Tag Archives: Gypsy jazz

GENTLY BUT FIRMLY: HOT CLUB PACIFIC: “JIVE AT FIVE”

HCP front

Looking at the sleeve, one could underrate this sweet session from a group of West Coast players as just another “Hot Club” effort.  But the listener who goes within the cardboard has pleasant surprises in store.

For one thing, the HCP is not bowing low to the Quintette of the Hot Club of France in its most famous — and most imitated — Thirties incarnation, with one solo guitar, two rhythm, one violin, one string bass.

Rather, it emulates in its instrumentation the later Reinhardt – Rostaing efforts, clarinet instead of violin. And the group eschews some of the more limiting aspects of “Gypsy jazz,” especially the note-laden guitar solos at searing tempos.

No, this Hot Club leans more towards a Basie / Charlie Christian aesthetic, which is fine with me. The prime movers here are Marc Schwartz (lead guitar), Jack Fields (rhythm guitar), Dale Mills (clarinet), Nat Johnson, Bill Bosch, or Matt Bohn (bass), Olaf Schipiacasse (drums).  And you’ll see from the tune list below that they have neatly sidestepped some of the most overplayed numbers in the G.S. repertoire, for which relief much thanks.

HCP back

I know what follows next might seem like faint praise, but as I was listening to JIVE AT FIVE, I kept noting those corners and musical niches where lesser players might have stuffed in familiar quotes, phrases taken from famous records — in short, cliches.  And each time the band went its own happy swinging way, which is always reassuring.

Here is the HCP Facebook page, and here is what I wrote about them a few years back — with convincing videos.

The HCF has regular gigs in the Santa Cruz / Monterey area, best checked on the Facebook page.  But for pictures of the band and booking information, there’s no better place than here.

The CD is a limited edition, so don’t wait too long to snap up a copy — or else you will be fishing around on eBay.  And if you don’t feel that my endorsement is sufficient proof, how about this: guitar maestri Paul Mehling, Howard Alden, and Larry Coryell have visited and sat in during the band’s ten-year run.  That’s good enough for me.

 May your happiness increase!

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND: MORE OF LE JAZZ HOT at MONTEREY (March 7, 2014)

A number of people wrote very enthusiastic responses to my posting part of a set by Dawn Lambeth and Le Jazz Hot (March 7, 2014) at Jazz Bash by the Bay. They wanted more, and I can’t blame them. More of Dawn’s beautiful singing from another set is on the way, but here are the remaining performances by Le Jazz Hot from that session.

For the latecomers, the posts I speak of can be seen here and here.

The band is Paul Mehling, guitar; Evan Price, violin; Isabelle Fontaine, rhythm guitar / vocal; Sam Rocha, string bass.

To the music.

PLACE DE BROUCKERE:

MELODIE AU CREPUSCULE:

I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS:

BUONA SERA, SIGNORINA:

I won’t attempt to explain the intricate relations between the Hot Club of San Francisco, Le Jazz Hot, and the Ivory Club Boys, except to say that the latter incarnation is gigging at Armando’s in Martinez on May 31.  Details here.

May your happiness increase!

DAWN LAMBETH SINGS, LE JAZZ HOT PLAYS at MONTEREY (March 7, 2014)

A winning combination for sure: the wonderful singer Dawn Lambeth paying a swing visit to Le Jazz Hot — Paul Mehling, guitar; Evan Price, violin; Isabelle Fontaine, rhythm guitar; Sam Rocha, string bass — at the Jazz Bash by the Bay on March 7, 2014:

I COVER THE WATERFRONT:

THE MAN I LOVE:

MY MELANCHOLY BABY:

WHEN DAY IS DONE:

You can find out more about Dawn here or on Facebook.  She has appeared at many major music festivals, recorded two CDs, and has a wonderful DVD out as well.  Dawn will be more prominently featured in the 2015 Bash.  As for the delightful Le Jazz Hot (and its various incarnations: the Hot Club of San Francisco or the Ivory Club Boys), follow them     here or at their Faccebook page.

But the music will tell you all you need to know about a wonderful singer and a fine band — the musical embodiment of “a starlit sky above,” even though we were indoors.

