The Creole Syncopators is a well-established sturdy hot band, full of grit and drive. They have their boots laced all the way up, if you know that idiom. Legend has it that tourists photographing flowers in the woods have come charging out of the forest, cameras dangling around their necks, after the first twelve-bar choruses have been played. The flowers, sad to say, had to stay where they were.
But I’d never heard them before the 2018 Pismo Jazz Jubilee by the Sea, which is my loss. Marc Caparone, cornetist, singer, and dear friend, said, “Want to hear the band I played with when I was fifteen?” and I certainly did. Here are some highlights of the band’s “Women of the Blues,” led by reedman Jeff Beaumont, and featuring vocals by Valerie Johnson, who digs deep. I knew Marc’s father, the wonderful trombonist Dave Caparone, Katie Cavera on string bass, and Carl Sonny Leyland on piano. Shirley Beaumont, Jeff’s wife, is playing washboard; the plectrum banjoist is Todd Temanson; Al Ingram is on tenor banjo.
SEE SEE RIDER, graphic, funny, and heartfelt:
Valerie explains it all with the Ida Cox composition, WILD WOMEN DON’T HAVE THE BLUES, and the band hits a groove:
WAS I DRUNK? — a song whose pedigree I investigated: written by Chick Endor and Charlie Farrell, popularized in the Ziegfeld Follies by Dorothy Dell and later recorded by Georgia White. Valerie suggests that the night’s activities were worth the hangover and the stern lecture:
an authentic duet for piano and vocal, TROUBLE IN MIND:
PAPA DIP, in honor of Little Louis, written by Lil Hardin:
and a closing JELLY BEAN BLUES:
What follows might be unsubtle, but with several of the most venerable bands deciding to retire, I hope that festival promoters listen closely to the Creole Syncopators. They’ve done their homework; they put on a good show without being in the least inauthentic. And — if it’s not obvious — I delighted in them. I hope to see them at California festivals in 2019 and beyond.
May your happiness increase!