Tag Archives: JAzz Bash by the Bay

THE KING’S SWINGLISH (Part One): CARL SONNY LEYLAND, JACOB ZIMMERMAN, MARTY EGGERS, JEFF HAMILTON at MONTEREY (March 3, 2019)

Those new to jazz performance may find improvisation a wondrous mystery.  “How do they know how to do that without music?” they ask.  It’s a fair question: how do you play soccer without the rulebook in your hand?  Is there some magic volume, known only to the favored few, that those versed in the secret craft have memorized?

The marvel that is improvisation results from practice, study, scholarly labor, trial and error — difficult to explain simply, but an analogy comes to hand.

With a few exceptions, we are born with the power of speech: we can form words and sentences and make ourselves understood,  That, for the jazz musician, would be mastery of her instrument, skill, technical proficiency, the ability to execute ideas in pleasing logical sequence.  Never as easy as it looks.

But there’s more, much more.  How does anyone have something to express, “things to say”?  That mastery, subtler and deeper, comes through communal exercise and learning from those who know the great wisdoms.  In everyday life, you know the basic vocabulary, but what do you say to someone who is mourning a death?  No thesaurus can teach us the right thing to say, the most appropriate thing to utter, but we can learn by saying the wrong thing and then doing better, or by being in the company of people who express themselves beautifully and learning from them.

Since music is a kind of speech, what jazz artists have is a common knowledge and common language — I’ve invented a whimsical term for it above — a series of conventions that have been internalized.  Not only does the experienced musician know the melody of YOU TOOK ADVANTAGE OF ME, but he knows the verse, the lyrics, the standard key, which tempos lend themselves to which approach; he might know the Whiteman and Bud Freeman recordings.  He might know several sets of harmonies; he might know the common errors he and others make.

With a solid foundation of such experiential knowledge, a musician gains the courage to sing an individual song, listen to, and add to the other songs being created on the bandstand.  The craft is a matter of tens of thousands of hours of practice among friends, colleagues, mentors . . .  listening intently to live performance and to recorded ones.

The results are unmistakable: an ease, an assurance, the kind of skill that lets warm personal improvisations happen, not only in solo, but also in ensemble.

The four musicians who took to the stage without fanfare on March 3, 2019, at the Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California, are masters of this conversational and inspiring art.  Three of them — pianist / singer / composer Carl Sonny Leyland, string bassist Marty Eggers, and drummer Jeff Hamilton — have worked together as a trio for years, and they are as close as family.  Or closer.

Jacob Zimmerman, of the Pacific Northwest, who plays clarinet and alto sax, writes and arranges, was new to the group.  But these four players fell into delicious harmony easily, and what music was made!  I’ve left in (more than usual) the little conversations that were prelude to each number, because they illustrate “the King’s Swinglish” well, to my eyes and ears.

They began with a lovely old tune, not played as much as it should be — the WABASH BLUES.  Groovy!

Then, a sentimental song that I think no one else does (I hear Bing’s version in my ears), IF I HAD MY WAY.  I love the performance, and I also urge people to watch Jacob intently learning the song from Sonny’s clear exposition.  And how they swing!

And, for the last Musical Offering (four more will appear in a second post), BOOGIE WOOGIE.  You’ll hear Sonny announce it as SOMETHING KIND OF BOOGIE-WOOGIE-ISH, but that title was too long for YouTube:

You’ve heard articulate people praised with the words, “She always knows the right thing to say.”  These four musicians always know the right thing to play.

May your happiness increase!

“AND NOW, WE TAKE YOU DIRECT TO BERLIN”: DAWN LAMBETH, PAOLO ALDERIGHI, SAM ROCHA at MONTEREY (Jazz Bash by the Bay, March 1, 2019)

JAZZ LIVES is not taking you to a wartime Edward R. Murrow broadcast, nor to the capital city of Germany, but to the imperishable songbook of the unequaled Irving Berlin as performed by three hero-friends: Dawn Lambeth, vocal; Sam Rocha, string bass; Paolo Alderighi, piano — at the Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California:

and another song with strong connections to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers:

What a lovely group!  I hope to see them again and would gladly buy their CD.  Or a boxful.

