Ten years ago, this band changed my life. Because of RaeAnn Berry’s videos of the Reynolds Brothers, I urgently wanted to visit California, to hear and see them, which I did in 2011. I’d already admired Marc Caparone’s work on records with Dawn Lambeth as far back as 2003, so it was a natural development.
I had visited California once before, but that was in utero. There, no bands were playing, although my mother had a swinging 4 / 4 heartbeat and my father certainly knew how to arrange two-part harmony.
Back to our subject: here are four glorious jam-session styled performances, previously unseen, by the Brothers and Friends from March 1, 2013, at the Jazz Bash by the Bay, in Monterey, California, by John Reynolds, resonator guitar, vocal, whistling; Marc Caparone, cornet; Katie Cavera, string bass, vocal; Ralf Reynolds, washboard, and guests Bob Draga, clarinet; David Boeddinghaus, piano; later, Clint Baker, resonator tenor guitar.
Every jazz festival should have at least one Lillie Delk Christian tribute. Katie Cavera sings TOO BUSY with a band and guests never too busy to swing:
A riotously fast CHINA BOY, Clint Baker joining on resonator tenor guitar, in honor of the many Mike McKendricks:
Something tender to follow, EMBRACEABLE YOU, sung by John:
and a romping SOME OF THESE DAYS to close off this segment:
The next Jazz Bash by the Bay is planned for 2021, and we live in hope that such gatherings can happen again, and I can return, if not to the land of my birth, to the closest thing, for more joy. I know “you can’t go home again,” but you can park across the street and take phone pictures.
It’s never too early to get prepared for joy, especially the varieties that the Jazz Bash by the Bay delivers so generously. (An All-Events badge is available at a discount before December 31, so if thrift makes your eyes gleam, check here.) Now.
I’ve been attending this March festival every year since 2011 (I missed 2018) and have fond memories. I could write a good deal about the pleasures of this grouping of musicians and fans, and the pleasures of being able to walk around a truly charming town center . . . or the pleasure of being a guest at the Portola Hotel and Spa, with the music just a trot away, but I will simply direct you to the Bash’s website, where you can find out such useful information as the dates (March 6-8), the band schedule (not available yet), ticket prices, and the bands themselves.
For me, the bands and guest stars are the reason to come to a particular festival, so I will list them here (as of January 2020) so you can see the delights to be had. First, the Musician of the Year is my hero Marc Caparone, so even though I doubt there will be a parasol-laden coronation, I want to be there to see the rites and praises. Then, guest stars Bob Draga, Brian Holland, Danny Coots, Dawn Lambeth, Eddie Erickson, Gary Ryan, Jeff Barnhart, Jerry Krahn, and Katie Cavera. The bands: Blue Street Jazz Band, Bye Bye Blues Boys Band, Carl Sonny Leyland Trio, Clint Baker’s New Orleans Jazz Band, Cornet Chop Suey, Crescent Katz, Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, Fast Mama Excitement, Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet, Ivory&Gold, Le Jazz Hot, Midiri Brothers, Sierra Seven, Tom Rigney and Flambeau, We Three (Thursday only), Yve Evans and Company, and the Zydeco Flames.
Looking at the 2019 schedule, the Bash offered four simultaneous sessions for full twelve-hour days on Friday and Saturday, and a half day on Sunday . . . one hundred and fifty sessions, including full bands, singers, solo and duo pianos, youth bands, sets for amateur jammers, and more. Even someone like myself, who doesn’t fell compelled to see and hear everything, finds it a delightfully exhausting experience. There’s a separate Thursday-night dance and an appearance by We Three, and I quote: “Kick off Jazz Bash by the Bay on Thursday, March 5, 2020, with a big band dance party featuring Clicktrax Jazz Orchestra. Attendees will enjoy danceable swing and traditional jazz at the Portola Hotel and Spa from 7:30 to 11 pm. Admission is $25.00. Also, in a Special One-Night-Only appearance, the hit trio We3 featuring Bob Draga, Jeff Barnhart, and Danny Coots will be playing from 7 to 8:30 pm. Admission is $30.00. Add the dance for $20 more. All tickets can be purchased by phone, mail, online or at the door.”
Did you notice that there is an Early Bird All-Events Badge at a discount if you order before December 31, 2019? Yes, I repeat myself: details here.
For me, a post advertising a particular festival is not effective unless some musical evidence can be included. I broke one of my rules — that is, there are musicians in the 2011-19 videos below who do not appear at this year’s Bash, and I apologize to them if anyone’s feelings are bruised. But I started to go through the 200+ videos I’d posted of various Monterey Bashes, and some of them were do fine that I couldn’t leave them out. You’ll get a panoramic sense of the wide variety of good, lively, inventive music that happens here. And each video has a detailed description of who’s playing and singing, and when it happened.
an old song, swung, 2019:
Becky and the blues:
the late Westy Westenhofer:
Ivory&Gold (Jeff and Anne Barnhart):
Paolo Alderighi, Phil Flanigan, Jeff Hamilton:
Katie Cavera and the Au Brothers:
Bob Schulz and the Frisco Jazz Band:
Allan Vache, John Sheridan, John Cocuzzi, Paul Keller, Ed Metz:
Hot Strings at Monterey 2011:
a jam session with Bryan Shaw, Jeff Barnhart, Dan Barrett, Marc Caparone, John Reynolds, Katie Cavera, Ralf Reynolds:
Carl Sonny Leyland, Marty Eggers, Jeff Hamilton, performing Sonny’s composition that insures that no rodents visit the Portola during the Bash:
It might seem a long way away, but it isn’t. And it’s a truly enjoyable event.
JOSEPH “TRICKY SAM” NANTON, 1904-46, thanks to Tohru Seya.
