Not that I need a reason! But I am posting this today for two: the HCJF version of LULU’S BACK IN TOWN made many people happy, if the statistics are valid proof — here — and today is Brian Holland’s birthday. So we celebrate him and the band!
It intrigues me that so many of the songs that are classics of hot jazz sing the praises of the American South, although many of the African-American musicians went at least partway North as soon as they could, and for good reason. Louis Armstrong really loved his home town, so there was no irony in his singing and playing WHEN IT’S SLEEPY TIME DOWN SOUTH for forty years; other musicians, however, felt the disconnect keenly — that Fats Waller could record MY WINDOW FACES THE SOUTH but while he was touring that region the hotels and restaurants frequented by the dominant race were closed to him. Alas.
All this is prelude to the Bennie Moten – Thamon Hayes instrumental hit, simply called SOUTH — recorded in 1924 and 1928, and kept in the Victor catalogue into the Fifties. I found out that lyrics — quite pedestrian ones — were added by “Ray Charles,” but if my source is correct and they were written in 1936, that RC is not the famous one. And the lyrics aren’t worth the space here.
My window faces north-west, but I can always make it face the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet. And no, I don’t need more catsup. But thank you. The only thing that troubles me is that I cannot remember the name of this eatery: was it THE FIRE PIT? Oh, well, the music lasts longer than beer does.
I think of a performance like this as brightly colored but full of shadings, a compendium of Fifty-Second Street camaraderie brought into our century. Or, more simply, five minutes of expert joy. Notice I write expert: it’s only in the movies where Jack Webb picks up a cornet and is — voila! — proficient. For these jovial fellows and their colleagues, swing is a life’s work.
They are, from left, Brian Holland, piano; Marc Caparone, cornet; Danny Coots, drums; Steve Pikal (whose birthday is today), string bass; Jacob Zimmerman, alto saxophone and clarinet. (Dear Jacob: my apologies for not swinging the camera around sufficiently to always capture you.)
And the song here is the Al Dubin – Harry Warren delight, LULU’S BACK IN TOWN.
This performance has its own extra added emotional kick. Not only is it musically wonderful, but it is a souvenir of the last time I saw this band in action, the last festival I attended. We live in hope for a swinging future, you know.
It’s time for some music both tranquil and energized: an improvised duet on the Andy Razaf – Paul Denniker ‘S’POSIN’, by Jacob Zimmerman, clarinet, and Steve Pikal, string bass, at the Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California, on March 7, 2020. Jacob and Steve were part of the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet, musing their way through this 1929 song, associated with Fats Waller.
This interlude feels like a lovely series of inquiries gently tossed back and forth, a conversation floating in mid-air, touching the melody, stating it, then veering into swinging patterns, to return to the melody:
I find it impossible to listen to that performance only once at a sitting.
A few happy digressions about the song. Although you don’t hear the lyrics, they are charming variations on “I adore you. May I kneel at your shins,” and so on. I imagine the slightly abashed wooer quietly inhabiting the conditional tense: “Would it be acceptable to you if I told you how entrancing you are, or would you turn my words away?” or the hypothetical, “Suppose I said you are Alpha and Omega, honey lamb? Would you respond positively or negatively?” We might characterize this lover-to-be as overly timid, but I think such sweet tentativeness is a tender way of avoiding the usual aggressiveness.
I wanted to wait until this section of the blogpost to mention that my favorite full-scale version of this song was the Seger Ellis when-worlds-collide recording on June 24, 1929, for OKeh: Ellis captures eagerness and worried reticence, and he’s accompanied by Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, Stan King, Justin Ring, Harry Hoffman, and Mister Strong, formerly known as “Little Louis.” It’s on YouTube.
Finally, when I Googled “‘S’POSIN’,” this came up:
He’s a Las Vegas attorney, although now his firm is now the Posin Law Group: “Providing personalized and superior representation to the Las Vegas community since 1997 for Family Law, Criminal Law, Personal Injury and Bankruptcy. . . . if you were involved with domestic violence, a car accident, divorce problems, a DUI or any other drug related charges our team of experts will be there to provide support, advice and representation in court. . . . please call our offices at 702-396-8888 and schedule a consultation.”
