Tag Archives: Jerome Etcheberry

STREAMLINED, GENEROUS SWING: “7:33 TO BAYONNE”: JÉRÔME ETCHEBERRY, MICHEL PASTRE, LOUIS MAZETIER

Louis Mazetier, Jerome Etcheberry, Michel Pastre. Photograph by Philippe Marchin

Yes, a delightful new CD by players many of you might not be terribly familiar with — but JAZZ LIVES hopes to change this.  Without another word from me, visit here where you can (on the right-hand side) hear excerpts from three performances.  

This CD is the work of three splendid instrumentalists — Jérôme Etcheberry (of the Swingberries and other groups), trumpet; Michel Pastre, tenor saxophone; Louis Mazetier, piano.  And there’s no need to ask yourself, “Where’s the rest of the band?” because you won’t miss them, not even for four bars.

It’s clear that this is music with a pulse, a warm swinging heartbeat.  I envision the trio as if they were happily walking down Fifty-Second Street.  That isn’t to suggest that this is a repertory disc, although most of the repertoire would have been applauded in 1944, but that these three players have a deep commitment to Swing: in their medium tempos, in their infallible rhythms, and their lovely balance between solo and ensemble.  All three of them are hot players who find joy in ballads, who love to rock, who create backgrounds and riffs, so that the trio never seems like three voices lonely in the aesthetic wilderness.

They balance ease and intensity in the best ways, so that the session is as if Lips Page, Ben Webster, and Johnny Guarnieri found themselves in a congenial place with a good piano and decided to have some fun.  Both Etcheberry and Pastre are old-fashioned players, lyrical and hot at the same time, who aren’t copying but making their own ways through the material: maybe they aren’t Lips and Ben . . . perhaps Shorty or Cootie, Ike Quebec or Chu.  You get the idea. Mazetier graciously and unflaggingly is a whole rhythm section in himself, offering orchestral piano in the Waller manner — but we also hear touches of Wilson and Tatum.  For me, it’s as if my beloved Keynote / Savoy / Blue Note 78s had come to life in this century — and continued to amaze and please right now without a hint of conscious recreation.

The song list will give you a clear idea of what inspires this trio: the original for which the CD is titled, 7:33 TO BAYONNE, and DON’T BE AFRAID, BABY (by Etcheberry and Pastre respectively), ESQUIRE BOUNCE (associated with Hawkins and the Esquire All-Stars), YOU CAN’T LOSE A BROKEN HEART (echoes of Louis, Billie, and James P.), TIME ON MY HANDS, VICTORY STRIDE (think Ellington, James P., and the Blue Note Jazzmen), FOOLIN’ MYSELF (for Lester and Billie), SQUATTY ROO (for Hodges and Co.), SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY, BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, I’VE GOT THE WORLD ON A STRING, a ballad medley of SEPTEMBER SONG, MY ONE AND ONLY LOVE, and COCKTAILS FOR TWO, a romping IF DREAMS COME TRUE (again, echoes of James P., the Webb band, Buck, Ben, and Teddy), and Mazetier’s LA LIGNE CLAIRE.

Before I remind you where and how you can buy this CD, which I encourage you to do, because it is good for the soul as well as the ears, I will say that musicians wisely don’t ask me how to title the new CD.  I say “wisely,” because not only do I have opinions, but I am often eager to share them.  But if the trio had asked, I would have said in a flash, “Call this one THREE GROOVY BROTHERS.” “Groovy” makes sense to anyone who’s heard the excerpts.  “Brothers” might not: their last names are dissimilar . . . but what I kept hearing all through the disc is a wonderful comradely embrace in swing.  No one wants to show off, to play more, to play louder, to do fancy stuff.  It’s all a kind collective endeavor, with each player trying gently to make sure the music sounds as fine as it can. Which it does.

You can buy the disc here — and for the monolingual, the form is easy to follow, and the little credit-card rectangles are, for better or worse, a common language.

May your happiness increase!