Incidentally, I am embraced by a wonderful synchronicity: I write this post from my hotel room at the astonishingly rewarding Redwood Coast Music Festival, where I heard Dawn yesterday and will hear Sam today . . . talk about being in the right place at the right time.

May your happiness increase!

“HAVE YOU GOT ANY MORTGAGES YOU’D LIKE ME TO PAY, BABY?”: DAWN LAMBETH, PAOLO ALDERIGHI, SAM ROCHA at MONTEREY (March 1, 2019)

The wonderful singer Dawn Lambeth, Paolo Alderighi, piano, and Sam Rocha, string bass, had never worked together before, but they make beautiful gliding music as group.  Their March 1 trio set at the Jazz Bash by the Bay might be one of my favorite musical interludes of this year.  I posted a performance from this set here.

Here is another delightful creation by Richard Whiting and Johnny Mercer from the 1937 film VARIETY SHOW, where it was sung by Dick Powell.  I love this song for its bouncy melody and Mercer’s lyrics, a witty mixture of modern and medieval times (mortgages and dragons) . . . and his refusal to lazily choose easy rhymes — a lesser writer would have rhymed “paid” and “slayed,” but easy and dull was never Mercer’s style.

And this performance!  Sam’s solid fluid propulsion, Paolo’s modernist swing, and Dawn . . . . whose easy grace is a constant pleasure, and the way she sings “Baby . . . .” is like biting into a ripe berry.  Savor this!

Wow.  And a few more to come.

May your happiness increase!

WHEN LOVE, MUSIC, and BREAKFAST COINCIDE: DAWN LAMBETH, PAOLO ALDERIGHI, SAM ROCHA (Jazz Bash by the Bay, March 1, 2019)

Some regard caffeine and sugar as if the respective containers were marked with skull and crossbones, with reason.  Those addictive substances upset the physical and nervous system.  Like Macbeth, they murder sleep.

But the music presented here will not cause insomnia, nervousness, or digestive upset.  Its only effect is an increase in one’s holistic well-being.  The subject at hand is a performance from March 1, 2019 at the Jazz Bash by the Bay, by Dawn Lambeth, vocal; Paolo Alderighi, piano; Sam Rocha, string bass, and it makes me as euphoric as good coffee or tea.  And please watch and listen to the end, so you don’t miss any surprises:

I don’t think these three wonderful musicians had ever worked together as a trio.  Their floating sounds delight me, and I imagine a trio of Duke, Ivie, and Blanton brought to life in 2019.

Go ahead, pour yourself another.  Good to the last note.

May your happiness increase!

TELLING TIME, SEVERAL WAYS: DAWN LAMBETH and her RASCALS at the JAZZ BASH BY THE BAY (March 2, 2019)

Sixty memorable minutes. Never mind the odd composer credits.

 

It’s all relative, as Einstein tells his grandmother.  When a man sits on a hot stove, a minute seems forever; when he’s kissing his sweetheart, forever seems like a minute.  She says, “For this you won a prize?”

Dawn Lambeth

At the Jazz Bash by the Bay this last March, Dawn Lambeth and her Rascals (the name I’ve given to this delightful little group of swinging friends) demonstrated Einstein’s discovery in the nicest ways: with performances whose text is the nature of time and how it is perceived, and declarations of love in its many forms.

The Rascals are Riley Baker, drums (catch his wonderful accents behind his father’s trumpet solo on ALWAYS: “Good deal!”); Jacob Zimmerman, alto saxophone; Clint Baker, trumpet; Jerry Krahn, guitar; Ike Harris, string bass; Jeff Hamilton, piano.

First, James P. Johnson’s IF I COULD BE WITH YOU ONE HOUR TONIGHT (or, as it appeared on the 1929 Mound City Blue Blowers record label, ONE HOUR) — with the yearning verse:

From sixty minutes to eternity, Irving Berlin’s ALWAYS:

And as an instrumental meditation on the future — even when the future is seen as the fulfillment of a promise or a threat — Shelton Brooks’ SOME OF THESE DAYS, which rocks: watch out for Jeff and Riley, respectively but not respectfully:

More to come from this nice unbuttoned after-hours set.  (California festivals start early and end early, so I think this evocation of Fifty-Second Street ended at 11 PM, but it felt like the real thing, no matter what our watches said.)

