Tag Archives: Hungary

TWO GALS FROM SOHO (Jan. 25, 2015)

What you’re about to see is true.  And I will testify to this under oath.  It happened at The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City) on Sunday night, January 25, 2015, when The EarRegulars were nobly ensconced, as they should be.  (May they always be!)

That Sunday’s version of The EarRegulars was Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Scott Robinson, bass saxophone; Attila Korb (our friend from Hungary) trombone.

Midway through the first set, the wise suggestion was made that Scott Robinson could play the lead on a selection of his choice.  I know that Scott is renowned for interstellar explorations of the most courageous kind, but he is also a deep loving melodist — and here is SLEEPY TIME GAL as proof:

(SLEEPY TIME GAL, if you are not familiar with it, would suggest a cozy woman, ready to curl up in bed — ideally with the singer cuddled alongside — ready for sweet dreams.  But the lyrics are different: the singer is a little concerned that his Gal never seems to want to come to bed at all before daybreak.  A very different scenario.)

This version, so sweet and tender, reminds me of an unissued Seger Ellis side from 1929 with accompaniment from Jack Purvis, apparently doubling trumpet and trombone — a rare masterpiece.  Even the faint annoying tinkling of someone’s smartphone a few barstools away in the beginning of this performance did not ruin the mood.

Later in the evening, musicians made the trip to the Shrine, and some of them had brought their instruments (physical and vocal).  The penultimate selection of that night was MY GAL SAL, and the guest artists were Charlie Caranicas, trumpet (seated on the barstool to my left, so you see only the bell of his horn, rising and falling like a heartbeat, but you know he’s there);  Evan Arntzen, clarinet; Will Reardon Anderson, alto sax.  And they romped:

(SAL, by the way, is much less complex than her SLEEPY TIME compatriot.  I can’t speak to SAL’s nocturnal rhythms, but she is a pal, dead on the level . . . someone who would pull your car out of a ditch if you asked her.)

The Ear Inn is a sacred place.  I hope you’ve been there and can continue to support this beauty.

May your happiness increase!

“RIGHT ON IT”: The EarRegulars SHOW US HOW (Berlin, March 26, 2014)

The EarRegulars — that flexible, wise, hilarious, and swinging group led by Jon-Erik Kellso and most often featuring Matt Munisteri — has been one of the pleasures of living in or visiting New York since 2007. (Almost every Sunday night of the year, they hold court at The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, New York., from 8-11 PM, more or less.)

This year, thanks to the Bohem Ragtime and Jazz Festival, they had the opportunity to share the good sounds in Hungary and in Germany to properly appreciative audiences.

The EarRegulars recorded their first CD — with Jon-Erik, Matt, Scott Robinson, and Greg Cohen — in beautiful sound.  Want a copy?  (It’s $15.)  Click TheEarRegulars and tell them you saw it on JAZZ LIVES.  If you don’t “do Facebook,” send me an email at swingyoucats@gmail.com., and I will pass it along.

But there’s more: a new video recorded in a Berlin jazz club on March 26, 2014:

And if you didn’t see the beautiful video of SINGIN’ THE BLUES from the Bohem festivities, here it is.

Sal sends her love.

May your happiness increase!

BLUE AND POIGNANT. FOR BIX. FOR US: THE EARREGULARS IN EUROPE (MATT MUNISTERI, JON-ERIK KELLSO, SCOTT ROBINSON, GREG COHEN in HUNGARY: MARCH 28, 2014)

This video celebrates one of many interlocked triumphs.  For one, the wonderful elastic small group known as the EarRegulars (most often spotted on Sunday nights at The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, New York, from 8-11 PM) made their maiden voyage to Europe.  They recorded a CD — something the faithful, like myself, have been waiting for . . . for a number of years) and they performed, as a justly featured ensemble, at the 23rd International Bohém Ragtime & Jazz Festival.

Here’s one of their performances — captured with many cameras in rapt silence (as opposed to the homespun videos I’ve shot at The Ear Inn) of a song always associated with Bix Beiderbecke, Frank Trumbauer, and Eddie Lang — SINGIN’ THE BLUES (by J. Russell Robinson, Con Conrad, Sam M. Lewis, and Joe Young.  Matt Munisteri, vocal and guitar; Scott Robinson, tenor saxophone; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Greg Cohen, string bass:

Recorded at the Bohém Festival in Kecskemét, Hungary, March 28, 2014.  More info about the Bohém Festival here.