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SUPER SWING PROJECT: “CAN’T BELIEVE!”

 

SUPER SWING PROJECT

When you hear this new CD, you will, I assure you, repeat some variant of the truncated title to yourself.  Yes, it is just that satisfying, and to know that music at this level is being created is very reassuring.  The SUPER SWING PROJECT lives up to its name.

Music first, then words.  Here’s the SSP performing BLUE LOU live in February 2016:

and THEM THERE EYES, from January 2015:

Who are these heroes?  Jérome Etcheberry, trumpet; Daniel Barda, trombone; Louis Mazetier, piano; Charles Prevost, washboard.  Each one’s a brilliant soloist, but they also combine magnificently as a friendly exalted band, recreating no particular recording but playing soulfully and individualistically in an idiom I hope will never vanish from this planet.

Although I grew up on recordings where the band had a fixed instrumentation — trumpet, trombone, reeds, piano, guitar, bass, drums as the most common — I have a deep fondness for less orthodox arrangements of musicians, the sly and pleased groups of musicians who might assemble onstage to play their hearts out after the regular program had concluded.  Hence, the EarRegulars, the Braff-Barnes Quartet, Soprano Summit, memorable duos, trios, quartets, quintets of the last twelve years, seen and heard and revered live.  To this list of delightful musical entourages I happily add the SUPER SWING PROJECT.

Starting from the back.  The washboard — as a musical instrument — has received a good deal of scorn, some of it well-deserved.  But when well-played (as Charles Prevost shows he can!) it is a lovely alternative to the trap kit, being light, mobile, and less likely to overwhelm a delicate soloist or ensemble.  It stays in the treble register, and offers a delighted commentary to what horns and piano are doing, giving its own slightly more emphatic version of wire brush work.  Charles is subtle without being inaudible, witty without being jokey; he never gets in the way but he adds so much.

Hearing Louis Mazetier at the piano is one of the great experiences for any jazz listener.  At the beginning of any performance, a Mazetier introduction offers the same beguiling comfort as Ralph Sutton’s work did.  The ear hears it, and the body says, “This is going to be good; it is going to be inspired.  You can relax into the comfort of the music.  Welcome to the world of swing!”  Mazetier is a truly orchestral pianist, ever supporting the soloist and the band, but never demanding all of our attention.  He knows the great tradition, but his playing is not a series of learned modules (that Fats run, those James P. octaves); rather it is a beautiful personal synthesis of a very demanding piano tradition.  Here comes the band!

What Daniel Barda creates might look simple; he is never aiming for post-modern pyrotechnics.  But he is a peerless ensemble player, adding just the right touches, and a wonderful soloist, combining lyrical tenderness and propulsive gruffness in every phrase.  The trombone can — in the hands of an unsubtle player — become a clown or a bully, but Barda’s art is masterfully delicate even when he is executing an emphatic smear or growl.  He knows the tradition and embodies it in every phrase, but he is completely himself.

Jérome Etcheberry can play in many contexts, but he is an immensely lyrical hot player, someone who harkens back to Louis, of course, in simple, emotionally-charged phrases, passionate without ever being ostentatious, as well as the majestic players of the Louis-cosmos.  In his subtle, delicate but deep phrasing, I hear delightful echoes of Buck Clayton and early Cootie Williams, but often — a treasure indeed — he evokes Joe Thomas.  (Listen again to THEM THERE EYES and you’ll hear it too.)  I heard him first on CD with Les Swingberries, and was enchanted.

The new CD is a delight.  Although the repertoire is familiar, the band’s approach makes these old tunes gleam and dance: I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH ME / SISTER KATE / WHEN I GROW TOO OLD TO DREAM / FATS WALLER MEDLEY / DOCTOR JAZZ  (with a guest appearance by the fine banjoist Peter Gutzwiller) / BABY, WON’T YOU PLEASE COME HOME? / THEM THERE EYES / SUGAR / I WANT TO BE HAPPY /WHEN IT’S SLEEPY TIME DOWN SOUTH.  Recorded live and beautifully so, the session is relaxed and intense at once, a true delight.