Now, sing along with me, “‘S’posin’ I should fall upon my face / Would you think that you would take my case?” or your own variation, apologies to Andy Razaf. Then go back and admire Messrs. Zimmerman and Pikal anew.
Today, Saturday, October 31, is Halloween — but no “spooky” posts, because the holiday is eviscerated for valid health reasons. And at my age, the only costume I don is my own, and I don’t buy candy bars for myself.
But Sunday, November 1, is the official end of Daylight Saving Time in most of the United States, “giving us” an extra hour of sleep or some other activity. (Sundays are reserved for the EarRegulars, which is why this post comes early.)
I encourage all of you to enjoy the faux-gift of sixty minutes in some gratifying ways. But here are my suggestions about how you could happily stretch out in the extra time: versions of IF I COULD BE WITH YOU ONE HOUR TONIGHT, the unaging classic by James P. Johnson and Henry Creamer, which speaks to our desire to spend time in pleasurable ways.
Here’s a pretty, loose version from the September 2010 Jazz at Chautauqua, performed by Marty Grosz, guitar, vocals, and commentary; Randy Reinhart, cornet; Dan Block, Scott Robinson, reeds; John Sheridan, piano; Vince Giordano, string bass, tuba, bass sax; Arnie Kinsella, drums:
Two years later, Andy Schumm’s evocation of the Mound City Blue Blowers, at the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party, paying tribute to one “Red” McKenzie, hot ambassador of the comb / newspaper — here, with Andy, comb; Jens Lindgren, trombone, off-screen because of a patron’s coif; Norman Field, Jean-Francois Bonnel, reeds; Emma Fisk, violin; Spats Langham, banjo, vocal; Frans Sjostrom, bass saxophone; Malcolm Sked, brass bass; Josh Duffee, drums:
and, from the 2018 Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Sedalia, Missouri, here’s the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet, for that set, Brian Holland, piano; Danny Coots, drums; Evan Arntzen, tenor saxophone, vocal; Marc Caparone, cornet; Marty Eggers, string bass (subbing for Steve Pikal, who was on secret assignment):
1944, for V-Disc, with Jack Teagarden, trombone and vocal; Bobby Hackett, cornet; Lou McGarity, trombone; Ernie Caceres, clarinet; Nick Caiazza, tenor saxophone; Bill Clifton, piano; Herb Ellis, guitar; Felix Giobbe, string bass; Cozy Cole, drums — one of those perfectly memorable recordings I first heard decades ago, with its own sweet imperfections: some uncertainty about the chords for the verse, and the usually nimble Caiazza painting himself into a corner — but it’s lovely:
Of course, we have to hear the composer, in 1944, with Eddie Dougherty, drums:
Marion Harris, 1930:
Sidney Bechet, Muggsy Spanier, Carmen Mastren, and Wellman Braud, 1940:
Helen Humes and Buck Clayton with Count Basie, 1939:
Ade Monsbourgh and his Late Hour Boys, 1956, with Bob Barnard, trumpet; Ade Monsbourgh, reeds, vocal; Graham Coyle, piano; Jack Varney, banjo, guitar; Ron Williamson, tuba; Roger Bell, washboard:
George Thomas with McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, 1930:
and at the very summit, Louis in 1930:
Now, you’re on your own: use the time for pleasure.
To me, music like this doesn’t require much explication, and to begin to label and analyze it (in the style of Gunther Schuller) would be an insult. Here are six of my friend-heroes — guest Riley Baker, trombone; Marc Caparone, cornet; Jacob Zimmerman, alto saxophone and clarinet; Brian Holland, piano; Danny Coots, drums; the very amused Steve Pikal, string bass — improvising on an Irving Berlin classic, BLUE SKIES. (The place? Jazz Bash by the Bay, Monterey, California. The time? Before the world changed.)