One of the great pleasures of having a blog Few jazz listeners would recognize is the ability to share music — often, new performances just created. But I go back to the days of my adolescence where I had a small circle of like-minded friends who loved the music, and one of us could say, “Have you heard Ben Webster leaping in on Willie Bryant’s RIGMAROLE?” “Hackett plays a wonderful solo on IT LOOKS LIKE RAIN (IN CHERRY BLOSSOM LANE).” Allow me to share some joy with you, even if we are far away from each other.
Some of the great pleasures of my life have been those players with sharply individualistic sounds. Think of trombonists: Vic Dickenson, Dicky Wells, Bennie Morton, Jack Teagarden, Jimmy Harrison, Bill Harris, Trummy Young, J.C. Higginbotham, Miff Mole, Sandy Williams, and more. And the much-missed fellow in the photograph above. This high priest of sounds is a hero of mine. He left us too young and he loyally refused to record with anyone except Ellington. I don’t ordinarily celebrate the birthdays of musicians, here or in other neighborhoods, but February 1 was Mister Nanton’s 115th, and he deserves more attention than he gets. He was influenced by the plunger work of Johnny Dunn, a trumpeter who is far more obscure because he chose a route that wasn’t Louis’, but Tricky Sam was obviously his own man, joyous, sly, and memorable.
Here he is with Ellington’s “Famous Orchestra” band on perhaps the most famous location recording ever: the November 7, 1940 dance date in Fargo, North Dakota, recorded by Jack Towers and Dick Burris on a portable disc cutter. ST. LOUIS BLUES, unbuttoned and raucous, closed the evening, with solos by Ray Nance, cornet; Barney Bigard, clarinet; Ivie Anderson, vocal; Ben Webster, tenor saxophone; and Tricky Sam — before the band combines BLACK AND TAN FANTASY and RHAPSODY IN BLUE to end. (The complete band was Duke, Rex Stewart, Ray Nance, Wallace Jones, Tricky Sam Nanton, Lawrence Brown, Juan Tizol, Otto Hardwick, Johnny Hodges, Barney Bigard, Ben Webster, Harry Carney, Fred Guy, Jimmie Blanton, Sonny Greer, Ivie Anderson, Herb Jeffries. And the whole date has been issued on a 2-CD set.)
It says a good deal that Duke saved Tricky Sam for the last solo, the most dramatic. Who, even Ben, could follow him?
You will notice — and it made me laugh aloud when I first heard it, perhaps fifty years ago, and it still does — that Tricky Sam leaps into his solo by playing the opening phrase of the 1937 WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK (Larry Morey and Frank Churchill) from the Disney SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS. How it pleases me to imagine Ellington’s men taking in an afternoon showing of that Disney classic!
Let no one say that Sonny Greer couldn’t swing, and swing the band. To paraphrase Gloria Swanson in SUNSET BOULEVARD, “They had sounds then.”
And just on the Lesley Gore principle (“It’s my blog and I’ll post if I want to”) here’s a full-blown 2013 version of WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK by John Reynolds, guitar and whistling; Ralf Reynolds, washboard; Katie Cavera, string bass; Marc Caparone, cornet; Clint Baker, clarinet — recorded at the 2013 Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California . . . another stop on the 2019 JAZZ LIVES hot music among friends quest. No trombone, but Joseph Nanton would have enjoyed it for its headlong verve:
I missed out on the 2018 Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California, March 2-4 of this year. But once again the First Lady of Hot Video, RaeAnn Berry, brought back some good sights and sounds for us.
A particular favorite was this set featuring Marc Caparone, trumpet; Dawn Lambeth, piano; John Reynolds, guitar; Katie Cavera, string bass — with nifty vocals from each of the four. Completely charming, light-hearted melodic swing, with no tricks. They would have been a hit at the Hickory House or the Onyx Club, and what a blessing to have them with us now.
RaeAnn posted all ten performances, but here are the four I was especially charmed by because the songs are rarely performed — and, as JAZZ LIVES readers know, these four musicians are dear to me.
Anyone want to split cab fare to Fifty-Second Street?
PARDON ME, PRETTY BABY:
WHEN THE RED RED ROBIN COMES BOB BOB BOBBIN’ ALONG (another thing to thank Harry Woods for, as Dawn offers us some tender optimism):
LITTLE GIRL (I dream of the ten-CD set called JOHN REYNOLDS SINGS FOR YOU):
I’VE GOT MY FINGERS CROSSED (with a sparkling conversation between Marc and John near the end):
With luck and a GPS, I’ll be at the 2019 Jazz Bash by the Bay. It beats worrying about snow and then shoveling it, which is March in my world of New York.
Improvising, that act we celebrate in jazz, is larger than simply constructing new melodies on familiar harmonies, or making-it-up-as-they-go-along. Sometimes the willingness to capture it live is precious and creates splendid memorable — if unplanned — results.
Casey MacGill and John Reynolds, perhaps a few revolutions ago.
A little personal history. One of the reasons I came out to California in 2011 was to hear and see for myself the Reynolds Brothers. Thanks to the videos created by RaeAnn Berry, I’d seen the band on my computer screen but wanted more immediacy — which I found in session after session for the next few years. I was awed by John S. Reynolds — guitarist, singer, whistler — and remain so. He combines deep romance, satire, and irresistible swing. I had few opportunities to savor his unpredictable magic once returning to New York in 2015. On January 24, when I saw a Facebook video (captured perfectly by the Blessed Jessica McKinney) of John and the nimble multi-talented Casey MacGill — whose work I’ve known and admired — (ukulele, cornet, vocal) I was thrilled and elated. Here’s the first of their performances, a rollicking SENTIMENTAL GENTLEMAN FROM GEORGIA:
Perhaps in tribute to the late Rose Marie, TAKE A PICTURE OF THE MOON:
And another delicious slice of 1931-2, WITHOUT THAT GAL!
