Tag Archives: Filoli

HONEY IN THE GARDEN: CHRIS DAWSON, MIKE LIPSKIN, ROBERT YOUNG, PAUL MEHLING at FILOLI (August 10, 2014)

Sweet, hot, romantic, and vernal: another delicious performance from Mike Lipskin’s Stride Summit at Jazz at Filoli on August 10, 2014, featuring Chris Dawson, piano; Mike, piano; Robert Young, soprano saxophone; Paul Mehling, guitar.  The song is MY HONEY’S LOVIN’ ARMS, which I first heard on Bing Crosby’s recording (“A cozy Morris chair / Oh, what a happy pair!”) and later in various Eddie Condon joy-fests (trombonist Cutty Cutshall called it MAHONEY for short, I have heard).

But here’s some honey-love in the garden for all of you:

For more performances from this wonderful concert (some featuring Dick Hyman) and more information about Jazz at Filoli, click here.

May your happiness increase!

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IN THE GARDEN OF SWING: MIKE LIPSKIN, DICK HYMAN, PAUL MEHLING at FILOLI (August 10, 2014)

Take a contemporary evocation of Eden, add some inspired jazz in front of an enthusiastic, attentive audience . . . and you have the 2014 Stride Summit at Jazz at Filoli, featuring Mike Lipskin and Dick Hyman, guitarist Paul Mehling, and a few other like-minded friends.  Here are a few more highlights from that wonderful afternoon, where the swinging music honors the present artists’ originality while casting affectionate glances back to Fats Waller, Art Tatum, Al Casey, and Django Reinhardt.

HANDFUL OF KEYS (Mike and Dick):

COULD IT BE YOU’RE FALLING IN LOVE? (Mike and Paul):

CARAVAN (Dick):

WILLOW WEEP FOR ME (Dick):

JUST YOU, JUST ME (Mike and Dick):

AFRICAN RIPPLES (Mike):

Thanks to the inspired gentlemen of the ensemble for such glowing pastoral music, and special thanks to Merrilee Trost for making Jazz at Filoli a happy, memorable gathering year after year.

May your happiness increase! 

ELEGANT SWING: CHRIS DAWSON / DICK HYMAN: “ROSETTA” (August 9, 2014)

Stride pianist / composer / singer Mike Lipskin has generously staged stride piano concerts for some years now, to display the many personal styles that come under that heading.  In 2014, he put on three such concerts: two at Oakland’s Piedmont Piano Company, and one in gorgeous Filoli the next day.

I’ve posted some of the music from this series here and here already.  As Forties radio announcers used to say, here is more “by popular demand.”

Messrs. Dawson (right) and Hyman (left) honor Teddy Wilson with this lovely series of improvisations on Earl Hines’ ROSETTA — but they simultaneously show off their own personalities while honoring the tradition.  A small swing masterpiece:

Dick Hyman was 87 at the time of this performance, his gleaming accuracy and fertile imagination still brilliant.  Chris Dawson, someone I’ve been following on recording and in person for a decade, is younger, but equally delightful as a delicately compelling improviser.  (He will be at the San Diego Jazz Fest with Tim Laughlin and Connie Jones this Thanksgiving — a real reason for gratitude.)

May your happiness increase!

PASTORAL ELEGANCE: CHRIS DAWSON at FILOLI (August 8, 2014)

Last August, I was privileged to watch another of Mike Lipskin’s Stride Summits, this one at the gorgeously pastoral Filoli in California, part of their jazz series.

Here are four performances from that afternoon, featuring the remarkable Chris Dawson.  (I will be sharing other performances by Mike and by Dick Hyman — now 87 — in future postings.)

Honoring Teddy Wilson, Chris offers a lightly orchestral style — always mobile, always swinging, but with an elegant classical restraint balanced against an essential gaiety. The music is dense but appears crystalline.  The astute listener will also hear he is not bound by older harmonic conventions (as in the coda Chris creates for IT HAD TO BE YOU).  I hear subtle hints of Waller, Hines, Tatum, Nat Cole — but the sound Chris gets from a piano is singular and recognizable.  And the result is floating melodies in a wonderful pastoral setting.

