Tag Archives: Fresno Dixieland Society

“THIS BAND PLAYS WITH A PASSION”: RAY SKJELBRED and HIS CUBS (Feb. 10, 2012

Many jazz bands — hoping to please their audiences — specialize in Fast and Loud.  The team of F&L has their place, for sure, but they grow wearisome quickly.

A band that shows what can be done within the infinite variety of “medium tempo” and with remarkable dynamics is one led by pianist / singer / composer Ray Skjelbred — his CUBS.  For this occasion, the Cubs are Kim Cusack, clarinet; Katie Cavera, guitar; Clint Baker, string bass; Hal Smith, drums.

Sweet, soft, plenty rhythm!

And it seems to me that everyone in this band grows more lyrical each time I hear them — in solos and in their cohesive ensemble playing.

A lovely Thirties song immortalized by Billie, Lester, Teddy, Buck, and the Basie rhythm section without the Count, A SAILBOAT IN THE MOONLIGHT:

Memories of Ethel Waters and Jack Teagarden in I JUST COULDN’T TAKE IT, BABY — sung casually and with heart by Hal Smith:

Paul Dresser’s MY GAL SAL, with a conversational vocal chorus by Mr. Skjelbred (this performance is the source of my title):

BLUES FOR SIR CHARLES — that’s the still-active (at 93) swing master Sir Charles Thompson; in this performance the Cubs evoke the lovely glide that Charles and friends created on the Buck Clayton Jam Sessions:

Thanks to the peripatetic Rae Ann Berry for recording these videos for us, and the Fresno Dixieland Society for creating their “Sounds of Mardi Gras,” presented Feb. 9-12 in Fresno, California.  If you visit Rae Ann’s YouTube channel, SFRaeAnn,  you’ll see many more performances by the Cubs, by the Grand Dominion Jazz Band, and the Climax Jazz Band — beautifully captured for your listening and dancing pleasure.

Tasty!

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NEW EL DORADO JAZZ BAND 2010: MARDI GRAS COMES EARLY!

Thanks to the energetic Rae Ann Berry, who took her nimble video camera to Fresno, California on February 6, 2010, for the Sounds of Mardi Gras (sponsored by the Fresno Dixieland Society), here are some lively videos of the New El Dorado Jazz Band, co-led by Hal Smith (on washboard) and Clint Baker (clarinet, banjo, vocals, and more) with Howard Miyata on trombone, Marc Caparone on trumpet, Mike Baird on clarinet, Katie Cavera on banjo, Carl Sonny Leyland on piano, Georgia Korba on bass — with a guest appearances by singer Dawn Lambeth and the multi-talented Jeff Hamilton

Here they are on a romping BIG CHIEF BATTLE AXE, which Dawn once told me they called (privately) BIG CHEAP CADILLAC, a title I much prefer.  Now the secret is out!

Here’s SNAG IT, a wonderful evocation of New Orleans – Chicago funk:

Marty Bloom’s improvisation on the theme of jazz sorrow, MELANCHOLY (with the verse):

Are you prey to violent urges?  SHAKE IT AND BREAK IT might be the right theme music:

Jelly Roll Morton’s WININ’ BOY BLUES, at a splendid tempo, with Carl hilariously swerving around the more erotic lyrics not once but twice (send a quarter to this blog by email for the missing lines, if you’re over eighteen):

And a romping ORIENTAL MAN (which I would bet has wonderfully archaic and unpopular lyrics):

Here’s a delicious YOU’RE DRIVING ME CRAZY — even though Dawn’s microphone lets her down, the combination of her creamy legato approach and the band’s Louis / Moten riffs is irresistible:

In tribute to Papa Ray Ronnei, here’s his original, SALTY BUBBLE:

Here’s YOU ALWAYS HURT THE ONE YOU LOVE — a wonderful song but bad advice in personal relationships.  Howard’s shifted over to the massive helicon, and Jeff Hamilton sits in on trombone (not his usual drums or piano — who knew?):

Carl Sonny Leyland can certainly rock the blues, as he does here — see how Hal Smith is enjoying the tempo even before the band joins in for SONNY’S BLUES:

And a nearly dangerous ONE SWEET LETTER FROM YOU, with Howard and Jeff continuing.  This band delivers the mail for sure. 

This band has recorded a CD for Clint’s BURGUNDY STREET RECORDS: if you’re lucky enough to see members of the band on gigs, I’m sure they’ll have some, and Hal Smith promises that it will soon be available through his website.  (http://www.halsmithmusic.com/hals_cdpage.html.)  I’m buying some copies! 

Does anyone have the lyrics to ORIENTAL MAN?  Or the original sheet music to share?

P.P.S.  For no reasons aside from personal pleasure, I’d like to know the “reach” of this blogpost.  Who’s watching these clips from far, far away?  A prize to the most distant viewer . . . !