, Andy Schumm, Neil Unterseher, Ed Wise, and a jam session with the YBS.

Saturday night, Banu Gibson (with David Boeddinghaus, Tom Saunders, Andy Schumm, James Evans, Kevin Dorn, Charlie Halloran), the Dukes of Dixieland, Tuba Skinny, the YBS, the Kris Tokarski Trio with Andy Schumm and  Hal Smith, the Steamboat Stompers (Duke Heitger, Tom Saunders, Steve Pistorius). Banu Gibson (with David Boeddinghaus, Andy Schumm, Hal Smith), and another Kris Tokarski Trio with Hal Smith and Tim Laughlin.

On Sunday morning, Solid Harmony (Topsy Chapman and her two songful daughters) will be backed for one set by the Kris Tokarski Trio (Clint Baker and Hal Smith), and then by the YBS.

The Stomp will conclude with a VIP / Patron Party at the Bourbon New Orleans Hotel, and I have heard that Kris Tokarski, Andy Schumm, and Hal Smith will be playing a gig at Snug Harbor that night.  No doubt.

That’s a whole lot of Stomp.  Hope to see you there!

May your happiness increase!

NOTES FROM CONNIE (April 8, 2016)

small purple flowerAbout a month ago, I wrote this tribute to the most beloved Connie Jones, who announced his retirement at a performance at the French Quarter Jazz Fest, two weeks after the performances below on April 8.  Through the good offices of my friend, the superb drummer Hal Smith, I found these two precious videos, shot by Mark Jones — documenting that concert.  Connie Jones and the French Quarter Festival All Stars are Connie, vocal and cornet; Tim Laughlin, clarinet; Charlie Halloran, trombone; Duke Heitger, trumpet; Otis Bazoon, tenor saxophone; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Ed Wise, string bass; Hal Smith, drums.

Here’s A HUNDRED YEARS FROM TODAY:

and TISHOMINGO BLUES:

Bless Connie Jones and his devoted friends.

May your happiness increase!

FRENCH QUARTER WEST: TIM LAUGHLIN, CONNIE JONES, DOUG FINKE, CHRIS DAWSON, MARTY EGGERS, KATIE CAVERA, HAL SMITH at the SAN DIEGO JAZZ FEST (Nov. 29, 2014)

I was perusing Facebook today (face it, I’m hooked) and saw this entry from the splendid string bassist Ed Wise, which I reproduce in part:

Friday, April 10
French Quarter Festival
with Connie Jones’ Crescent City Jazz Band (Tim Laughlin, Bob Havens, Otis Bazoon, David Boeddinghaus, Bryan Barberot and, of course, yours truly.)
Jackson Square
11:00 a.m.

It was and is probably very ungenerous of me, but I got upset . . . for purely selfish reasons.  “How could that beautiful band be playing there without me?” I of course realized this both vain and silly: beautiful music goes on all the time, the swing tree falling in the forest without Michael to video it, but still I felt deprived.

And then I realized, and spoke to myself in the gentle interior monologue I try to cultivate: “Hey, you have many beautiful videos of Connie and Tim from the 2014 San Diego Jazz Fest.  Why not post one of them as your own French Quarter Fest?”

And here we are:

That’s Tim, clarinet; Connie, cornet; Doug Finke, trombone; Chris Dawson, piano; Katie Cavera, rhythm guitar; Marty Eggers, string bass; Hal Smith, drums. Glorious.

And don’t get upset that the song is called FAREWELL BLUES.  This music isn’t saying good-bye any time soon.

May your happiness increase!

 

A WARM PRESENCE: KITT LOUGH SINGS

The appealing singer Kitt Lough has the right idea.

“I just try to make the song the star, because it really is about what came out of the writer. I’m just the delivery girl, so I try to find the meaning and sentiment in a song and convey that. For me it’s short story-telling; I just happen to be singing it.”

KITT LOUGH

In our era of self-absorption in 4/4, it’s delightful to find someone who understands singing so well and then turns around and converts artistic theory into refreshing practice. She is nicely old-fashioned in that she doesn’t obliterate the melody with improvisations; she loves the songs she sings.  Her voice in itself is a pleasure: rich and warm with a conversational directness.