May your happiness increase! 

SWING SCENE: MONDAY NIGHT at LE COLONIAL SF with THE IVORY CLUB BOYS (PAUL MEHLING, EVAN PRICE, CLINT BAKER, SAM ROCHA, ISABELLE FONTAINE: April 28, 2014)

A week ago, last Monday night, I was making the scene at Le Colonial SF (20 Cosmo Place, San Francisco) on the site of the famous Trader Vic’s.

Virtuoso guitarist Paul Mehling and friends usually play hot gypsy jazz — homage to Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli — as the Hot Club of San Francisco. But Paul brought a new variation on swinging themes, The Ivory Club Boys, to Le Colonial on April 28, 2014.

The Ivory Club Boys evoke the jazz scene of the late Thirties on New York City’s fabled Swing Street (Fifty-Second Street) with a special emphasis on the hot music of violinist Stuff Smith.

Along with Paul, the ICB are Evan Price, electric violin; Clint Baker, trumpet AND trombone AND vocal; Isabelle Fontaine, guitar, vocal, and non-Boyishness; Sam Rocha, string bass, vocal.

OPENING BLUES (like the old days, and wonderful):

CRAZY RHYTHM:

CARELESS LOVE (a blues Stuff Smith adored):

An assertively quick reinvention of SWEET AND LOVELY:

DESERT SANDS:

DINAH:

Le Colonial is a fine place to be on Mondays — to hear hot music; to dance to it; to watch the exuberantly acrobatic dancers; to eat Vietnamese food and drink all sorts of intriguing liquids.  And now “20 Cosmo Place” is in my GPS, so I feel both secure and excited.

May your happiness increase!

LE JAZZ HOT PLAYS DJANGO at JAZZAGE MONTEREY’S JAZZ BASH BY THE BAY: PAUL MEHLING, EVAN PRICE, ISABELLE FONTAINE, SAM ROCHA (March 7, 2014)

The title says it all.  DIMINISHING BLACKNESS and RHYTHM FUTUR — compositions by Django Reinhardt that are both refreshingly futuristic.  They are performed marvelously by Le Jazz Hot: Paul Mehling, guitar; Evan Price, violin; Isabelle Fontaine, guitar; Sam Rocha, string bass.  All of this happened thanks to JazzAge Monterey’s Jazz Bash by the Bay on March 7, 2014:

Intriguing music, so far from AABA formula of the times — performed with an engaging freshness and life.  More to come from this group (and friends)!

May your happiness increase!

SWING SYNERGY: MIKE LIPSKIN, LEON OAKLEY, PAUL MEHLING at RANCHO NICASIO (March 24, 2014)

Some groups sound larger than their numbers.  Whether the reason is experience, community, or intuition, they blossom on the stand, emerging as an entity more gratifying and complete than their individual personalities, instruments, and sounds.

Here’s a trio of piano, cornet, and guitar.  Close your eyes and you could think you are listening to a six or seven-piece band.  Open your eyes, and you wouldn’t miss a clarinet, trombone, string bass, or drums.

Such magical synergy doesn’t happen as a matter of course — but it did last Sunday, March 24, 2014, when Mike Lipskin (piano), Leon Oakley (cornet), and Paul Mehling (guitar) delighted us.

Here are eight performances from that evening — cheerful music imbued with the sweet spirit of Fats Waller and his Rhythm. Mike, Leon, and Paul don’t copy people or records, but their buoyant joy in playing evoked the swing Masters.

James P. Johnson’s OLD FASHIONED LOVE:

BABY BROWN, for and by Alex Hill:

UNDECIDED, for Charlie Shavers:

SPREADIN’ RHYTHM AROUND, that 1935 anthem:

James P.’s SNOWY MORNING BLUES, a solo for Mike:

Hoagy Carmichael’s OLD MAN HARLEM:

A romp on AVALON:

YESTERDAY (the Lennon-McCartney soundtrack of the late Sixties, but watch out for the later choruses):

Messrs. Lipskin, Oakley, and Mehling play a variety of gigs with a variety of ensembles, from solo piano to gypsy jazz to a stomping two-trumpet band . . . catch them while you can!  (They are, singly and collectively, the real thing.)