As you can imagine, I was ecstatic about this music, and asked — not altogether whimsically — when the DVD was coming out, how could I buy the CD, when was the world tour, and could these videos be synthesized in pill form so that I could carry them in a tin and take as needed.
Here’s an excerpt from Casey’s sweet response:
Thank you so much for your kind words and support. We really appreciate it. Our get together with John was originally intended to be a part of a CD created to market to people in the ukulele community. The recording was to consist of myself playing one or two tracks with different musicians. Some of them come from the ukulele community, and are ukulele players themselves, and other musicians are long term collaborators like John.
My partner Jessica has a zoom recording machine which we are using to make these recordings. We are getting together with people as we travel to collect songs. This obviously is a modest effort geared to a specific audience.
We met John at his home in Glendale, California, and repaired to his tiny art studio in the back of the garage. John and I had only been playing a few minutes when Jessica felt compelled to film us as she also made an audio recording. We never dreamt that there would be such a huge reaction to the videos. When you and others responded by asking about a CD, it has made us think of recording more with John. And that is where we are currently.
John and I do go back to 1975, actually. We met at a holiday party in the home of Robert Armstrong, one of the original Cheap Suit Serenaders. Another guest at the party was Ward Kimball, famous artist at Walt Disney Studios and founder of the Firehouse Five. We worked together constantly for about 3 1/2 years between 1980 and 1984, to great acclaim in Los Angeles as 2/3 of the trio Mood Indigo. There was always great chemistry and I am still happy to play straight man to John’s magic.
Jessica and I will have to figure out when and how to make this recording with John a project unto itself. We want to do this as soon as possible and we will keep you posted.
So there’s something else life-enhancing to look forward to. It’s just idle musing, but I wonder how people who savor this fine music could help get a CD made.
Blessings on Casey, John, and Jessica. Thanks for lifting our spirits in swing.
More bad news for people who like their jazz in profusion over one weekend: the Sacramento Music Festival, once known as the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, will not continue on next year. Hereis the whole story.
An observant person could tell the reasons for this decision, and they are primarily financial: festivals are terribly expensive to run, and the ratio between costs and audience was not always encouraging. I am sad to read this, because in the past six months a number of festivals have said goodbye. I won’t mount the soapbox and harangue readers who had said, “Oh, I’ll go next year,” but the moral — carpe diem over a swinging 4/4 — is clear.
My videos — about one hundred and fifty — show that I attended the SJJ in 2011, 12, and 14. It was an unusual event. I seem to remember racing from one side of the causeway (if that is what it was called) to the other for sets, and scurrying (that’s not true — I don’t really scurry) from one venue to another. There was an astonishing amount of good music in the years I attended, and some very lovely performances took place in the oddest venues.
Here are more than a half-dozen splendid performances, so we can grieve for the loss of a festival while at the same time smiling and swinging.
From 2011, TRUCKIN’ by Hal Smith’s International Sextet:
and one of my favorite 1926 songs, HE’S THE LAST WORD:
The Jubilee also made room for pretty ballads like this one, featuring John Cocuzzi, Jennifer Leitham, and Johnny Varro:
A year later, Rebecca Kilgore was HUMMIN’ TO HERSELF:
Marc Caparone doffs his handmade cap to Louis for HE’S A SON OF THE SOUTH:
Another pretty one — MORE THAN YOU KNOW — featuring Allan Vache:
and some Orientalia out of doors — SAN by the Reynolds Brothers and Clint Baker:
A nice medium blues by Dan Barrett and Rossano Sportiello:
THE BOB AND RAY SHOW in 2014 — Schulz and Skjelbred, performing SHOE SHINE BOY:
CAN’T WE BE FRIENDS, featuring Dave Stone and Russ Phillips with Vince Bartels and Johnny Varro:
and an extended performance by Ray Skjelbred and his Cubs from 2014:
One of my favorite stories — a Louise Hay affirmation of sorts — comes from the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee. It was held over Memorial Day weekend, and there was riotous excitement on the days preceding Monday — but Sacramento on Memorial Day was one of the most deserted urban centers I’ve ever encountered. The nice Vietnamese restaurant I had hopes of returning to was shuttered for the holiday, the streets were quiet with only the intermittent homeless person taking his ease. Since I have been a New Yorker all my life, the criminal offense termed “jaywalking” does not terrify me. On one such Monday, the light was red against me but there were no cars in sight. Full of assurance, I strolled across the street and made eye contact with a young woman standing — a law-abiding citizen — on the opposite curb. When I reached her and grinned at her legal timidity, she looked disapprovingly at me and said, “Rule-breaker!” I grinned some more and replied, “Free spirit!”
At its best, the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee inspired such free-spirited behavior, musical and otherwise — among dear friends. Adieu, adieu!
I know that the magnificent drummer Daniel Glass is capable of fully engaged conversation; he eats and drinks (pistachios and more), and has a full life away from his drum kits. But he continues to be so generous in his wise offerings that I don’t quite see how he carries on a life in addition to what he gives us. I’ll have to ask him whether he actually sleeps . . . when I see him next. Daniel is so often in motion that a still picture hardly does him justice, but it is a start.
The wisecrack (so beloved by those who have never been in front of a classroom) is “Those who can’t do, teach.” Daniel Glass is that rare creature who both does and teaches, and he accomplishes both of those ends with a light yet memorable touch. When I call him a chameleon, I don’t of course mean it in the zoological way, but I mean it as highest praise: someone who easily and without fuss shows us generously his deep and varied talents, all of which come from a center of knowledge, the desire to inform us with gentleness and accuracy, and a splendid basis of experience — living experience, never dusty.
