Tag Archives: Jazzophone

HONEY IN THE EAR: SCOTT ROBINSON, DION TUCKER, MATT MUNISTERI, NEAL MINER: The EarRegulars at The Ear Inn, March 10, 2013

Two aesthetic quotations come to mind.  The first, from Hot Lips Page.

I presume that someone asked him why he played _______ instead of _______, and he said, “The material is immaterial,” which suggests that one can be just as creative improvising on the simple as the complex, the familiar as well as the innovative.

The second is from another jazz philosopher, Eddie Condon, who said, “The only question about music is this: does it come in the ear like broken glass or like honey?”

Both Lips and Eddie approve, I am sure, of the music played every Sunday (8-11 PM) by the roving adventurers known as The EarRegulars at The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York).

And here are a half-dozen samples, organic, locally sourced, and especially free-ranging, from the night of March 10, 2013, when the heroic participants were Matt Munisteri, guitar; Neal Miner, string bass; Dion Tucker, trombone; Scott Robinson, tenor saxophone and jazzophone.

If you flinch  because “all the tunes are old,” just remember what Lips said.  And enjoy the honeyed bliss of the sweet and hot music.

ROYAL GARDEN BLUES:

BABY, WON’T YOU PLEASE COME HOME?:

SOMEBODY STOLE MY GAL:

AT THE JAZZ BAND BALL:

A HUNDRED YEARS FROM TODAY:

LOUISIANA:

You can find connections to Bix, Basie and Lester, to Jack Teagarden.  But The EarRegulars are always having a fine time in fresh fields and pastures new.  These players create such casual playful brilliance that they are, singly and collectively, a joy to experience.  In case Dion Tucker is new to you, let this be a proper introduction to another young melodic hero.  And, yes, that is a jazzophone Scott is playing.  Matt Munisteri and Neal Miner lift and anchor us as always, with splendid grace.  Marvel, children!  Tell your friends.

May your happiness increase.

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DAN BARRETT, CATALYST, AND FRIENDS (The Ear Inn, October 2, 2011)

I had a hard time with high school chemistry, but I was fascinated with the idea of the catalyst — that substance that, when added to some combination of chemicals, made them spring into life it hadn’t imagined before.  Dan Barrett has no connection with test tubes that anyone knows of, but he is a magical substance in human form.  And he proved this once again on his second visit to The Ear Inn in his too-brief New York City sojourn of early autumn 2011.

The EarRegulars, at the start, were Dan (cornet and trombone), Scott Robinson (tenor, metal clarinet, trumpet, and the elusive Magic Jazzophone), Matt Munisteri (guitar), Joel Forbes (string bass).  Here they are offering an atypically fast MAKE ME A PALLET ON THE FLOOR (ATLANTA BLUES to some) that begins with a lustrous Munisteri exploration of the theme:

Then, harking back to the Forties (I thought of an imagined 12″ Keynote 78), Dan and Scott essayed a leisurely, romantic IF I HAD YOU at a wondrously slow tempo:

IN A MELLOTONE appropriately (if for the scansion alone) required the Jazzophone — which is apparently a saxophone-shaped trumpet with two bells, one open, the other muted, which the player opens and closes with machinery I haven’t been able to imagine, but you see that it works.  Amazingly!

And as an acknowledgment that The EarRegulars, on land or sea, whatever their personnel, are not hemmed in by narrow ideological definitions of pre-this and post-that, here is their version of ANTHROPOLOGY:

While all this was going on, the Ear was full of musicians — cornetist David Robinson (brother of Scott) was near the bandstand, his horn hung up on a hook, taking his time before leaping in.  (The patriarch of the Robinson clan, also David, couldn’t get closer to the music than the back room, but when I went to speak with him he was beaming — as well he should!  Trumpeters Gordon Au and Peter Ecklund stopped in to play, as did reed guru Dan Block, trombonist Matt Haviland and guitarist Chris Flory . . . as well as Miss Tamar Korn.

Dave Robinson joined the original quartet for a gutty LONESOME ROAD:

And a buoyant JAZZ ME BLUES:

Gordon took over the trumpet chair, Matt Haviland came in on trombone for a groovy OUT OF NOWHERE:

The two Dans (Barrett and Block) returned for a seriously rocking I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR YOU, with no MOST about it:

IF DREAMS COME TRUE, that Swing Era evergreen, brought together Chris Flory, Joel, Peter Ecklund, the two Dans, and Matt Haviland (if my notes, taken in the dark) are correct:

And Dave Robinson came back to join the ensemble backing Tamar on IT’S A SIN TO TELL A LIE (even the back of Miss Korn’s head radiates music, and hang on for the second vocal chorus!):

I would have gotten a higher grade in chemistry had I known about Dan Barrett; high school is long behind me, but I’m still learning a great deal whenever he appears on the scene.

SPONTANEOUS EXPERIMENTS IN BLUE at THE FAMOUS EAR (July 3, 2011)

Maybe it was all because of the blue lights at The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City) last Sunday night, that things took on such a loose experimental flavor.

More likely it was the presence of Scott Robinson — a free spirit who encourages others to drop their inhibitions in a corner and proceed bravely into unexplored realms.

And Scott brought three instruments: his familiar tenor saxophone, his Hungarian taragota (originally owned and played by Joe Muranyi) — that sounds like a cross between a soprano saxophone and something else, while resembling a thick clarinet — and his German Jazzophone, a trumpet of sorts that is bent into the shape of a curved saxophone . . . with two bells, one open, the other able to be closed off for muted hallooing sounds.

This isn’t to say that Scott ran over everyone else in the EarRegulars — it’s not his style — but he did inspire one and all.  The other players were Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Jon Burr, bass; Joe Cohn, guitar; and guests Elana James (of the Hot Club of Cowtown) on fiddle and vocals; Tim Newman on bass trombone, and Vinny Raniolo on guitar. You’ll hear a good many playful conversations (especially between old friends Jon-Erik and Scott) that take us well beyond the ordinary excellence one finds at The Ear Inn.

Here are some highlights of a luminescent indigo get-together!

From the first set, a stirring COQUETTE that keeps thinking of P-TOWN, an original by guitarist Joe’s most esteemed father — Al Cohn:

An old favorite, MEAN TO ME, takes on a new shape as Jon-Erik plunges ahead and Scott brings out the taratgota:

IF I WERE A BELL (with two bells) is a showcase for the many lives of the Jazzophone:

And a rocking PERDIDO (the missed beginning is my fault; the surprise ending is no one’s fault):

The second set at The Famous Ear always has some surprises, and July 3 was chock-full of surprising, inventive players, two on “miscellaneous instruments.”

BABY, WON’T YOU PLEASE COME HOME? sounds even more mournfully pleading when played on the taragota, you’ll agree:

SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET began as a feature for Tim Newman on the bass trombone.  Catch the Forties Ellington band riffs under him!

‘ZACKLY (or EXACTLY LIKE YOU for the precise) shows off the double talents — fiddle and vocal — of Elena Davis, one of the sparkplugs of the Hot Club of Cowtown:

DARK EYES had guitarist Vinny Raniolo, a real swinger, taking Joe’s chair:

And a closing BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA [with a goodly outing for the Magic Jazzophone] made me sorry that this evening (the band played for more than a half-hour extra . . . having a ball!) had to end:

When I dream about inspiration and creative camaraderie, I dream of the Ear Inn and anyplace else these players can be found!