Sunday was the final official day of this year’s Classic Jazz Party at Whitley Bay, but it wasn’t a disappointment, even given the heights hit on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Impatient readers may scroll down to the bottom, although you’ll lose points on the final examination.
The first set of the day was especially ambitious — a history of jazz (at least the middle Twenties to the middle Forties) that was gleaming and inventive — because it didn’t traverse the ground from HIGH SOCIETY to ANTHROPOLOGY, but delineated the journey in seven original compositions and arrangements by Matthias Seuffert — one evoking the Hot Five, another Bix and Tram, tributes and sly homages to Basie and Hawkins, to Ellington and a Goodman small group . . . ending up with Matthias’ brilliant rewriting of I’M COMIN’ VIRGINIA as a 1945 boppish small group. I hope the startling swerve into Modernism upset no one: it kept me enthralled.
An hour-long consideration of Louis, Bechet, and Clarence Williams followed — with strong playing and singing by Bent Persson, Jens Lingren, Thomas Winteler, and Cecile McLorin Salvant — in addition to a scorching two-reed extravagana (Stephane Gillot and Winteler) on CANDY LIPS.
Just as fine — although different — was Matthias Seuffert’s bow to Benny Carter, with Rene Hagmann on trumpet, Alistair Allan, trombone, and a rocking rhythm section of Richard Pite, Martin Litton, Henry Lemaire — with versions of BLUES IN MY HEART, DOOZY, WHEN LIGHTS ARE LOW, BLUE INTERLUDE, SMACK, JUST A MOOD, and I’M IN THE MOOD FOR SWING. (My notes read “lovely” and “just perfect.”)
What could follow that? How about Bent Persson, Kristoffer Kompen, Michael McQuaid, Jean-Francois Bonnel, Spats Langham, Martin Litton, Nick Ward, and Rico Tomasso (vocal and trumpet) bringing us a superior version of the Armstrong – Hines Savoy Ballroom Five? The set began with FIREWORKS, which turned out to be truth in advertising. Then — just as good as much more rare — an hour spent with the music of King Oliver’s Dixie Syncopators circa 1926 — including a riotous WA WA WA and a chart the band was seeing for the first time, SHAKE IT AND BREAK IT. Topping that was a genuinely exact and ecstatic reincarnation of the Halfway House Orchestra, with glorious playing from Andy Schumm, Michael McQuaid, Stephane Gillot, and Nick Ward — drumming as if possessed by the great spirits of savage grace.
Sunday concluded 9officially) with a stand-up-and-cheer 1937 Goodman concert with masterful playing, ensemble and solo . . . my room one story above was rocking!
After the Goodman tribute ended, sedate souls went to bed.
But I went to the Victory Pub for a jam session that began with Andy Schumm (now informally attired) romping through his favorite late-Twenties repoertoire . . . before friends came along: Rico Tomasso, Jean-Francois Bonnel, Thomas Winteler, Frans Sjostrom, Jens Lindgren, Josh Duffee, Malcolm Sked, Alistair Allan, Michael McQuaid, Matthias Seuffert, and other gifted roisterers. I needed my sleep but stayed there until two in the morning (and you will see some of the reason I couldn’t leave!). Extravagant creativity in near-darkness including sweet leisurely versions of TOPSY, MY MELANCHOLY BABY, AFTER YOU’VE GONE, I NEVER KNEW, ONCE IN A WHILE (the Hot Five version), I SAW STARS and LESTER LEAPS IN . . . Minton’s comes to Newcastle, as lit by Edward Hopper, recorded by Jerry Newman with a video camera.