Here’s the enthusiastic review (from February) of this CD in the Bulletin du Hot Club of France, and here you can “ecouter et achetez” the actual CD or a digital version.  One more: the band’s Facebook page — with their schedule, a new video, and more.

“Can’t believe!” indeed.  You, too, can be in that state of delighted incredulity.  Yes, such things are possible in 2016.

May your happiness increase!

FOR THE LOVE OF SWING (AND THE SWING OF LOVE): DANIEL BARDA, LOUIS MAZETIER, JERÔME ETCHEBERRY, CHARLES PRÉVOST: JANUARY 30, 2015

This delightful swing aubade came to me — and I hope many others — through Facebook, and I learned that this is trombonist Daniel Barda’s Super Swing Project, “Hommage à Fats Waller,” performed on January 30 of this year at Jazzclub Ja-ZZ Rheinfelden (www.ja-zz.ch).

I also must thank the recordist, Peter Gutzwiller, for making this delightful effusion both permanent and accessible to us.

Aside from Monsieur Barda, whom we know from Paris Washboard, there is the superb trumpeter Jerôme Etcheberry (of Les Swingberries), the most honored Louis Mazetier, a stride monarch, and the swinging washboardist Charles Prévost.

They pay tribute to Mister Waller in a charming and convincing way — not by offering their own faster-than-light improvisations on his compositions, not by singing YOUR FEETS TOO BIG, but by jamming in medium-tempo and a little faster on three lovely early-Thirties songs that have swing built in to them.  “Here’s another good old good one that all the musicians in the house love to jam,” as Louis would say.

I think it’s no accident that all three of these songs — if you consider their lyrics, which musicians used to do — are love songs.  One declares that they eyes are indeed the windows to the soul, and both entities entranced the singer; one wishes for a more perfect union of the singer and the Love Object; one expresses delighted incredulity that the blissful union has come to pass.  It just reinforces that love is an inexhaustible subject, and that the best music is love in action. Swing out, you lovers!

I dream of a time when one would give one’s Beloved some Commodore discs for a birthday present, for Valentine’s Day.

THEM THERE EYES:

IF DREAMS COME TRUE:

I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH ME:

It makes me very happy to experience these videos, and to be reassured that such beauty is taking place all around the world.  Blessings on these four gentlemen and also on the man behind the camera.

May your happiness increase! 

MIND IF I TAG ALONG? (SOME BOLD WORDS ABOUT THE BREDA JAZZ FESTIVAL)

My super jazz friend Heidi (from the Netherlands) recently sent me this very flattering email about the upcoming Breda Jazz Festival:

I just found out about the line-up for this year’s Breda Jazz Festival. What can I say, the organisers from that festvial do read your blog for sure! So who’s coming? The Swingberries and Hoppin’ Mad with lovely musicians like Aurélie Tropez, Jerome Etcheberry, Katie Cavera, Evan Arntzen, Simon Stribling, Clint Baker and more.

Now, I am not writing this post to flatter myself as an influential shaper of worldwide jazz events.  I hope the Breda people have been able to learn of many gifted musicians through JAZZ LIVES, but the names above hardly needed my assistance!  What follows is unsubtle in the extreme, but extremism in the pursuit of hot jazz is not always a vice, according to someone.

Would someone invite me to Breda in future?

I’d love to be there, and my mother’s family was Dutch.  Does that count?  Anyway, the forty-two minute video of highlights from the 2012 Festival shows that they might not need another person with a video camera: they are doing a superb job without me, unthinkable as that might seem.  (The above written with metaphorical tongue firmly in theoretical cheek, a hard pose to sustain for long.)  But in addition to Heidi’s brief sketch of the artists who are going to play, I see a Dan Barrett Jay and Kai tribute . . . what an imagined delight.  And more.

See for yourself here.  And of course the Festival has a Facebook page:

May your happiness increase.

