Tag Archives: Jon-Erik Kellso

MURRAY WALL, RESONANT (January 30, 2020)

I started writing this post about ten days ago and wrote several mournful paragraphs to begin, then thought, “I should put this aside for a bit,” as one does. I came back to it, reread it, and thought, “If Murray read this, he would perhaps say, with a gentle tilt of his eyebrow, ‘Really, Michael,’ and then pause for more than four bars, so that I would know I had been excessive. So since he created joy, I will cut to the music, which is joyous.

But first, as they say, here is the most detailed obituary for Murray:

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, August 27, 2022

Played bass for some of the great jazz musicians

(JAMES) MURRAY WALL September 28, 1945-July 18, 2022

Murray Wall, one of Australia’s most highly regarded jazz musicians, has died in New York City after a short illness. Originally from Melbourne, yet largely unknown in this country, Wall lived and worked for almost 50 years in New York. Over his lifetime, he played and toured with some of the world’s greatest jazz musicians including Benny Goodman, Barry Harris, Jon Hendricks, Eartha Kitt, Clark Terry, Anita O’Day, Billy Eckstine and Mel Torme.

Wall was born in Melbourne and grew up in the bayside suburb of Sandringham. In 1955, at the age of 10, his sister Sheila took him to a Nat King Cole concert at Festival Hall, a performance he would later credit as having inspired in him a life-long love of music. He was largely self-taught and learned jazz by playing along to records by Oscar Pettiford, Ray Bryant, and Lester Young. He also studied classical double-bass with Marion Brajsa, the principal bassist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Wall began playing professionally in 1962, working in dance bands with his brother Richard before progressing to performing and recording music in the Melbourne jazz scene. In 1969, he moved to Sydney to play bass in the first Australian production of Hair at the Metro Theatre in Kings Cross. Having established himself as a professional musician, he soon became an in-demand bass player for visiting American musicians such as Clark Terry, Billy Eckstine, and Mel Torme.

In 1979, Wall moved to New York and began studying improvisation with the jazz pianist, Lennie Tristano. In the early 1980s, he was invited by the legendary swing band leader Benny Goodman to join his group and continued performing with him until Goodman’s final gig the night before his death in 1986.

Wall was based in New York for his most of his working life and played with some of the most respected musicians including Ken Peplowski, Marty Grosz, Keith Ingham, Frank Vignola, Chuck Wilson, Buck Clayton, Eddie Locke, Claude Williams, Richard Wyands, Grover Mitchell, Kenny Davern, Warne Marsh, Dave Van Ronk, and Spanky Davis. He was also a regular player at Barry Harris’ renowned weekly jazz masterclasses.

Wall was hugely respected for his peerless musicianship and melodic playing as well as his friendship and camaraderie that made him widely liked and sought after by band leaders. He was generous with his time in helping younger players and Australian jazz musicians on pilgrimages to New York would seek him out for his anecdotes and advice. He was a working musician until the end and kept a regular gig at the 11th St. Bar until shortly before his death.

Wall is survived by his wife Diana, daughter Gabrielle and stepson Alexis, grandchildren Raphael and Olga, brother Richard and sister Sheila and their extended families in Australia.

Written by Guy Freer and his wife, Gabrielle, Wall’s daughter.

That’s one way to sum up Murray, beautifully. Here are four more: portraits in sound, where he is joined by Joe Cohn, Scott Robinson, and Jon-Erik Kellso on January 30, 2020.

For Hoagy, Louis, Jack, Mildred, and others, ROCKIN’ CHAIR:

THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE:

I FOUND A NEW BABY:

CREOLE LOVE CALL:

Thank you, Murray, and resonant gentlemen. Your sounds will vibrate forever.

May your happiness increase!

MURRAY WALL, AMONG FRIENDS, MAKING DEEP SOUNDS (JON-ERIK KELLSO, SCOTT ROBINSON, JOE COHN, Cafe Bohemia, January 30, 2020)

Murray Wall, 2016

Deep. Spiritually deep. Sonically deep. Melodic, lyrical, playful, emotive yet compact. Those are the sounds Murray Wall made on the string bass. Here he is surrounded by friends, colleagues, admirers, peers: Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Scott Robinson, reeds; Joe Cohn, guitar. All of this took place on a pre-pandemic Thursday night at Cafe Bohemia, 15 Barrow Street, Greenwich Village, New York City.