IF I HAD YOU:

Another sweet Twenties classic, IT HAD TO BE YOU:

A taste of SUGAR:

Visit here to learn more about Chris.  Thanks to Merrilee Trost for making Jazz at Filoli a continuing pleasure — memorable music in the most welcoming surroundings. More videos to come.

May your happiness increase!

AT THE VERY PEAK: MUSIC FROM THE STRIDE SUMMITS (DICK HYMAN, MIKE LIPSKIN, STEPHANIE TRICK, CLINT BAKER, PAUL MEHLING: Lesher Arts Center, August 24, 2013)

Stride piano, beautifully performed, is amazing.  For one, there is the simple athleticism required.  Try keeping your left hand moving (on a table) at a typical Waller tempo for three minutes without letting the tempo drop or accelerate. And movement in itself isn’t enough; the keyboard is more than a snare-drum head.
But it’s not simply a matter of pounding out single notes and chords (widely-spaced) in the left hand.  The best stride players understand that the form has within it the potential to become mechanical, so they create rhythmic tension between bass and treble; they vary dynamics; they add shade and light through chord voicings.
It’s rather like writing a sonnet: that iambic pentameter, those fourteen lines, that set rhyme scheme can be a prison or its apparent limitations can inspire the most dazzling creativity.
And stride duets are even more intense, more precarious: when they come off splendidly, it is beyond remarkable art and precision.
We are fortunate that even after the great stride triumvirate — Waller, James P., and the Lion — left us, there were many successors (think of Wellstood, Ewell, Sutton in the recent past) and there is a wonderfully creative gang of striders, here and globally, who continue to delight.
The form stretches across the generations.  In the Stride Summits held in Walnut Creek and San Francisco at the end of August 2013, concerts invented and sustained by Mike Lipskin, we had Stephanie Trick and Dick Hyman, separated by six decades . . . with Mike, Clint Baker, and Paul Mehling, nestled happily in the chronological middle.
Mike Lipskin — known to most as someone who learned from the Lion, from Eubie Blake, and many other elders, a fine pianist, singer, composer, and wit  — is also a diligent musical thinker, so his concerts don’t degenerate into Fast and Loud.  These three concerts were beautifully planned and the music was varied throughout.
The Beloved and I saw all three concerts (August 24-25) and enjoyed every note.  I was able to bring my camera to the Lesher Arts Center and although I recorded them from one side of the stage, then the other, “waiting in the wings” has never been such a pleasure.
Here is a handful of keys (and, yes, that is the first song) from these happy stride nights that didn’t take place uptown in Harlem some time in 1936 — but in our century.
Fats’s early showpiece, HANDFUL OF KEYS, by Dick and Mike:
Eubie Blake’s TROUBLESOME IVORIES, by Stephanie, who tames the keyboard with grace:
Rocking the house in a different way with BOOGIE WOOGIE STOMP by Stephanie and friends (who couldn’t stop themselves from joining in):
Serene and mystical — the early Gershwin theme, LULLABY, by Dick:
Pastoral ruminations in 3 / 4, with Fats’ JITTERBUG WALTZ, by Dick:
A tribute to James P. Johnson, the worthy patriarch, with OLD-FASHIONED LOVE / KEEP OFF THE GRASS, by Stephanie and Mike:
Pete Johnson’s DEATH RAY BOOGIE (inspired by early science fiction, films, or comic books, I wonder?), by Stephanie:
And something truly “ancient,” Cole Porter’s IT’S ALL RIGHT WITH ME, by Mike and Dick:
It was all right — and more — with three audiences, I assure you.
Did you miss these concerts?  You might have, since they were sold out very quickly.
But there’s good news.  “Mark it down,” as Billie said on MISS BROWN TO YOU.
There will be another Stride Summit at the positively gorgeous Filoli on August 10, 2014.  It is not too early to plan for this ecstatic happening.
P.S.  Dinah Lee also sang beautifully at the three concerts.  Sadly, the technical limitations of my camera prevented her from being shown off as she should be.  But there will be videos of Dinah to come!
May your happiness increase!

