Tag Archives: Gavin Lee

THE BASIE WAY: MATTHIAS SEUFFERT HONORS COUNT BASIE at WHITLEY BAY (Nov. 3, 2013)

William Basie persists as a model and mentor even though he is no longer at the keyboard. Regarding the world with a cheerful amused skepticism, he embodied truths long before they were adopted as cultural cliche: less is more; the medium is the message; ‘t’ain’t what ‘cha do; give away those things not meant for you; the blues cure the blues.

Basie would have brushed such praise away, but he is Thoreau who chose the bandstand over the beanfield, a great abstract painter without a brush; a prophet whose message was primarily silence and joy, making the universe swing.

We can’t go backwards to the youthful glory of the Basie band of the late Thirties, except by listening to the airshots, the Deccas, and the Columbias, but this band has some of the unbuttoned joyous energy of the real thing (with a few leaps forward).  It’s not an outright imitation, which is a good thing, but it moves in the same happy directions.

This endearing evocation — captured at the 2013 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party — is led by Matthias Seuffert, reeds, with Jean-Francois Bonnel, Gavin Lee, Claus Jacobi, saxophones; Duke Heitger, Ben Cummings, Andy Woon, trumpets; Alistair Allan, Graham Hughes, trombone; Keith Nichols, piano; Roly Veitch, guitar; Henri Lemaire, string bass; Richard Pite, drums.

JIVE AT FIVE:

LESTER LEAPS IN:

A more recent effort in this swinging manner, Buck Clayton’s CLAYTONIA (originally recorded for Vanguard in 1957, then brought to life once more for the Buck Clayton Legacy Band, still floating):

SHOE SHINE BOY (evoking Chicago, 1936):

BLUE AND SENTIMENTAL (for Herschel):

POUND CAKE:

and a leisurely romp through ONE O’CLOCK JUMP:

Let us live our lives the Basie way — gently improving the universe as we go.

May your happiness increase!

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FEELIN’ THE SPIRIT: MEMORIES OF THE WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY 2012

I’ve had a great deal of hot jazz pleasure and enlightenment in my annual trips to Whitley Bay for the late Mike Durham’s International Jazz Festival and Classic Jazz Parties.  And another one is on the way for November 7-9, 2014, thanks to Patti Durham and diligent friends.

I don’t mean to rush away the time until then, but I offer five more previously unseen delights from the 2012 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party (recorded October 27-28) — honoring King Oliver, Benny Carter, Louis and Bechet, McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, Graeme Bell, and the magnificent contemporary / traditional jazz musicians at work here.

WA WA WA, a tribute to the Oliver Dixie Syncopators of the second half of the Twenties, led by Keith Nichols (piano), with Duke Heitger (trumpet), Andy Schumm (cornet); Kristoffer Kompen (trombone); Gavin Lee, Matthias Seuffert, Rene Hagmann, (reeds); Martin Wheatley (banjo); Phil Rutherford (brass bass), Josh Duffee (drums):

I’M IN THE MOOD FOR SWING, Matthias Seuffert’s buoyant embodiment of the spirit and music of Benny Carter, with Matthias (alto); Rene Hagmann (cornet); Alistair Allan (trombone); Martin Litton (piano); Spats Langham (guitar); Henru Lemaire (string bass); Richard Pite (drums):

DOWN IN HONKY TONK TOWN, for Louis and Sidney, in whichever incarnation you prefer (1924-5 or 1940), with Bent Persson (cornet); Thomas Winteler (soprano saxophone); Stephane Gillot (baritone saxophone); Jens Lindgren (trombone); Martin Seck (piano); Henri Lemaire (banjo / string bass):

ZONKY, from drummer Josh Duffee’s ambitious evocation of McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, with Rico Tomasso, Rene Hagmann, Andy Schumm (trumpet / cornet); Kristoffer Kompen (trombone); Matthias Seuffert, Gavin Lee, Jean-Francois Bonnel, Michael McQuaid (reeds); Keith Nichols (piano / vocal); Martin Wheatley (banjo / guitar); Richard Pite (string bass); Josh (drums / leader):

UGLY DUCKLING, a hidden treasure from the Graeme Bell repertoire, here served up beautifully by multi-instrumentalist Michael McQuaid, and Duke Heitger, Bent Persson (trumpets); Kristoffer Kompen (trombone); Michael, Stephane Gillot, Thomas Winteler (reeds); Martin Seck (piano); Henri Lemaire (banjo / guitar); Malcolm Sked (brass bass / string bass [off-camera but indispensable]); Nick Ward (drums):

The Classic Jazz Party site hasn’t offered a full roster for the November 7-9 party, which will be held, once again, at the Village Hotel Newcastle, but here is the contact information, and I will post details as they emerge.