But notice how much respect these jazz improvisers — who, in this century, are supposed to be enthralled by harmonic density and innovation — give to Berlin’s melody, even as they are turning phrases this way and that. Hear how six instrumentalists, by eschewing the ensemble-solos-ensemble format, create an ever-shifting small orchestra, full of variations of texture . . . so that the performance is fulfilling rather than formulaic.
Listen, watch, and delight:
They really know how to do it. And “we’ll be together again.” I guarantee it, to quote the late Justin Wilson, king of the properly-made roux.
Jacob Zimmerman, Riley Baker, March 7, 2020, Monterey, California
Good music for a Saturday night, or anytime. In performance at the 2020 Jazz Bash by the Bay, this composition wasn’t announced by name, but it’s really Jacob Zimmerman’s RADIATOR — dedicated to Ray Skjelbred — an improvisation on the venerable theme SHINE. (And before you get all het up about SHINE, please read this to get the real story about that song, written by African-Americans as a proud affirmation. But I digress.) The result is some fine riffin’ by Jacob, alto saxophone and head arrangement; Marc Caparone, cornet; Danny Coots, drums; Brian Holland, piano; Steve Pikal, string bass; guest star and friend Riley Baker, trombone.
Righteous stuff, wouldn’t you say? I look forward to our next reunion, when all the cacophony (emotional, medical, political — you name it) has subsided. I hear that medical staffs worldwide are working on a vaccine for hateful ignorance, too.
Double rainbow, Evergreen, Colorado, 2014. Photograph by Michael Steinman
Here is some wonderful music from one of my favorite bands, the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet, appearing at the Evergreen Jazz Festival (that’s Evergreen, Colorado) in July 2019. For this weekend, the quintet was Brian Holland, piano; Danny Coots, drums; Marc Caparone, cornet; John Otto, clarinet and alto saxophone; Steve Pikal, string bass.
I might be paraphrasing Yogi Berra, but this piece of music is so famous that no one every plays it anymore. I’m referring to the 1923 CHARLESTON, words and music by Cecil Mack and Jimmy Johnson, as noted below:
In my childhood, when several television shows purported to reproduce the ambiance and music of “The Roaring Twenties,” one by that title starring Dorothy Provine, CHARLESTON was played and sung often. But now, I can’t remember the last time I heard a jazz band play or sing it. (Note: I know there are wonderful recordings, and as I write this, the Original Boulevardiers of Bucharest are driving audiences wild with their rendition, but you don’t need to write in.) Here’s the HCJQ’s frisky version:
and a cool tender IMPROVISATION on a theme recorded but not composed by Fats Waller — the performers are John Otto and Steve Pikal:
Another HOT DANCE (as it would say on the record label), KRAZY KAPERS, perhaps harking back to the comic strip? — variations on the theme of DIGA DIGA DOO:
This band knocks me out, song after song. I saw them most recently at the Jazz Bash by the Bay . . . and you will get to see and hear them also, more . . . .
Let me be plain: before the skies darkened to the shade they are now, I flew from New York to Monterey in March to immerse myself in the 2020 Jazz Bash by the Bay, and I am deeply glad that I did. Here are the first three performances I saw and captured — by one of my favorite bands, the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet, which is Brian Holland, piano; Danny Coots, drums; Steve Pikal, string bass; Marc Caparone, cornet; Jacob Zimmerman, alto saxophone and clarinet.
MY HONEY’S LOVIN’ ARMS — now, for most of us, a dream out of reach:
Rodgers and Hart, 1927:
and the vengeance song that sounds like a love ballad to those unaware of the lyrics:
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to put my mask and gloves on to go get my mail. It’s the thought that someday soon I might see and hear my friends play jazz again that keeps me from eating the decorative molding. Be well, dear readers.
DINAH is one of the standbys of the swing-jazz-vocal repertoire, and has been so since Ethel Waters introduced it in 1925.
But it has been played faster and faster since then. Here it’s completely groovy, performed by the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet, featuring Jacob Zimmerman, alto saxophone; Marc Caparone, cornet; Danny Coots, drums; Steve Pikal, string bass; Brian Holland, piano, at the Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California, on March 7, 2020.
