The Ear Inn, as I have been pointing out for a number of years, is the place to be on a Sunday night in New York City. When you come to 326 Spring Street in Soho, sometime between 8 and 11, you will hear wondrous music, subtle and exuberant.
A few Sundays ago, on September 16, 2012, the EarRegulars were Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Harry Allen, tenor saxophone; Neal Miner, string bass; Chris Flory, guitar. That group in itself deserves a WOW!
Doug Finke joined the original quartet for ROSETTA. And it was never too close for comfort:
(A word about Doug, who isn’t as well known as he should be in East Coast circles. I knew his work from three CDs by the Independence Hall Jazz Band — spectacular sessions featuring Jon-Erik, Duke Heitger, Paul Asaro, Dan Barrett, Orange Kellin, Vince Giordano, Scott Anthony, Chris Tyle — and I met Doug in person last March at Dixieland Monterey (the Jazz Bash by the Bay) where he appeared with Bob Schulz, Ray Skjelbred, Kim Cusack, and Hal Smith . . . a man is known by the company he keeps! But with Doug it is more than being able to travel in fast musical company: notice the easy way he has his own luxuriant style, having absorbed all kinds of jazz to sound entirely and happily like himself.)
The Fantastic Five did their own variations on Romberg’s lament, LOVER, COME BACK TO ME:
After a brief break for nourishment, the Original Four took the stand (a figure of speech at The Ear Inn) for a leisurely, I might even say “lingering” version of LINGER AWHILE. Savor the beautiful solos and the way each solo leads into the next — this is a band of individualists who know all there is to know about Swing Synergy. This performance is a living lesson in craft, courage, and heart.
I think it takes a lifetime to learn how to play music like this; aren’t we lucky that these players and their friends share their masteries with us?
I would have been very happy to listen to what you’ve heard far into Monday morning . . . but my friends who play instruments wanted to add their voices to this swing splendor. Jon-Erik invited Dan Tobias (cornet) and Dan Block (tenor saxophone) to join the party for IF DREAMS COME TRUE, and they did. The dreams, I mean:
Jon-Erik is a witty observer of the lives around him — so in honor of the Jewish New Year (where families dip apple slices in honey at Rosh Hashonah dinner for a sweet new year to come), he called for the Woody Herman line, APPLE HONEY — with amused reverence for customs and how they can be honored in swing. The soloists are Harry; Will Anderson (alto); Dan Tobias; Pete Anderson (tenor); Jon-Erik; Alex Hoffman (tenor); Dan Block (tenor); Chris Flory (guitar, remembering Tiny Grimes at the start); Neal Miner (string bass) — backed by hilariously appropriate riffs:
Jon-Erik temporarily retired from the field and turned matters over to Eli Preminger, the hot trumpet man from Israel . . . and Doug Finke returned for I FOUND A NEW BABY, with Dan Block and Harry Allen in conversation, Will and Pete Anderson showing brotherly love, Dan Tobias and Eli having a swing chat before Alex and Chris speak up. Then it’s every tub on its own bottom (with Neal being epigrammatic on the bridge):
And if that wasn’t enough, some blues to close out the night — the YELLOW DOG BLUES, thirteen minutes and fifteen seconds of hot bliss:
“My goodness!” to quote Dan Barrett.
I don’t know of another place on the planet where such collective exultation takes place on a weekly basis . . . . thank you, gentlemen, for making this joy possible (and for allowing me to spread the healing vibrations to people who live far away).
P.S. I must also say that what and how a band plays is in some small measure determined by their audience. It is entirely possible, and sometimes necessary, for musicians to ignore the loud or distracting people in front of them . . . in fact, if musicians got distracted from their life-purpose by the couple at the table near the window, they wouldn’t last very long in this business. But I digress. At the Ear Inn that night, there were many musicians and deep listeners in the audience, and I am sure this made the atmosphere even more special: Gary Foster, Frank Basile, Ben Flood [players!] and Lynn Redmile, Shelley Finke, Nan Irwin, Claiborne Ray, Marcia Salter [listeners!].
P.P.S. After five years of fairly steady attendance at The Ear, I feel that it is a beautifully special place in my world. It’s where I go to wash away the dust of everyday life, to get my aesthetic vitamins, to get my batteries charged.
This may be too personal for some of my readers, but I write openly that 326 Spring Street on Sundays from 8-11 is my synagogue, my church, my mosque, my sacred space, my place of worship. I go there to get uplifted, to witness and participate once again in individual and collective Joy. I go there to learn so much about beauty and generosity.
I wish that everyone who vibrates as I do could go there and be inspired.
And I do not overstate a word here.
May your happiness increase.