Cafe Bohemia, 15 Barrow Street, Greenwich Village, New York City

And the song Louis chose to keep it rolling:

Murray, you remain in our ears and our hearts. I forego the usual closing flourishes.

May your happiness increase!

HONORING THE IRREPLACEABLE MURRAY WALL, CONTINUED: TED BROWN, MICHAEL KANAN, TARO OKAMOTO (Kitano Hotel) and JON-ERIK KELLSO, SCOTT ROBINSON, JOE COHN (Cafe Bohemia), 2011, 2020

Murray, 2016

Before we start, on Monday, August 22, 2022, there will be a celebration of Murray Wall’s life and music at the 11th Street Bar in New York City (510 East 11th Street, between Avenues A and B, where Murray and Richard Clements co-led a band for a long memorable time. The website says 7:00 to midnight; the bar does not take reservations, and I won’t be in New York, so any video documentation will be by someone else. (Will someone take that unadorned hint?)

But the best way to love Murray is not in memory but in actuality; I want to do that here.

Let’s go back to January 12, 2011, for the momentous occasion of tenor saxophonist Ted Brown’s first gig as a leader in forty years. It happened at the Kitano Hotel, and Ted was joined by Murray, string bass; Michael Kanan, piano; Taro Okamoto, drums.

FEATHER BED (Ted’s line on YOU’D BE SO NICE TO COME HOME TO):

and LULLABY OF THE LEAVES:

HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN? — those loving questions answered in sound and feeling:

GONE WITH THE WIND:

and finally, a performance that Murray doesn’t play on — a duet between Ted and Michael on PRISONER OF LOVE — but you’ll permit me to imagine him at a table near the band, listening and admiring, as we all were:

And something lovely that only a few people who weren’t at 15 Barrow Street, New York, on January 30, 2020, have experienced — I’LL NEVER BE THE SAME, performed by Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Scott Robinson, tenor saxophone; Joe Cohn, guitar, and Murray:

Murray Wall improved the spiritual landscape for anyone who knew him, even casually, and his art continues to do so today. I will have more to share with you.

May your happiness increase!

LOVE-NOTES FROM MURRAY WALL, CONTINUED: JON-ERIK KELLSO, SCOTT ROBINSON, JOE COHN (Cafe Bohemia, January 30, 2020)

Murray Wall, irreplaceable musician and man, moved to another neighborhood last month.

Here is my first posting in his honor. There will be more.

When dear and memorable people leave the planet, we don’t stop missing them in a few weeks, a few years, ever. Their absence is palpable, as was their singular presence. Murray was sweetly modest and utterly swinging; he created a beautiful foundation no matter what the context.

Here he is with Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Scott Robinson, reeds; Joe Cohn, guitar, on a Thursday night set (January 30, 2020) at Cafe Bohemia on Barrow Street in Greenwich Village, New York:

He sent love to us; I hope he knows that love was and is sent in return, in profusion.

May your happiness increase!

THE SOUNDS THEY SWUNG LAST SUMMER: The EarRegulars at The Ear Out: JON-ERIK KELLSO, MATT MUNISTERI, JAY RATTMAN, TAL RONEN, JOSH DUNN (June 6, 2021)

A swing shrine en plein air.

A sweet and hot experience from a world in transition, in parole, as it were. Music beyond compare amidst strollers, chatters, and puppies on leash. Marvelous that it happened, and thrilling that it happened in a time and place that I and the OAO could visit. And we brought back souvenirs for you.

Here’s a rocking Louis performance that continues to inspire: ONCE IN A WHILE, with memories of Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five, performed on June 6, 2021, at The Ear Out — 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York — by the EarRegulars, who were Jon-Erik Kellso, Puje trumpet; Jay Rattman, clarinet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Tal Ronen, string bass, and guest Josh Dunn, guitar (Josh takes the first solo, and in the Louis spirit, note Jay’s WEST END BLUES at the end of his solo (2:31)).

