Tag Archives: John “Butch” Smith

GIVE US A SHOUT: DAN BARRETT’S “BLUE SWING” at ASCONA (July 2, 2000)

My dear friend Michael Burgevin was the first person I knew who used the expression “Give me a shout,” when he meant “Call me when you can,” or “Be in touch,” and it’s almost archaic these days.  But I know MB would enjoy what I am about to post.

It’s only a few minutes long, but it is both Prime and Choice — and the result of the kind energetic generosity of our friend Enrico Borsetti, who took his video camera to the JazzAscona, Switzerland, and captured a set by Dan Barrett’s Blue Swing — a noble band that had, alongside Dan, Jon-Erik Kellso, Brian Ogilvie, John “Butch” Smith, Ray Sherman, Eddie Erickson, Joel Forbes, and Jeff Hamilton.

Here’s a wonderful blues with flourishes, composed by Luis Russell and Charlie Holmes for the splendid band (featuring also Henry “Red” Allen, J. C. Higginbotham, Albert Nicholas, Paul Barbarin, and Pops Foster) the former led from 1926-34, named for the Saratoga Club, where they romped:

I’ll let Jon-Erik have the last word: “Can’t believe this was 17 years ago already. Fond memories of playing with Dan Barrett’s Blue Swing at the JazzAscona fest in Switzerland. “Saratoga Shout” by Luis Russell. I miss our friend Brian Ogilvie, the tenor player here, very much, he left us much too young. I also miss this band, one of the finest I’ve been a part of.”

And Enrico, our Benefactor, promises to share the rest of the set with us. Grazie, amico!

As we know, sometimes The Past comes out of the darkness and raps us sharply across the bridge of the nose.  In this case, it’s given us a very warm hug.

May your happiness increase!

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A VOTE FOR RED ALLEN . . .

is a vote for exuberance with subtlety beneath the roistering.  And since Henry “Red” Allen used to exhort the audience at New York’s Metropole to applaud his sidemen by saying, “Make him happy!” he is JAZZ LIVES’ way of symbolizing what we hope awaits everyone in 2012.

The photograph below was taken by the fine reedman John “Butch” Smith at New York’s fabled Metropole in 1964. It shows Henry Red working very hard to spread his own kind of musical entlightenment:

But a still photograph can only show so much.  How about bringing Mr. Allen alive, although in glorious black and white?  Thanks to Bobby Hacksaw for alerting me to this YouTube video from 1963, with Red and his rhythm section blazing through CHERRY:

From http://www.whascrusade.org. I learned that the WHAS Crusade for Children has been in operation since 1954, devoted to helping children with special needs in Kentucky and Indiana.  What path brought Red and his quartet to their television studios, I don’t know, but we are certainly thankful that this performance exists.  Henry “Red” Allen lives!