And since musicians are known by the company they keep, Kitt has a full folder of explicit recommendations from New Orleans players who look forward to working and recording with her: Tim Laughlin, Connie Jones, David Jellema, Larry Scala, Kris Tokarski, Ed Wise, Tom McDermott, and more.

Here is Kitt’s Facebook page.

A BLOSSOM FELL, her second CD, is a modern version of the great swinging tradition, where singer and band graciously honor each other.  She has a wonderful band: Tim Laughlin, clarinet; Connie Jones, cornet; Larry Sieberth, piano; Jim Markway, string bass; Todd Duke, guitar; Herman LeBeaux, drums.

And she’s chosen great lilting songs: BEYOND THE SEA / DREAMER’S HOLIDAY / YOU CAN’T LOSE A BROKEN HEART / YOU’D BE SO NICE TO COME HOME TO / SWAY / IT’S A LOVELY DAY TODAY / NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT / TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT / A BLOSSOM FELL / AM I BLUE / TAKING A CHANCE ON LOVE / DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME.  Her intelligently chosen repertoire says that she’s done her singer’s homework — but she is no copycat in thrall to her earbuds.

I swore I could not sit through another version of YOU’D BE SO NICE TO COME HOME TO, but I delighted in Kitt’s sensitive intelligent reading of the lyrics; her DREAMER’S HOLIDAY is a wonderfully lighter-than-air invitation; A BLOSSOM FELL is poignant without being maudlin.

I urge my readers to look out for Kitt Lough and her CD, A BLOSSOM FELL. You can purchase the disc and hear samples from it here — or if you like your music in downloadable form, it’s available at the usual places.

Do be sure to investigate what she is up to: Kitt is natural and a natural. The music she creates is very easy to listen to but it is never featureless, dull, or “smooth.”

Here’s a video of Kitt with pianist Kris Tokarski and bassist Ed Wise, wringing every drop of possible music — in a swinging light-hearted way — from ONE NOTE SAMBA:

May your happiness increase!

MARTY and the MERMAID in 2014

I wish I could draw: I would create the cartoon that my title encourages, of Marty Grosz — bowtie and archtop — either embracing or being embraced by or singing to — a Jazz Mermaid. But you’ll have to imagine it for yourselves.

This post isn’t about cross-species romance or a new Disney film. I simply wish to mention that the peerless guitarist, singer, scholar, wit Martin Oliver Grosz, Himself, will be appearing at the Mermaid Inn in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, on these Friday nights in 2014: January 31, April 25, August 29, November 7.  The music runs from 8:30 PM – midnight. The cast of characters will shift during this Tour, but cornetist Danny Tobias is a certainty; expect a bassist and perhaps another horn. The Mermaid Inn is located at 7673 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19118: (215) 247-9797.  It is cozy and neighborly, and the prices will not appall or astonish.

Here are two videos I recorded during one of Marty’s 2013 appearances — with Danny Tobias, Dan Block, and Ed Wise — inducement for the Faithful to mark their calendars and go:

‘WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS:

WE’RE IN THE MONEY:

May your happiness increase!

MARTY AT THE MERMAID (Part Two), or CHESTNUT HILL CAPERS with DANNY TOBIAS, DAN BLOCK, ED WISE (May 17, 2013)

“Worth a trip from anywhere!” was the tagline of a radio advertisement: I thought of it many times during my recent sojourn to the Chestnut Hill suburb of North West Philadelphia to hear and record Marty Grosz and a congenial group of fellow Swingsters: Dan Block, clarinet / alto saxophone; Danny Tobias, cornet; Ed Wise, string bass; The Great Percusso, whiskbrooms and suitcase.  (The identity of  “Percusso” is concealed for legal reasons.)

See here and here for music created earlier that night.

And for those who want to begin mapping their next trip to this cozy version of Swing Street, The Mermaid Inn is at 7673 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia · (215) 247-9797.

Here’s more from the evening of May 17, 2013 — hijinks in swingtime.

WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS:

A suggestion from Dan Block (creator of the delicious head arrangement) that we hope is financially accurate: WE’RE IN THE MONEY — with a bonus of a singing audience member:

My request, since I so admire Marty as balladeer in a Red McKenzie mode: I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH ME:

For Bing!  LOVE IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER:

Mister Waller, I presume?  I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES:

ROSE OF THE RIO GRANDE:

ALL MY LIFE:

SWEETHEARTS ON PARADE (add The Great Percusso):

SUGAR:

Appropriate for the journey home in the dark: THE WORLD IS WAITING FOR THE SUNRISE:

Thank you all, ladies, gentlemen, and Mermaids alike.

May your happiness increase!

JAZZ WALKED IN: DAN BLOCK, ED WISE, DANNY TOBIAS at THE MERMAID INN (May 17, 2013)

Here’s a sweet surprise, courtesy of George Gershwin and improvisatory impulses that won’t be denied.  In between sets on a recent Marty Grosz gig at The Mermaid Inn, two, then three players took the stand to explore LOVE WALKED IN: first Dan Block, alto, with Ed Wise, string bass, then Danny Tobias, cornet.  Delicious results!

Once again, here’s an explanation — without words — of why improvising musicians call it PLAYING.

May your happiness increase!

MARTY AT THE MERMAID (Part One): MARTY GROSZ, DANNY TOBIAS, DAN BLOCK, ED WISE (May 17, 2013)

It took a great deal of energy to make the long journey from the JAZZ LIVES headquarters in suburban New York, to The Mermaid Inn in Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia — cars and bridges and tolls and service areas and heated dialogues with my aging GPS and the kindness of friends.  But it was worth it.  The result of the trek was another opportunity to see Martin Oliver Grosz, the Trolloope of Tempo, and his lyrical, imaginative friends Danny Tobias, cornet; Ed Wise, string bass; Dan Block, clarinet and alto saxophone.  Here’s a sample.

(The discerning cinematographers in the JAZZ LIVES audience may note that my musical heroes are an unusual shade of orange.  The Mermaid Inn was a cozy, friendly place lit in deep nocturnal hues.  What you see is the brightest image I could produce without added intrusive lighting.)

I’M CRAZY  ‘BOUT MY BABY:

BEALE STREET BLUES:

CRAZY RHYTHM:

JUBILEE:

Worth a trip from anywhere!  The only lapse I must note is that usually Marty invents imaginative names for his bands — the Orphan Newsboys, Destiny’s Tots, the Paswonky Serenaders.  No Homeric epithets, no Raymond Chandler monickers this time.  Marty Grosz and his Able Seamen?  His Swinging Mermen?  You’re on your own.

May your happiness increase!

“A ONE-MAN RHYTHM GANG,” or OUR MAN IN PHILADELPHIA: MARTY GROSZ (May 2013)

“A one-man rhythm gang” is how clarinetist Frank Chace described the Most Esteemed Martin Oliver Grosz, “Marty” to those on an equivalent social level.  I write this not to praise Marty, but to let my readers know that he has two — count ’em, two — gigs in Philadelphia in the very near future.  One is this coming Saturday (May 11) with cornet wonder Danny Tobias and fine string bassist Ed Wise — from 7-11 PM at The Saloon Restaurant — (215) 627-1811, 750 S. 7th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147.  Then, the next Friday (May 17), Marty and his Fig Pickers — make of that what you will . . . in Marty’s world, its etymological origin comes from a Ben Jonson play — which means Danny, Ed, and perhaps another hero — will appear at The Mermaid Inn from 8 PM to midnight.  7673 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia · (215) 247-9797.  I hope to make it to one or both of those gigs . . . if the creeks don’t rise, etc.

Perhaps you have only a dim sense of the Blessed Martin Grosz?  Let me refresh your memory with two impromptu videos (sub rosa, with a low-level digital camera) I shot at the 2007 Jazz at Chautauqua party — with Professors Dapogny, Robinson, Block, Giordano:

ARKANSAS BLUES:

FROM MONDAY ON:

Marty Grosz knows how to swing.  Don’t miss these opportunities to join the oceanic motion.

May your happiness increase.

DON’T MISS THIS: MARTY GROSZ and his FIGPICKERS, JANUARY 20, 2011, CHESTNUT HILL,PENNSYLVANIA

The night: Friday, January 20, 2011.

The place: The Mermaid Inn, 7673 Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania.

The time: 8:30 till midnight.

