Tag Archives: gig

ONE-NIGHT STAND! DAN LEVINSON’S PALOMAR TRIO (April 29, 2010)

Benny Goodman was and is such a powerful influence on generations of musicians — especially clarinetists — that there are many players still living off of the King of Swing’s solos.

But Dan Levinson, who plays a number of reed instruments with great skill and understanding, is head and shoulders above the Kinglets. 

He can, upon request, rip off choruses that will make you think you are back at the Madhattan Room with your best girl or fellow in 1937; he can play a lovely ballad.  But he’s not a copyist or an imitator at heart.  Rather, he’s someone who understands the jazz and pop of that period (and of earlier eras) so that he can improvise on a song that didn’t exist in 1937 or he can make, say, CHINA BOY, sound new. 

One of Dan’s groups (he is a man of many affiliations and associations) is his Palomar Trio, which pays tribute to the California spot where Benny and his band caught fire in front of a large popular audience.  The other members are the swinging marvel Mark Shane on piano, and the ebullient Kevin Dorn on drums. 

They’ll be appearing at Shanghai Jazz in Madison, New Jersey, on Thursday, April 29, 2010 from 7:00 – 9:30 PM.  The club is at 24 Main Street.  For reservations or information (there’s no cover charge for the music, but there is a $15 food and drink minimum per person, and the menu is — as the name would suggest — Asian), call (973) 822-2899 0r or contact info@shanghaijazz.com.  The club’s website is www.shanghaijazz.com.  

I’ll be there!

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MORE WORDS TO LIVE BY

“His main theme was that you didn’t have to play loud but that you needed intensity to get the listener’s attention.  This turned out to be the greatest of all lessons in how and what to play.”

wo-smithThese words come from a fascinating book, now apparently out of print but worth searching out: SIDEMAN: THE LONG GIG OF W.O. SMITH.  William Oscar Smith is the bassist on Hawkins’s 1939 Bluebird session, the one that produced “Body and Soul.”  That should be enough renown for anyone, but Smith went on to be a generous and respected educator.

Those of you who follow this blog will not be surprised that the quotation is something Smith remembered Sidney Catlett telling young musicians in the early Forties.  I’ve included it here not as another tribute to Sid, although who would deny me that?  But it’s applicable — in its own way — to current jazz performance practice.

At the gigs I attend, musicians rarely feel the need to outshout one another.  Most of the clubs are intimate (read: “cramped”) so that raising the volume of your solo for the sake of loudness isn’t something people do.

But I am always amazed and dismayed by how many musicians unconsciously accelerate tempos, carried away by the intensity of the solos they hear.  Musician A plays more intensely, digging into his notes, so B (feeling the spirit alongside him) gets faster and faster.  These aren’t amateurs, by the way.  Now, I know how hard it is to improvise, and I am sitting at a table, silently censorious as the piece that began as a medium-tempo rock is now a sprint.  I also know that some of the greatest live performances rush or drag, and that very famous musicians tended to do this.  I will not call the roll in this blog, for, after all, jazz isn’t a metronomic art.  It isn’t mechanical, nor should it be.

But the only rushing I approve of wholeheartedly is Jiimmy Rushing.

KELLSO’S SWEET RHYTHMS

Sweet rhythm captivates me,

Hot rhythm stimulates me,

Can’t help but swing, 

Swing it, brother, swing . . . .

Billie Holiday sang these words with the Basie band in 1937, and they came to mind this morning when I heard the good news:

Jon-Erik Kellso, Ehud Asherie, Kelly Friesen, and A.N. Other will be starting a potentially steady gig at Sweet Rhythm (88 Seventh Avenue South, New York, New York 10014, 212-255-3626, between Bleecker and Grove Streets) this Sunday, October 26, from 4 – 7.  A paltry $10 cover charge, an attractive menu.  (http://www.sweetrhythmny.com.) 

By 4 PM, most New Yorkers should have read all that’s fit to print in their Sunday Times, and they can bestir themselves to walk in that special late-afternoon autumnal light. 

The timing is right for other reasons.  Jazz musicians tend to be nocturnal, and noon is the middle of their night, so brunch sometimes seems like an affront to their senses: bright lights, people being unduly cheerful, the smell of eggs and bacon. 

And for the rest of us, those oppressed creatures Jo Jones called “the nine to fivers,” a Sunday night gig sometimes means feeling even more downtrodden when the alarm clock goes off at 5:45 on Monday morning. 

This seems just right.  I look forward to being both Stimulated and Captivated.  You come, too.

P.S.     Readers who know their New York jazz history will know that Sweet Rhythm used to be Sweet Basil, where (among other pleasures) Doc Cheatham did Sunday brunches for a long long time.  And he lived to be a vigorous jazz patriarch.  Maybe this site has some good anti-aging karma in its walls.

P.P.S.   In the name of accuracy — an hour after posting this blog, I remembered that Billie actually sang “Deep rhythm,” but I am not going to let evidence like that destroy my tenuous intellectual construction.  Kellso’s rhythms are deep, too.