I should explain that I am not a drummer; my drum career was if not nasty and brutish, certainly short — because I am mentally but not physically coordinated. The high points of my percussion career have been as an observer (watching Krupa, Jo Jones, Gus Johnson, Leeman, and their modern forbears), an autograph-seeker (Jo again) and purchaser (one set of 5B parade sticks bought from Jo at Ippolito’s drum shop.
But I am someone who finds information — beautifully and clearly presented — thrilling. And if Daniel Glass never put a stick to a drumhead, I would salute him as a splendid guide through matters percussive. But more about that below.
I first met Daniel in the darkness of Fat Cat one Sunday when Terry Waldo’s Gotham City Band was the most admired attraction. I’d never heard him and was properly suspicious — after all, how good could he be if I didn’t know him? — but within two choruses I realized I was in the presence of a Master, someone who played for the comfort of the band, was in the idiom but not imprisoned by it, a musician with history and innovation balanced neatly within him.
Here’s WOLVERINE BLUES (with Jon-Erik Kellso, Evan Arntzen, Jim Fryer, John Gill, Brian Nalepka in addition to Terry and Daniel):
And hereare all the videos from that frolicsome late-December 2015 session.
When I had my Daniel Glass Experience (the first of several) I had no knowledge of this gloriously head-spinning performance from 2009 created by Daniel — with the smallest amount of percussive equipment one can imagine) — the blessed John Reynolds, and the superb Rusty Frank:
Sidney and Jo are grinning, I am sure.
Here is a wonderful interview where Daniel explains where he came from and where he is taking us. It’s from 2012, so some of the references to “now” are perhaps slightly out of date, but it gives a wonderful sense of who he is as a musician and scholar:
I couldn’t keep up with the articles, books, and videos that Daniel has created, but I can say a few words about his two 2-CD sets, THE CENTURY PROJECT and TRAPS. The first would have pleased Isiah Berlin because Daniel is both hedgehog and fox: his knowledge and love and enthusiasm is both intensely focused and broad. THE CENTURY PROJECT, on the face of it, is a history of jazz drumming from 1865 to 1965 — and it accomplishes that purpose beautifully — but it is also a quietly subversive, never didactic, history both of American music and of the contributions from other cultures. We think of the trap set as an American creation, but Daniel opens up that perhaps narrow idea to ask where the Turkish tom-toms came from, the Chinese cymbals, temple blocks, and so on. Never dull but splendidly researched.
Here’s Daniel explaining and beautifully demonstrating “double drumming,” which was a revelation to me — both the history and the performance:
Here’s the splendidly musical solo with which Daniel concludes THE CENTURY PROJECT — on a cousin of SING SING SING:
Oh, and did I mention there is music? Daniel and friends (including our own Dan Barrett and Dan Levinson) move from New Orleans parade music to ragtime to early jazz onwards to swing, bebop, and beyond. Even if you’ve never come closer to drumming than tapping impatiently on the arm of the couch in the doctor’s waiting room, these musical interludes are priceless as jazz and as history.
And here is a very brief introduction to TRAPS, the companion 2-DVD set which beautifully displays and anatomizes a century of the most gorgeous vintage drum sets:
Even I, who know little about vintage drums aside from the sound of Zutty Singleton’s cymbals in 1928 or Sidney Catlett’s hi-hat in 1944, or the way those drum sets looked in still photographs and films, found this riveting up-close history.
Daniel’s website — foundhere — offers a fascinating blog, podcasts (philosophical and percussive) opportunities for lessons in person and via Skype, the aforementioned books, DVDs, and more. Clinics and gigs of all kinds — from Terry Waldo to Eydie Gorme and Marilyn Maye, from private parties to Christmas celebrations and swinging big bands. He has much to share with us, and he offers it generously.
I’ve been admiring Molly Ryan’s singing — and her instrumental bandmates — for almost a decade now. Her latest CD, her third, LET’S FLY AWAY, is a beautifully elaborate production, consistently aloft.
Here are the details. The CD features a theme (hooray!) — the delights of travel, with some ingenious choices of repertoire: WANDERER / BEYOND THE BLUE HORIZON / FAR AWAY PLACES / LET’S FLY AWAY / FLYING DOWN TO RIO / A RAINY NIGHT IN RIO / SOUTH SEA ISLAND MAGIC / THE GYPSY IN MY SOUL / THE ROAD TO MOROCCO / UNDER PARIS SKIES / TRAV’LIN’ ALL ALONE / IT’S NICE TO GO TRAV’LIN’ / ANYWHERE I WANDER . . .
and alongside Molly (vocal and guitar) some of the finest jazz players on the planet: Bria Skonberg, Randy Reinhart, Dan Barrett, Dan Levinson, Adrien Chevalier, John Reynolds, Joel Forbes, Mike Weatherly, Mark Shane, Dick Hyman, Kevin Dorn, Scott Kettner, Raphael McGregor, with arrangements by the two Dans, Levinson and Barrett.
When I first heard Molly — we were all much younger — I was immediately charmed by her voice, which in its youthful warmth and tenderness summoned up the beautiful Helen Ward. But Molly, then and now, does more than imitate. She has a gorgeous sound but she also knows a good deal about unaffected swing, and in the years she’s been singing, her lyrical deftness has increased, and without dramatizing, she has become a fine singing actress, giving each song its proper emotional context. She can be a blazing trumpet (evidence below) or a wistful yearner, on the edge of tears, or someone tart and wry.
The band, as you’d expect, is full of great soloists — everyone gets a taste, as they deserve, and I won’t spoil the surprises. But what’s most notable is the care given to the arrangements. Many CDs sound as if the fellows and gals are on a live club date — “Whaddaya want to play next, Marty?” “I don’t know. How about X?” and those informal sessions often produce unbuttoned memorable sounds. But a production like LET’S FLY AWAY is a happy throwback to the glory days of long-playing records of the Fifties and Sixties, where a singer — Teddi King, Lena Horne, Doris Day, Carmen McRae — was taken very good care of by Neal Hefti or Frank DeVol or Ralph Burns, creating a musical tapestry of rich sensations.