May your happiness increase!

SWING STREET COMES TO NICASIO (Part Two): THE IVORY CLUB BOYS: PAUL MEHLING, EVAN PRICE, CLINT BAKER, SAM ROCHA, and MIKE LIPSKIN (March 2, 2014)

A second helping of The Ivory Club Boys, a hot band that satisfies. (Here is the first helping, for those who’d rather listen than read.)

On Sunday, March 2, 2014, while the rest of America was watching the Oscars, the Beloved and I were having a wonderful time with the Ivory Club Boys (presented by the Hot Club of San Francisco) paying tribute to violinist Stuff Smith and his Onyx Club Boys, at Rancho Nicasio in Nicasio, California.

The Ivories were (for this occasion) Paul Mehling, guitar and vocal; Evan Price, violin; Clint Baker, trumpet, euphonium, clarinet, and vocal; Sam Rocha, string bass, and guest star Mike Lipskin, piano.

And before we proceed: the Ivories aren’t a repertory band devoted to reproducing Stuff and Jonah’s hot sounds right off the record — so the scholars may find a certain liberty in their improvisations.  (Whisper this: the Ivories even perform songs Stuff never recorded.)  But they don’t want to make history; they just want to swing. Four-four, if you don’t mind. Charlie Christian and Teddy Bunn are at the bar, too.

Here are more rocking numbers from their second set:

ROSETTA (vocal Sam Rocha):

Stuff’s own IT’S WONDERFUL:

SOME OF THESE DAYS:

I COVER THE WATERFRONT:

‘S’WONDERFUL:

MOONGLOW:

SOLID OLD MAN:

MOTEN SWING:

This band was so rewarding.  I’m looking forward to their next gig, their CD, their DVD, the world tour, the t-shirts, keychains, their own Facebook page. Until the Ivory Club Boys come to your town, enjoy this set.

May your happiness increase!

SWING STREET COMES TO NICASIO (Part One): THE IVORY CLUB BOYS: PAUL MEHLING, EVAN PRICE, CLINT BAKER, SAM ROCHA, and MIKE LIPSKIN (March 2, 2014)

On Sunday, March 2, 2014, while the rest of America was watching the Oscars, the Beloved and I were muggin’ lightly with the Ivory Club Boys (presented by the Hot Club of San Francisco) paying tribute to Stuff Smith and his Onyx Club Boys, at Rancho Nicasio in Nicasio, California.

The Ivories were (for this occasion) Paul Mehling, guitar and vocal; Evan Price, violin; Clint Baker, trumpet, euphonium, clarinet, and vocal; Sam Rocha, string bass, and guest star Mike Lipskin, piano.

And before we proceed: the Ivories aren’t a repertory band devoted to reproducing Stuff and Jonah’s hot ecstasies right off the record — so the scholars among us may find a certain liberty in their improvisations.  My goodness, they even perform songs Stuff never recorded!  But they don’t want to make history; they just want to swing. Four-four, if you don’t mind. Charlie Christian and Teddy Bunn are at the bar, too.

Here are eight rocking numbers from their first set:

CRAZY RHYTHM:

SARATOGA SWING:

I’M CRAZY ‘BOUT MY BABY (vocal by Paul Mehling):

DESERT SANDS (a Stuff original, very atmospheric):

CHINA BOY (Mike strides in):

I’M CONFESSIN’ (with commentary by Mister Lipskin at the start):

JEEPERS CREEPERS (ditto and likewise — hear the band shift into tempo after the verse!):

ONE HOUR (vocal by Clint Baker after Mike’s lovely exposition of the verse):

We were with them two hours that night, and the band was so very rewarding.  I’m looking forward to their next gig, their CD, their DVD, the world tour, the t-shirts, keychains, their own Facebook page. Until the real thing comes along, enjoy this set — and there’s more to come.

May your happiness increase!