ONCE IN A WHILE, indeed, magic filled the air. Thanks to technology (a completely obsolete Panasonic HD video camera and very solicitous RODE microphone on a reliable tripod) it can be revisited at leisure.

May your happiness increase!

IT’S ALLRED WITH US: The EarRegulars featuring BILL and JOHN ALLRED, JON-ERIK KELLSO, MATT MUNISTERI, PAT O’LEARY at The Ear Out, with an unscheduled cameo appearance by THE SIREN (October 17, 2021)

The summer of 2021 was memorable in many ways for jazz lovers in New York City. A resurrection of sorts, if you will. And one of the most endearing manifestations of that coming-alive impulse was the space outside of The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York, on Sunday afternoons, where The EarRegulars made us all feel joyous and free, once again. (They are back to their regular Sunday-night revival meetings, from about 8 to about 11 PM: superb community and surprises galore.)

October 17, 2021, was one of those surprises, when Bill and John Allred, father and son trombonists, got together to add to The EarRegulars, who were Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Pat O’Leary, heroic warrior [to be explained below] and string bass. What Bill and John do together is part practice, part telepathy, and wholly gratifying. And The EarRegulars are always living examples of thoughtful swing, in solo and ensemble.

Here’s Irving Berlin’s ALWAYS:

and the affirmation of romantic commitment:

and — under the heading IF YOU CAN MAKE IT HERE, YOU’LL MAKE IT ANYWHERE, the heroic battle of Pat O’Leary versus The Siren:

We had a wonderful time, out there in the fresh air and bright sunshine. Memorable hours among friends and the best sounds. And it still is happening Sunday nights, so come visit.

May your happiness increase!

I’LL HEAR THIS IN MY DREAMS: DAN BARRETT, JON-ERIK KELLSO, SCOTT ROBINSON, BOB REITMEIER, ALEX HOFFMAN, ROSSANO SPORTIELLO, JON BURR, PETE SIERS (Jazz at Chautauqua, September 20, 2012)

Where it happened!

I think of this as the Jazz at Chautauqua Thursday Night All-Star Jam Band, and after you hear and see them for nine minutes I predict you will understand why.

Thursday night sessions, before the jazz weekend began, were loose swinging affairs in the Athenaeum Hotel parlor, where we sat at the same level as the musicians (rather than below them in a large ballroom) and all kinds of good things happened, as they did on September 20, 2012.

Here are Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Scott Robinson, cornet; Dan Barrett, trombone; Bob Reitmeier, clarinet; Alex Hoffman, tenor saxophone; Rossano Sportiello, piano; Jon Burr, string bass; Pete Siers, drums, romping on I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS, which begins in the most sweetly exalted 1936 Teddy Wilson style. Imperishable. I can’t watch it only once. And to list all the delights would take away your pleasure in finding them, so get ready to compile your own list of astonishments:

That kind of performance — expertise, wit, enthusiasm, joy — happens often when musicians of this caliber gather and the cosmic vibrations are right, but to me this is a perfectly memorable interlude, one I treasure.

Thanks to the musicians and to the late Joe Boughton, the emperor of rare songs, swing, and good feeling.

May your happiness increase!

GEORGE AVAKIAN PRESENTS “ONE STEP TO CHICAGO: THE LEGACY OF FRANK TESCHEMACHER and THE AUSTIN HIGH GANG”: DICK HYMAN, KENNY DAVERN, DAN LEVINSON, PETER ECKLUND, DICK SUDHALTER, JON-ERIK KELLSO, DAN BARRETT, KEN PEPLOWSKI, BOB HAGGART, MILT HINTON, VINCE GIORDANO, MARTY GROSZ, HOWARD ALDEN, ARNIE KINSELLA, TONY DeNICOLA (Rivermont Records, recorded July 31, 1992)

Three I’s: IMPORTANT, IRREPLACEABLE, and INEXPENSIVE.

But I’ll let Dan Levinson explain it all to us.

