Pianist, singer, composer Marty Napoleon “made the transition” from this earthly world to another one on Monday night, April 27. His dear friend Geri Goldman Reichgut told me that on his last night on the planet he ate some dessert and listened to music: the signs of what my Irish friends call “a beautiful death.”
I can’t find it in my heart to be too mournful about Marty’s moving out of this earthly realm. It seems to me that the New Orleanians have the right idea: cry a little at the birth, because that spirit taking corporeal form might have some bumps in this life, and rejoice at the death, because the spirit is free — to ramble the cosmos in the company of other spirits.
I was in conversation with the wonderful pianist Mike Lipskin last night — we sat on a bench in Greenwich Village and lamented that fewer people are playing particular kinds of the music we both love . . . and we both envisioned a future where it might not even be performed. But I said fervently, “The MUSIC will always be here,” and I believe that.
It is true in Marty’s case as well. And as a tribute to the man and his spirit, I offer some tangible immortal evidence here and here.
And a closing story. One of my heroes is the writer William Maxwell, also no longer around in his earthly shape. Late in his life, he began taking piano lessons and working his way through some simple classical pieces. I think this gave him great pleasure but was also frustrating — in the way making music is even more difficult for those who have spent their lives appreciating the superb performances of others. In his final year, a dear friend said to him, “Bill, in the life to come you will be able to play the piano with ease, won’t you?” And he replied, “In the next life I will not be making music. I will be music.”
And he is. As is Marty.
May your happiness increase.
Posted in Awful Sad, Generosities, Jazz Titans, Jazz Worth Reading
Tagged Bill Crow, Feinstein's, Geri Goldman Reichgut, Harry Allen, Marty Napoleon, Michael Steinman, New Orleans funeral, Ray Mosca, William Maxwell
Fabulous musicians at play in Glen Cove, New York, with a single purpose: “Remembering Pops.” That’s Marty Napoleon, swinging out on the piano (88 keys, 92 years); the sweetly incendiary Bria Skonberg on trumpet; and reliable experts Bill Crow, string bass; Ray Mosca, drums. Recorded by our pal Jim Balantic; concert turned from an idea into a reality by our comrade Geri Goldman Reichgut. And rumor has it that more video from this concert is being posted, as I write this, by the ever-true-blue Neal Siegal.
I’d like to hear more of this band . . . any suggestions for future gigs?
May your happiness increase!
Posted in "Thanks A Million", Bliss!, Generosities, Hotter Than That, Irreplaceable, Jazz Titans, Pay Attention!, Swing You Cats!, That Was Fun!, The Heroes Among Us, The Real Thing, The Things We Love
Tagged Bill Crow, Bria Skonberg, Geri Goldman Reichgut, Jazz Lives, Jim Balantic, Louis Armstrong, Marty Napoleon, Michael Steinman, Neal Siegal, Ray Mosca
What a wonderful band, and a wonderful evocation of the man Eddie Condon called “Mister Strong” — recorded live at a concert two days ago at Glen Cove, New York. The players are Marty Napoleon, piano / vocal; Bria Skonberg, trumpet; Bill Crow, string bass; Ray Mosca, drums. And they begin the concert in the best way: a gripping, lovely SLEEPY TIME DOWN SOUTH — that gave me chills — into INDIANA, which is the way Louis did it:
You don’t need me to explain just how good this music is. It’s so evident that it leaps out of speakers or earbuds, and I don’t mean volume. Bria lights up the sky; Marty continues to surprise us* (at 92, he is the very opposite of “old-time,” isn’t he?) and pals Bill and Ray remind me of Milt and Jo while sounding very much like themselves.
Beauty needs friends to get it out in the light, and while this concert wouldn’t exist without the four masterful players, it also comes to us through the loving diligence of Geri Goldman Reichgut and videographer Jim Balantic. So let’s have thanks all ’round. Now I’m going back to listen and watch again. It’s a deep pleasure.
*Mister Napoleon is available for high-quality gigs, too.
May your happiness increase!
Posted in "Thanks A Million", Bliss!, Generosities, Hotter Than That, Irreplaceable, Jazz Titans, Pay Attention!, Swing You Cats!, That Was Fun!, The Heroes Among Us, The Real Thing, The Things We Love, Wow!
Tagged Bill Crow, Bria Skonberg, Geri Goldman Reichgut, Jazz Lives, Jim Balantic, Jo Jones, Louis Armstrong, Marty Napoleon, Michael Steinman, Milt Hinton, Ray Mosca
I can’t make this July 5 party, being far to the West of this gig. But you should! It’s free; it will be wonderful music; the absence of myself and my tripod will leave room for several music lovers.
So don’t forget OUR MARTY DATE.
I am told there will be space for dancers. And Marty, bless him, just turned 92. He has all the spring and snap of a man and musician much younger — so don’t let this gig pass you by. His friends, Bill and Ray, are esteemed veterans of this art form, and Bria shines — playing, singing, letting the music flow through her.
I know it is one day after the 4th, which Louis thought was his birthday, and one day before the 6th, the day on which he left this earthly realm, so it’s numerologically in perfect balance. Musically, too!
May your happiness increase!
Posted in Generosities, Jazz Titans, Pay Attention!, Swing You Cats!, The Heroes Among Us, The Real Thing, The Things We Love
Tagged Bill Crow, Bria Skonberg, free concert, Geri Goldman Reichgut, Jazz Lives, Louis Armstrong, Marty Napoleon, Michael Steinman, Ray Mosca