THE MUSIC OF STEPHANE GRAPPELLI: JON BURR, PAUL PATTERSON, HOWARD ALDEN, and ANDY STEIN (Sept. 21, 2013)

The lyrical, propulsive string bassist Jon Burr often presents a program of the music associated with Stephane Grappelli, and with good reason — not only because he loves the idiom, but as a memory of the dozen years he worked and appeared with the violin master.

Here, at the 2013 Jazz at Chautauqua (now known as the Allegheny Jazz Party) Jon and nobly swinging string friends — Paul Patterson, violin, Howard Alden, guitar, and guest Andy Stein (on the closing selection) make beautiful music.

ALL GOD’S CHILLUN GOT RHYTHM:

MOONGLOW:

PENNIES FROM HEAVEN:

NUAGES / DAPHNE:

LIMEHOUSE BLUES:

Jon, Howard, and two dozen other notables will be making music at the Allegheny Jazz Party during September 18-21, 2014.  I know I’ve mentioned it twice in this post, but it’s very good news.  See for yourself.

May your happiness increase!

ROCKIN’ IN RHYTHM and DANCING FOR JOY with LE JAZZ HOT: CLINT BAKER, EVAN PRICE, ROBERT YOUNG, SAM ROCHA (Le Colonial, July 8, 2013)

The Beloved and I made the scene at Le Colonial (20 Cosmo Place, San Francisco) on July 8 to hear some hot music.  As an extra bonus, we saw much expert, energetic dancing.

The music was provided by a compact, inventive band — Le Jazz Hot for four (leader Paul Mehling was stuck in France for a spell): Clint Baker, guitar, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, vocal; Evan Price, violin, guitar; Robert Young, saxophones, vocal; Sam Rocha, string bass.  They romped — musicians and dancers in sweet reciprocity!  Here are a few songs from the first set.

Incidentally, the Hopperesque lighting of the scene is very unjust to violinist Evan Price, who is seated at one side of the group.  But please don’t forget to pay attention to him — his playing, never sticky-sweet, always swinging — is delightful.

Before viewers embark on this jazz voyage, I should note that I was videoing from across the room, and the dancers — properly — were in motion.  So the visual aspect of what follows may strike some as more surreal than usual, but I think these videos are lovely in a moving-sculpture way (the famous 1954 short film JAZZ DANCE came to mind).

Someone who is willing to get in the groove with us can delight in the interplay between the expertly moving dancers and the hot band.  Viewing this at home, in the right frame of mind, one can sit back and be transported, as we were.

HONEYSUCKLE ROSE:

THREE LITTLE WORDS:

I’M CONFESSIN’:

WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE?:

ONE HOUR:

MY BLUE HEAVEN:

HESITATING BLUES:

LIMEHOUSE BLUES:

What a delicious scene!  Every Monday night this happens at Le Colonial, I hear tell — but Clint, Evan, Robert, Sam, and Paul bring the best vibrations with them wherever they play.

May your happiness increase!

ANOTHER SUNDAY SUPPER AT BRENDA’S WITH GAUCHO (DAVE RICKETTS, ROB REICH, ARI MUNKRES): JUNE 23, 2013

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Dr. Matilda Weinstein (the JAZZ LIVES house physician) asks, “Have you had your GAUCHO today?”

Here’s a hot and sweet musical tonic from my visit to one of GAUCHO’s regular spots — Brenda’s French Soul Food on Polk Street in San Francisco — on Sunday, June 23, 2013.

Dave Ricketts brought along his ever-reliable Tin Man (you’ll see it in his lap) but also his cornet, where he displays an admirable calm lyricism; Rob Reich swung out on the accordion in ways that the instrument isn’t accustomed to — all for the good! — and Ari Munkres showed again why he is a one-man rhythm section.

A hot SWEET GEORGIA BROWN (I got my camera in action late, but the second half is delicious):

The little-known rhythm ballad, MOANIN’ FOR YOU (courtesy of the Mills Brothers and patented Ricketts-Romanticism):

And for those who like their New Orleans cuisine with Middle Eastern touches, THE SHEIK OF ARABY:

Tasty (as is the food at Brenda’s)!

May your happiness increase!