As Josh Duffee says, “It’s like Christmas to us.” I don’t believe in Santa Claus, but I do believe in the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party.

May your happiness increase!

“SHAKE IT AND BREAK IT”: THE RETURN OF THE DIXIE SYNCOPATORS at the WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (October 28, 2012)

A hot band is good to find.  And this splendid evocation of romping big band jazz is a special treat — led by pianist / scholar Keith Nichols at the 2012 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party on October 28, 2012, it evokes King Oliver’s Dixie Syncopators, a particular favorite of the guiding genius of the Classic Jazz Party, Mike Durham.

Alongside Keith, there are Duke Heitger (trumpet, vocal), Andy Schumm (cornet); Kristoffer Kompen (trombone); Gavin Lee, Matthias Seuffert, Rene Hagmann, reeds, with a guest appearance from Norman Field; Martin Wheatley (banjo); Phil Rutherford (brass bass), Josh Duffee (drums).

TOO BAD:

DEEP HENDERSON (the reference in the title is to a river, not to Fletcher or Horace):

SNAG IT (with vocal refrain by Mr. Heitger):

SOMEDAY SWEETHEART (with a guest appearance by Mr. Field as Mr. Dodds):

DOCTOR JAZZ:

WANG WANG BLUES:

SUGAR FOOT STOMP:

SHAKE IT AND BREAK IT:

For Mister Mike.  And, as always, tickets are on sale to the 2013 Party, the garden of delights, here.

May your happiness increase.

“I’LL MAKE FUN FOR YOU”: THE MUSIC OF McKINNEY’S COTTON PICKERS as RECREATED BY JOSH DUFFEE and COMPANY at the WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (Oct. 27, 2012)

What could be better than another small concert — led by drummer / historian / raconteur Josh Duffee — bringing McKinney’s Cotton Pickers “back” for us in the twenty-first century?

I thought you’d say that.

Here’s romping and sweet big band jazz at the 2012 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party — thanks to Rico Tomasso, Rene Hagmann, Andy Schumm, trumpet / cornet; Kristoffer Kompen, trombone; Matthias Seuffert, Gavin Lee, Jean-Francois Bonnel, Michael McQuaid, reeds; Keith Nichols, piano / vocal; Martin Wheatley, banjo / guitar; Richard Pite, string bass; Josh Duffee, drums / leader; Mike Durham, vocal.

I’LL MAKE FUN FOR YOU:

I WANT A LITTLE GIRL:

BABY, WON’T YOU PLEASE COME HOME?:

MISS HANNAH:

GEE, BABY, AIN’T I GOOD TO YOU?:

THERE’S A RAINBOW ‘ROUND MY SHOULDER:

IT’S TIGHT LIKE THAT:

SAVE IT, PRETTY MAMA:

(A hot performance of ZONKY exists but for the moment it is hidden under my bed for safe-keeping.)

May your happiness increase.

BISHOP BERKELEY SWINGS IT, or WHEN JAZZ MIRACLES HAPPEN BEHIND CLOSED DOORS: BENT PERSSON, JENS LINDGREN, RENE HAGMANN, GAVIN LEE, THOMAS WINTELER, MARTIN SECK, FRANS SJOSTROM, MALCOLM SKED, MARTIN WHEATLEY, JOSH DUFFEE (Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party 2012)

George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, by John Smibert

George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, by John Smibert

I was thinking about the Anglo-Irish philosopher George Berkeley (1685-1753), Bishop of Cloyne, the other day: I had read about him in W. B. Yeats’ celebration of the intellectual and powerful figures of the Irish past.  What appealed to me was the notion that objects have to be perceived to exist: in whimsical form, the question is “How do you know that your books exist once you leave your house and can no longer see them?”  Is a table “there” if we are not perceiving it?

