Tag Archives: J. Hansen

SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT: CAFE BORRONE, MENLO PARK: CLINT BAKER, RILEY BAKER, JEFF HAMILTON, BILL REINHART, TOM WILSON, CRYSTAL HOLLOWAY (June 7, 2019)

Cafe Borrone from the outside.

In my brief and sometimes intermittent California sojourn (2011-14) in Marin County, one of my pleasures was in going to Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park to hear and video Clint Baker’s Cafe Borrone All Stars.  It was like a regular transfusion of joy and hope, even though the drive was over two hours from where I was living.  I knew not only that I would hear vital music but that I would meet friends — musicians, fellow listeners and dancers, waitstaff, a combination that means the world to me.  The Cafe was another home.  I was welcome there, and I was able to meet people I admire: Clint Baker, Leon Oakley, Bill Reinhart, Bill Carter, Jim Klippert, Tom Wilson, J Hansen, Robert Young, Jason Vandeford, and some whose names I am forgetting, alas.

Today I present a few videos taken on June 7, 2019, by Rae Ann Berry, not because of nostalgia, but because I am captivated by the band’s easy swing.  Borroneans will note that this is a slightly streamlined band, but that’s fine: what you hear is honest unaffected music, no frills, no gimmicks, no group vocals, no tight-and-bright polo shirts.  The generous-spirited creators are Riley Baker, trombone; his father Clint, trombone, trumpet, vocal; Bill Reinhart, banjo; Jeff Hamilton, piano; Tom Wilson, string bass; Crystal Holloway, washboard.  The whole band is in some mystically satisfying way engaged in heartfelt relaxed conversation, a great thing to behold.  I’ve left several tracks for you to find on Rae Ann’s YouTube channel, the California traditional jazz rabbit-hole to end all such diversions.

About the band here.  Yes, I could quip, “Two Bakers!  No Waiting!” but I need to be more serious than that.  Clint has long been one of my heroes, not only for what he plays, but for his religious devotion to the Music.  He understands its Holiness, as I do, but he can then pick up any of several instruments and make that Holiness manifest for all of us.  He is always striving towards the great goals, with Hot Lips Page as one of our shared patron saints.  I met Riley, his son, at Borrone, when Riley was starting to be the superb musician he is now — first on drums, then tuba.  And Riley has blossomed into a wondrous young man and player: I am especially taken with his nicely greasy trombone playing, which you will hear here.  And the emotional telepathy between father and son is both gratifying on a musical level and touching on a human(e) one.  A third horn in the front line would be an intrusion.  Such lovely on-the-spot counterpoint; such delightful lead-and-second voice playing, which isn’t an easy thing to do.  You might think that a trombone-clarinet front line would be automatically New Orleans old-school, but Clint and Riley understand the sweet play of swinging voices: people whose love comes right out to the back of the room without the need to get louder.

Riley will be playing the role of Edward Ory in Hal Smith’s On the Levee Jazz Band at San Diego this Thanksgiving, and I look forward to that: I’ve already videoed him with Dave Stuckey’s Hot House Gang: check those appearances out for yourself.

Jeff Hamilton is such a joy — not only one of the handful of drummers who lifts any band, but also an enlivening pianist who swings without getting in the way, constructs generous accompaniments and memorable melodies.  He has other musical talents that aren’t on display here, but he never lets me down.  Bill Reinhart knows what he’s doing, and that is no idle phrase.  He understands what a rhythm section should do and, more crucially, what it shouldn’t.  And his solos on banjo or guitar make lovely sense.  Tom Wilson’s rich tone, great choice of notes, and innate swing are always cheering.  And Crystal Holloway (new to me) tames that treacherous laundry implement and adds a great deal of sweet subtle rhythm.  Taking nothing away from Clint and Riley, one could listen to any one of these performances a second or third time exclusively for the four rhythm players and go away happier and edified.

I NEVER KNEW, with nods to Benny Carter and Jimmie Noone:

AS LONG AS I LIVE, not too fast:

BLUES FOR DR. JOHN, who recently moved to another neighborhood.  And — just between us — themeless medium-tempo blues are such a pleasure and so rarely essayed:

I always had trouble with math in school, but FOUR OR FIVE TIMES is just what I like:

TRUE, very wistful and sweet:

THE SWEETHEART OF SIGMA CHI, a song I last heard performed by (no fooling) Ben Webster with strings [a 1961 record called THE WARM MOODS].  Sounded good, too:

Asking the musical question WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE?

IT HAD TO BE YOU.  Yes, it did:

Bless these folks, this place, and bless Rae Ann for being there with her camera and her friend Roz (glimpsed in little bits to the right).

May your happiness increase!

HIS WESTERN SWING (Marty Grosz / Clint Baker’s Cafe Borrone All Stars, August 15, 2014)

Marty Grosz, a citizen of the world who has spent much of his time in the eastern United States, visited California for nearly two weeks in August 2014.  I’ve documented some of his musical activities, especially a glorious afternoon at Cafe Divine with Leon Oakley and Craig Ventresco here and here, but the Grosz Tour also touched down on Friday, August 15, at the nexus of Hot, Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park, to play some with Clint Baker’s Cafe Borrone All Stars: Clint, string bass / vocal; J Hansen, drums; Bill Reinhart, banjo; Leon Oakley, cornet; Robert Young, soprano saxophone; Jim Klippert, trombone.