Harry Lim texted me to say how much he approves of this, by the way. He wants to sign the HCQ to a Keynote Records contract but is having trouble sending the paperwork.
This commercialized mirth might strike you as extreme, but bear with me.
Perhaps this will resonate more effectively. The OKeh sleeve makes me smile.
This song has been turned into a terrible cliche through ninety years of routine performance, but this effort from March 8 — which seems like ages ago! — takes me right back to Billie and Louis. The cheerful creators here are Danny Coots, drums; Steve Pikal, string bass; Brian Holland, piano; Jacob Zimmerman, clarinet; Marc Caparone, cornet; special guest, Riley Baker, trombone. All this goodness took place at the 2020 Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California.
As an aside, I’d always thought of SMILING as a post-Wall Street crash song, but not only was Louis’ recording before the market imploded, but the first recording, by Bill Carlsen’s Orchestra, dates from May 1928 in Chicago. (Thanks to Charles Richdale for this prompt answer to my research query.) So the suggestion that smiling built community where tears did not was in its own way timeless. I hope readers can find reason to grin.
In the process of assembling this blog — which often feels like a small-town newspaper — I encountered this sweet 1928 recording, new to me, which I include because it begins with the verse. And I admire Seger Ellis. SMILING has gotten criticized by the “true jazz connoisseurs” as saccharine, over-simple: a song that needed improvisers to raise it above the mundane. I’d disagree: sometimes a sweet uncomplicated tonic is just the thing to settle one’s nerves.
A friend said to me a few days ago, only half-joking, “Could you hold down the optimism a bit? It’s getting on my nerves.” I apologized, but these days, “Latch on to the affirmative!” is my motto.
Dawn Lambeth is one of my favorite singers, and she keeps getting better: I had the pleasure of seeing and hearing her again at the 2020 Jazz Bash by the Bay earlier this month, and she delivered some telling words that have only gotten more relevant. With her are Steve Pikal, string bass; Brian Holland, piano; Danny Coots, drums; Jacob Zimmerman, clarinet and alto saxophone; Marc Caparone, cornet — a group of amiable ruffians known as the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet. And here they are!
This is understandably an arid time for live jazz in performance, but I will keep sending the sermon through this blog, with many delightful moments from the Jazz Bash by the Bay, less than two weeks ago.
It’s never too early to get prepared for joy, especially the varieties that the Jazz Bash by the Bay delivers so generously. (An All-Events badge is available at a discount before December 31, so if thrift makes your eyes gleam, check here.) Now.
I’ve been attending this March festival every year since 2011 (I missed 2018) and have fond memories. I could write a good deal about the pleasures of this grouping of musicians and fans, and the pleasures of being able to walk around a truly charming town center . . . or the pleasure of being a guest at the Portola Hotel and Spa, with the music just a trot away, but I will simply direct you to the Bash’s website, where you can find out such useful information as the dates (March 6-8), the band schedule (not available yet), ticket prices, and the bands themselves.
For me, the bands and guest stars are the reason to come to a particular festival, so I will list them here (as of January 2020) so you can see the delights to be had. First, the Musician of the Year is my hero Marc Caparone, so even though I doubt there will be a parasol-laden coronation, I want to be there to see the rites and praises. Then, guest stars Bob Draga, Brian Holland, Danny Coots, Dawn Lambeth, Eddie Erickson, Gary Ryan, Jeff Barnhart, Jerry Krahn, and Katie Cavera. The bands: Blue Street Jazz Band, Bye Bye Blues Boys Band, Carl Sonny Leyland Trio, Clint Baker’s New Orleans Jazz Band, Cornet Chop Suey, Crescent Katz, Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, Fast Mama Excitement, Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet, Ivory&Gold, Le Jazz Hot, Midiri Brothers, Sierra Seven, Tom Rigney and Flambeau, We Three (Thursday only), Yve Evans and Company, and the Zydeco Flames.