LES SWINGBERRIES: “LAUGHING AT LIFE” (2012)

Imagine a small group — in Whitney Balliett’s words, “flesible, wasteless,” that successfully evokes the best jazz of the Swing Era without copying recorded performances, that is fresh, witty, precise.  Need an anlalogue?  How about Glenn Miller’s Uptown Hall Gang with arrangements and originals by Mel Powell?

This group exists, and they’ve made their first CD — consistently splendid music.    A few of my readers complain that my musical endorsements are nudging them towards ruin, but LES SWINGBERRIES are worth it.

About thirteen months ago, I wrote happily about this group — propelled by their 2011 YouTube videos: click here for that post.

One of the video performances that so captivated me is Les Swingberries’ transformation of Johann Strauss’ RADETZKY MARCH (“JAZZETSKY MARCH” in their hands):

From left to right, they are Jerome Etcheberry, trumpet / arrangements; Aurelie Tropez, clarinet; Jacques Schneck, piano; Nicolas Montier, guitar.  I haven’t had any contact with Monsieur Schneck, but I admire his light, elegant playing immensely; Monsieur Etcheberry has absorbed all of the good trumpet sounds of this fertile time and processed them through his instrument so that he sounds like himself (with side-glances at the great figures).  Our contact has been limited to mail and cyber-message, but how could I not admire a man who signs himself “Trumpetfully yours“?  (The only inscription that comes close to that is from Hot Lips Page: “Very Blowingly.”)

I’ve been fortunate enough to exchange a few sentences with Mlle. Tropez at the International Jazz Festival at Whitley Bay — where she was not only a charter member of Les Red Hot Reedwarmers but also played some memorable casual swing duets with pianist Paul Asaro.

And Monsier Montier I met for the first time (I hope there will be others) as a wonderfully agile tenor saxophonist at last year’s Sacramento Music Festival.  It came as a huge shock to find out that he is the immensely gifted guitarist in this group, not only echoing Charlie Christian but also Tiny Grimes and a host of other fine players.

But I hear you saying, “OK, I’m sold.  But I can’t fly to France to catch this group in a club or jazz festival.  What shall I do?”

The answer, dear readers, is only a few clicks away.  Les Swingberries have issued their first CD, which is called LAUGHING AT LIFE — not only a song they play but an indication of their buoyant spirits.

The thirteen selections on the disc are varied and lively — two Mary Lou Williams compositions, CLOUDY and GHOST OF LOVE; Leonard Feather’s SCRAM!  Three other themes are “classics” by Strauss, Tschaikovsky, and Offenbach — initially, I thought of the John Kirby Sextet, but then the heretical whisper came into my mind, “This is better than the Kirby Sextet ever did,” because of a light-hearted rhythmic looseness owing something more to Wilson and Waller than to Kirby.  The group seems to float, and the performances seem too brief (although they are between three and five minutes).  The arrangements are beautifully subtle; on a second or third listening, I found myself marveling at the writing for two horns that suggested a larger ensemble; the fact that a rhythm section of piano and guitar never seemed thin or under-furnished.

Both CLOUDY and GHOST OF LOVE are lovely mobile mood pieces with inspired playing by each member of the quartet.  LAUGHING AT LIFE has equally hip writing / voicing / harmonized lines that suggest an unissued Keynote Records session tenderly waiting for a twenty-first century jazz archaeologist to uncover it for us.  The group lights up BLUE ROOM and HALLELUJAH! from within; the remaining four performances are originals — one a funny tribute to Rex Stewart, REXPIRATION (where the rhythm section gets some of the waiting-for-Benny feeling of Christian and Johnny Guarnieri, always a good thing).  SCHNECK IT OUT has surprising harmonies yet a walking-down-the-street feeling I associate with YACHT CLUB SWING.  BERRY CRUMBLE is built on BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA, but in such a sly way that it would take any listener two or three minutes to uncover those familiar harmonies.

