Tag Archives: jazz blog

THE “JAZZ LIVES” CUSTOMER SERVICE WINDOW IS NOW OPEN TO DEAL WITH YOUR QUESTIONS

1.  Michael, are you in New York or in California?

That is not an easy question.  Email me at swingyoucats@gmail.com for my precise co-ordinates, updated minute by minute.  We’re working out a deal with the Doppler radar people on The Weather Channel . . . stay tuned.

2.  Why do you post so many videos?  I can’t keep up with them.  I’m overwhelmed.  It seems as though there must be two of you.

I’m sorry.  Creating stress was never my intent.  But I know all things are finite.  People, too.  Someday I won’t be able or won’t be around to do this, and some of my favorite musicians might join me . . . so I am doing what gives me pleasure now.  People who subscribe to JAZZ LIVES are under no obligation to watch or read everything . . . as long as the internet exists, I hope it will be here for you when you choose to catch up.  And there’s only one of me, which is a good thing in a one-bedroom apartment.

3.  Why don’t you post anything by my favorite band?

A blog is — for better or worse — an expression of personal taste.   I fully acknowledge that and even embrace it.  If you feel that the Caffeinated Hot Shots O’Rhythm aren’t sufficiently represented in cyberspace, I encourage you to start a blog and post some videos — the internet is wide and broad enough to encompass many people and many kinds of music.  If you’d like advice on how to create a WordPress blog, I will be happy to offer some.  

3a.  Musician X doesn’t appeal to me at all.  How can you post such stuff on your blog?  That’s not “jazz”!

See 3.  And for those viewers who find my taste annoying, I choose the restaurant analogy.  If a restaurant you have often eaten in has a dish you deplore — liver and onions, say —  on the menu as one of the daily specials, do you stalk out of the restaurant in a huff?  Perhaps you could pick something else on the menu rather than being annoyed at the chef.  And I’d rather not spend my time on the planet debating what “jazz” is . . . I’d rather do what I’m doing now.  It gives me immense pleasure.

May your happiness increase.

SLIM AND SPAM

One of the fascinating aspects of having a blog is the spam messages sent to it, or to me.  It’s hard to take them personally: they are rather like flyers for the local Chinese restaurant stuck under the door, or the thick wad of newspaper (with ads for everything I really don’t plan to purchase) that is sent to me weekly.  I am not talking here about the gibberish studded with references to “payday loans” and enhancements to body parts, but to something more subtle — at first glance — that I will call the ALL-PURPOSE HALF-TRANSLATED COMPLIMENT.  The English here is almost idiomatic, but it doesn’t arrive where it’s intended (which makes me suspect that these rote encomia are written in another language and fed into Google Translate) and the results are just slightly out of tune.  I go on deleting them, sometimes laughing as I do so, but I thought that those readers who don’t have blogs might enjoy a handful of auto-compliments floating in cyberspace. 

Magnificent beat ! I would like to apprentice even as you amend your site, how could i subscribe for a blog website? The account helped me a appropriate deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright transparent concept.

I’ve a project that I’m just now operating on, and I have been on the glance out for such info.

You really make it appear so easy along with your presentation however I find this matter to be actually something which I think I would by no means understand. It seems too complicated and extremely wide for me. I’m taking a look forward for your subsequent put up, I’ll attempt to get the cling of it!

Really informative and wonderful bodily structure of content material material , now that�s user friendly (:.

This is really attention-grabbing, You’re an overly skilled blogger. 

Get the cling of it, and you, too, can become overly skilled.  Don’t wait for my next put up!

BIG JAZZ: CELEBRATING ROY ELDRIDGE’S 100th at THE EAR INN (Jan. 30, 2011)

REMEMBER: ALL MONEY COLLECTED GOES TO THE MUSICIANS — CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO DONATE!

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

Otto “Toby” Hardwick of the Ellington band dubbed Roy Eldridge LITTLE JAZZ a long time ago.  Not simply because Roy was short (great trumpeters often are, as Whitney Balliett pointed out).  But Roy he was animated by the spirit of the music. 

Roy always wanted to play; he had a gleefully feisty spirit; he swung harder than anyone could imagine.  He has been gone for some time now, but I remember seeing him in concerts — at Williams College and Newport in New York — and at his late-life home base, Jimmy Ryan’s.  He didn’t coast; he didn’t ever want to play it safe.  And his giant spirit is alive in our hearts and our ears. 

Jon-Erik Kellso admires Mr. Eldridge greatly — not only the built-in rasp of his trumpet tone or his hot, speedy articulation, but his inventiveness, his emotional force.  In fact, the first time I heard young Kellso on a CD, years ago, I thought, “Who is this young cat who sounds a little bit like young Roy without copying the Master?” 

Since January 30, 2011 happened to be David Roy Eldridge’s one-hundredth birthday, the EarRegulars turned their regular Sunday gig at the Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City) into a small heartfelt tribute to the spirit of Little Jazz, again without copying the records. 