GAUCHO GOES TO BRENDA’S (June 9, 2013)

The gypsy jazz group GAUCHO is flexible — it is often a trio of guitarist / composer / singer Dave Ricketts, string bassist Ari Munkres, and accordionist / pianist Rob Reich.  Then it can expand to a sextet, with guitarist Michael Groh, reedman Ralph Carney, and percussionist Elizabeth Goodfellow — or other permutations I haven’t yet witnessed.

On Sunday, June 9, the trio of Ricketts, Munkres, and Reich shared the stage with Tamar Korn, Gordon Au, Dennis Lichtman, and Jared Engel at    Brenda’s, an estimable “French soul food restaurant” in San Francisco: 652 Polk Street (at Eddy).  Brenda’s deserves applause not only because GAUCHO has a regular Sunday afternoon-into-night gig there, but because its “French soul food” translates as their version of New Orleans food in substantial well-seasoned portions.  (My muffaletta hero came with a small dish of spicy watermelon rind pickle — five stars’ plus — and all around me people were happily devouring their food.  And Brenda’s blog even provides the recipe for the pickles!)

Here are two performances by GAUCHO from that night.  I would have stayed for more, but we had a recording session to go to — the results of which, I hope, will emerge sooner rather than later.

DOUBLE BARREL, Dave’s composition — using the KING OF THE ZULUS vamp as a starting point — rocks:

SHINE, the old favorite:

Come to Brenda’s on a Sunday (5-8) for hot food and hotter jazz.  And to keep up with GAUCHO, click here.

May your happiness increase!

GYPSIES, CONTINUED: THE FAUX FRENCHMEN at JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA 2012

JAZZ LIVES doesn’t always take requests, but after I’d written this about two impressive Gypsy jazz ensembles, DJANGOLOGIE and SOME LIKE IT HOT CLUB, a reader wrote in: Hi! I would recommend that you get your hands on a CD by a group here in Cincinnati, The Faux Frenchmen. A very fine quartet that deserves a listen.

They do indeed.  And since I’ve seen them for a number of years at Jazz at Chautauqua, I can vouch for this reader’s enthusiasm and show everyone what he’s excited about — with a twist of the wrist, or perhaps a dozen clicks of the mouse.

ROCKIN’ IN RHYTHM:

Theme from RHAPSODY IN BLUE:

I’M BEGINNING TO SEE THE LIGHT (with Andy Schumm, cornet, and Howard Alden, joining in — one chorus only):

MINOR SWING (with Howard, and Andy switching to piano):

This swinging group will also be at the 2013 Jazz at Chautauqua party: need I say more?  Their usual personnel is George Cunningham, Brian Lovely, guitars; Don Aren, string bass; Paul Patterson, violin; for the 2012 Chautauqua party, they were joined by Joe Lucasik, clarinet. Here is their website, too: with their performing schedule and information on their four CDs.

May your happiness increase!

GYPSY JAZZ PLEASURES: “DJANGOLOGIE” and “SOME LIKE IT HOT CLUB”

I have been fussy about modern re-enactments of “Gypsy jazz” in the past, but here are two superb CDs that you should know about.

I didn’t know about DJANGOLOGIE until I had the good fortune to hear Emma D. Fisk play at the 2012 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party.  She is a find: a violinist with a dark rich tone, a love for melody, and a way of swinging without being syrupy.  And the Gypsy jazz quartet she’s part of, DJANGOLOGIE, is as good a group as she is a player.  A very uncluttered instrumentation: Emma, James Birkett, guitar; Giles Strong, guitar; Mick Shoulder, double bass.  Here is the group’s Facebook page.

DJANGOLOGIE A NEW LEAF

Their CD, A NEW LEAF, mixes QHCF repertoire — pre and postwar — LADY BE GOOD, SHEIK OF ARABY, NUAGES, MINOR SWING, J’ATTENDRAI, TROUBLANT BOLERO, ARTELLERIE LOURDE, DARK EYES — with engaging originals by Mick Shoulder, DANS MON ENDROIT TRANQUILLE, BEAUTIFUL TILL 3, DJANGO’S STOMP, SINISTER DRAG, and FEUILLE D’AUTOMNE.  The recording is very beautiful for many reasons: the guitarists pass melody and rhythm back and forth; Shoulder holds it all together; Emma calmly soars.  Here’s some musical evidence:

That’s only thirty-nine seconds, so we need more:

And here’s the group’s rocking version of THE SHEIK:

They’re original without losing the sweet intensity of their heroic forebears, in the tradition without copying the Reinhardt-and-Grappelli trademark runs and gestures.  The CD is available through CDBaby and Amazon, although (as always) the best way to get a copy is to hand money directly to members of the group — in between sets — and see them smile at you.