Looking at the 2019 schedule, the Bash offered four simultaneous sessions for full twelve-hour days on Friday and Saturday, and a half day on Sunday . . . one hundred and fifty sessions, including full bands, singers, solo and duo pianos, youth bands, sets for amateur jammers, and more. Even someone like myself, who doesn’t fell compelled to see and hear everything, finds it a delightfully exhausting experience. There’s a separate Thursday-night dance and an appearance by We Three, and I quote: “Kick off Jazz Bash by the Bay on Thursday, March 5, 2020, with a big band dance party featuring Clicktrax Jazz Orchestra. Attendees will enjoy danceable swing and traditional jazz at the Portola Hotel and Spa from 7:30 to 11 pm. Admission is $25.00. Also, in a Special One-Night-Only appearance, the hit trio We3 featuring Bob Draga, Jeff Barnhart, and Danny Coots will be playing from 7 to 8:30 pm. Admission is $30.00. Add the dance for $20 more. All tickets can be purchased by phone, mail, online or at the door.”
Did you notice that there is an Early Bird All-Events Badge at a discount if you order before December 31, 2019? Yes, I repeat myself: details here.
For me, a post advertising a particular festival is not effective unless some musical evidence can be included. I broke one of my rules — that is, there are musicians in the 2011-19 videos below who do not appear at this year’s Bash, and I apologize to them if anyone’s feelings are bruised. But I started to go through the 200+ videos I’d posted of various Monterey Bashes, and some of them were do fine that I couldn’t leave them out. You’ll get a panoramic sense of the wide variety of good, lively, inventive music that happens here. And each video has a detailed description of who’s playing and singing, and when it happened.
an old song, swung, 2019:
Becky and the blues:
the late Westy Westenhofer:
Ivory&Gold (Jeff and Anne Barnhart):
Paolo Alderighi, Phil Flanigan, Jeff Hamilton:
Katie Cavera and the Au Brothers:
Bob Schulz and the Frisco Jazz Band:
Allan Vache, John Sheridan, John Cocuzzi, Paul Keller, Ed Metz:
Hot Strings at Monterey 2011:
a jam session with Bryan Shaw, Jeff Barnhart, Dan Barrett, Marc Caparone, John Reynolds, Katie Cavera, Ralf Reynolds:
Carl Sonny Leyland, Marty Eggers, Jeff Hamilton, performing Sonny’s composition that insures that no rodents visit the Portola during the Bash:
It might seem a long way away, but it isn’t. And it’s a truly enjoyable event.
Ann Ronell’s 1932 song is a terribly sad one, a story of romance that failed. Here is the verse that few sing — perhaps because it is so openly melancholy:
Oh Lord, why did you send the darkness to me? Are the shadows forever to be? Where’s the light I’m longing to see? Oh Lord, once we met by the old willow tree Now you’ve gone and left nothing to me Nothing but a sweet memory.
But the instrumental version I present here — although its hues are dark — does not leave this listener feeling despondent. Rather, I admire the technical, lyrical, and emotional mastery of these players: Brian Holland, piano; Marc Caparone, cornet; John Otto, reeds; Steve Pikal, string bass; Danny Coots, drums, in this performance recorded at the 2019 Evergreen Jazz Festival:
One reason I call this post PARADOXES OF FEELING is that the five people playing such gloriously sad music are not in themselves depressives — to them it’s another artistic opportunity to enter an emotional world, fully inhabit it, and then move on to something of a different hue, perhaps CHINATOWN, MY CHINATOWN, and “be” that song as well.
Another reason, more personal, is that tomorrow morning, when it is still quite dark, I will be driving to the airport to travel to the San Diego Jazz Fest, where this band and others will work marvels right in front of us. The other bands? Hal Smith’s “On the Levee Jazz Band,” Grand Dominion, the Yerba Buena Stompers, John Royen’s New Orleans group, the Carl Sonny Leyland trio, the Chicago Cellar Boys, and too many others to mention . . . to say nothing of attending everyone’s set. I’ll see my friends and heroes Jeff Hamilton, Kris Tokarski, Clint Baker, John Gill, Katie Cavera, and others — even if only in passing in the halls.