Here are three highlights of that session.

A 1936 song we associate with Louis, Red Allen, and Wingy Manone: ON TREASURE ISLAND:

A nineteenth-century favorite that I heard in childhood, both in a lewd parody and in the Louis / Mills Brothers disc, IN THE SHADE OF THE OLD APPLE TREE:

And a classic song to send the dancers home in a romantic haze — here performed at a groovy dance tempo with a heartfelt sing-along that almost took off, I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS:

Thank you, Marty, and the gentlemen of the ensemble.

May your happiness increase!

NEW ORLEANS JOYS: CLINT BAKER, BILL CARTER, JIM KLIPPERT, MONTE REYES, BILL REINHART, SAM ROCHA, J HANSEN at CAFE BORRONE (June 6, 2014)

A few nights ago, on Friday, June 6, 2014, Clint Baker and friends turned Cafe Borrone (1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, California) into a New Orleans dance hall for two sets from 7:30 to 10 PM. Clint and friends are usually known as Clint Baker and his Cafe Borrone All Stars; for this night, because of so many long-time friends and colleagues gathered together to make music, they were his New Orleans Jazz Band.  Appropriately!

“Hear me talkin’ to you!” Clint, trumpet, vocal; Bill Carter, clarinet, ensemble vocal; Jim Klippert, trombone, ensemble vocal; Monte Reyes, banjo, vocal; Bill Reinhart, guitar; Sam Rocha, string bass, vocal; J Hansen, drums.

PUT ON YOUR OLD GREY BONNET (with ensemble warbling):

CARELESS LOVE:

BUGLE BOY MARCH:

I’M ALONE BECAUSE I LOVE YOU (vocal by Sam):

THE SECOND LINE:

SOME OF THESE DAYS (vocal by Clint):

OLE MISS:

SWEET LOTUS BLOSSOM (vocal by Clint):

ICE CREAM (ensemble chorusing. no artificial ingredients):

“KEEP IT REAL” Bb BLUES:

JUST A LITTLE WHILE TO STAY HERE (that rocking carpe diem):

LADY BE GOOD (with Monte’s justly famous vocal):

A friend gave me a copy of the latest issue of DOWN BEAT — with nice coverage of Eric Alexander, Brian Blade, Sonny Rollins, even a review of a new Bucky Pizzarelli CD.  But no feature on Clint Baker or the wonderful happenings at Cafe Borrone.  Their loss.  What would it take to get DOWN BEAT to come down here? I would buy the reporter a nice plate of polenta, carrots, kale, and cauliflower, or something else from their good kitchen: you have my word.  Until then, if you can get down here, you won’t regret the trip; if it’s too far away, please share this blogpost with people you know who would like it.  Clint and his pals are creating hot, subtle delights regularly — and your attention is perhaps the best tribute.

 May your happiness increase!

“BAKER, RILEY (tuba);”

I celebrate the public performance and video debut of Riley Baker. You’ve seen and heard (and I trust admired) him on drums, but this is his first appearance in public with a band while he is so allied to metal tubing.

This took place a few days ago — May 30, 2014 — at Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park, where Riley’s father (that fellow Clint) put down the tuba so that Riley could join in. The other members of the All Stars are Leon Oakley, cornet; Jim Klippert, trombone; Robert Young, soprano and alto saxophone; Jason Vanderford, guitar; Bill Reinhart, banjo; J Hansen, drums.

BOURBON STREET PARADE:

MECCA FLAT BLUES:

Except for one chorus on BOURBON STREET PARADE, you can’t see a great deal of Riley’s face, but you can hear and feel him.  His tone is nice and full; he’s playing the right notes; his time is good.

And don’t rely on me: look at Jason’s face on MECCA and look at Leon’s enthusiastic “Welcome to the brotherhood!” grin and gesture at the end of that same tune.

Welcome, young Mister Baker!  And for the detail-obsessed, Riley and twin sister Ramona (a brilliant star in her own orbits) were born on November 28, 2000.  Not yet fourteen.  Hooray for the youngbloods!

May your happiness increase!

I’LL TAKE A DOZEN: FRIDAY NIGHT WITH CLINT BAKER and the CAFE BORRONE ALL-STARS (April 18, 2014)

A good time was had by all at another happy Friday at Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park, California (1010 El Camino Real: 650.327.0830).

Yes, good food, cheerful staff, beaming friends, but most of all because of the wonderful music provided by Clint Baker’s Cafe Borrone All Stars. This night they were Clint, trombone and vocal; Leon Oakley, cornet; Robert Young, saxophones, vocal; Jeff Hamilton, keyboard; Bill Reinhart, string bass; Nirav Sanghani, rhythm guitar; J Hansen or Riley Baker [Riley sat in for SWEETHEART and TELEPHONE], drums. You can note the noble associations.  Louis, Goodman, Django, Rex Stewart, Jelly Roll, Red Allen, J. C. Higginbotham, Bill Coleman — but this band (although everyone’s deeply immersed in the tradition) is playing itself, which makes us glad.