May your happiness increase!

GROOVIN’: THE HOLLAND-COOTS JAZZ QUINTET at MONTEREY: BRIAN HOLLAND, DANNY COOTS, MARC CAPARONE, JACOB ZIMMERMAN, STEVE PIKAL (March 1, 2019)

Milt Gabler and Harry Lim would have loved this band.  But to move from the conditional to the present, we love them now.  Here are two rocking performances (and two on-the-spot comic interludes) by the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet, created for your swing pleasure at the Jazz Bash by the Bay, March 1, 2019, in Monterey, California.  The gentlemen of the ensemble are Brian Holland, piano; Danny Coots, drums; Marc Caparone, cornet; Jacob Zimmerman, clarinet and alto saxophone; Steve Pikal, string bass.

Steve and Danny, waiting for the unusually capable soundman to do what needs to be done.  Carnitas, cliantro, and black beans, please:

Then to more serious bidniss: MOPPIN’ AND BOPPIN’ — from the 1943 film STORMY WEATHER — performed by the Quintet in the style of a Hot Lips Page small group:

Brian considers the situation and tells us how he feels, commentary from Danny:

And another massive Forties groove, the love-child of Stephen Foster and Albert Ammons:

What followed (I’ve already posted this one on its own, but for those who might have missed it, here is the lovely Fats ballad, now in context):

I promise to have more music by this band in different locations — joys to come.

May your happiness increase!

“CAN WE PLAY A BALLAD NOW?”: HOLLAND-COOTS PLAYS FATS WALLER at MONTEREY (BRIAN HOLLAND, DANNY COOTS, STEVE PIKAL, MARC CAPARONE, JACOB ZIMMERMAN, March 1, 2019)

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.

May your happiness increase!

“OH, MEMORY! ” MARC CAPARONE, JACOB ZIMMERMAN, STEVE PIKAL, BRIAN HOLLAND, DANNY COOTS at MONTEREY (March 1, 2019)

 

The star dust of a song.

Great artists know that passion without control is nothing.  Together, they scrape the clouds.

Here are Marc Caparone, cornet; Jacob Zimmerman, clarinet and alto; Brian Holland, piano; Steve Pikal, string bass; Danny Coots, drums, the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet, recorded live at the Jazz Bash by the Bay on March 2, 2019, playing Hoagy Carmichael’s STAR DUST:

Hearing that performance, one can talk or think of Bunny Berigan, Louis Armstrong, Artie Shaw, and many others.  But for once, let us celebrate  Caparone, Zimmerman, Pikal, Holland, Coots: people who understand how difficult it is to create Beauty and then do it, in front of our eyes, time after time. Those moments when the dancer and the dance are one: so rare, so compelling.

May your happiness increase!

LET’S GET GROOVY: The HOLLAND-COOTS JAZZ QUINTET at MONTEREY (BRIAN HOLLAND, DANNY COOTS, MARC CAPARONE, JACOB ZIMMERMAN, STEVE PIKAL: March 1, 2019)

When it’s in the groove, you know it.  And this was: BEI MIR BIS DU SCHOEN, by Brian Holland, piano; Danny Coots, drums; Jacob Zimmerman, clarinet and alto; Marc Caparone, cornet; Steve Pikal, string bass — recorded on the first day of the 2019 Jazz Bash by the Bay, Monterey, California.  (Evan Arntzen is pictured above.)

Sonic note: about twenty-five seconds in, you’ll hear a noise to the right: the gentleman in the adjacent seat was savoring his hotel cookie in its crackly paper bag (Danny mimes the appropriate response).  To my left, a poised woman from the East Coast — I didn’t get her name — was grooving silently.  Bless you, Sister, wherever you are.

That’s some band, as E.B. White used to say.  Formed in 2017, they are steadily gaining devoted fans at festivals (details here): Three Rivers, Evergreen, the Stomptime cruise, Hot Jazz Jubilee, Sun Valley, San Diego — and that’s just for now.  (Have you heard their debut CD, devoted to Fats?)

