There’s always some reason to celebrate.
Jazz fans of a certain vintage know the photographs of Fifty-Second Street jam sessions — in this case, Sunday afternoons at Jimmy Ryan’s in the early Forties, with every luminary within ten miles joining in on the closing BUGLE CALL RAG. Or this pastoral little gathering, no doubt improvising on Debussy:
I see Hot Lips Page, Kenny Hollon, possibly Jack Bland, Pete Brown, and Marty Marsala, and I imagine Zutty Singleton or George Wettling. Oh, yes, “Very Blowingly.”
By 1948 or so, the line of clubs on “Swing Street” — Fifty-Second between Sixth and Seventh — was gone, and now, even though there’s a street sign denoting past glories, no trace remains. But Sunday nights at The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, when the EarRegulars held court — as we hope they will again — were a divine evocation of that time and place.
Perhaps the most memorable and happy of New Year’s celebrations was January 2, 2011, with All The Cats Joining In. I don’t exaggerate: Jon-Erik Kellso, Danny Tobias, Bria Skonberg, trumpet; John Allred, Emily Asher, Todd Londagin, trombone; Pete Martinez, Dan Block, clarinet; Lisa Parrott, alto saxophone; Matt Munisteri, Howard Alden, guitar; Nicki Parrott, string bass; Chuck Redd, wire brushes on paper tablecloth. Ecstasy at The Ear!
As we go backwards into time, and forwards also, here is the last glorious improvisation of that night, a nearly-sixteen minute TIGER RAG:
and the tail of that TIGER:
I look forward to a return of such ecstasies. Join me at 326 Spring Street — in reality and in joyous memory — and let’s share a big portion of hope.
May your happiness increase!