SHINE:

ON TREASURE ISLAND:

EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY:

WHEN I GROW TOO OLD TO DREAM:

ONCE IN A WHILE:

BUDDY BOLDEN’S BLUES:

AFTER YOU’VE GONE:

SOMEDAY SWEETHEART:

GIVE ME YOUR TELEPHONE NUMBER:

COME BACK SWEET PAPA:

SOLID OLD MAN:

JOE LOUIS STOMP:

Clint and friends will be back at the Cafe on May 2, 16, and 30; June 6, 13, 20 — with more Fridays to be announced.

May your happiness increase!

FEELING WEARY? THIS SHOULD HELP.

WEARY BLUES, by Clint Baker’s New Orleans Jazz Band, recorded on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, at the Wednesday Night Hop in Mountain View, California.  Clint, trumpet; Jim Klippert, trombone; Bill Carter, clarinet; J Hansen, drums; Sam Rocha, guitar; Bill Reinhart, banjo; Tom Wilson, string bass:

There!  I feel invigorated already.

May your happiness increase!

A VALENTINE STOMP, or THE NINE-TWENTY SPECIAL (Part Two): CLINT BAKER’S NEW ORLEANS SWING BAND with NICOLE FRYDMAN (Feb. 13, 2014)

Here is the second part of a delightful musical evening (and here, for anyone who missed it, is the first).

Love was in the air at the Nine-Twenty Special — at the Russian Center on Sutter Street in San Francisco the night before Valentine’s Day 2014 when Clint Baker and his New Orleans Swing Band (with the wryly independent singer Nicole Frydman) played a swing dance in honor of Cupid.  I don’t know actually how many couples went home smitten; how many new alliances were forged across the crowded room.  (No one came up to the balcony where I was shooting videos to announce their new happiness.)

I do mean love of melody, of melodic improvisations, of great songs, or bouncing buoyancy.  From my second-story perch, I was able to capture the whole band and that sweet rumble you hear is the sound of the dancers moving, their shoes making graceful arcs, their whispered conversations and giggles.

The band was our man Clint, trumpet, clarinet, vocal; Robert Young, saxophone, vocal . . . and a lovely rhythm section of Jeff Hamilton, piano, gloriously; Tom Wilson, string bass; Katie Cavera, guitar; J Hansen, drums; the aforementioned Nicole Frydman, vocal.

Here are the highlights of the second set.  Love it?  Love it!

MY BLUE HEAVEN:

DIGA DIGA DOO / KRAZY KAPERS:

A meteorological pair by Nicole. First, STORMY WEATHER:

Then everything clears, with BLUE SKIES:

THE GIRLS GO CRAZY:

BUDDY BOLDEN’S BLUES:

HONEYSUCKLE ROSE:

WEARY BLUES:

SAN FRANCISCO BAY BLUES:

“Had a good time every time I went out.”  True indeed, if Clint Baker has a hand in the music. If you missed this Valentine Stomp, Clint will be leading a band for the Wednesday Night Hop in Mountain View, California, on April 2 — from 9:30 to midnight. Hop on!

May your happiness increase!

A VALENTINE STOMP, or THE NINE-TWENTY SPECIAL (Part One): CLINT BAKER’S NEW ORLEANS SWING BAND with NICOLE FRYDMAN (Feb. 13, 2014)

Love was in the air at the Nine-Twenty Special — at the Russian Center on Sutter Street in San Francisco the night before Valentine’s Day 2014 when Clint Baker and his New Orleans Swing Band (with the wryly independent singer Nicole Frydman) played a swing dance in honor of Cupid.

When I write “love,” I don’t know actually how many couples went home smitten; how many new alliances were forged across the crowded room.  (No one kept tabs, and no one came up to the balcony where I was shooting videos to announce their new happiness.  Why, I don’t know.)

But I do mean love of melody, of melodic improvisations, of great songs, or bouncing buoyancy.  You can hear and see for yourself. I am very fond of these videos not only for the music but for the ambiance: from my second-story perch, I was able to capture the whole band and that sweet rumble you hear is the sound of the dancers moving, their shoes making graceful arcs, their whispered conversations and giggles.

The band was our man Clint, trumpet, clarinet, vocal; Robert Young, saxophone, vocal . . . and a lovely rhythm section of Jeff Hamilton, piano, gloriously; Tom Wilson, string bass; Katie Cavera, guitar; J Hansen, drums.

Here are the highlights of the first set.  Love it?  Love it!

CRAZY RHYTHM, with a vocal explication by Robert:

ONE HOUR, with endearments by Clint:

VALENTINE’S DAY JUMP:

EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY, as described by Nicole, and an enthusiastic Mr. Baker:

THEM THERE EYES, with charms delineated by Ms. Frydman:

A double-header . . .

I DON’T WANT TO SET THE WORLD ON FIRE (Clint at his most Swing Romantic) with a quick segue into BOURBON STREET PARADE:

SWING, SISTER, SWING, with Nicole giving us the embodiment:

AFTER YOU’VE GONE:

“Had a good time every time I went out.”  True indeed, if Clint Baker has a hand in the music.