I am a devoted fan and supporter, so if you type their name into the JAZZ LIVES search bar, you will find many more wonderful performances . . . and they played magnificently at Monterey.

May your happiness increase!

IT HAPPENS IN MONTEREY (March 1-2-3, 2019): The JAZZ BASH BY THE BAY

For those who love the music, this reminder may be superfluous.  But there are always new people whom we hope to attract into the world of jazz and dance for great fun.  So, first, here is the Bash’s Facebook page, and here is their website.  Several truly pertinent facts — from personal experience.  March in Monterey is balmy, and I recall it as shirt-sleeve / eat gelato with Italians weather.  All of the music at the Bash happens under one roof, on several floors of the same building, and there is (as I recall) an elevator.  There are eight venues — which, loosely translated, means an immense number of choices, enough to produce vertigo.  Approximately 154 sets of music from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon.  Seven dance floors.  All under one roof, a fact worth repeating.

There are also a few names that didn’t fit on the poster, people you’d know and applaud.  Jacob Rex Zimmerman, Steve Pikal, Clint Baker, Jeff Hamilton, Paul Hagglund, Sam Rocha, Chris Calabrese, Sue Kroninger, Ed Metz, Jerry Krahn, Howard Miyata, GROOVUS, Don Neely, and more.  I expect that the final schedule will be posted soon on the website so that people like me can start planning strategy with brightly colored highlighters.

A little personal history: I encountered the Jazz Bash by the Bay in 2011, on my first visit to California — out of the womb, that is — and this is what I encountered.  Dawn Lambeth had a bad cold, but even congested, she sounds thoroughly endearing: with her, are Clint Baker (drums); Marc Caparone (cornet); Howard Miyata (trombone); Mike Baird (clarinet); Katie Cavera (guitar, banjo); Paul Mehling (bass):

And another piece of vintage joy from 2011, featuring Katie Cavera, the 2019 Musician of the Year, in the center, with Clint Baker, Paul Mehling, and John Reynolds on various banjos — with Marc Caparone on bass and surprises (Clint has a surprise for us, too), and Ralf Reynolds on washboard:

Now, this blogpost isn’t a Trip Down Memory Lane, although I must say I nearly went down the largest rabbit-hole I can imagine when I started searching my own videos to see when I’d first visited Monterey.  I couldn’t believe: “Wow, you recorded that?  And THAT?”  The air was thick with immodesty and gratitude.

No, this is to remind people what glories happen at Monterey, and will happen in less than two months: March 1, 2, 3 of this year.  And — let us leave subtlety aside for those who need it — to encourage people to get out of their chairs and be at the Bash.  See you there — maybe in the elevator or rapt in the first row.

May your happiness increase!

“WHICH WAY TO FIFTY-SECOND STREET?”: DAWN LAMBETH, MARC CAPARONE, JOHN REYNOLDS, KATIE CAVERA at the JAZZ BASH BY THE BAY (Monterey, March 2, 2018)

I missed out on the 2018 Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California, March 2-4 of this year.  But once again the First Lady of Hot Video, RaeAnn Berry, brought back some good sights and sounds for us.

A particular favorite was this set featuring Marc Caparone, trumpet; Dawn Lambeth, piano; John Reynolds, guitar; Katie Cavera, string bass — with nifty vocals from each of the four.  Completely charming, light-hearted melodic swing, with no tricks.  They would have been a hit at the Hickory House or the Onyx Club, and what a blessing to have them with us now.

RaeAnn posted all ten performances, but here are the four I was especially charmed by because the songs are rarely performed — and, as JAZZ LIVES readers know, these four musicians are dear to me.

Anyone want to split cab fare to Fifty-Second Street?

PARDON ME, PRETTY BABY:

WHEN THE RED RED ROBIN COMES BOB BOB BOBBIN’ ALONG (another thing to thank Harry Woods for, as Dawn offers us some tender optimism):

LITTLE GIRL (I dream of the ten-CD set called JOHN REYNOLDS SINGS FOR YOU):

I’VE GOT MY FINGERS CROSSED (with a sparkling conversation between Marc and John near the end):

With luck and a GPS, I’ll be at the 2019 Jazz Bash by the Bay.  It beats worrying about snow and then shoveling it, which is March in my world of New York.