In this, Jon-Erik was aided mightily by several swing sages: Dan Block on clarinet and tenor sax; Jon Burr on bass; Chris Flory on guitar.  Oh, how they rocked!

Here are a few highlights: 

Although AFTER YOU’VE GONE is sometimes a song played as a farewell, it was offered early in the evening at a relaxed yet steamy tempo, with the EarRegulars clicking in to gear.  (Pay paricular attention to bassist Jon, who was eloquent beyond his usual eloquence in solo after solo.):

Roy was known for searing playing at fast tempos, but his ballads were something special, and audiences who knew this often came in to Ryan’s about 11:30 for “The Ballad.”  I remember once hearing an extraordinary WILLOW WEEP FOR ME. 

The EarRegulars didn’t make us wait that long to hear I SURRENDER, DEAR (yet another reminder of how much Coleman Hawkins and his generation devoted themselves to the singing and repertoire of Bing Crosby, with good reason):

I don’t recall Roy recording I FOUND A NEW BABY as such, but he improvised on its chord changes more than once, I believe — and this wasn’t a repertory tribute to Mr. Eldridge, but another Sunday night excursion into deep fun.  (At the end of the night, Jon-Erik said, “I started making a list of tunes associated with Roy, but I realized that’s what we play, anyway!”):

The second set brought forth a classic Gift From The EarRegulars scenario: the chance to hear someone new to me and to be impressed. 

I’d already been impressed by clarinetist / reedman Eric Elder from Chicago without hearing a note: his perceptive, witty emails got to the heart of things.  When we met, we spent a good long time talking about music and musicians and life — a wonderful combination.  So when Eric came up to play, I was excited.  And he didn’t disappoint.  Mind you, for a younger reedman (“Jon-Erik called him Eric Elder the Younger) sitting next to Dan Block and Pete Martinez is both Paradise and the hot seat — but Eric played nimbly and with feeling on the selections that closed out the night.

You’re going to hear a lot from him, I assure  you. 

Here’s one delicious highlight of the second set, containing a sweet surprise that (in my experience) happens often at the Ear Inn on Sunday nights.  I was seated at the bar behind my camera, fixated on what was in my viewfinder, when I heard a trombone both smooth and gutty.  I didn’t quite think of WHERE’S WALDO? or “Who is the mystery guest?” but eased myself forward, still shooting this veideo, to find our pal Jim Fryer seated, playing, adding joy to a pretty medium-tempo ROCKIN’ CHAIR (that’s Ruby Braff-tempo, by the way):

The session ended much later than usual.  

I missed what would have been the convenient train.  

I overslept the next morning and missed work. 

I apologize to my students, but this session was sublimely worth it.

And if these video performances make you feel warm and sunny inside, you’ll know what to do!

WELCOME ALEX LEVIN!

I’m always delighted to learn about someone younger who has the real jazz spirit. 

Many people can play.  But not so many can really play — and there is a difference beyond the changed font. 

To get past one’s technique to be creative (without being self-indulgent); to honor the jazz tradition without being stuck in the past; to get a lovely sound out of one’s instrument; to create solos that stand on their own as artistically complete; to tell one’s story . . . that’s more rare.

Pianist Alex Levin’s first CD shows him to be one of the rare ones.  When you visit his website — as I hope you will — you’re greeted instantly with the opening bars of a lightly graceful CHEEK TO CHEEK: http://www.alexlevinjazz.com/

You’ll admire his light touch, his lovely voicings, the way he makes the piano sing out.  And he’s got an innate rhythmic enthusiasm that makes for danceable music — without sacrificing everything for the pure push of rhythm. 

Alex says he’s been inspired by the late Herman Foster, but he doesn’t sound like one of those technically-assured people with no ideas of their own.  You know, all those Jazz-Master-Clones, well-intentioned but ultimately limited. 

The musical pleasures I am describing are to be found on his new CD, called NEW YORK PORTRAITS (its neat cover, designed by Peter Moser, is at the top).

Without making jokes, Alex is witty — catch the extended intentional detour into JEEPERS CREEPERS on CHEEK TO CHEEK, fitting perfectly.  He’s courageous, too: it takes a certain candor and openness to approach BODY AND SOUL these days, and his version stands beautifully on its own. 

Alex has surrounded himself with the best talent: bassist Michael Bates and drummer Brian Floody, and left them space to breathe, to sing their own songs.  The two originals on this CD have their own melodic gravity — and shape, and the music Alex has created will (although accessible to people who “don’t like jazz”) will reverberate pleasantly in your ears for a long time.  Check him out.

As Billie Holiday said of Jimmy Rowles — she was telling Lester Young about this new White musician, unknown to Lester (who was suspicious), “I don’t know . . . boy can blow!”  As can Alex.  

SWING OUT WITH JUST ONE CLICK: ALL MONEY COLLECTED GOES TO THE MUSICIANS!

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

HOT LINKS, TENDER BUTTONS, AND YOU

Is this post about sausage?  No, but I might have gotten your attention.