Now, below on this very same page, you can visit the page where LET’S FLY AWAY is for sale, and hear samples. But Molly and friends have cooked up something far more hilariously gratifying — a short film with an oddly off-center plot, dancers, visual effects, hard to describe but a pleasure to experience:
Yes, it does make me think of Mildred Bailey’s WEEK-END OF A PRIVATE SECRETARY, but perhaps that association is my own personal problem.
And tomorrow — yes, tomorrow, Thursday, September 3, at 9:30 PM — Molly and friends are having a CD release show at Joe’s Pub, with Dan Levinson, Mike Davis, Vincent Gardner, Dalton Ridenhour, Brandi Disterheft, Kevin Dorn. You may purchase tickets (they’re quite inexpensive) here. Details about the show here, and Molly’s Facebook page.
Purchase a digital download of the CD (with two hidden tracks) OR the physical disc itself (with twenty pages of liner notes and wonderful art / photographs) OR hear sound samples here.
Airborne, delightful swing. Why not FLY AWAY? Let’s.
Take your pick. Would you like to celebrate Louis Armstrong’s birthday as if it had been July 4, 1900 (what he and perhaps his mother believed it to be), July 4, 1901 (where Ricky Riccardi and I think the evidence points), or August 4, 1901 (what’s written in the baptismal record)? I don’t think the debate is as important as the music.
And to show that LOUIS LIVES, I offer three examples of musicians evoking him with great warmth and success in this century. Louis isn’t a historical figure; he animates our hearts today, and tomorrow, and . . .
Folks down there live a life of ease. WHEN IT’S SLEEPY TIME DOWN SOUTH (San Diego Jazz Fest, November 29, 2014: Connie Jones, cornet; Tim Laughlin, clarinet; Doug Finke, trombone; Jim Buchmann, Dave Bennett, clarinet; Chris Dawson, piano; Katie Cavera, rhythm guitar; Marty Eggers, string bass; Hal Smith, drums):
Cold empty bed. BLACK AND BLUE (Fraunces Tavern, July 25, 2015: Mike Davis, cornet; Craig Ventresco, guitar; Rob Adkins, string bass):
Does he strut like a king? HE’S A SON OF THE SOUTH (Jazz Bash by the Bay, March 2013: Marc Caparone, cornet and vocal; Clint Baker, clarinet; David Boeddinghaus, piano; John Reynolds, guitar; Katie Cavera, string bass; Ralf Reynolds, washboard):
Yes, Louis made the transition into spirit in 1971. But his spirit is very much alive.
I hope that posts such as these aren’t too frustrating for those JAZZ LIVES readers who are far away from the particular Mecca of Hot. If you’re in Illinois or Newcastle, you are hereby let off the hook. But for those readers who can, or could, or might . . . read on.
The 2015 Jazz Bash by the Bayis happening soon — an opening concert / dance on Thursday, March 5, then full-steam ahead for Friday through Sunday. I have delightful memories of being there from 2011 on — a very friendly and hospitable festival, the staff and volunteers exceedingly nice, the rooms in which one hears and sees music very comfortable. And the music itself, although the players and singers shift slightly from year to year, is always both superb and varied. Your favorite bands — including High Sierra, the Carl Sonny Leyland Trio, Ivory & Gold, Ellis Island Boys, Crescent Katz, Cocuzzi/Vache All Stars, Le Jazz Hot, Royal Society Jazz Orchestra. Soloists: Dan Barrett, Eddie Erickson, Rebecca Kilgore, Ehud Asherie, Stephanie Trick, David Boeddinghaus, Banu Gibson, Dawn Lambeth, Yve Evans, Jeff Barnhart, Jason Wanner, Marc Caparone, Bob Draga, John Reynolds, Jeff Hamilton, Paul Mehling, Clint Baker, John Cocuzzi, Allan Vache, Danny Coots, Virginia Tichenor, Marty Eggers, and many more. Everything from hot jazz to swinging rhythmic ballads to ragtime, stride, and boogie-woogie, with offferings of zydeco and gypsy swing.
It’s a lovely place to visit, also — my meteorological memories of Monterey in March (say that once at a conversational tempo) are lovely: sunny and warm.
Here are the band schedules. I spent a happy fifteen minutes this morning with a green highlighter, noting sets I absolutely wanted to be at — and there were no idle hours.
And just for our collective happiness, here are my videos of a March 2011 performance featuring Clint Baker, Marc Caparone, Howard Miyata, Mike Baird, Dawn Lambeth, Katie Cavera, Jeff Hamilton, and Marty Eggers — mixing sweet, swing, and hot.
I am eagerly looking forward to it. And I hope to see you there, too. No fooling. And if you’re hungry for more music, you can search this site for “bash” or “Monterey” and find videos from 2011-14 . . . better yet, you can make plans to attend.
I arrived back in New York late last night. With no offense to my fellow urbanites and suburbanites, the word that would describe my return is RELUCTANTLY. Unfortunately, I couldn’t muster up the good cheer of this Hero as imagined in a beautiful drawing by Thomas B. Allen:
Even in enhanced stereo (!) Louis looks young and healthy.
But it will take a while for me to look close to that. The Beloved is 3000 miles away. My apartment has serious water damage . . . precious objects became damp, musty — some can’t be repaired. I feel as if spiritual mildew is creeping up on me, which is not something that responds to ordinary curative methods. While I was slumping around the apartment, wondering what else had been ruined and whether I could ever find everything, I knew I needed serious help of a medical kind.