Moving from the UK to the US, I can recommend SOME LIKE IT HOT CLUB — a quartet of a different slant, based in New Jersey, with Alex E. Soudah, guitar; Rob Cuellari, guitar; Frank Slingerland, clarinet and tenor saxophone; Jerry D’Anna, string bass.

SOME LIKE IT HOT CLUB

Their CD begins with a clever link to the Billy Wilder film from which they draw their name, but what follows is light-hearted, not comical.  They lean more to the postwar Reinhardt instrumentation, but they are flexible and swinging: DOUCE AMBIANCE, MANOIR DE MES REVES, LA FOULE, LADY BE GOOD, CARAVAN, MONTAIGNE SAINTE-GENEVIEVE, MINOR SWING.  I don’t have any videos to post of the group, but they have appeared in New Jersey to great acclaim — most recently pleasing audiences at a New Jersey Jazz Society concert.  So do look them up!  This is their Facebook page.

May your happiness increase!

“DOUCE AMBIANCE”: DJANGOLOGIE (EMMA FISK, JAMES BIRKETT, GILES STRONG, MICHAEL SHOULDER)

This tidy Gypsy jazz quartet evokes the easy flowing lyricism of the original performances by Django and Stephane.  Hear for yourself: the melodies unfold in leisurely ways, and everything is sweetly in balance.

The UK group is called DJANGOLOGIE, but they don’t restrict themselves to the QHCF repertoire.  Emma Fisk, who made such an impression on us in a variety of musical contexts at the 2012 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party, is on violin; James Birkett takes the first guitar solo; Giles Strong the second; Michael Shoulder is on bass:

Here’s the band’s Facebook page and here you can check out their CD.  Sweet ambiance indeed!

May your happiness increase.

“THE BENNY STRICKLER STORY”: DAVE RADLAUER / HAL SMITH / CHRIS TYLE

Provide any jazz fan with the first name “Benny” and leave the surname blank . . . and most listeners will respond with “Goodman.”  Some will think of “Morton,” “Moten,” and stump-the-band types might reply “Meroff.”  But how many people will immediately think of the brilliant, short-lived trumpeter Benny Strickler, who distinguished himself both in Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys and the early Yerba Buena Jazz Band . . . before dying of tuberculosis in his twenties.

Strickler GTJ

I knew of Strickler as a legendary figure — revered by two of my jazz scholar-friends, Chris Tyle and Hal Smith — but I’d never had a substantial opportunity to hear his work before a friend told me about Dave Radlauer’s fascinating series of radio profiles, now available online here.  Radlauer’s approach goes beyond assembling rare records and telling us their personnel: he has spoken at length with musicians who knew his subject — including Bob Helm, Bill Bardin, Danny Alguire.  And the series goes in reverse: detailing Strickler’s playing days in San Francisco, then returning to his work with Wills in Tulsa.  The delights of these programs are substantial: we get to discover a musician few of us knew, we hear first-hand testimony from people who were on the scene, and we hear both rare recordings by Strickler and later evocations of his compact, relaxed yet energized style, his shining sound.  Dave’s JAZZ RHYTHM site presents four half-hour programs on Strickler, full of delightful music and deep research.

Do visit Dave Radlauer’s site here — you will find programs on everyone — famous and rare — from Charlie Christian to Eddie Condon, Spud Murphy, Emmett Miller, Bix, gypsy jazz . . . and more.

May your happiness increase.