Will JAZZ LIVES now focus on Gertrude Stein’s book TENDER BUTTONS? 

Also unlikely. 

Many readers have told me that their efforts to reward the musicians they love got nowhere.  “The button doesn’t work.”  “The link doesn’t show up in my email.”  And, most painfully, “You’re discriminating against Mac users.”

I apologize for my temporary technical difficulties and technological limitations. 

But the hot link below, the tender button, is now workingProceed boldly.

REMEMBER!  ALL MONEY COLLECTED GOES TO THE MUSICIANS!  SO CLICK BELOW!

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

REMEMBER! BILL GALLAGHER RECALLS DOTTIE BIGARD

Dottie in her apartment: the crooked picture over her shoulder is one of Charles
My friend, jazz scholar Bill Gallagher, writes,
Dorothe “Dottie” Bigard was the wife and widow of Barney Bigard and a virtual encyclopedia of jazz personalities. I first came to know Dottie around 1990. Barney had passed away in 1980 and, at the time, she was a companion of Sir Charles Thompson.

Charles and I had been in close contact, as he and I were working on his discography (http://www.jazzdiscography.com/Artists/Thompson/index.html). Often, Dottie and I would chat a bit before Charles picked up the phone, and that is how our friendship began. Not long after, their relationship broke up (Charles had moved to Japan and married over there) but Dottie and I had, by that time, become good friends. We talked on the phone at least once a week and I would visit with her when I was in Southern California while on business trips. On those occasions she preferred to stay in, so we’d order in Chinese and sit around and talk for the evening.

With a large potrait of Barney over her head, to the right

Dottie’s relationship with Barney began shortly after the outbreak of World War II and so she first became part of the Ellington family and, later, with the Armstrong family when Barney joined Louis in 1947. I remember watching the Ken Burns JAZZ series and seeing a clip of Louis and Lucille entertaining in their home in Queens and there was Barney and Dottie sitting in the living room having a great time. She tossed off those experiences like they were just every day occurrences, like brushing your teeth, but to me it was hallowed ground. To my everlasting regret, I didn’t evoke more jazz anecdotes from her because she could have filled a book. More often, our conversations would just as likely be about news, weather and politics as it would  be about jazz.

Dottie and Barney in Nice, France, 1977

She knew everyone associated with jazz, it seemed. There wasn’t a single name that I could throw her way that she didn’t have some experience to share. Once, I mentioned that I had just picked up a CD featuring Albert Nicholas and she went on to say that he and Barney used to room together when they lived in Chicago and Barney was playing with Joe Oliver. However the friendship and the living arrangement broke up when they both started dating the same girl. “Is there anyone you don’t know?” I’d ask her, and she would just laugh.

Dottie’s manner was casual and friendly and there was a certain rough charm about her that, perhaps, came from her Wyoming origins. Whatever her exterior, she had a heart of gold and a love of all things jazz. I recall her telling me that when she first met Barney, she really didn’t connect him with Ellington – she was a Goodman fan. But all that changed and later when she would attend gatherings of the Ellington Society, she was treated like royalty.

A social call from Kenny Davern

In August 2000, my wife and I were driving home from a few days in Carmel and she was checking our phone messages. There was a call from Floyd Levin telling me that Dottie had suffered a fatal heart attack. She was 82, but in my mind we were contemporaries, and I knew that I would probably never get to know anyone like her again. They say that after God made certain people, He threw the mold away. It couldn’t have been more true in the case of Dottie Bigard.

REMEMBER!  ALL MONEY GOES TO THE MUSICIANS — CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO DONATE!

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

JUST ROLL AROUND HEAVEN ALL DAY

 

REMEMBER!  ALL MONEY COLLECTED GOES TO THE MUSICIANS (CLICK THE LINK BELOW)!

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

When I get up, it’s still quite dark — and cold in New York — and even though the groundhog is (in his own way) predicting an early spring, it remains to be seen.  This morning, prompted by whatever feeling of “But I don’t want to go to work!” I found myself humming

Up in the morning,

Out on the job,

Work like a devil for my pay . . .

lyrics from a rather simple hymnlike pop song written before I was born, one of those songs that purports to come from the mouth of a laboring man who wishes he could be in Heaven rather than slaving away on Earth.

I know it’s hilariously self-indulgent of me, because it’s a very good thing to be employed and complaining about it is bad manners . . . but . . . still.

YouTube, blessed YouTube, helped me out — you, too, can sing along. 

Some of my readers will groan at the choir and the swooping strings, but since the Decca sessions of Louis and Gordon Jenkins were the first jazz I heard that hit me, hard, I love this music.  And the sweetness of the arrangements brings out Louis’s most tender side — a man who knew what it was to work hard, that he might have remained a laboring man himself forever if not for luck and fate and that pistol . . . perhaps also remembering Joe Oliver and his vegetable stand. 

I don’t want to be like that lucky old sun just yet!  May Louis shine his beloved rays down on you all through your existence, waking and sleeping.