May your happiness increase!

HERE’S THE BEAUTIFUL PART: CELEBRATING KING LOUIS (2013, 2014, 2015)

KING LOUIS

Take your pick.  Would you like to celebrate Louis Armstrong’s birthday as if it had been July 4, 1900 (what he and perhaps his mother believed it to be), July 4, 1901 (where Ricky Riccardi and I think the evidence points), or August 4, 1901 (what’s written in the baptismal record)?  I don’t think the debate is as important as the music.

KING LOUIS 2

And to show that LOUIS LIVES, I offer three examples of musicians evoking him with great warmth and success in this century.  Louis isn’t a historical figure; he animates our hearts today, and tomorrow, and . . .

KING LOUIS 3

Folks down there live a life of ease.  WHEN IT’S SLEEPY TIME DOWN SOUTH (San Diego Jazz Fest, November 29, 2014: Connie Jones, cornet; Tim Laughlin, clarinet; Doug Finke, trombone; Jim Buchmann, Dave Bennett, clarinet; Chris Dawson, piano; Katie Cavera, rhythm guitar; Marty Eggers, string bass; Hal Smith, drums):

Cold empty bed.  BLACK AND  BLUE (Fraunces Tavern, July 25, 2015: Mike Davis, cornet; Craig Ventresco, guitar; Rob Adkins, string bass):

Does he strut like a king?  HE’S A SON OF THE SOUTH (Jazz Bash by the Bay, March 2013: Marc Caparone, cornet and vocal; Clint Baker, clarinet; David Boeddinghaus, piano; John Reynolds, guitar; Katie Cavera, string bass; Ralf Reynolds, washboard):

KING LOUIS 4

Yes, Louis made the transition into spirit in 1971.  But his spirit is very much alive.

May your happiness increase!

MISSION TO MONTEREY (March 6-7-8, 2015), or BECKY GOES TO THE WISE WOMAN

This post is meant as a coda to my recent love letter to the Jazz Bash by the Bay, coming soon to Monterey, California.

Please consider this, recorded slightly more than a year ago (March 8, 2014) at the very same Jazz Bash:

For the detail-oriented, that’s Rebecca Kilgore, vocal; Paolo Alderighi, piano; Dan Barrett, trombone and vocal; Phil Flanigan, string bass; Jeff Hamilton, drums.  Sometimes the musicians’ smiles are part of the act.  Not here.  And Madame Ruth isn’t the only Wise Woman around.

Such marvels happen all the time at the Jazz Bash by the Bay.

See you there, I hope.

May your happiness increase!

GOING MY WAY? (to the JAZZ BASH BY THE BAY, March 6-7-8, 2015?)

bash

I hope that posts such as these aren’t too frustrating for those JAZZ LIVES readers who are far away from the particular Mecca of Hot.  If you’re in Illinois or Newcastle, you are hereby let off the hook.  But for those readers who can, or could, or might . . . read on.

The 2015 Jazz Bash by the Bay is happening soon — an opening concert / dance on Thursday, March 5, then full-steam ahead for Friday through Sunday. I have delightful memories of being there from 2011 on — a very friendly and hospitable festival, the staff and volunteers exceedingly nice, the rooms in which one hears and sees music very comfortable.  And the music itself, although the players and singers shift slightly from year to year, is always both superb and varied.  Your favorite bands — including High Sierra, the Carl Sonny Leyland Trio, Ivory & Gold, Ellis Island Boys, Crescent Katz, Cocuzzi/Vache All Stars, Le Jazz Hot, Royal Society Jazz Orchestra.  Soloists: Dan Barrett, Eddie Erickson, Rebecca Kilgore, Ehud Asherie, Stephanie Trick, David Boeddinghaus, Banu Gibson, Dawn Lambeth, Yve Evans, Jeff Barnhart, Jason Wanner, Marc Caparone, Bob Draga, John Reynolds, Jeff Hamilton, Paul Mehling, Clint Baker, John Cocuzzi, Allan Vache, Danny Coots, Virginia Tichenor, Marty Eggers, and many more.  Everything from hot jazz to swinging rhythmic ballads to ragtime, stride, and boogie-woogie, with offferings of zydeco and gypsy swing.