If I’m not laid low by a spoiled avocado or attacked by an enraged fan who wants to know why his favorite band doesn’t receive sufficient coverage on JAZZ LIVES, I will return with evidence of beauties, sad or joyous, to share with you.
For those of us who keep music in our hearts, this 1934 song is special.
Yes, it is a carpe diem love song, but it is also about how nothing lasts forever. It inevitably leads me back to Harvey Shapiro’s poem about Charlie Shavers, reprinted here with apologies for copyright infringement:
That melancholy sharply-realized poem leads me back to these moments in time:
I don’t know the remedy for impermanence — but, as Doctors Holland, Coots, Caparone, Otto, and Pikal enact here: “Take your saddest song and make sure it swings. You don’t have unlimited chances to swing your song.”
The 1932 best-seller (with a Will Rogers movie a few years later):
Even before I was 40, I was slightly suspicious of the idea, even though it came from better health and thus longer life expectancy. Was it an insult to the years that came before? And now that I’m past forty . . . .
The bands and soloists who will be featured include John Royen, Katie Cavera, the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet, Grand Dominion, John Gill, On the Levee Jazz Band, the Mad Hat Hucksters, Carl Sonny Leyland, the Heliotrope Ragtime Orchestra, the Yerba Buena Stompers, the Chicago Cellar Boys, Titanic Jazz Band, the Night Blooming Jazzmen, and more than twenty others, with youth bands, sets for amateur jammers, and the Saturday-night dance extravaganza featuring On The Levee and the Mad Hat Hucksters.
The Festival is also greatly comfortable, because it is one of those divine ventures where the music is a two-to-five minute walk from the rooms at the Town and Country Convention Center.
is the “almost final” band schedule for Wednesday night through Sunday. I will wait until the “final” schedule comes out before I start circling sets in pen and highlighting them — but already I feel woozy with an abundance of anticipated and sometimes conflicting pleasures.
For most of the audience, one of the pleasures of the festival circuit is returning to the familiar. Is your trad heartthrob the duo Itch and Scratch, or the Seven Stolen Sugar Packets? At a festival, you can greet old friends both on the bandstand and in the halls. But there’s also the pleasure of new groups, and the special pleasure of getting to meet and hear someone like John Royen, whom I’ve admired on records for years but have never gotten a chance to meet.
Here’s John, playing Jelly:
And here are a few previously unseen videos from my visits to the Jazz Fest. First, one of my favorite bands ever, the band that Tim Laughlin and Connie Jones co-led, here with Doug Finke, Katie Cavera, Hal Smith, Chris Dawson, and Marty Eggers — in a 2014 performance of a Fats classic:
and the Chicago Cellar Boys — who will be at this year’s fest — in 2018. The CCB is or are Andy Schumm, John Otto, Paul Asaro, Johnny Donatowicz, and Dave Bock:
and for those deep in nostalgia for traditional jazz on a cosmic scale, how about High Sierra plus guests Justin Au and Doug Finke in 2014:
Pick the bands you like, explore those new to you, but I hope you can make it to this jolly explosion of music and friendship: it is worth the trip (and I’m flying from New York). You’ll have an unabridged experience and lose your anxieties!
The Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet at Monterey, March 2019.
I need say no more . . . except Brian Holland, piano or keyboard; Danny Coots, drums; Steve Pikal, string bass; Jacob Zimmerman, alto saxophone or clarinet; Marc Caparone, trumpet. Recorded at the Hot Jazz Jubilee in Sacramento, California, on August 30, 2019, by RaeAnn Hopkins Berry. Thanks to everyone!
ROYAL GARDEN BLUES (with some Basie and Fats touches):
BERNIE’S TUNE, which takes its leisurely time, happily, making its way uptown:
Have something you want to get off your chest? CONFESSIN’ is good for the soul:
As are vigorous heartfelt avowals of love:
and something sweet — theme music for rebuilding that cottage:
From a set on September 2, a romping BLUE LOU:
And the gorgeous song that Louis took as his band’s first theme song, HOME:
To me, this versatile quintet is operating at the very peak. Have you seen them live? It’s even better . . . .