Now, the beauties of that performance will be evident to anyone willing to sit still and listen. But a few things need to be said. One is the sustained sweet delicate understatement shown by all four players, singly and as an ensemble. No one weeps or carries on; no one has to step to the microphone and sing or play LOOK AT ME, I AM SO UNHAPPY. They trust themselves, and they trust the power of the notes and words to convey the complex messages of this song.

And — rather like the Willard Robison songs of which Matt is the master — the sadness has a slight tinge of wry self-awareness. I’m singin’ the blues, my baby is somewhere else, life is so sad . . . but I am going to make something beautiful out of my sorrows.

And since 1927, when Bix, Tram, and Lang (among others) recorded SINGIN’ THE BLUES, it’s been one of the most imitated recorded performances in classic jazz. Notice, please, that the EarRegulars are not in the business of xerography, of necrography, of exact reproduction. They know the recording; they could play the solos, but they have faith in the music . . . to carry them to beautiful new places that echo old glories.

Poignant and worth several visits.

May your happiness increase!

“ON A COCONUT ISLAND” (March 26, 2011)

Here’s a delightful example of the multiculturalism that jazz embodies. 

What could be more expansive than a band of French musicians (with an American pianist sitting in) playing music created by a mixture of races and ethnicities in New Orleans? 

They’re playing a Hawaiian pop song (or at least its subject is Hawaii) recorded by an African-American trumpet player and singer — and my friend Melissa Collard, too.

And they’re playing it in Hungary. 

Call that narrow or insular at your own peril!

The facts:

The Night Owls, from Paris, play a leisurely ON A COCONUT ISLAND, at the 20th International Bohém Ragtime and Jazz Festival in Kecskemét, Hungary, March 26, 2011.  The Owls are Jerome Etcheberry, trumpet; Christophe Deret, trombone; Enzo Mucci, banjo; Sebastien Girardot, string bass; Guillaume Nouaux, drums.  And the meditative-looking fellow at the piano is none other than Butch Thompson!

The 2011 Bohém Festival DVD compilation can be obtained from order@bohemragtime.com.  See more at: www.bohemragtime.com.

FOR JOSEPHINE BAKER: BOHEM RAGTIME JAZZ BAND at WHITLEY BAY, July 11, 2010

She was a sensation.

When Josephine Baker toured Europe in 1928, one of the places she was most enthuastically welcomed was Hungary.  In fact, a popular hit of that year was COME, JOSEPHINE, 

I would have known nothing of this had it not been for my first face-to-face meeting, a delightful one, with the Bohem Ragtime Jazz Band at the 2010 Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival.  And here — explained so convincingly by Tamas Itzes, is COME, JOSEPHINE:

The BRJB bills itself as a versatile jazz ensemble, and they can do everything from the “traditional” repertoire to later small-band swing, ragtime, jazzing the classics, and more. 

You can see a good deal of them on their YouTube channel (“fobohem”) and on their website, where (dare I say it) there are CDs and DVDs of the band, by itself and with eminent international guests.  You’ll find them at  http://www.bohemragtime.com/

  The BRJB satisfies!

EIGHT DOLLARS BUYS A JAZZ WEEKEND!

Eight dollars might buy you a restaurant lunch but it won’t cover a ticket to the movies.  It doesn’t go very far in the world of jazz, although it would be enough for a used CD or some downloaded songs. 

But here’s a bargain!  

This coming weekend, March 26-28, the clever folks who run the Bohem Ragtime and Jazz Festival in Kecsemet, Hungary, will be broadcasting the proceedings online as they occur for the eight dollar fee mentioned above.  And the eight dollars that would buy you a hamburger and drink will also allow you to view the concerts as you like from April 1 – May 31, with unlimited visits to the site (www.bohemragtime.com.)  