SWEET SOUNDS FOR STEPHANE: JON BURR, HOWARD ALDEN, PAUL PATTERSON at JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA (September 22, 2012)

Jazz festivals and parties sometimes go full-throttle in an attempt to please the audience by exciting it (PERDIDO by Flip Phillips, anyone?) but it is always so delicious when things quiet down for a piano recital, or something pretty.  “Pretty” doesn’t have to mean dull or morose, as this chamber-jazz set proves . . . string bassist Jon Burr’s tribute to the violinist Stephane Grappelli, someone he worked with for a dozen years.  Accompanying Jon on this sweet voyage are violinist Paul Patterson of the Faux Frenchmen and the illustrious Howard Alden.  All of this was recorded at Jazz at Chautauqua on September 22, 2012.

Savor! (which is very different from the waitperson putting down your plate and commanding you to ENJOY . . . I assure you).  This compact, evocative program manages to evoke Ivie Anderson, the Marx Brothers, Duke Ellington, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Dooley Wilson.  Ah, the power of the great songs!

ALL GOD’S CHILLUN GOT RHYTHM:

MOONGLOW:

PENNIES FROM HEAVEN:

AS TIME GOES BY:

Ah, you must remember this!

May your happiness increase.

GAUCHO and TAMAR KORN CELEBRATE at AMNESIA (Aug. 29, 2012)

The cheerfully flexible gypsy-jazz organization known as GAUCHO celebrated its tenth anniversary at Amnesia (853 Valencia Street, San Francisco:  amnesia) on August 29, 2012.  Traditionally a tenth anniversary is celebrated with gifts of tin or aluminum . . . I hope that the tip basket brimming with bills stood in successfully for “tin.”  But the crowd at Amnesia gave GAUCHO and Tamar Korn an even better present — a warm reception.

And the videos that follow prove how deeply GAUCHO and Tamar were welcomed in San Francisco.  Occasionally the warmth proved physically exuberant: I and my tripod and camera were in fairly constant danger of being treated like Dorothy Gale by some positively athletic dancing couples.  But everyone survived.

For this celebration, GAUCHO consisted of leader – guitarist – composer Dave Ricketts and the eminent swing guitarist Michael Groh in tandem, with the vigorous reedman Ralph Carney, the wily Rob Reich on accordion and piano, the ingenious Ari Munkres on string bass.

They began the evening with an energized I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS:

Then one of Dave’s compositions that has reached a larger audience through the cinema, DOUBLE BARREL:

BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA was anything but wistful Midwestern nostalgia:

Then Tamar joined them for the cautionary yet swinging COMES LOVE:

She followed with a romping DINAH:

And harking back to what I perceive as her roots, Berlin’s RUSSIAN LULLABY:

Finally, she offered two Ricketts (melody) – Korn (lyrics) collaborations:

PEARL:

SING ON:

This party also served to announce once again Gaucho’s new CD, PART-TIME SWEETHEART (all originals by Dave) with contributions from Leon Oakley, cornet; Clint Baker, various instruments; Georgia English, vocals; Vic Wong, guitar; Elizabeth Goodfellow, drums; Marty Eggers, tuba; Dave and Michael.  Look for it wherever better music is sold — in this case, gauchojazz.

May your happiness increase.

“PANIQUE” SWINGS OUT at The Red Poppy Art House (August 16, 2012)

The band PANIQUE is a rare group, subtle and inventive, as their appearance at the Red Poppy Art House in San Francisco proved.  Click PANIQUE to be transported — in every possible way — back to their beautiful first set!

This imaginative quartet is Vic Wong, guitar; Benito Cortez, violin; Nick Christie, rhythm guitar; Daniel Fabricant, string bass.

Here is their second set.  I so admire the conversational eloquence of their solos, delightful ensemble interplay; their dynamics, tempos, and shadings, their love 0f melody.

WALTZ in C# MINOR / TOPSY (combining Chopin and Eddie Durham favors both of them):

MA PREMIERE GUITARRE:

Accordionist Gus Viseur’s SWING VALSE:

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY / THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER YOU:

SUITE YUGOSLAV:

DANSE NORVEGIENNE:

MINOR SWING:

Learn more about PANIQUE and their live CD here; visit Vic Wong on Facebook there.  And The Red Poppy Art House is a remarkable place, full of friendship and inspirations: click Poppy to find out more.