It’s a lovely place to visit, also — my meteorological memories of Monterey in March (say that once at a conversational tempo) are lovely: sunny and warm.

Here are the band schedules.  I spent a happy fifteen minutes this morning with a green highlighter, noting sets I absolutely wanted to be at — and there were no idle hours.

And just for our collective happiness, here are my videos of a March 2011 performance featuring Clint Baker, Marc Caparone, Howard Miyata, Mike Baird, Dawn Lambeth, Katie Cavera, Jeff Hamilton, and Marty Eggers — mixing sweet, swing, and hot.

I am eagerly looking forward to it.  And I hope to see you there, too.  No fooling. And if you’re hungry for more music, you can search this site for “bash” or “Monterey” and find videos from 2011-14 . . . better yet, you can make plans to attend.

May your happiness increase!

SUNLIGHT, A LIFETIME COMMITTMENT, MOONLIGHT: DAWN LAMBETH, CARL SONNY LEYLAND, MARTY EGGERS, JEFF HAMILTON at the JAZZ BASH BY THE BAY (March 9, 2014)

Here are three more performances by one of the best singers I know (Dawn Lambeth) with one of the best bands (Carl Sonny Leyland, piano; Marty Eggers, string bass; Jeff Hamilton, drums) captured on March 9, 2014, at the Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California.

That ought to do it, but if you need more evidence, explication, explanation . . . for once I will stand aside and let the music say what the words only hint at. And here is a previous posting from this same session, with Dawn and friends making four seriously venerable songs bright shining new.

My title is whimsical, but since I am a self-employed independent contractor in Blogland, I am allowed these japes as long as they don’t clutter up cyberspace.

ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET:

AS LONG AS I LIVE (with a divinely quirky introduction from Carl):

WHAT A LITTLE MOONLIGHT CAN DO:

Indeed.  For some, what I will write next is already obvious, but many people have figured that Carl Sonny Leyland is a fine boogie-woogie and blues pianist. That’s indisputable.  But some listeners have typecast him — not realizing that he is a spectacularly gratifying musician and jazz pianist. And I think that Marty and Jeff deserve a great deal of credit for uplifting the music whenever they play.

The fine news is that Dawn will be having her own sets at the 2015 Jazz Bash by the Bay which happens March 6-7-8 — something those who know about the best jazz singing are looking forward to.  My sources tell me that Carl, Marty, and Jeff will be there, too, so who knows what might happen?  But it will all be superb.

Dawn has a faithful following — as she should — but there’s always room for new admirers! To find out more about her upcoming gigs, visit her website or become a Facebook friend.

May your happiness increase!

MAKING IT NEW: DAWN LAMBETH, CARL SONNY LEYLAND, MARTY EGGERS, JEFF HAMILTON (Jazz Bash by the Bay, March 9, 2014)

“Make it new” was the compact artistic manifesto of Ezra Pound, and jazz has always taken it to heart.  “What can you do with that very familiar song?” has always been the question I imagine improvisers asking themselves, whether the time-honored material is a Bb blues (Basie and his flock, Bessie Smith), JINGLE BELLS (Fats Waller), or a hundred other standards in danger of being obliterated through repetition.

Dawn Lambeth has always understood the artist’s responsibilities — a delicate balance between honoring the original’s lyrical impulse, both melody and lyrics and at the same time illuminating it from within so that audiences can say, “Yes, I’ve heard I’M CONFESSIN’ a thousand times, but Dawn actually sounds as if she is telling the story of the words — and behind the words — with sweet convincing grace.”

Here, Dawn is joined by Carl Sonny Leyland, piano; Marty Eggers, string bass; Jeff Hamilton, drums, at the 2014 Jazz Bash by the Bay — for three favorite songs she and they make new:

BABY, WON’T YOU PLEASE COME HOME?:

I’VE GOT A FEELING I’M FALLING (with a little comedy to start):

I’M CONFESSIN’:

Even though it was the first set of the day, the trio sounds superb.  And Dawn has a faithful following — as she should — but there’s always room for new admirers! She’ll be appearing at Jazz Bash by the Bay next March 6-7-8, 2015.  To find out more about her upcoming gigs, visit her website or become a Facebook friend.