Because of the “storm” or Hurricane Sandy, my flight to New York was cancelled. But I was given the chance to make the most sublime jazz lemonade. Paul Adams, of Lake Records, was creating a Vintage Recording Session with a Jazz-Age big band of Whitley Bay superstars: Duke Heitger, Rico Tomasso, Andy Schumm, Alistair Allan, Kristoffer Kompen, Stephane Gillot, Jean-Francois Bonnel, Matthias Seuffert, Michael McQuaid, Keith Nichols, Malcolm Sked, Spats Langham, Josh Duffee, and a guest appearance by Bent Persson. I couldn’t stay for the whole session, but I heard them play POTATO HEAD BLUES (with the Louis and Dodds solos scored for brass and reeds, respectively), JAZZNOCHRACY, AWFUL SAD, HOT AND BOTHERED, CHANT OF THE WEED, ONE MORE TIME, THE SPELL OF THE BLUES, MANDY (MAKE UP YOUR MIND), WHEN THE FOLKS HIGH UP DO THAT MEAN LOWDOWN (a Berlin tune introduced by Bing in the film REACHING FOR THE MOON), STAMPEDE, MY PRETTY GIRL, and they were part-way through MILENBERG JOYS when I had to leave to make a train . . . It will be a profoundly stirring recording — and the project needs subscribers. Paul and Linda were asking for jazz-lovers to become patrons at a minimum of thirty pounds apiece, for which they would get their names in the CD booklet and a copy of the CD itself. More information to come — but you can click fellside for details.
I will post videos from this year’s extravaganza in a week or so — but take it from me. The 2012 CJP was a sustained explosion of joy, and the 2013 promises to scrape the clouds — with appearances by Les Red Hot Reedwarmers (with Aurelie Tropez) and the Union Rhythm Kings (with Bent Persson, Frans Sojstrom, Morten Gunnar Larsen, Jacob Ullberger, Kristoffer Kompen, and others).
November 1-3, 2013. If you are able to attend and you don’t, you’ll have missed something very special. And if you don’t mind whispering a fact in your ears, the 2012 party was sold out. People had to be turned away.
Check whitleybay for detials.
The musicians invited for the 2013 party include:
Trumpets: Bent Persson (Sweden), Enrico Tomasso (UK), Andy Schumm (USA), Ben Cummings (UK), Andy Woon (UK)
Trombones: Kristoffer Kompen (Norway), Alistair Allan (UK), Graham Hughes (UK)
Reeds: Aurélie Tropez (France), Stéphane Gillot (France), Claus Jacobi (Germany) , Matthias Seuffert (Germany), Lars Frank (Norway), Mauro Porro (Italy)
Piano: Keith Nichols (UK), Jeff Barnhart (USA), Morten Gunnar Larssen (Norway), Martin Seck (Germany)
Banjo/Guitar: Spats Langham (UK), Henry Lemaire (France), Martin Wheatley (UK), Jacob Ullberger (Sweden), Keith Stephen (UK)
String Bass: Richard Pite (UK), Henry Lemaire (France), Malcolm Sked (UK)
Brass Bass: Phil Rutherford (UK), Jean-Philippe Palma (France)
Drums: Josh Duffee (USA), Richard Pite (UK), Julien Richard (France), Nick Ward (UK)
Bass Sax: Frans Sjöström (Sweden)
Violin: Mike Piggott (UK)
Vocals: Daryl Sherman (USA), Caroline Irwin (UK), Spats Langham (UK)
Here’s something both sweet and hot from Friday, October 26 — part of a tribute to Lovie Austin enacted by Rene Hagmann, Jens Lindgren, Thomas Winteler, Martin Litton, Roly VEitch, and Josh Duffee:
And here’s a valuable lesson in swinging animal husbandry from a JElly Roll Morton tribute (featuring Enrico Tomasso, Kristoffer Kompen, Matthias Seuffert, Martin Litton, Malcolm Sked, Nick Ward, Michael McQuaid — BILLY GOAT STOMP — with the ordinarily quite evolved Nick doing the convincing animal imitations (and making the band laugh in the process):
And — the lovely sound you hear in those videos is in no small part because of the sensitive hard work of Chris and Veronica Perrin — who made sure the music sounded like music.
May your happiness increase.