May your happiness increase.

“PANIQUE” MEANS JOY (Part One, August 16, 2012)

Don’t let this band’s scary French name make you run for the closet.

They are truly generous in their offerings of joy, as they proved lavishly last Thursday at the Red Poppy Art House in San Francisco.

This imaginative quartet is Vic Wong, guitar; Benito Cortez, violin; Nick Christie, rhythm guitar; Daniel Fabricant, string bass.

And in their mix of standards and less-known material, they embody the great virtues of memorable swing improvisation: a speaking eloquence in their solos, delightful ensemble interplay; extraordinary subtlety in their dynamics, tempos, and shadings, and a real understanding of how deeply listeners need melodies.  Although the members of the group look youthful, they are mature improvisers with well-developed imaginations, ears, hearts, and wit.  But I will let the music speak for itself:

An opening built from two songs, played back-to-back (something other bands could learn from PANIQUE): DOUBLE WHISKY and J’AI CHERCHE APRES TITINE:

NUAGES, a little more briskly than it is often played, the change bringing the song into sharper focus:

DINETTE, so much more than a little table in the corner of the kitchen:

TROUBLANT BOLERO, Reinhardt — not Ravel:

COQUETTE:

An exploration of BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS that slowly unwraps itself:

JE SUIS SEUL CE SOIR (“I am alone tonight”):

I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS:

Learn more about PANIQUE and their live CD here; visit Vic Wong on Facebook there.

May your happiness increase.

SWINGING WITH GAUCHO at YOSHI’S (July 9, 2012)

A little more than a month ago, the Beloved and I were invited to the very beautiful jazz club Yoshi’s in Oakland, California, for an evening with the singular Gypsy jazz group GAUCHO — in celebration of their newest CD, PART-TIME SWEETHEART.  For this performance, GAUCHO was a sextet of Dave Ricketts, guitar and composer; Michael Groh, rhythm guitar; Ari Munkres, string bass; Rob Reich, piano and accordion; Ralph Carney, saxophone and clarinet; Elizabeth Goodfellow, drums.  And there were special guests: Leon Oakley, trumpet; Georgia English, vocals; Vic Wong, guitar; Marty Eggers, tuba.

You’ll hear instantly that GAUCHO, although paying homage to Django Reinhardt, goes its own engaging way with deep feeling, never offering speed-of-light copies of treasured Thirties records in lieu of inventiveness.

COQUETTE:

MISS MYSTERY / I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS:

SOME OF THESE DAYS:

PART-TIME SWEETHEART:

NOBODY KNOWS YOU WHEN YOU’RE DOWN AND OUT:

TIN MAN WALTZ:

To find out more about this fine band, both swinging and subtle, visit gauchojazz.  And to buy their new CD, PART-TIME SWEETHEART, you can have the double pleasure of hearing them in person, or you can find Dave on Facebook here.

What a delightful band!

May your happiness increase.

A TRIP TO AVALON with TAMAR KORN and GAUCHO

Suitcases not required.  And you won’t have to show your driver’s license to the pleasant TSA man or woman . . . simply let these superb musicians take you to an ideal place (care of Puccini, Al Jolson, and Benny Goodman).

The travel agent-magicians in charge here are Gaucho, the wondrous swing / gypsy ensemble that has been certified one hundred percent cliche-free by the FDA.  Seen here are guitarists Dave Ricketts and Michael Groh; accordionist Rob Reich; reedman Ralph Carney; cornetist Leon Oakley; string bassist Ari Munkres; percussionist Pete Devine; vocalist Tamar Korn.  This video (beautifully done, thanks to Porto Franco Records) was recorded in 2010 as part of Gaucho’s album PEARL, featuring Tamar. The band is now raising money for their fifth CD, which will feature another great young vocalist – Georgia English, who has studied music with Gaucho’s bandleader since she was 8 years old, and is now a student at Berklee School of Music.  The CD is on its way: I believe it will be out in the first part of July.

See you in Avalon . . .

May your happiness increase.