May your happiness increase!

THEY’RE SWEET ON SUE: CARL SONNY LEYLAND, MARTY EGGERS, JEFF HAMILTON (JAZZ BASH BY THE BAY, March 8-9, 2014)

I admire improvisers who can return to familiar material and approach it with freshness — in the way the great forebears did, playing the same tunes night after night.

Here are two very energizing examples of that kind of creative improvisation — performed in 2014 at the Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California, by Carl Sonny Leyland, piano; Marty Eggers, string bass; Jeff Hamilton, drums — variations on a 1928 pop tune, Victor Young’s SWEET SUE, JUST YOU.

The first gallops, nearly violently; the second (offered in the first set of the morning) is more gentle but no less swinging. Carl said he had played SWEET SUE at every set: had there been no other bands competing for my attention, I would have liked to record and present all six or seven versions. These two will act as evidence of the beautiful living music that Carl, Marty, and Jeff offer so generously.

SWEET SUE (late in the evening of March 8, 2014):

SWEET SUE (perhaps fourteen hours later, March 9, 2014):

I remind you that the Jazz Bash by the Bay is delightfully in gear for March 2015. Here is their Facebook page, and here is their band lineup for that happy event, with the Carl Sonny Leyland trio fourth from the top.  A good thing.

For those who have no intention of waiting until March, Carl and his trio will be at the San Diego Jazz Fest a week from now — details here. Hope to see you in both places.

May your happiness increase!

UNABRIDGED and UPLIFTING: CARL SONNY LEYLAND and RAY SKJELBRED at MONTEREY (March 9, 2014)

There are occasions when we have two pianos on stage, and two pianists. Perhaps it’s not so unusual these days. But I submit to you that the pairing of Carl Sonny Leyland (on the right side of your screen) and Ray Skjelbred (left) is remarkable for its wit, depth, and playful inventiveness.  It happened on March 9, 2014, at the Jazz Bash at the Bay in Monterey, California, and I present the results here now in all their splendor.  Unabridged, unexpurgated, unedited, and full of life. I apologize that my camera’s wide-angle lens wasn’t sufficiently ample to keep both Masters in the shot, but the sound is I hope compensation for the visual limitations.  (I was seated in the first row and kept swiveling my head back and forth, so my camera followed suit.)

I think it was an absolute honor to be there, and that this is unrivaled music.

NOBODY’S SWEETHEART NOW:

WININ’ BOY BLUES:

FAN IT / OH, BABY!:

HOW LONG BLUES:

CHINA BOY:

BUDDY BOLDEN’S BLUES:

OUR MONDAY DATE:

SUGAR:

BLUES MY NAUGHTY SWEETIE GIVES TO ME:

SPECIAL DELIVERY BLUES:

I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR YOU:

Both of these great musicians — strong-minded individualists — reveled in this opportunity to create something larger than themselves, something warmly alive and unforgettable. To echo Carl’s words after the end of NOBODY’S SWEETHEART, “Yeah. Fun.”

May your happiness increase!

BECKY’S SWING LULLABY: REBECCA KILGORE, DAN BARRETT, PAOLO ALDERIGHI, PHIL FLANIGAN, JEFF HAMILTON (March 8, 2014)

Don’t let the title fool you: this song and performance are meant to lead us to swing, not slumberland. At the 2014 Jazz Bash by the Bay, our Rebecca Kilgore offers this buoyant song (music by Benny Carter, lyrics by Paul Vandervoort II) with noble assistance from Paolo Alderighi, piano; Dan Barrett, trombone; Phil Flanigan, string bass; Jeff Hamilton, drums.   What a singer, and what a band!

Share this video with someone who needs a little sustained burst of joy, would you?

May your happiness increase!

MUSIC FOR TWO PIANOS, AS IMAGINED, CREATED, AND PERFORMED BY RAY SKJELBRED and CARL SONNY LEYLAND, PART TWO (March 9, 2014)

The music you are about to experience was created on the spot at JazzAge Monterey’s 2014 Jazz Bash by the Bay — by two of the most expansive improvisers I know: expansive in the sense of imagination and feeling and play. Together and singly,they have  the years of experience that allow them to envision something musical and give it physical shape at the keyboard so that we can rejoice in it.