SWING IN PARADISE (The Second Set): ROSSANO SPORTIELLO, STEPHANIE TRICK, NICKI PARROTT, HAL SMITH at FILOLI (July 29, 2012)

The only mournful thing about the music that follows is that it’s the last set of two divine concerts by this happy group — Rossano and Stephanie, piano; Nicki, vocal and string bass; Hal, drums — that took place at Dominican University, San Rafael (July 28) and at extraordinary Filoli, Woodside (July 29).

Rossano and Nicki began this set with a patented Sportiello – Parrott Extravaganza, which took in SCENES FROM CHILDHOOD, a bit of Bach, LULLABY OF BIRDLAND, and more.  I’ve called it JAZZ MEETS THE CLASSICS, and it’s a wondrous ride:

For something more familiar by this stellar group, Henri Woode’s ROSETTA:

And that 1930 celebration of love found at last, EXACTLY LIKE YOU:

Stephanie is the least threatening of mortals, so it’s amusing that she plays Pete Johnson’s ominously-named DEATH RAY BOOGIE (had Mr. Johnson been reading Thirties science-fiction in pulp magazines, I wonder?):

She goes to town on Fats Waller’s MINOR DRAG:

Who knew Nicki was so deeply involved in Yiddischkeit?  Hear for yourself — BEI MIR BIS DU SCHOEN:

And the question remains — posed with such insouciant swing by Nicki — IS YOU IS OR IS YOU AIN’T MY BABY?:

The appropriate finale was AFTER YOU’VE GONE:

But the wise crowd didn’t want to let these four players out of their sight, so the quartet baked a delicious two-layer cake of an encore, TAKING A CHANCE ON LOVE- LIZA:

Now, who among us will begin to book the global concert tour for this group?  They and the rest of the world surely deserve it.

May your happiness increase.

BICOASTAL BLISS: ROSSANO SPORTIELLO, STEPHANIE TRICK, NICKI PARROTT, HAL SMITH — TWICE! (July 28 and 29, 2012)

Bicoastal musical pleasure is coming to two locations in Northern California this summer.  New Yorkers Rossano Sportiello (piano) and Nicki Parrott (string bass, vocals) will happily play with Stephanie Trick (piano) and Hal Smith (drums) in two concerts on consecutive days.  And for those of us who no longer stay up into the early morning hours easily, both concert performances begin before 6 PM.

First, on Saturday, July 28, there’s “An Evening of Swing,” a concert beginning at 5 PM at Dominican College in San Rafael — that’s in Angelico Hall, and the street address is 50 Acacia Avenue.  Tickets are $30 apiece, and can be purchased here.  Or you can call 1-800-838-3006, extension 1.  Although July 28 seems a long way away, don’t wait — Angelico Hall is not huge and the event is expected to sell out.  All proceeds from this concert will go to the Dominican College’s piano fund . . . they’ve bought a nine-foot Bosendoerfer, which is always a great event.  I can hear it now!  (Look for us and say hello!)

The Sunday, July 29, “An Afternoon of Swing” sits in the middle of Filoli’s six-concert series.  The bad news is that this concert has been sold out for weeks.  The good news is that tickets are available for others in the series.  The Beloved and I will be there for Rossano and Co. and hope to return for Jane Monheit — featuring our friends Michael Kanan and Neal Miner.  Here’s the schedule: June 24 – Pat Martino Trio (tickets still available) / July 8 – Arturo Sandoval  (sold out)  July 29 – “An Afternoon of Swing,” Rossano Sportiello with Nicki Parrott, Hal Smith, and Stephanie Trick / August 12 – Jane Monheit / August 26 – Cyrus Chestnut Quartet / September 23 – Catherine Russell.  To purchase tickets for any other Jazz at Filoli concerts, click here.  And for more information or to purchase tickets by phone, call Monday through Friday, 9:00am – 4:00pm at 650–364–8300, ext. 508.  Filoli is famous worldwide as a magnificent house with an extensive formal garden: click history     to see astonishing photos.

If you were among the prudent people who bought tickets in advance for the July 29 event at Filoli, the Beloved and I will be there . . . she exploring the gardens in advance of the concert, me staking out seats in front of the music.

But tickets are still available for the July 28 concert at 5 PM at Dominican College in San Rafael. Don’t miss your chance to hear four delightful improvisers who play well with others show how it’s done . . . at the highest level.

May your happiness increase.