The players include the Washboard Wizardz (USA), Nicolas Montier (France) – ts, Thilo Wagner (Germany) – p, Jennifer Leitham (USA) – sb, Vince Bartels (USA) – dr, Bohém Ragtime Jazz Band (Hungary), PapaJazz (Hungary) Swing Manouche Project (Hungary), Balázs Dániel (Hungary) Iván Nagy (Hungary) Penge Benge Jazz Band (Hungary). 

I know that people are used to viewing video music clips online for free, and I’ve contributed to that phenomenon.  But your eight dollars will also support the continuation of the Bohem Festival in years to come — surely a worthy endeavor. 

Here’s a clip from the 2009 Festival — an all-star group playing SOMEDAY SWEETHEART — proof of the musical and cinematic quality you can expect:

(The players were Herbert Christ, trumpet; Matthias Seuffert, clarinet; Tamás Ittzés, violin, vocal;  Morten Gunnar Larsen, piano; Ad van Beerendonk, bass; Nick Ward, drums.)

NEWS FROM THE BOHEM RAGTIME JAZZ BAND (February 2010)

I’ve shared some YouTube videos of the Bohem Ragtime Jazz Band here in the past: they do live up to their description as “possibly the workd’s most versatile jazz band” — the band adapts wonderfully to all kinds of jazz material without the soloists losing their essential identities.

The BJRB will be celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary on March 8, 2010.  Congratulations!  Keeping a band together for a quarter-century in these perilous times (perilous for Hot jazz as well as most other things) is a real accomplishment. 

AND the Bohem Jazz Festival is nearly upon us.  That’s March 26-28, 2010.  More information about the six-day package offer here:http://festival.bohemragtime.com/images/fest10-touristinfo.pdf.  The musicians featured at the Festival will include Nicolas Montierm tenor sax;  Thilo Wagner, piano; Jennifer Leitham, string bass; Vince Bartels, drums; Washboard Wizardz, the BRJB, of course;  PapaJazz; Swing Manouche Project; Daniel Balazs, piano; Ivan Nagy, piano; the Penge Benge Jazz Band . . . and more.  

“How did he find all this out?” you might ask.  Easy as paprika: I simply visited http://www.bohemragtime.com.  You can, too!  They have an email newsletter, but they neither harangue nor pester — it’s great fun.  And if you aren’t fluent in Hungarian, don’t panic — click on the Union Jack and everything will appear in a flash in the most melodious English prose.  There you can hear and see Joe Muranyi singing BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA, and find out about your special present from the BRJB.  It’s all true!

But since the Beloved and I are not going to be able to attend the Festival this year, I’ve been delighting in several CDs and DVDs put out by the BRJB and esteemed guests.  There’s a DVD by the BRJB itself, one with guests including Herbert Christ, Bria Skonberg, Matthias Seuffert, Bob Barnard, Nick Ward, and Jeff Hamilton, and a delightful CD — a hot piano / violin recital, with both instruments expertly played by the swinging Tamas Itzes. 

Check it out — no, check them out. 

Sound of New Orleans
(with Bob Barnard & Herbert Christ – tp, Matthias Seuffert – cl, ts)
CD: KJA-BCD 8020, 2005

1. I’m Sorry I Made You Cry (Nicholas Joseph Clesi)
2. You’re Lucky To Me (Andy Razaf–Eubie Blake)
3. Cornet Chop Suey (Louis Armstrong)
4. Sorry (Raymond Klages–Howdy Quicksell)
5. Someday Sweetheart (Benjamin & John Spikes)
6. Stompin’ At The Savoy (Benny Goodman–Andy Razaf–Chick Webb–Edgar Sampson)
7. Black Beauty (Duke Ellington)
8. Smackaroony (Bob Barnard)
9. Wall Street Rag (Bud Coleman)
10. Black Bottom Stomp (Jelly Roll Morton)
11. Everybody Loves My Baby (Jack Palmer–Spencer Williams)
12. Sing, You Sinners (W. Frank Harling–Sam Coslow)
13. Home (Harry & Jeff Clarkson–Peter van Steeden)
14. San (Walter Michels–Lindsay McPhail)
15. Mandy, Mandy, Make Up Your Mind (Meyer–Johnston–Clarke–Turk)
16. Body and Soul (Green–Heyman)
17. Down In Honky Tonk Town (Charles McCharon–Chris Smith)
18. Sweet Substitute (Jelly Roll Morton)