May your happiness increase!

THE GREAT SIXTEEN: CLINT BAKER’S NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND at the WEDNESDAY NIGHT HOP (Jan. 8, 2014)

The inspiration for my title comes from a brief, warm conversation I had with the wonderful clarinetist (also photographer / writer) Bill Carter after this musical evening had concluded.  He smiled at me and said, “Did you get any ones worth posting?”  I grinned back and said, “Only sixteen,” which was a shared joke because the band had played just that number of songs.

I ordinarily post the results of an evening’s musical merriment in shifts, considering that few people have the time or space to watch more than a few videos at one sitting.  But this band was so fine and the dancers so receptive that — in the name of Muggsy Spanier’s RCA Victor record, THE GREAT SIXTEEN — I offer the entirety of the music played at the Wednesday Night Hop at the Cheryl Burke Dance Studio in Mountain View, California, on January 8, 2014.

The noble participants were Clint Baker, trumpet / vocal; Bill Carter,clarinet; Jim Klippert, trombone / vocal; Jeff Hamilton, keyboard; Sam Rocha, string bass / vocal; Bill Reinhart, banjo; J Hansen, drums; Jessica King, vocal.

Thanks to Audrey Kanemoto for unwavering moral guidance.

WEARY BLUES:

I DON’T WANT TO SET THE WORLD ON FIRE:

BOURBON STREET PARADE:

MAKE ME A PALLET ON THE FLOOR:

WHEN I GROW TOO OLD TO DREAM:

BLACK SNAKE BLUES:

HONEYSUCKLE ROSE:

EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY:

JOE LOUIS STOMP:

DARKNESS ON THE DELTA, sung prettily by Jessica King:

Ms. King stayed on to woo us with EXACTLY LIKE YOU:

SWEET LOTUS BLOSSOM:

TIGER RAG:

WHEN YOU’RE SMILING, explicated by Rev. Klippert:

THE GIRLS GO CRAZY:

I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS:

A multi-sensory pleasure . . . even better when experienced first-hand. To find out where more fine music is hopping, click here.

May your happiness increase!

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE

I find myself in polite revolt against all varieties of medical assistance.  On one coast, I am told that certain procedures are necessary; on another, certain substances are to be ingested morning and night. I am very fond of all my healers, Western and Eastern, and have friendly relations with them.

But I’ve cancelled all my appointments except for one with this Doctor.  The office hours are “whenever you feel like it,” (s)he has no office manager, there are no forms to fill out, and (s)he asks for no co-pay.

I feel better already.  Don’t you?

The musicians — who deserve all the credit and  gratitude in the world for making healing come alive — are Clint Baker, cornet / vocal; Bill Carter, clarinet; Jim Klippert, trombone; Jason Vanderford, Bill Reinhart, Sam Rocha, strings; J Hansen, drums.  Recorded in January 2013 at a Wednesday Night Hop.

May your happiness increase!

HOMAGE TO WILD BILL: “THE WILD BILL DAVISON CENTENNIAL CONCERT” (LEON OAKLEY, DAN BARRETT, RICHARD HADLOCK, RAY SKJELBRED, KATIE CAVERA, CLINT BAKER, J. HANSEN, BOB MIELKE: January 8, 2006)

Paying tribute to such a strongly idiosyncratic musical personality as cornetist Wild Bill Davison could be a doomed endeavor, if the cornet player in charge attempts to honor Bill by reproducing his repertoire of short phrases, growls, vocalized blurts and sotto-voce murmurs. My reaction to such things has been to turn back to Bill’s recorded legacy.  The copies are the aural equivalent of Al Hirschfeld drawings: ingenious but verging on affectionate caricature.

WILD BILL CENTENNIAL CONCERT

A band of wise players assembled in Berkeley, California, at the Freight and Salvage in early 2006 to celebrate Bill’s centennial.  The results, issued on a Jazzology CD, are a model of what energetic creative tribute should be.

The participants are Leon Oakley, cornet; Dan Barrett, trombone; Bob Mielke, trombone guest star; Richard Hadlock, reeds and master of ceremonies (offering commentary between each selection); Ray Skjelbred, piano; Katie Cavera, guitar; Clint Baker, string bass; J. Hansen, drums.  The CD begins with an excerpt from a recording made in Britain — Bill singing a bit of IS IT TRUE WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT DIXIE? in a light, sincere, swinging voice — and it concludes with Bill, ending a set.  So the presence of the great man is immediately evident.  In between, the band plays the hot ones — THAT’S A PLENTY, COLLIER’S CLAMBAKE, I NEVER KNEW and I NEVER KNEW I COULD LOVE ANYBODY, a strong-minded BLUES FOR WILD BILL, BLUES MY NAUGHTY SWEETIE GAVE TO ME.

But the sweet melodic side of Wild Bill gets equal time, with MEMORIES OF YOU, WHEN YOUR LOVER HAS GONE (very successfully evoking a 1944 Condon date for Decca where Bill wasn’t present but Billy Butterfield and Bobby Hackett were), MANDY, I’M CONFESSIN’, SAVE IT PRETTY MAMA, and a particularly moving version of BLACK BUTTERFLY on which we hear Barrett and Mielke in tandem.