Listening to this CD, I never had the feeling of surfeit that many CDs produce (“Oh, this has been wonderful . . . but eight more tracks?”) — it is a subtle, enriching musical experience, and a lot of fun.

I have some trepidation about delivering my readers into the Land of Downloads, but here is the link to the iTunes site — where one can purchase a song for 0.99 or the whole CD for 10.99. Or, if you prefer your music delivered by the Amazon conglomerate, here is their link.

May your happiness increase.

FRESH AND JUICY: THE BERRY PICKERS PLAY BIX, TRAM, ROLLINI, and FRIENDS

Often, bands striving for “authenticity” when playing Twenties jazz take their OKehs and Gennetts too seriously, the result a certain dogged heaviness.  Cornetist / arranger Jérôme Etcheberry knows better, and his bands float rather than slog.  The newest pleasing evidence is his small group, the BERRY PICKERS, and the five videos that appeared without fanfare on YouTube.

Their repertoire is drawn from the late-Twenties efforts of Bix Beiderbecke, Frank Trumbauer, Adrian Rollini, Eddie Lang, and their friends.  But there is no imitation of solos, and the overall lightness has a sweet jauntiness that I associate with the unbuttoned efforts of Richard M. Sudhalter, John R.T. Davies, and Nevil Skrimshire.

Hear for yourself!

Jérôme Etcheberry’s BERRY PICKERS are Nicolas Dary (alto sax) Jérôme Etcheberry (cornet) Fred Couderc (bass sax) Hugo Lippi (guitar) Stephane Seva (drums).

The DeSylva-Brown-Henderson hymn to caffeine, YOU’RE THE CREAM IN MY COFFEE:

Coffee leads to dancing, so Milton Ager’s HAPPY FEET:

And, yes, let’s do THE BALTIMORE (Dan Healy, Irving Kahal, Jimmy McHugh):

Where does Chauncey Morehouse’s THREE BLIND MICE fit in?  Under the heading of “futuristic rhythm,” no doubt:

And, to close, Fats Waller’s I’M MORE THAN SATISFIED:

My feelings exactly.

May your happiness increase.

MEET “LES SWINGBERRIES”!

These delightful performances — poised yet utterly relaxed — emerged on YouTube only two weeks ago.  I’ve been enjoying them over and over: they owe a good deal to the glory days of the John Kirby Sextet, always a debt to be celebrated.  The four musicians here are trumpeter / arranger Jérôme Etcheberry, the cherished clarinetist Aurélie Tropez,  pianist Jacques Schneck, and guitarist Nicolas Montier.  In the great tradition of “swinging the classics,” les Swingberries offer Offenbach’s “Cancan” from Orpheus in the Underworld:

From Hades to religious exaltation might be a substantial leap, but not for this compact hot band — here, they perform Youmans’ HALLELUJAH:

It looks like a happy band — that’s why LAUGHING AT LIFE (with hints of BROADWAY, Charlie Christian, and Lester Young) seems just right:

Another “classical” piece — the RADETZKY MARCH by Johann Strauss — is transformed into the “JAZZETZKY MARCH,” and not a moment too soon.  Admire the clarinet-guitar duet: simple splendor!

Here’s a romping BLUE ROOM (leaving no time for “my wee head upon your knee,” because that knee is rocking so violently):

I hear beautifully-executed ensemble work, lovely tempos, exquisite solo playing (not a note too many), and a deeply felt intuitive swing.  The group isn’t copying — they’re evoking and reinventing in their own ways — but if I heard this music in the other room, I could be fooled into thinking that 1941 had come again.  And I would want to follow those notes!  And for connoisseurs of “. . . they sound like,” I would offer the little band that Lester and Shad Collins led in 1941, the Goodman Sextet of that same year, the early-Forties Teddy Wilson groups with joe Thomas, Emmett Berry, Ed Hall, Jimmy Hamilton.  V-Discs and Keynote Records, too.  But they sound just wonderful — as a new species of delicious jazz fruit.

My only complaint is that they seem to be playing in someone else’s living room.  Why not mine?