In 1992, legendary record producer George Avakian produced an album in homage to the pioneers of 1920s Chicago Jazz, known as The Austin High Gang, who had been among his most powerful influences when his love for jazz was developing. Those pioneers included Frank Teschemacher, Eddie Condon, Jimmy McPartland, Bud Freeman, Muggsy Spanier, Joe Sullivan, Gene Krupa, and others. Avakian’s 1992 recording featured two bands: one, directed by pianist Dick Hyman, which played Hyman’s note-for-note re-creations of the original recordings; and a second band, led by clarinetist Kenny Davern, which played its own interpretations of songs associated with the Chicago Jazz style, keeping the SPIRIT of the original artists close at hand. I was in the Teschemacher role in Hyman’s band, and had never been in a recording studio before. Avakian financed the whole project, but, sadly, was never able to find a label that was wiling to reimburse his cost and put the album out. The last time I went to visit George, in June of 2017, I asked him about the album again. Then 98 years old, he was clearly disappointed that it never came out, and he asked me to continue his search for a label and to “get it issued”. I exhausted my resources at the time, and wasn’t able to make it happen before George passed away several months later. Three years later, Bryan Wright, founder of Rivermont Records, rode in to save the day. And this month – thirty years after the original recording session took place – Avakian’s dream project is finally coming out on Bryan’s label as “One Step to Chicago: The Legacy of Frank Teschemacher and The Austin High Gang”. Bryan has – literally – spared no expense in assembling a beautiful package, which is actually a CD inside a booklet rather than a booklet inside a CD. I’ve written extensive liner notes detailing every aspect of the project, and there are also written contributions from author/record producer Hank O’Neal, guitarist Marty Grosz, and drummer Hal Smith, a specialist in Chicago Jazz style. I was able to track down the original photos from the recording session, and Bryan’s booklet includes a generous selection of them. I want to gratefully acknowledge the help of archivist Matt Snyder, cover artist Joe Busam (who designed the album cover based on Avakian’s 1940 78rpm album “Decca Presents an Album of Chicago Jazz”), the family of George Avakian, Hank O’Neal, Maggie Condon, and the New York Public Library, whose help in making this happen was invaluable. The album features a truly spectacular lineup of artists, including, in various combinations: Peter Ecklund, Jon-Erik Kellso, Dick Sudhalter, Dan Barrett, Ken Peplowski, Dick Hyman, Marty Grosz, Howard Alden, Bob Haggart, Milt Hinton, Vince Giordano, Arnie Kinsella, and Tony DeNicola.

The CD and digital download are available on the Rivermont Records website here. A vinyl version – a two-record set, in fact – will be available later this month.

And here is Rivermont founder (and superb pianist) Bryan Wright’s story of ONE STEP TO CHICAGO.

The details.

“Dick Hyman and his Frank Teschemacher Celebration Band” (Ecklund, Sudhalter, Kellso, Barrett, Levinson, Peplowski, Hyman, Grosz, Haggart, Giordano, Kinsella) play / recreate classic Chicago recordings from the Golden Era of free-wheeling jazz: ONE STEP TO HEAVEN / SUGAR / I’VE FOUND A NEW BABY / CHINA BOY / LIZA (Condon, not Gershwin) / SHIM-ME-SHA-WABBLE: eighteen minutes in the most divine Hot Time Machine.

and “Kenny Davern and his Windy City Stompers” (Davern, Kellso, Barrett, Hyman, Alden, Hinton, DeNicola) going for themselves on THE DARKTOWN STRUTTERS’ BALL / WABASH BLUES / NOBODY’S SWEETHEART / THE JAZZ ME BLUES / BABY, WON’T YOU PLEASE COME HOME? / INDIANA.

and — a bonus — a nearly nine-minute excursion on FAREWELL BLUES by the combined bands.

But I can hear someone saying, “Enough with the facts. How does it SOUND, Michael?” To which I respond without hesitation, “It sounds terrific. Finest kind. It delivers the goods — sonically, emotionally, and heatedly.”

