Tag Archives: Gypsy jazz

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!