I called on my own medical group and they rushed to my aid. They are Doctors Warren, Dubin, Caparone, Barnhart, Barrett, Shaw, Cavera, Reynolds, and Reynolds:
I apologize for the swooping camerawork but I was trying to create closeups without a tripod, and I think I was so happy that my hand possibly couldn’t remain steady. Somewhere, Fats Waller and Bing Crosby smile approvingly, too.
This always makes me feel better, and I will now play it again while I do other domestic chores.
I’ve been a fan of the sweet-voiced singer Molly Ryan since I first heard her, live and on recording, and she has only become more subtle and more affecting with each year. Her natural warmth, her easy swing, and her friendly approach to the song are inspiring. Molly’s made two CDs with friends — SONGBIRD IN THE MOONLIGHT and SWING FOR YOUR SUPPER, both refreshing reminders of what swing singing was and can still be.
Now, she’s poised to make a third one, which is good news. But a self-produced recording is an expensive business. I’ve been reluctant to write fund-raising appeals here, lest JAZZ LIVES turn into JAZZ ASKS, but I make an exception in this case, since I look forward to the CD and to supporting Molly and her friends in making the world safe for music.
Those friends? Dan Barrett, Adrien Chevalier, Kevin Dorn, Joel Forbes, Dick Hyman, Dan Levinson, Randy Reinhart, John Reynolds, Mark Shane, Bria Skonberg. And the sounds will be captured by the noted recording engineer Stewart Lerman.
Here you can find details of amounts one can pledge and the appropriate rewards; you can see Molly’s direct appeal in her own music video, and you can come away with the feeling that you have done something direct to support the music and musicians we admire so.
Warming us all up in the best ways are John Reynolds, guitar / whistle; Ralf Reynolds, washboard; Marc Caparone, cornet / vocal; Katie Cavera, string bass; Clint Baker, clarinet / vocal — at Dixieland Monterey / Jazz Bash by the Bay, March 3, 2013, with repertoire honoring Bing, Louis, Clarence Williams, Punch Miller, early Disney, and the sweet energies of the Thirties. Guest pianist David Boeddinghaus joins in for the final three songs.
Every time I get ready to declare, “OK, I will spend the rest of my life happily in California,” New York crooks a dainty finger at me and whispers, “Not so fast, fellow. I have something for you.”
These are some of the musicians I was able to see, hear, and video during April 2013 — an incomplete list, in chronological order:
Svetlana Shmulyian, Tom Dempsey, Rob Garcia, Asako Takasaki, Michael Kanan, Michael Petrosino, Joel Press, Sean Smith, Tardo Hammer, Steve Little, Hilary Gardner, Ehud Asherie, Randy Reinhart, Mark Shane, Kevin Dorn, James Chirillo, Brian Nalepka, Dan Block, Danny Tobias, Matt Munisteri, Neal Miner, Catherine Russell, Jon-Erik Kellso, Lee Hudson, Lena Bloch, Frank Carlberg, Dave Miller, Billy Mintz, Daryl Sherman, Scott Robinson, Harvie S, Jeff Barnhart, Gordon Au, John Gill, Ian Frenkel, Lew Green, Marianne Solivan, Mark McLean, Dennis Lichtman, Tamar Korn, Raphael McGregor, Skip Krevens, Andrew Hall, Rebecca Kilgore, Dan Barrett, Scott Robinson, Pat O’Leary, Andy Brown, Giancarlo Massu, Luciano Troja, Rossano Sportiello, Randy Sandke, Harry Allen, Dennis Mackrel, Joel Forbes.
And I saw them at the Back Room Speakeasy, the Metropolitan Room, Smalls, the Bickford Theatre, the Ear Inn, Symphony Space, the Finaldn Center, Jazz at Kitano, Jeff and Joel’s House Party, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, Jalopy Theatre, Casa Italiana, and Zankel Recital Hall.
T.S. Eliot had it wrong. Just another average jazz-month in New York.
P.S. This isn’t to slight my California heroes, nay nay — among them Marc Caparone, Dawn Lambeth, Carl Sonny Leyland, Clint Baker, Jeff Hamilton, Chris Dawson, Marty Eggers, Katie Cavera, Kally Price, Leon Oakley, Mal Sharpe, Tom Schmidt, John Reynolds, Melissa Collard, Ari Munkres, GAUCHO, PANIQUE, Bill Carter, Jim Klippert, JasonVanderford, Bill Reinhart, Dan Barrett . . . .
The song chosen was the cheerful assent ‘DEED I DO. And they certainly did. This took place at the San Diego Jazz Fest (nee the San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival) on November 25, 2012, and the participants were that festival’s edition of the Reynolds Brothers (John, guitar); Ralf (washboard); Nate Ketner (alto saxophone); Katie Cavera (string bass) . . . and guests Brad Roth (banjo) and the duo-pianists, the team of Dawson and Trick . . . Chris and Stephanie.
There is a bit of bench-swapping here, but it’s legal, innocent, and consensual. No need to send the children from the room. And those eye-popping visual explosions? Not the Fourth of July or Guy Fawkes Day . . . someone’s flash camera. But the music triumphs, as always.
Two tunes from the end of a Reynolds Brothers set at the 2012 San Diego Jazz Fest that show brother John in typically fine voice (vocal / tricone resonator guitar) along with the splendid Chris Dawson (piano); Nate Ketner (alto saxophone); Katie Cavera (string bass); Molly Reeves (guitar); Brad Roth (banjo); Ralf Reynolds (washboard).
ALL GOD’S CHILLUN GOT RHYTHM:
I hope that you have time for some swing misbehavin’ this fine day!