I will give pride of place to the writers / scholars whose words and reminiscences fill the eighty-page booklet (complete with wonderful photographs) Dick Hyman, Hank O’Neal, Dan Levinson, Hal Smith, and Marty Grosz, explain and elucidate, as they do beautifully, the roles of George Avakian, Eddie Condon, Bix Beiderbecke, and two dozen other saints of Hot. That booklet is both perceptive and unabashed in its love for the people and the sounds, and it is more than worth the price of admission. Unlike much jazz writing about the hallowed past, it is also delightfully free of hyperbole and something I will politely call hooey.

The CD — aside from the booklet — has two wonderful selves. The first six performances are evocations of the original, classic, recordings, with musicians who know the originals by heart working from expert transcriptions by the Master, Dick Hyman. The business of “re-creation” is difficult, and I have gotten into trouble in the past when pointing out that in some cases it feels impossible. Great art comes hot from the toaster; it is innovative, imagined for the first time in those minutes in the recording studio. So re-creation requires both deep emotional understanding of the individuals involved, the aesthetic air they breathed, and expert sleight-of-hand to make a listener believe they are hearing the ghost of Tesch rather than someone dressed up as Tesch for Halloween.

But the re-creations on this disc are as satisfying as any I’ve heard, more than simply playing the dots on the page, but dramatically assuming the characters of the heroes we revere. They are passionate rather than stiff, and wonderfully translucent: when Ken Peplowski plays a Bud Freeman chorus, we hear both Bud and Ken trotting along in delightful parallel.

I confess that the second half of this disc makes my eyes bright and my tail wag: it isn’t “hell-for-leather” or “take no prisoners,” or whatever cliches you like to characterize the appearance of reckless abandon. What it presents is a group of sublime improvisers bringing all their knowledge and heart to the classics of the past, playing their personalities in the best ways. And each selection reminds us that however “hot” the Chicagoans prided themselves on being, lyricism was at the heart of their performances. I cherish INDIANA, performed at a rhythm-ballad tempo by Kenny Davern, Howard Alden, Milt Hinton, and Tony DiNicola, and the other band selections are full of surprises, pleasing and reassuring both. The closing FAREWELL BLUES has all the joy of a Condon Town Hall concert, and that is no small accomplishment.

And I can’t leave this without noting how lovely the recorded sound is — applause for David Baker, Malcolm Addey, and Peter Karl. I’ve heard more than two-thirds of these performers live, often at very close range, and this disc captures their sounds, their subtleties so marvelously.

This disc is a treasure-box of sounds and homages, with lively music from present company. I predict it will spread joy, and my only encouragement would be for people to for once shun the download, because they won’t get the book. It’s the Library of Alexandria transported to 35th and Calumet.

And here are some sound samples so no one need feel that they are purchasing on faith, although faith in these musicians and these producers would be wholly warranted.

May your happiness increase!

ON THE BANKS OF THE WABASH, FAR AWAY: JON-ERIK KELLSO, DENNIS LICHTMAN, JOSH DUNN, JARED ENGEL (Cafe Bohemia, December 12, 2019)

Cafe Bohemia, 15 Barrow Street, Greenwich Village, New York City

For about six months — September 2019 to March 2020 — much longer than one brief shining moment, we had Cafe Bohemia, downstairs at 15 Barrow Street, Greenwich Village, New York City. And on Thursday nights, if I recall correctly, the Cafe Bohemia All-Stars, led by Jon-Erik Kellso (“You know them, you love them.”) took the stage.

Here’s a particularly sinuous and searching WABASH BLUES, performed by Jon-Erik, Puje trumpet; Dennis Lichtman, clarinet; Josh Dunn, guitar; Jared Engel, string bass.

The photograph shows the Wabash River in Indiana.

This memorable performance doesn’t make me want to book a flight to the Wabash River, but it certainly makes me wish that we could have those Bohemia nights back.

May your happiness increase!

MARTY GROSZ AND HIS CHICAGOANS, SWEET AND HOT: JAMES DAPOGNY, JON-ERIK KELLSO, DAN BARRETT, DAN LEVINSON, SCOTT ROBINSON, JON BURR, PETE SIERS (Cleveland Classic Jazz Party, September 19, 2014)

Martin Oliver Grosz by Lynn Redmile

Here’s a location in space and time where the past and present embrace, each retaining all their distinguishing features. That is, Marty Grosz, guitar, vocal, and erudition, leading an ensemble at the 2014 Cleveland Classic Jazz Party in the song first introduced by Ethel Waters, SUGAR, that was then taken up by the Austin High Gang for their 1927 record date as “McKenzie and Condon’s Chicagoans.”