Bohém Ragtime Jazz Band Live! – 12. Dixieland Jubilee, Stuttgart
CD: CACD 8302, 2008

1. Milenberg Joys (Jelly Roll Morton-New Orleans Rhythm Kings)
2. I’m Sorry I Made You Cry (N. J. Clesi)
3. Ballin’ The Jack (Chris Smith)
4. Someday Sweetheart (Benjamin & John Spikes)
5. Whistling Rufus (Kerry Mills)
6. Love At Sundown (H. M. King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej)
7. Sam, the old accordion man (Walter Donaldson)
8. Cataract Rag (Robert Hampton)
9. I’m Confessin’ (Doc Daugherty-Al J. Neiburg-Ellis Reynolds)
10. Creole Jazz (Claude Luter)
11. Black Beauty (Duke Ellington)
12. Louisiana (J. C. Johnson-Andy Razaf-Shafer)
13. Maple Leaf Rag (Scott Joplin)
14. Tango Palace (Ott fogsz majd sírni…) (József Kola-Andor Szenes-Joe Murányi)
15. Honey Suckle Rose (Andy Razaf-Thomas “Fats” Waller)
16. The Entertainer (Scott Joplin-John Brimhall)
17. Good night, ladies (traditional)

1. Wild Romantic Blues [2:15]  
2. Tin Whistle Blues [3:00]  
3. Kiss Me Sweet [2:58]  
4. Never Let No One Man Worry Your Mind [2:28]  
5. The Carolina Blues [1:56]  
6. The Fives [2:28]  
7. Freakish Blues [2:22]  
8. Irresistible Blues [2:46]  
9. Charleston Clarinet Blues [2:34]  
10. War Bride Blues [4:05]  
11. Paradise Blues [2:57]  
12. Monday Morning Blues [2:22]  
13. Blue Law Sunday Blues [2:39]  
14. Jerry the Junker [2:15]  
15. Black Cat Blues [2:55]  
16. Alabama Blues [2:18]  
17. Louisville Blues [3:06]  
18. Jogo Blues [3:16]  
19. It Takes a Long Tall Brown-skin Gal to Make a Preacher Lay His Bible Down [3:03]  
20. You’re Such a Cruel Papa to Me [2:53]  
21. A Bunch of Blues [4:04]  
22. Regretful Blues [3:38]  
23. You’ll Want Me Back Someday [3:06]

And here’s a YouTube sample:

MAHOGANY HALL STOMP (with József Lebanov, trumpet; Attila Korb, trombone; Zoltán Mátrai, clarinet; Tamás Ittzés, piano, leader; József Török, tuba; György Mátrai, banjo; Alfréd Falusi, drums.

MORE FROM KECSKEMET

That Hungarian city is the site of the International Bohem Ragtime and Jazz Festival, and it must be a jumping metropolis, if these two new YouTube clips are evidence.  The first is a sweet, almost rueful take on SOMEDAY, SWEETHEART, with the festival organizer Tamas Itzes (now Doctor Itzes!) taking the violin solo and the vocal.  He’s surrounded by the best international jazz musicians here on March 29, 2009. Herbert Christ, trumpet; Matthias Seuffert, clarinet; Tamás Ittzés; Morten Gunnar Larsen, piano; Ad van Beerendonk, bass; Nick Ward, drums. Even though the sound is slightly unbalanced in favor of the piano, the ambiance is late-night Chicago circa 1933.  Not to be missed!

And this is a first for JAZZ LIVES — a rocking performance of a Hungarian Jazz Age pop song, “EGY KICSIT ANGYAL LEGYEN, EGY KICSIT DEMON.” 

I found out that the title translates to “A LITTLE ANGEL,” and the lyrics, roughly speaking, go like this: A little angel, a little demon, be a little deceptive, a little true, be a little nice, a little thin, be a little clever, and beautiful!  Be a fairy house during the day, and exciting evening! Fortunately, such a woman could not be found!