Let’s just say that you have to go back to work on Tuesday morning, September 3. You’ve had a lovely summer or, at least, a pleasing long Labor Day weekend. How to bridge the gap, or jump the chasm without falling in?
Ben Webster, living his last years in Copenhagen, had a tape of what he called his “wakin’ up music”: a mix of Art Tatum, Fats Waller, and others — Ben fancied himself a homegrown stride pianist, and in his own seriously idiosyncratic way, he could cover the keyboard.
I offer this to JAZZ LIVES readers as a salutary alarm clock, something that might make the journey back to the world of work seem, for the moment, tolerable. It’s a performance of Eubie Blake’s TROUBLESOME IVORIES by a trio calling themselves GROOVUS — a subset of the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet (yes, a band-within-a-band) that is Brian Holland, piano; Steve Pikal, string bass; Danny Coots, drums.
GROOVUS has also recorded their first CD, called ALL WE KNOW: details here. And if you’d like to hear the version of TROUBLESOME IVORIES that Brian and Danny recorded recently, nothing’s simpler: look here.
The Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet in Sedalia, Missouri, in 2018.
The Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet performed eight sets at the 2019 Evergreen Jazz Festival in Evergreen, Colorado, and I — a fervent convert — was in attendance for all of them. They are Marc Caparone, cornet, vocal; special guest for that weekend John Otto, clarinet; Danny Coots, drums; Brian Holland, piano; Steve Pikal, string bass.
At the end of one set, early in the Festival, I heard a woman’s enthusiastic voice from behind me, “This band can do EVERYTHING!” and before I could turn around sufficiently, she was gone. Dear lady, wherever you are, I salute you on your insight.
First, AT THE JAZZ BAND BALL, written and recorded by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band — so perhaps one of those compositions we could call “Dixieland” without fear of rebuke:
and here in 2919:
Later that same day, something very pretty, and you don’t have to repair a thing, LOUISIANA FAIRY TALE (by Danny’s great-uncle and great uncle, J. Fred Coots):
A family-member-by-marriage, now removed, in childhood, used to refer to the trinkets from a trip as SOUP AND EARS.
It’s stuck in my mind as a charming locution, and the answer to the question, “Hey, what’d you bring us from the Evergreen Jazz Festival?” Never fear, dear readers. No photographs of double rainbows, and I saw no elk, but there was glorious music.
Here are the first three performances from the first set I saw, which should give you a good idea of the intense pleasures to be found there. The group, a favorite, is the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet, with Brian Holland, piano; Danny Coots, drums; Marc Caparone, cornet / vocal; Steve Pikal, string bass; John Otto (for this weekend) clarinet.
EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY:
Incidentally, if you think that SHINE is a “racist” song, its authors were African-American and the song is an assertion of race pride in the face of prejudices. Read this, please.
and ALL BY MYSELF:
Those of you who know that Danny’s father was a minister won’t be surprised that Danny takes the microphone between songs to share a moral moment, a little homily: worth your attention:
At the end of July, I will make my fourth visit to the Evergreen Jazz Festival, a weekend of music I look forward to avidly. The rainbow photograph comes from my first visit; unfortunately, I couldn’t find the photographs I took of elk in the parking lot, but everybody comes out for fine jazz.
A small cautionary note: I waited until almost too late to find lodging — if you plan to go to Evergreen, make arrangements now: there’s a list of places to stay on their site, noted above . . . then there’s air travel and car rental. But it’s all worth the time and money, I assure you. Last night, I landed happily in Bears Inn Bed and Breakfast, among my friends, and I feel so fortunate: thank you, Wendy!
For me, previous highlights of Evergreen have been the music of Tim Laughlin, Andy Schumm, Kris Tokarski, James Dapogny’s Chicago Jazz Band, Hal Smith, the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet, the Riverboat Roustabouts, and I am leaving out many pleasures.
