No, this post isn’t about Benny Goodman’s 1928 recording — although that record does deserve to be celebrated. Rather, it’s about a jazz immersion because of what my college calls “Presidents’ Week” — the Monday holiday stretching into a full week to follow the public school calendar.
What that means for me (and the Beloved) is a wonderful chance to hear four live jazz sessions.
Sunday night I went to the Ear Inn, newly lit and full of people celebrating that they, too, didn’t have to get up early the next morning. The EarRegulars were there in stellar form: Jon-Erik Kellso and Matt Munisteri, with their inspiring friends Scott Robinson and Greg Cohen. I was sitting three feet from Greg’s bass, and it was a transforming experience: the rhythm shot through me all night long. And Scott — the mysterious shape-changer of jazz, who finds a new self whenever he picks up a different horn — was in a happy groove from the opening notes of WEARY BLUES. (Scott had brought his tenor, a cornet — I couldn’t see if it was his fabled echo cornet) and his sopranino sax. In the second set, Rachelle Garniez sat in with her Hohner claviola, Ted G (we couldn’t figure out his last name) brought his Maccaferri guitar, and Lucy, sixteen years old, sat in on trumpet. As they used to say in the society pages of small-town newspapers, “a good time was had by all.”
Last night I went to Banjo Jim’s to catch a return appearance of the Cangelosi Cards with their guest star Sam Parkins, who had brought “his Klarinette.” If you want to get the flavor of that evening, I’ve posted clips from their last jam session on “LIGHTNING IN THE DARKNESS.” It was a smaller hand of Cards — Tamar Korn, Jake Sanders, Karl Meyer, Marcus Millius, Gordon Webster, and Cassidy Holden (who uses gut strings on his bass — as the great players of the Swing Era did). The joint rocked: Tamar sang the blues and ALL OF ME; the Cards turned into a gypsy /tango band with NUAGES, MINOR SWING, and their own line on LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME. Heady stuff!
Tonight, the Beloved and I are going to the 8 PM show at Iridium to hear Barbara Rosene and her New Yorkers. Enough said! Barbara will sparkle and move us, and the New Yorkers include Jon-Erik, Michael Hashim, Conal Fowkes, Matt Szemela, Doug Largent, and Kevin Dorn — fine players and fine friends.
And (if that weren’t enough) we’re going downtown on Thursday for the 36th Anniversary HIGHLIGHTS IN JAZZ concert, featuring David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Centennial Band (or the Gully Low Jazz Band, what you will) — Jon-Erik, Wycliffe Gordon, Anat Cohen, Mark Shane, David himself, and Kevin Dorn. Jack Kleinsinger’s concerts are always models of jazz generosity, and this one includes a pair of raw recruits named Joe Wilder and Dick Hyman.
Yes, I still have to grade two more sets of student essays, but I would call this A JAZZ HOLIDAY. Wouldn’t you? And I haven’t even mentioned the Gully Low Jazz Band’s regular Birdland gig on Wednesday and a midday solo piano outing for Hyman at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in midtown.
New Yorkers are lucky to live in this time and place, the economy notwithstanding. Go and hear some live jazz, even if you don’t have the week off.