Gender-neutral, cross-generational, child-friendly, organic, locally sourced, gluten-free, and hot: Chloe Feoranzo (clarinet); Stephanie Trick (piano); Katie Cavera (string bass); John Reynolds (guitar). Recorded on November 23, 2012, at the San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Fest. . . !
That’s the recent past. How about a hint of what is expected for Thanksgiving 2013 in San Diego? Here’s something to consider . . . with eagerness and old-fashioned love — the most recent list of artists invited to perform there:
If you are averse to clicking, I can tell you that I see Stephanie Trick and Paolo Alderighi, the Reynolds Brothers, Ray Skjelbred and his Cubs, Bob Schulz, High Sierra, Dave Bennett, Carl Sonny Leyland, Chloe Feoranzo, Bob Draga, Glenn Crytzer, Grand Dominion, Jason Wanner . . . . and I know more swinging surprises are in store.
The music doesn’t start for another ten days, give or take — but we’re excited about the 2013 Jazz Bash by the Bay (or you can call it Dixieland Monterey . . . call it what you will as long as you support it by your presence!).
The Beloved and I will be there for as much of it as possible. The music begins on Thursday night (Feb. 28, if my dates are right) with a special benefit concert by “We3” — Jeff Barnhart, Danny Coots, and Bob Draga — and runs like an express train until Sunday, March 3, late in the afternoon.
Here‘s the schedule. And although my counting skills are imperfect, I see 149 or so sets in that weekend — because of simultaneous action in a variety of rooms. What this means to me: Marc Caparone, Dawn Lambeth, Jeff Barnhart, Anne Barhart, Bryan Shaw, Howard Miyata, John Reynolds, Clint Baker, Ralf Reynolds, Katie Cavera, Carl Sonny Leyland, Banu Gibson, John Sheridan, John Cocuzzi, Allan Vache, Ed Metz, Paul Keller, Sue Kroninger, Eddie Erickson, Chris Calabrese, Jim Fryer, Danny Coots, Jeff Hamilton, Virginia Tichenor, Marty Eggers, Gordon Au, Justin Au, Brandon Au, David Boeddinghaus, Jason Wanner, Ray Templin . . . and you can add your own favorites, heroes, heroines, and heartthrobs.
Here‘s ticket information. Few people I know are moved to take positive action because of fear and dread, but the evidence speaks for itself: many jazz festivals have vanished or morphed unrecognizably before vanishing: join us at the Jazz Bash by the Bay!
And for those readers who say, “I’m not convinced. I need evidence before I get in the car, find someone to walk the dog, and unstrap my wallet,” will this do? Recorded on March 2, 2012 — something to provoke SMILES:
The more I hear Jeff Barnhart — pianist, singer, improviser — the more I admire him. He has an ebullient spirit, whether he is striding or playing a rag, but there’s a soulful vein of sweet melancholy that underlies his work — a tenderness that never disappears in the humor and hot music. See and hear for yourself.
HONEY, THAT REMINDS ME (from the 2010 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party — with Michel Bastide, Paul Munnery, Jean-Francois Bonnel, Jacob Ullberger, Josh Duffee, with leader Bent Persson standing off to the side, admiring) comes from a Red Allen tribute, and it is notable for those of us who revere Vic Dickenson as his first real appearance on record — as a singer — with a song that is a little unpredictable. Thus, Jeff’s looking at the lyrics is the act of a wise man, not an unprepared one. And you’ll hear, fore and aft, his glistening piano coming through the ensemble in a wonderful Hines manner:
Let’s move things up a little bit — a video created by Tom Warner — something I adore, for its dancing comedy and incredible swing. Ladies and gentlemen, the duo of Messrs. Barnhart and Danny Coots, performing Uncle Fred Coots’ A BEAUTIFUL LADY IN BLUE — a small theatrical romp, whatever the tempo.
But first! You need to hear the song as originally performed — with absolute mastery — by Jan Peerce in a 1935 radio airshot (wait for the final cymbal crash!) . . . to get the full flavor of the Barnhart-Coots spectacular.
Jeff and Danny:
(I can’t comment on Jan Peerce’s showmanship — it’s all there in his passionate voice — but Jeff wins the prize for me for one gesture, the way he lifts his right hand while playing at a violent tempo to point to his heart. That’s the best old-school stride piano Method acting you’ll ever see.)
And one more. Why not? It’s a favorite of mine, one of the half-dozen videos I would self-prescribe if I got up feeling gloomy. A proven spiritual panacea — variations on the 1933 Crosby hit YOUNG AND HEALTHY, with a true Cast of Characters: John Reynolds (guitar); Ralf Reynolds (washboard); Katie Cavera (bass); Marc Caparone (cornet); Dan Barrett (trombone); Bryan Shaw (trumpet). I recorded this at Dixieland Monterey — the Jazz Bash by the Bay, nearly two years ago — March 5, 2011 — and it still delights me. Jeff does honor to Fats and to Putney Dandridge while remaining himself.
Convinced? I should think so.
But experiencing Jeff and his music in person is even better. He travels the country with wife Anne, a classically trained flautist, in their own duo or trio IVORY AND GOLD (with Danny Coots), and he shows up everywhere, spreading joy and mirth and swing.
I am happily going to see him at least three times this year — at the March 1-2-3 Jazz Bash, at the April 20-21 Jeff and Joel’s House Party, and at the 2013 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party, turning the corner from October into November).
You can find out more about his peregrinations and recordings here. And you can hear samples of his music as well — I’ve picked out a particular favorite, an excerpt from a CD I love, called THUMP! FIRST WHACK —Down in Honky Tonk Town.