Exquisitely dancing at the piano, they offer us a magical balance of power and control, abandon and exactness. I do not exaggerate when I speak of Ray Skjelbred and Carl Sonny Leyland, wizards of sound. Here are four more selections from their hour-long offering.

NOBODY’S SWEETHEART NOW:

WININ’ BOY BLUES:

FAN IT (always good advice!) then OH, BABY!:

You’ll notice a few things. One is how the two deep individualists here blend their singular styles so that their individual selves are never obscured, but they pool their efforts for the larger community of four hands and two keyboards.  Two is that the chosen repertoire bounces back and forth between romping tunes — pop or blues — and deep dark sad mournful utterances . . . covering the whole emotional range, whether evoking Alex Hill, the Chicagoans, Jelly Roll Morton, or Frankie “Half-Pint” Jaxon, the last a name and presence to be reckoned with.

Finally, a cinematographic comment. I wanted to be as close to the pianos as possible for the clearest sound, but even with my wide-angle lens, I had to pan back and forth, which means that at times one can’t see what Ray is doing while Carl is playing, and vice versa.  Sorry about this . . . to be deeper in to the auditorium would give me more muddy sound and (I fear) a bad case of head-in-the-way. I have been listening to these videos through headphones — no picture — and find them particularly entrancing.

My previous posting of the final song of the set, I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR YOU, can be found here.

Blessings on people who get deep in to the blues and who can romp ecstatically: Ray Skjlebred and Carl Sonny Leyland are two noble souls of those realms.

BERLIN STORIES: EDDIE ERICKSON, SUE KRONINGER, WESTY WESTENHOFER, CHRIS CALABRESE, YVE EVANS, BILL DENDLE at MONTEREY (March 7, 2014)

Where would we be without the inexhaustible creativity of Irving Berlin? I don’t know the answer to that rhetorical question and am thankful I don’t have to envision a world without his melodies and plain-spoken but always right words. One of the sweet surprises of JazzAge Monterey’s March 2014 Jazz Bash by the Bay was their Singers’ Showcase devoted to the music of Mr. Berlin. Here are three outstanding performances, featuring commentary / piano by Yve Evans, also Chris Calabrese, piano; Westy Westenhofer, tuba, vocal; Eddie Erickson, banjo, vocal; Gary Ryan, banjo; Sue Kroninger, washboard, vocal. Thanks to Israel Baline for the inspiration!

THERE’S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS (Sue — balancing comedy and seriousness wonderfully):

MARIE (Westy — with glorious hand gestures for free):

YOU’RE JUST IN LOVE (Eddie and Sue, having a fine time):

May your happiness increase!

“WHO’S SORRY NOW?” “NOT ME.” PAOLO ALDERIGHI, PHIL FLANIGAN, JEFF HAMILTON at MONTEREY (March 8, 2014)

May I humbly suggest that you put everything down (yes, leave the pretense of multi-tasking alone) and enjoy yourself for six minutes’ plus.

I present three modern swing masters exploring WHO’S SORRY NOW? at the 2014 Jazz Bash by the Bay: Paolo Alderighi, piano; Phil Flanigan, string bass; Jeff Hamilton, drums.

You’ll find your own delights in this performance: there’s the heartbeat sound of Phil’s bass, his time so “right” and his solo voice so sweetly deep; Jeff’s variety of sounds, his dancing wire-brush playing on the cymbals and drumheads; his witty conversation with Paolo — who here reminds me a little of his hero Erroll Garner, but much more of a pianist who’s rarely celebrated, Sir Charles Thompson (still active in his early nineties!) — with a beautiful blend of light-hearted swing and subtle harmonic explorations, offering us the sacred past and his own 2014 variations on theme, sound, voicing, melodic embellishment, dynamics.

I’d offer this performance to any rhythm-section players as a model of communal gracefulness: in it, the soloists speak for themselves but build lovely creations that are far more than three players proceeding down familiar roads together.  Thanks to Rebecca Kilgore for getting these three fellows together, and for creating an atmosphere where such things happen naturally.

This performance is a lesson in beautiful PLAY.

May your happiness increase!