Join Marty Grosz and the Fig Pickers (Danny Tobias, cornet; Ed Wise, bass) for an evening of hot music, song, (and no doubt some hot air from Marty: witty asides, and inevitable monologue)

The price: $10 for consenting adults, half that for students.  (I’m quoting, here.  I don’t know what it costs if you are unwilling: you’ll have to work that out with the management or with the Fig Pickers themselves.)

I wish I could be there, but it’s beyond my reach, real or imagined.  And Jim Gicking (fellow guitarist and comrade-in-arms) tells me that the Mermaid Inn is a cozy place with space for forty people plus.  So get there early to be assured of a seat close to the repartee, the badinage, and the chamber swing.  Thanks to Barry Wahrhaftig of the Hot Club of Philadelphia, who has done much to make this wonderful event happen.

“BENNY GOODMAN’S BOYS” (plus MOLLY RYAN) on July 11, 2010

    The PENNSYLVANIA JAZZ SOCIETY will present their annual JAZZFEST with a TRIBUTE TO BENNY GOODMAN on Sunday, July 11, 2010, from noon to 5:30 p.m. at the Plainfield Township Fire Company Hall, 6480 Sullivan Trail, Wind Gap, PA 18091.  The two bands featured that day are THE MIDIRI BROTHERS and DAN LEVINSON’S PALOMAR QUARTET.
    The Midiri Brothers will play from noon to 2:30 p.m.  Their group is Joe Midiri on clarinet, Paul Midiri on vibraphone, drums, and trombone, Dan Tobias on trumpet, Pat Mercuri on guitar, Steve Kramer on piano, Ed Wise on bass, and Jim Lawlor on drums.
    Dan Levinson’s Palomar Quartet will play from 3:00 – 5:30 p.m. and will feature Dan on clarinet, Mark Shane on piano, Matt Hoffmann on vibes, Kevin Dorn on drums, and Molly Ryan on vocals.  In addition, because Dan believes that “One Good Twin Deserves Another,” he has invited the Anderson twins (Will and Peter Anderson) to be part of his group, playing clarinet and saxophone.Advance Tickets are $ 20.00. (For advance tickets and directions, send SASE to Pennsylvania Jazz Society, P. O. Box 995, Easton, PA 18044.)  Tickets at the door are $ 25.00.  Student Admission is FREE!  For more information, phone 610-625-4640 or go online at pajazzsociety.org

JIM FRYER AND BRIA SKONBERG: OUR KIND OF MUSIC!

I’ve mentioned the brilliant young hot trumpeter / singer Bria Skonberg and multi-instrumentalist (trombone, trumpet, euphonium, vocals) Jim Fryer in my postings about The Ear Inn — but here are a few more words about this dynamic brass team.

Bruce McNichols, of the Smith Street Society Jazz Band, invited me and the Beloved to a trad jazz party hosted by OKOM (Our Kind Of Music) in Lafayette, New Jersey, on April 22. Such invitations are rare and precious, the weather was beautiful, so with a few instructions to our GPS, we found ourselves at Bill Taggart’s beautiful, sprawling house, and were led down to the basement (the OKOM recording studio) for a jam session featuring Bria and Jim with Herb Gardner on piano, Gim Burton on banjo, and Ed Wise on bass. The set we heard featured sparkling variations on familiar jazz standards: “Margie,” “All of Me,” “Dinah,” “There’ll Be Some Changes Made,” and “Buddy Bolden’s Blues.” In it, Bria distinguished herself once again by a brilliant tone and an easy, rangy command of the horn, a wicked dexterity with the plunger mute, and charming, unforced singing. Jim showed off his talents on all his horns and singing, reminding me at points of trombonist Eddie Hubble.

For those who didn’t make it to that particular corner of New Jersey that afternoon, they need not despair: aesthetic relief is at hand, on the compact disc “Over Easy: Bria Skonberg and Jim Fryer’s Borderline Jazz Band,” on OKOM (details are available at www.okom.com., or you can call 1-800-546-6075. It’s an exceedingly uncliched mixture of classics Thirties pops, “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm,” and classic material from “In A Mellotone” to “At the Jazz Band Ball.” The sextet is a truly hot band, subtle and knowing, and you should get to know them as quickly as possible.

Photographs copyright 2008 by Lorna Sass