The title of that recording should say something about its delightful individuality. The performers are Jeff (piano, vocal, co-leader); SherriLynn Colby (vocal, co-leader); Clint Baker (trumpet, trombone, vocal); Matty Bottel (banjo, tenor guitar); Otis Mourning (clarinet, soprano, alto sax); Marty Eggers (string bass); Lauri Lyster (drums); Simon Stribling (cornet, trombone). JAZZ LIVES readers will know how much I admire Clint, Marty, Simon, and now Jeff — but the other musicians are quite wonderful as well.
The scope of this recording comes through in its repertoire: GOT NO TIME / TANK TOWN BUMP / AM I BLUE? / LINA BLUES / KITCHEN MAN / I WOULD DO MOST ANYTHING FOR YOU / A KISS TO BUILD A DREAM ON / DOWN WHERE THE SUN GOES DOWN / EGYPTIAN FANTASY / DOWN IN HONKY TONK TOWN / DADDY DO / CHATTANOOGA STOMP / DELTA BOUND / EXACTLY LIKE YOU.
Its character can best explained metaphorically. THUMP sounds the way the food of our childhood tasted: succulent, multi-layered, perhaps a little drippy (the tomato eaten in the garden) or a bit greasy (real chicken on the barbecue), rather than the sanitized modern version — neat but flavorless. After you listen to THUMP, you might have to wipe your hands on a napkin, but your ears will be full of savory large musical flavors. Hot horn solos, beautiful interplay in the ensembles, a rocking rhythm section, and delightful vocals — this is my first introduction to SherriLynn Colby, whose sweet-tart approach to her material suggests that she is really a Thirties film star who Warner Brothers never had the sense to hire — and that is a very large compliment.
And Jeff has recorded many other CDs — while keeping a busy traveling schedule. We are very lucky to have him, whichever of his many joyous visages he turns to the audience.
My plans for the holiday weekend include very little turkey but plenty of hot jazz and good feeling — at the 33rd San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Festival. The music begins Wednesday night (November 21) and goes breathlessly through until Sunday afternoon (November 25). Here’sthe tentative schedule, vibrating with good sounds.
Off the top of my head, I think of Ralf Reynolds, John Reynolds, Katie Cavera, John Gill, Duke Heitger, Tom Bartlett, Leon Oakley, Orange Kellin, Clint Baker, Conal Fowkes, Kevin Dorn, Hal Smith, Chris Dawson, Connie Jones, Mike Pittsley, Chloe Feoranzo, Stephanie Trick, Marty Eggers, Carl Sonny Leyland, Tim Laughlin, Lorraine Feather, Sue Fischer, Dave Bennett, Justin and Brandon Au, and about four dozen more bands and soloists. Apologies to any of your favorites I’ve neglected to mention here . . . but the whole schedule is available for real or fantasy planning.
I feel immensely fortunate to be getting on a plane Thursday morning with San Diego as my eventual goal. Look for me in the front row: notebook and pen, intently gazing into the viewfinder, aloha shirt . . . the JAZZ LIVES official regalia. And for those of you who can’t make it, I will do my best to take you along through the magic of video.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the Reynolds Brothers are a superb hot band, subtle and forceful, offering vivid solos and lovely intertwining ensemble lines. And they offer us songs, both sweet and spicy, that deserve to be played. I’ve been a convert for several years now. But you don’t have to take my word for it: see for yourself.
They’re required reading in my lifetime course on Swing. And regular field trips are part of the curriculum.
Here they are — with guest Clint Baker — at the 2012 Sacramento Music Festival. That’s Marc Caparone, cornet; Katie Cavera, string bass; John Reynolds, guitar, whistling; Ralf Reynolds, washboard; Clint Baker, clarinet, trombone — with assorted and sundry vocalizing from the members of the crew. Here they are on a paddlewheel steamer — heating it up in front of a very receptive audience — on May 26, 2012.
One of the more popular songs about how nice it was to go back home down South (perhaps a safe theme from Stephen Foster up to the Swing Era) ALABAMMY BOUND:
A high-class love song with caffeine, always the way to go — WHEN I TAKE MY SUGAR TO TEA. I am not being hyperbolic when I write that John Reynolds improves the world by his presence — singing, playing, scatting, whistling:
A prescription for happiness, care of the early Cab Calloway ensemble, THE SCAT SONG. Fine riffin’ this evening!:
You shiftless person! Get up off the ground and swing. Marc shows us how, vocally and with the necessary hardware, on LAZY BONES:
FUTURISTIC JUNGLEISM needs no exegesis, and might baffle anyone attempting to offer one:
WHEN FRANCIS DANCES WIH ME is a 1921 song recorded by Billy Murray and Ada Jones, then by the Andrews Sisters. I’m only sorry that our Katie left out these deathless lyrics from the second chorus — a natural segue into the Reynolds Brothers’ rendition of FAT AND GREASY, referring to the stylish Francis: “His hair shines like diamonds, he combs it with fat / He wears a Palm Beach and a brown derby hat / Now you know a guy can’t look better than that“:
A delightful Thirties pickup song (earlier than REMEMBER ME) on the immortal theme of “Hey, cutie! Look over here! Pay attention to me!” — PARDON ME, PRETTY BABY:
Ralf teaches us Official History with the assistance of Professors Berry and Razaf . . . and listen to how the brass leaps in after the vocal on CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS:
A plunger-muted SOME OF THESE DAYS featuring the multi-talented Mister Baker on clarinet, trombone, and vocal. Ralf could no longer endure the fact that washboards are not equipped with plunger mutes — look closely at around the five-minute mark:
With this Fats Waller song, the question is moot. Or perhaps rhetorical. AIN’T ‘CHA GLAD? I know I am:
“I keep cheerful on an earful / Of music sweet.” HAPPY FEET:
How to spend a Saturday night — deep in riffs! And I’ll next hear the Brothers (and Friends) at the San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival . . . this November. Look-a-here, as Fats would say —SAN DIEGO!