The band is superb, because each one of them knows the style deeply but is committed to improvising within it.  Leon Oakley has said he was deeply influenced by Wild Bill, and occasionally he dips into the Davison grab-bag of singular effects, but for the most part he simply, eloquently plays hot cornet — in a way that would fit in at The Ear Inn in 2013 or Condon’s in 1956.  Barrett, Hadlock, and Mielke all sound like themselves (Hadlock in a particularly forceful mood) but they are all obviously overjoyed to be playing with the ideal rhythm sections, with the ghosts of Stacy, Sullivan, Condon, Walter Page, Wettling and Drootin making ectoplasmic appearances.

It may be heretical to say so, but I gave up collecting Wild Bill records because each one sounded precisely like the last (he had created his own master solos and delivered them — perfectly or slightly imperfectly) but I have not tired of this disc.  I’ve already played it several times and found new reasons to cheer each time.  (Excellent recorded sound, too.)

May your happiness increase. 

“ON WITH THE DANCE” (Part Two): CLINT BAKER’S NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND at the WEDNESDAY NIGHT HOP in MOUNTAIN VIEW (Jan. 3, 2013)

Here is the second part of an extraordinary evening — a swing dance with hot music provided by Clint Baker’s New Orleans Jazz Band, with beautiful playing from Clint (trumpet / vocal); Jim Klippert (trombone, vocal); Bill Carter (clarinet); Jason Vanderford (guitar, vocal); Bill Reinhart (banjo), Sam Rocha (string bass), J Hansen (drums).  I had a wonderful time.  Although you can’t see them, the dancers were explosively happy — and I think these video performances will rock and shout their way through the smallest computer monitor, the most tiny speakers.  Or your money back.  The first part of this hot bacchanal can be found here.

Is it too whimsical — in this age of physical aloneness and cyber-community –to suggest that these video performances are a good reason to invite the neighbors over for a party, push the furniture aside, and encourage everyone to dance like mad in the living room?  It’s just a thought.

ROYAL GARDEN BLUES:

OLE MISS:

COQUETTE:

BUGLE BOY MARCH:

ST. LOUIS BLUES:

WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE?:

JOE LOUIS STOMP:

THE BUCKET’S GOT A HOLE IN IT / JOE AVERY’S PIECE:

Californians are so lucky — not only for grapefruit trees and Meyer lemon trees, delicious local kale, and Amoeba Music — but they can go to a Wednesday Night Hop more often than I can.  I went to one where Clint’s band (with almost the same personnel) rocked the room — in 2012, and it was memorable indeed.  Part One and Part Two.

Here you can find out information about future Wednesday Night Hops.  (Thank you, Audrey Kanemoto!)

This post is dedicated to thoughtful Julius Yang, with thanks.

AND.

The universe doesn’t always have a sense of humor, and our best-laid plans oft gang agley.  But I am delighted to be able to wish Mister C.T. Baker a happy birthday, because this posting will appear on January 27.  He deserves our love and commendation — not just for the Mountain View gig, I assure you.

May your happiness increase.

“ON WITH THE DANCE” (Part One): CLINT BAKER’S NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND at the WEDNESDAY NIGHT HOP in MOUNTAIN VIEW (Jan. 3, 2013)

How to start the New Year — any New Year — right!  A swing dance with hot music provided by Clint Baker’s New Orleans Jazz Band, with beautiful playing from Clint (trumpet / vocal); Jim Klippert (trombone, vocal); Bill Carter (clarinet); Jason Vanderford (guitar, vocal); Bill Reinhart (banjo), Sam Rocha (string bass), J Hansen (drums).

I had a wonderful time.  Although you can’t see them, the dancers were explosively happy — and I think these video performances will rock and shout their way through the smallest computer monitor, the most tiny speakers.  Or your money back.

AVALON:

SISTER KATE:

WEDNESDAY NIGHT HOP:

SWEET LOTUS BLOSSOM:

DOCTOR JAZZ:

ALL OF ME:

THE SECOND LINE:

BLACK SNAKE BLUES:

DINAH:

Is there anyone finer?  I thought not.

Californians are so lucky — not only for grapefruit trees and Meyer lemon trees, delicious local kale, and Amoeba Music — but they can go to a Wednesday Night Hop more often than I can.  I went to one where Clint’s band (with almost the same personnel) rocked the room — in 2012, and it was memorable indeed.  Part One and Part Two.

Here you can find out information about future Wednesday Night Hops.  (Thank you, Audrey Kanemoto!)

More to come in the second part, once everyone’s computer has cooled down.

May your happiness increase.

HOP TO IT! (A SWING DANCE PARTY with CLINT BAKER’S NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND) August 1, 2012)

I know it’s short notice for anyone who’s not reasonably close to San Francisco . . . but Wednesday night, August 1, 2012, will reverberate with jazz fireworks in Mountain View, California, because Clint Baker’s New Orleans Jazz Band will be playing a swing dance party at the Wednesday Night Hop — from 9:30 to midnight.

