I agree with Ray Skjelbred, whose words I’ve taken as the title of this post. (He says this, and more, before the first performance.)
I also think that he and his Cubs make miraculous music.
Here they are at the 2013 San Diego Jazz Fest on November 29, 2013 — Ray on piano, spiritual enhancement, and vocal; Kim Cusack on clarinet and vocal; Clint Baker, string bass; Katie Cavera, guitar and vocal; Mike Daugherty, drums.
Remembering Henry “Red” Allen and Coleman Hawkins in 1933 with MY GALVESTON GAL*, a pop tune made immortal by way of swinging creativities:
A SAILBOAT IN THE MOONLIGHT, for Billie Holiday and Lester Young. I hold my breath during the lovely thirty-second trio interlude from 4:22 — watch Messrs. Skjelbred and Daugherty, caught up in the same sacred currents:
Romping Chicago-style with NOBODY’S SWEETHEART NOW — vocal by Brother Cusack (I’ve left in the introductions of the band members because they deserve our applause as well as what was evoked in the room):
There were four more songs performed at this concert, but this music is so good that I am parceling it out in bites rather than gulps, for I will be sad when these videos from San Diego come to an end . . . even though there will be other opportunities to see Ray and his Cubs: click here.
In case you missed the magnificent — and I do not use that word lightly — WAILING BLUES (evoking Frank Melrose and Frank Teschemacher) — here it is again.
This band brings together in the present moment so much that is beautiful from the past — as if the Basie band had paid a visit to 1931 Chicago and stayed awhile. Ray and his Cubs create timeless music, a breathing space where the great spirits can relax and have their say, gently allowing us to listen in.
A postscript on MY GALVESTON GAL. It is not the most subtle of popular tunes, with an up-and-down melodic / rhythmic / harmonic waveform, and lyrics that require the most nimble singer to squeeze in all the syllables, some of those words being lifted from other 1933 hits. But it is a remarkable creation simply because of Henry “Red” Allen and Coleman Hawkins — not only because it is the only example I know on record of Henry Allen beginning a vocal with the word, “Yowzah!” (It pops up later, too.) To fully appreciate the alchemy of Allen and Skjelbred, first hear a quite good “dance band” rendition of the tune by Harry Reser:
Then, Ray’s inspiration, the Allen-Hawkins Orchestra — with an utterly entrancing Benny Morton solo and an adventurous Hawkins one, as well as Allen’s vocal:
May your happiness increase!