Some of the idioms must get lost via Google: I can’t see myself whispering to the Beloved, “You are a fairy house during the day.”  But the ambiance needs no translation!  Nor do the solos and ensemble work by Tamás Bényei, trumpet, guitar, vocal; Bria Skonberg, trumpet; Craig Flory, clarinet; Matthias Seuffert, tenor; Russ Phillips, trombone; Paolo Alderighi, piano; Stuart Zank, banjo; Ad van Beerendonk, bass; Nick Ward, drums.

And, as I’ve written before, the Bohém Festival was the first jazz festival ever being broadcast live on Internet. The broadcast had 30,000 online visitors throughout the weekend. For more information visit: www.bohemragtime.com.

DO THAT THING!

I’m always slightly dubious about “all-star” groups, for occasionally these assemblages of stellar soloists aren’t the most cohesive bands.  These performances can become a string of solos on over-familiar material. 

Not so at the International Bohem Ragtime and Jazz Festival, obviously.  Here are two delightful videos, just posted on YouTube, of two groups of international all-stars, producing very rewarding jazz at the 2009 festival.  Incidentally, even though these songs are from the last century, the Bohem Festival is as technologically sophisticated as anyone could wish — imaginative camera work here and the 2009 bash was the first jazz festival ever broadcast live on the internet, with 30,000 online visitors during the weekend. 

The first group features Matthias Seuffert on clarinet, Attila Korb on trombone and vocal, Herbert Christ on trumpet, on trombone and vocal, Paolo Alderighi on piano, Tamas Benyei on guitar, Ad van Beerendonk on bass, and Nick Ward on drums.  Without copying the Waller record, they get into a surging yet relaxed groove on LULU’S BACK IN TOWN — that last bridge, featuring Matthias and Nick, is priceless!  Some of the pleasure of watching / listening to this is, of course, finding more material by my heroes in top form — but there’s a deeper pleasure in meeting players previously unknown to me and savoring their mastery. 

Another, entirely different group, featuring Bria Skonberg on trumpet, Russ Phillips on trombone, Craig Flory, reeds, Morten Gunnar Larsen, piano, Stuart Zank, banjo, Janos Mazura, tuba, and Jeff Hamilton on drums, rocks through BLUES MY NAUGHTY SWEETIE GAVE TO ME — with perfectly-played riffs at the end.     

In 2010, two festivals will take place in Hungary, with world-class players.  Start making plans!  For more information visit: www.bohemragtime.com.  (DVD’s are also available.)

HUNGARIAN JAZZ RHAPSODIES

It’s not something I like to admit, but until a few hours ago I was unaware of the fine hot jazz in Hungary.  Carol Baer had given me a CD by the Bratislava Hot Serenaders, but my world geography is so weak that I never quite figured out where Bratislava was, although I liked the band.

But I’ve just heard from Tamas Ittzes, of the Bohem Ragtime Jazz Band and the Bohem Ragtime and Jazz Festival.  And I’m delighted to add his site to the blogroll: http://www.bohemragtime.com.  If you are still burdened by a narrow world-view, here are some of the players who have appeared at the Festivals in the past: Paul Asaro, Bria Skonberg, Matthias Seuffert, Nick Ward, Russ Phillips, Paolo Alderighi, Morten Gunnar Larsen, Bob Barnard —  are you convinced?  The RJB has also recorded with Barnard, George Kelly, Zeke Zarchy (!), and Joe Muranyi.

But this isn’t an instance of a European group that needs the visiting stars to bolster itself.  Proof is here, in their  March 2007 live version of Ellington’s BLACK BEAUTY.  The players are Attila Korb, cornet (normally trombone); József Lebanov, trumpet; Zoltán Mátrai, tenor; Tamás Ittzés, piano, leader; József Török, bass; György Mátrai, guitar; Alfréd Falusi, drums.

And here’s more evidence of the worldwide connections amongst swinging jazz musicians — an entertaining (and well-edited) mini-documentary filmed at the 2009 Festival.  Watch closely and you’ll see your favorites, and some players you hadn’t known but obviously should.

I’ll be posting more about the CDs and the festivals to come in Hungary in 2010 — one in March and a Louis Armstrong Festival in June.  Obviously, NOBODY’S SWEETHEART and TIGER RAG transcend any language barriers, as we always knew they did.