Here’s the band schedule for this year:
You see that great music will flourish.
I confess that my heart belongs to the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet (this weekend with John Otto in the reed chair), Hal Smith’s On the Levee Jazz Band (playing songs associated with Kid Ory in truly swinging style, with Clint Baker playing the role of the Kid) and the Carl Sonny Leyland trio, but I hope to see the Wolverine Jazz Band also . . . there are a host of local favorites as well, including Joe Smith and the Spicy Pickles, Wende Hairston and the Queen City Jazz Band, After Midnight, and more.
Time for some music!
Here’s a romping tribute to Fats Waller by the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet, whose debut CD “This Is So Nice It Must Be Illegal”) is a Waller tribute: that’s Brian Holland, piano; Danny Coots, drums; Marc Caparone, cornet; Jacob Zimmerman, reeds; Steve Pikal, string bass, seen here at the Monterey, California Jazz Bash by the Bay on March 2, 2019. At Evergreen, the reed chair will be filled by John Otto from Chicago (you know him from the Fat Babies and Chicago Cellar Boys):
and COME BACK, SWEET PAPA by the On the Levee crew:
This band is devoted to the music of Kid Ory in his later decades, led by drummer / scholar Hal Smith, and including Charlie Halloran, trombone, Ben Polcer, trumpet, Joe Goldberg, clarinet; Kris Tokarski, piano, Alex Belhaj, guitar, Josh Gouzy, string bass: PAPA was recorded on November 25, 2018, at the San Diego Jazz Fest.
And finally, a real delight — Dorothy Bradford Vernon’s Thursday-night barn dance in Longmont, Colorado, featuring Carl Sonny Leyland, piano and vocals; Marty Eggers, string bass; and Jeff Hamilton, drums. Information here — wonderful music, irreplaceable atmosphere, reasonable ticket price. That’s July 25, 7:30-10:00 PM.
I will miss it this year (travel conflicts) but here’s how YOU TOOK ADVANTAGE OF ME rocked the barn last year:
I hope to see many of JAZZ LIVES’ readers and friends in Evergreen.
Now that I’ve gotten your attention. That’s what I’ve been eating (with some digressions) on my first cruise — also the inaugural STOMPTIME cruise — on the Celebrity Equinox. Tasty, fresh, lively. The same can be said about what I’m hearing: music from a wonderful assortment of bands and soloists, including Frederick Hodges, Stephanie Trick, Paolo Alderighi, Pat Bergeson, Andy Reiss, Annie Sellick, Jeff Barnhart,Dick Maley, Carl Sonny Leyland, Nate Ketner, Sam Rocha, Clint Baker . . . !
Here is a video souvenir from the first night of the cruise, music by the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet (Brian Holland, piano; Danny Coots, drums; Marc Caparone, cornet; Evan Arntzen, reeds, Steve Pikal, string bass). Recorded at sea aboard the Celebrity Equinox on April 27, 2019. And all I will say is “Ev’ry star above / knows the swing I love”:
Did you dig?
You should know that there is a second STOMPTIME cruise, seven days to Alaska, in mid-June 2020. (I think it’s June 12-19, but you should check.) If the creeks don’t rise, I’ll be there.
LONESOME ME is one of Fats Waller’s most lovely — and least-played — songs. Marty Grosz has made several versions, but here’s a particularly splendid performance by the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet (Danny Coots, drums; Brian Holland, piano; Steve Pikal, string bass; Marc Caparone, cornet; Jacob Zimmerman, clarinet and alto saxophone) at the 2019 Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California. And catch the beautiful duet between Steve and Jacob once the melody’s been stated.
I didn’t feel lonesome this morning, but had I, this lyrical outpouring would have made me feel better about being in a world where such beauty was not only possible, but accessible.
One way to access it, is, of course, the CD referred to above:
And you can see the HCJQ in person, with “your very own two looking eyes.” I’ll have the privilege on the Stomptime cruise at the end of April, and at the Evergreen Jazz Festival in July . . . but you should join me. Video-life can only take you so far.