The participants?  Clint on trumpet; Jim Klippert, trombone; Bill Carter, clarinet; Jason Vanderford, guitar; Bill Reinhart, banjo; Tom Wilson, string bass; Steve Apple, drums.

Here’s where you can find out all the essentials: the street address, the admission cost, directions . . . but find your dance shoes and your best Lindy Hop getup and get down there!

Why?

Here’s a selection from Clint’s appearance at a Wednesday Night Hop in August 2011.  Different personnel for the most part — but Clint’s bands are seismic phenomena: Clint, Jim Klippert, Jason Vanderford will be returning — the rest of last year’s crew were Robert Banics, clarinet; Jeff Hamilton, piano; Sam Rocha, bass and tuba; J. Hansen, drums.

Come over and say hello at this WNH!

May your happiness increase.

AT THE HOP (Part Two): CLINT BAKER’S NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND (Aug. 20, 2011)

One set by Clint Baker’s New Orleans Jazz Band wouldn’t have been enough for anyone — either the audience at the Wednesday Night Hop at Mountain View, California, or for the wider audience of JAZZ LIVES.  So here’s the second collection of exuberances: six songs, four of them explicitly New Orleans-rooted, the other two jazz classics.

And a surprise.  When the band took to the stage for the first set, it was Clint (trumpet, leader, vocals); Jim Klippert (trombone, vocal); Robert Banics (clarinet), Jason Vanderford (banjo, vocal); Sam Rocha (bass, tuba); J. Hansen (drums), Carl Sonny Leyland (piano).  But a very nimble pianist — masquerading as the brilliant drummer Jeff Hamilton — was prevailed upon to sit in, and Jeff played the first four tunes of the set, having a good time himself.

And you’ll notice the absence of microphones.  Who needs them when you’ve got swing this hot?

Those tunes?  Well, why not start off with a Debussyian dream, full of watercolor shadings and sweet pastels?  On second thought, let the impressionists be dreamy elsewhere.  Here’s TIGER RAG:

Clint (who’s not a whiner) likes the Jelly Roll Morton tune, a thinly-veiled advertisement of erotic prowess, WININ’ BOY BLUES.  Don’t deny his name:

William H. Tyers’ classic PANAMA followed, its multiple strains in place:

And one of the most-often played and most durable songs in the common language of small-band-swing, HONEYSUCKLE ROSE:

Carl came back to play his part in an energetic SOME OF THESE DAYS:

And the set closed with a funky blues — somewhere between Bill Haley and the Comets and MOP MOP — which I know as JOE AVERY’S PIECE (although it might also be JOE AVERY’S BLUES):

Oh, play those things!

AT THE HOP: CLINT BAKER’S NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND (Part One): AUG. 20, 2011

Getting the kitten down from the tree is heroic, as is untying the maiden from the railroad tracks as the train bears down on her.  But so is what Clint Baker and his New Orleans Jazz Band did at Mountain View, California, on August 20, 2011 — making the room and the dancers vibrate with a sweet intensity.

Here’s the evidence.  Clint led the band on trumpet, with Jim Klippert (trombone), Robert Barics (clarinet), Carl Sonny Leyland (piano), Jason Vanderford (banjo), Sam Rocha (bass and tuba), Jason (or J.) Hansen (drums).  I had watched and heard versions of this band at Cafe Borrone (through the generosity of Rae Ann Berry and her Magic Tripod) and they are superb, but I was unprepared for the hot energy that emanated from this group — no microphones except for Clint’s announcements — and took over the room.

They began their set with AVALON, effectively wiping out any associations with Benny Goodman or Al Jolson:

Then, Clint sang James P. Johnson’s ONE HOUR and the band followed his entreaty in the best spirit:

Drummer Paul Barbarin is a beloved figure to me because of the way he drove both the Luis Russell band and the Louis Armstrong Orchestra (1935-39).  But he also composed BOURBON STREET PARADE and the jolly THE SECOND LINE:

SWEET LOTUS BLOSSOM, a paean to some herb or other, was a feature for singer-banjoist Jason Vanderford.  Knocked me right out!

MILENBERG JOYS (or GOLDEN LEAF STRUT, a cousin of the BLOSSOM above) just romped:

TEXAS MOANER BLUES points backwards in time to Sidney Bechet and Louis Armstrong, but it seems vigorous in its moaning splendor today:

And the set closed with Clint’s swinging exercise in New Orleans group therapy (with help from Dr. Klippert from Vienna), YOU TELL ME YOUR DREAM:

The dancers loved it, as I did.  And there’s another, equally hot set to come.  And this event was sponsored by WEDNESDAY NIGHT HOP — check out their site for information on future events:

http://wednesdaynighthop.com/events/CaliforniaWorkshop2011.php

THREE FOR LOUIS: MARTY EGGERS and FRIENDS at PIER 23 (May 2, 2011)

My West Coast role model Rae Ann Berry was on the move again in the beginning of May 2011 and she captured this hot afternoon session at Pier 23 in San Francisco.

It’s a splendid cross-generational encounter, the kind of music that results when experienced jazz players who know the common language and history get together and have their say, individually and collectively.