I’m not about to propose that the jazz fans’ Vocalions and Brunswicks vanish as soon as the collectors leave the music room; I don’t want to face the possible responses, nor do I want to start massive panic.  But for jazz devotees, the Bishop’s ruminations take on an intriguing shape: the subject being the music we know exists or once existed which is inaccessible to us.  When we read somewhere in a Whitney Balliett profile (I believe his subject was Illinois Jacquet speaking) of a 1941 West Coast jam session where the rhythm section was Nat Cole, Charlie Christian, Jimmie Blanton, and Sidney Catlett, we know on the basis of all the evidence of individual recorded performances that this would have been beyond our wildest dreams.  But it is made all the more extraordinary is that we weren’t there.  It thus takes on the magical quality of the Arabian Nights.

Another manifestation of this idealizing of what we can’t reach (a larger human principle, perhaps) is the idea that musicians are playing magically when we are not in the room — when the concert is over, when the club is closed.

It may not always be true, but here is some evidence — recorded with permission at the 2012 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party — that miracles happen when no one except the musicians (and someone with a video camera) is around: two performances from one of the rehearsals that took place before the Party officially started — on Thursday, October 25, 2012.

This session was devoted to the Louis Armstrong Hot Choruses (and Breaks).

LOUIS HOT CHORUSES

If you’ve never heard of them, they are perhaps another illustration of what would have pleased the Bishop so.  In the middle Twenties, music publishers were beginning to notice that amateurs would buy music books that proposed to help them play as their idols did.  I believe that the first jazz musician so honored by having his solos transcribed for other players to emulate and copy was the often-maligned Red Nichols.  Walter Melrose, head of a Chicago music publishing firm, engaged Louis Armstrong to create hot choruses on popular songs — most often from the Melrose catalogue — and hot breaks.  Louis was given a cylinder machine and blank cylinders; he played solos and breaks, which were then transcribed by pianist / composer Elmer Schoebel.  The cylinders?  Alas, to quote Shelley, “Nothing beside remains.”

But my hero Bent Persson has  been considering, playing, exploring those choruses and breaks for thirty years and more — in the same way that Pablo Casals kept returning to the Bach cello suites.  The transcribed solos and breaks, in themselves, seem almost holographic: yes, this is Louis; no, this is only a representation.  But Bent has done superhuman creative work in blowing the breath of life into those notes.

Here are two musical rewards for your patient reading.  I first met Bent in person at the 2009 Whitley Bay jazz extravaganza, after having listened to his recordings since the middle Seventies, and he has grown to accept my shadowing him with a video camera — the results, I tell him, are for the feature-length documentary.

I positioned myself in the center of the room while my shirt-sleeved heroes worked their way through a selection of the Louis Hot Chorus material.  They were, in addition to Bent, Jens Lindgren, trombone; Gavin Lee, Thomas Winteler, Rene Hagmann, reeds (with the astonishing M. Hagmann doubling trumpet); and a rhythm section of Martin Wheatley, banjo; Malcom Sked, sousaphone; Martin Seck, piano; Frans Sjostrom, bass saxophone; Josh Duffee, drums.

These are two of my favorite things, to paraphrase Oscar Hammerstein II.

Here is CAFE CAPERS — and if you need any evidence of how the band is enjoying itself, watch Thomas, Jens, and pay special attention to the moving sneakers of M. Hagmann — and that’s even before Bent becomes our superhero with rocking support from Josh:

Then, SPANISH SHAWL, with the band rocking from the start — with wonderful reed playing, blazing outings from Jens, Rene, and Thomas, Josh, Henri, Frans and Gavin, before the key changes and the band romps home.  “Very good!”:

To me, “Very good!” is rather like the Blessed Eddie Condon muttering, “That didn’t bother me.”  Not at all.  May your sneakers always be as happy as those of Rene Hagmann.

P.S.  Magic like this happens very frequently at the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party — click here to learn how you, too, can get in on the fun in November 2013.  Aurelie Tropez and Jean-Francois Bonnel will be there.  Jeff Barnhart and Daryl Sherman, too.  And Bent and his Buddies.

May your happiness increase.