I know that even the most devoted jazz fans get complacent. “Oh, we have to go to my sister-in-law’s that night. We can always see that band.” Or “She’ll be coming back to [insert your city or favorite jazz club] in a few months. I’m tired. I have a headache. It’s raining.” I’ve done it myself. But I think — in what I admit is a rather gloomy way — what if someone had said, “Oh, we can always hear Bix / Charlie Christian / Jimmie Blanton / Sidney Catlett / Clifford Brown,” and then woke up to the newspapers a few days later.
Now, here is a band portrait. Each of these gentlemen has many decades to go, to spread joy, to fill the air with beautiful sounds. So I am not writing a morbid post.
If you don’t recognize them, they are known as THE HOT JAZZ ALLIANCE, which is an accurate name.
BUT. This band — an Australian-US conglomeration of the highest order — is not a group that you can see every Monday and Thursday, wherever you live. Two of its members, Andy Schumm, cornet and miscellaneous instruments; Josh Duffee, drums, come from the United States. Yes, I’ve seen them in the UK, but not as part of this group. The other four luminaries hail from Australia, and although I’ve met Michael McQuaid, reeds; Jason Downes, reeds, and John Scurry, banjo / guitar, also in the UK (I apologize to Leigh Barker, string and brass bass, for not having bowed low before him. Yet.) this group took a good amount of will-power and diligence to assemble.
So they are playing three shows in the United States, unless my information is faulty. One is Josh’s July 22 tribute to Chauncey Morehouse in PoPa’s home town of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania — details here — I wonder how many Hot devotees in the tri-state New York area have plans to attend the HJA’s delicious two-show offering at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola? One night, July 20. Two shows, at 7:30 and 9:30. You can read about the event here and you can purchase tickets (which I suggest you do while they are still available) here.
Now, it is possible that someone reading this post is already impatient. “What? Does Michael think I am made of money? The kids need braces; Mama needs to finish her post-doc in Spenser, and our ancient Toyota is falling apart as I sit here.” I apologize. I have a mortgage and an ancient car, and the orthodonture my parents paid for in my childhood has not stayed where it was put. I understand other people’s bills. But this is a once-in-a-who-knows-how-long event.
I’ll be at Dizzy’s . . . but without video camera. Draw whatever conclusions you like, but if you are depending on me to be the Frank Buck of Hot (you could look it up) it won’t happen. My apologies.
On another note. “Michael, why should I go to hear a band I don’t know, when I can hear the Elastic Snappers any time I want?” Good question. Valid objection. But take an aural sniff of this:
Frank Melrose’s FORTY AND TIGHT:
TEXAS MOANER BLUES:
What I hear here is intense, passionate, “clean” and dirty all at once, expert and casual. The HJA harks back to the beloved Ancestors but they aren’t in the business of reproducing old discs right in front of us. They enliven and cheer.
And — just for a thrill — here is the cover photo, the gents all spiffy! — of their debut CD. I’ve heard it and the glasses in the kitchen cabinet are still rocking. The CD will be on sale at Dizzy’s too, so you can take home a souvenir.
Enough loving bullying for one post, one month, perhaps for ever.
But I think of a line from a late-Forties Mildred Bailey blues: “If you miss me / you’ll be missing that Acme Fast Freight.” I am not a connoisseur of Forties freight shipping . . . but obviously the AFF was something special, perhaps the FedEx of 1947:
I quietly suggest that the HJA is even more special, its New York appearance even more a rarity . . . who cares if there is not yet a special Hot Jazz Alliance matchbook?
I hope to see you at Dizzy’s!
May your happiness increase!