The bow-tied gent in front is cornetist Jim Cullum; well behind him in the shades is Leon Oakley, also on cornet; to their left is clarinet hero Bill Carter; Marty Eggers (often on bass) is stompin’ ’em down at the piano, J. Hansen doing the same at his drum kit.  Although my attention is usually focused on the cornetists, Hansen is solid, his sounds colorful; Marty is often thinking about Morton, and Bill Carter sounds exactly like himself — perfectly surprising, heartfelt, witty, brave.

Although Rae Ann recorded fifteen performances, I’ve chosen three I like very much as homages to Louis.

The first comes from the time when Louis was just up from New Orleans, “Little Louis,” although he was hardly slender, playing alongside his musical father, King Joe Oliver, in the Creole Jazz Band: RIVERSIDE BLUES:

And something from the Clarence Williams period (the Red Onion Jazz Babies), a hot CAKEWALKIN’ BABIES FROM HOME where one of the gentlemen of the ensemble, obviously inspired, bursts into song to tell us all about those champions:

Here’s the closing selection of the Louis-evocation, what I think of as the National Anthem of our music, two cornets entwining on WHEN IT’S SLEEPY TIME DOWN SOUTH:

To see the dozen other performances that the diligent Ms. Berry has captured for us and for posterity, visit her YouTube channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/SFRaeAnn

It’s moments like these that make a man think of pulling up his New York roots and moving — with the Beloved, CDs, turntable, computers, and tea strainer — to California.  Could one of my readers find me an income that will run for the next ten years so that this might be accomplished?

FIFTY-SECOND STREET WEST (Cafe Borrone, Oct. 15, 2010)

Because of the wonderful photographs that Charles Peterson and others took, some of my readers will be able to visualize the bandstand at Jimmy Ryan’s sixty-five years ago — crowded with hot musicians jamming on, say, BUGLE CALL RAG, with every luminary in New York City eagerly improvising at the peak of their powers.

Now imagine that scene with additions.  A wondrous singer — let’s say Connee Boswell, Lee Wiley, or Mildred Bailey is joining in for a few numbers. 

And, if your imagination can hold this, Django Reinhardt and some members of his group are also there, off to the side, having a fine time.  Bob Wills is coming through the door, too. 

Did this happen?  If it did — in New York City, circa 1945 — it hasn’t been documented.  But something very much like it happened last Friday, October 15, 2010, in Cafe Borrone, which sits happily in Menlo Park, California.

Cafe Borrone has — through the generosity and prescience of its owner, Roy Borrone — having Clint Baker’s All-Stars as its Friday night jazz band.  For twenty years of Fridays, mind you.  And the 15th was a twentieth-anniversary party.

And “SFRaeAnn,” who is Rae Ann Berry on her driver’s license, was there to record this occasion.  Clint’s regulars were in attendance, but so were some instrumentally-minded friends.  As was the eloquently hot Gypsy-tinged small group Gaucho, and New York’s own wonder, Tamar Korn.  The musicians (collectively) are Clint Baker, playing everything expertly; Robert Young, saxophone; Leon Oakley, cornet; Katie Cavera, banjo, guitar; Tom Wilson, trombone; Jim Klippert, trombone; Dave Ricketts, guitar; Rob Reich, accordion; Mike Groh, guitar; Ari Munkres, bass, J. Hansen, drums, Riley Baker, drums.

A word about GAUCHO — a group I’ve seen in San Francisco (and I’ve also listened happily to their recordings): many “Gypsy swing” groups that loosely resemble this one specialize in superhero-speedy readings of the Reinhart-Grappelly repertoire.  In such cases, I agree with my friend Anthony Barnett when he proposes a moratorium on such endeavors.  In my case, all I want is not to be pummelled with notes.  But GAUCHO is superbly different.  The overall affect is superficially of music you’d hear on the porch or in the living room, but that feeling is undercut by the instant awareness that no amateur musicians ever, ever sounded this good.  Its two guitarists play and swap roles with grace and a stylish casualness.  Rob Reich makes the accordion an instrument I would happily listen to, as he spins out wandering lines (I was traumatized by an accordion as a child.)  And Ari Munkeres brings together Pops Foster and Paul Chambers very adeptly.  The overall feeling brings together Teddy Bunn and Western swing and a whole host of refreshing improvisations on various subtle, profound models.   

Here’s part of a delightful EXACTLY LIKE YOU, where Tamar and Leon converse:

And a full-fledged YOU’RE DRIVING ME CRAZY — where Tamar’s eyes and facial expressions reveal a great comic actress, singing the twisty lyrics at a rapid clip.  (Not only that: she sings the verse twice!)  This performance becomes a series of witty conversations and overlapping monologues, most fetchingly: 

How about SOME OF THESE DAYS, with an incredible outchorus where instruments and Tamar (the Mills Sister) blend so exuberantly:

Here’s a  delicate, unaffected I’M CONFESSIN’ — a performance where Ari’s arco bass, Leon’s Ziggy Elman – Harry James emoting, Robert’s sweet alto, and more theoretically disparate elements come together to create something terribly moving:

The simplistic philosophy of WHEN YOU’RE SMILING remains true — complain too much and even the dog walks out of the room — but what catches my eye in the first minute of this performance is that an audience member has asked Tamar to dance (unless I am missing the essential subtext).  At what other site do band members dance with the audience?  I ask you!  And don’t miss the vocal duet between Tamar and Jim Klippert, a man who is having just too much fun to keep it to himself:

Tamar sat out PLEASE DON’T TALK ABOUT ME WHEN I’M GONE (perhaps the jitterbugging had worn her out for the moment?) and Clint took the vocal, with solos from everyone: 

And the evening ended with a romp nothing short of ecstatic on BILL BAILEY (or, as Joe Wilder calls it, THE RETURN OF WILLIAM BAILEY), which should have you grinning for days:

I’m thrilled that this music was created and that the apparently tireless Rae Ann Berry saved it for us and for posterity.  Bless Roy Borrone, all the musicians, and our own devoted videographer, too.

P.S.  And I have it from good authority that GAUCHO’s new CD has Miss Korn and Mister Oakley in attendance — with some songs that Tamar has written lyrics for.  I check the mailbox every day . . . and will let you know when it arrives!

LEON OAKLEY SMILES!

“RaeAnn Berry” is, I believe, what it says on her driver’s license — but for fans of Hot Music, she’s “SFRaeAnn,” and we owe her many thanks for the jazz she posts with unflagging regularity on YouTube.  She takes her camera down to Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park, California, to record a few performance by Clint Baker’s All-Stars, and every week I watch the clips with pleasure.  Two tiny mysteries always are a part of the experience: Clint is truly multi-instrumental and multi-talented, so I always wonder, “What instrument(s) will he be playing this week?”  And most sessions feature the wonderful work of trumpeter Leon Oakley.  But Leon always looks serious, pensive, even when he’s just played a beautiful impromptu creation.  I was beginning to wonder about his worldview, although no unhappy man could play so well.

Thus, it is with elation and relief that I post two clips from the All-Stars’ performances of October 23, 2009.  And, rather like the advertisements for early sound pictures that told us GARBO TALKS! — I report with pleasure that 1) Leon is playing splendidly, beyond splendidly, and 2) he grins now and again through these two performances.  You had me worried, my man!

The first performance is EXACTLY LIKE YOU — which Leon starts off with a melodic improvisation instead of a straight melody line — quite fetching — and things get hotter from then on!

Then, a rarely-played Twenties favorite, paying tribute to that kid from New Orleans, PAPA DIP.  Here, I delight in Clint’s directing of musical traffic during the breaks.  Good job!

The other All-Stars are having a good time, as always: Clint on clarinet; Katie Cavera, banjo and vocal; Robert Young, alto and tenor sax; Jim Klippert, trombone; Bill Reinhart, bass; Tom Wilson, guitar; J. Hansen, drums.  Visit Clint at: http://www.clintbakerjazz.com

IN A LOUIS MOOD: CLINT BAKER and FRIENDS

Milt Hinton used to say, “If you don’t like this, you don’t like broccoli.”  (Readers who loathe that delicious green are advised that here at Jazz Lives substitutions are possible, even encouraged.)

Courtesy of SFRaeAnn (is that her dainty manicured hand descending from the right of the frame in “Come Back Sweet Papa”?) I present some fine jazz from Clint Baker’s Cafe Borrone All-Stars, recorded live just a few days ago (June 5, 3009) in Menlo Park, California.  The CBAS are Clint Baker, clarinet; Leon Oakley, cornet; Jim Klippert, trombone; Evan Price, guitar; Bill Reinhart, bass; Tom Wilson, guitar; and J. Hansen, drums. 

First, they swing out on the Hot Five classic (a favorite of Vic Dickenson’s, when he could surround himself with people who knew the changes), COME BACK, SWEET PAPA — notable for Oakley’s stop-time excursion, Hansen’s old-time melodic solo, and the general ebullience.  

Here’s SOME OF THESE DAYS, not too fast:

I especially admire the flourishes Clint gets into at the end of his chorus (he was ready to go for another one), Leon’s soaring eloquence (and no one applauded?  for shame!), the four-bar trades that precede Clint’s nicely offhanded vocal, and Hansen’s energetic tom-tom accents in the final eight bars.

Since I’ve been only recently reminded that Louis did, in fact, record SOMEDAY, SWEETHEART, I felt obliged to include this version — complete with verse and neat horn backing to Clint’s clarinet chorus.  Leon leaps into his solo almost aggressively and returns in the same mood after Jim has had a brief comment.  (Need I say that I am exceedingly envious of Clint’s abilities on what are apparently a half-dozen instruments?)

James P. Johnson’s sweetly sentimental paean to romantic love, IF I COULD BE WITH YOU ONE HOUR TONIGHT, begins with some down-home Oakley eloquence (his solo begins with a sidelong remembrance of WE JUST COULDN’T SAY GOODBYE, which is both musicially and thematically apt).  Nice rhythm section playing — subtle harmonies — behind Clint’s clarinet, as well. 

These clips make me want to take a plane to Cafe Borrone some Friday (8-11 PM, I’m told) and experience this band in person.  Broccoli, anyone?