The noble creators are Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Dan Barrett, trombone; Dan Levinson, tenor saxophone; Scott Robinson, taragoto; James Dapogny, piano; Jon Burr, string bass; Pete Siers, drums.

It’s clearly impromptu (but all the great performances were in some part) from Marty’s heartfelt rubato solo chorus to the split-chorus solos with special reverence for James Dapogny’s piano in glittering solo and supportive ensemble. It’s confectionary. And memorable.

Incidentally, if, after enjoying Marty and his pals, you need more sugar in your bowl, try Ethel’s version, Louis’, and the Lee Wiley – Muggsy Spanier – Jess Stacy one. And of course the McKenzie-Condon version, which is playing in my mental jukebox as I type. Then follow your own impulses to heated sweetness.

May your happiness increase!

WHERE THE RENO CLUB MEETS FILM NOIR: “BEALE STREET BLUES,” by The EarRegulars: JON-ERIK KELLSO, MATT MUNISTERI, DUKE HEITGER, HARVEY TIBBS, DAN BLOCK, NEAL MINER (The Ear Inn, June 7, 2009)

I missed out on the Reno Club, and Fifty-Second Street transformed downwards years before my birth, but there are serious compensations. I did and do have The Ear Inn (and so do you) where The EarRegulars have been playing every Sunday night from 8-11 PM since the summer of 2007. 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City.

This is one of the earliest videos I shot there . . . at a time when YouTube allowed posters to take dark-hued video and change it into black-and-white. So we have my version of film noir, bowing to Ida Lupino, to the Reno Club, to wartime Greenwich Village jazz, to building intensity through backgrounds and riffs. All priceless.

Fault-finders are encouraged to floss with a cactus needle, then take Nipper out for a constitutional.

The song? Handy’s BEALE STREET BLUES. The performers? Jon-Erik Kellso, Puje; Duke Heitger, trumpet; Harvey Tibbs, trombone; Dan Block, clarinet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Neal Miner, string bass. Heroes all. They know what to do — no one needs a GPS — and they do it beautifully, individually and collectively. And they know how to sustain and build a mood, gently but dramatically, for twelve minutes.

And, yes, such things are still possible. But you do have to get out of your chair and find them where they are happening . . . real players, too substantial for any lit screen. Bless them when you see and hear them, too.

May your happiness increase!

DOWNSTAIRS JOYS AT 15 BARROW STREET: JON-ERIK KELLSO, EVAN ARNTZEN, ALBANIE FALLETTA, JEN HODGE (Cafe Bohemia, January 9, 2020)

Cafe Bohemia, 15 Barrow Street, Greenwich Village, New York City c. 2020.

“On the night in question,” as they say on police procedural television shows, Jen Hodge, string bass, and Albanie Falletta, resonator guitar:

Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet, and Evan Arntzen, clarinet:
Magic grooving, one flight down:

I recently uncovered much more music from this night — before the world went into its nightmarish nap — and hope to share it with you. What wonders were created! And, fortunately for us, the four heroes are alive and well and playing / singing beautifully today.

May your happiness increase!

ALL AGLOW IN THE DARK: TAMAR KORN, MARK SHANE, JON-ERIK KELLSO, KEVIN DORN (Cellar Dog, March 16, 2022)

Memorable music flourishes in the most unlikely situations. Cellar Dog (once Fat Cat) at 75 Christopher Street, is dark — and the happy crowd of young people playing ping-pong and other indoor sports can sometimes be, let us say, overly conversational. But one’s eye and ear get used to these imperfections: the world isn’t a concert hall. The delightfully shaded music comes right through, as it did on the evening of March 16, 2022, when Tamar Korn, voice; Mark Shane, piano; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Kevin Dorn, drums, came out of the darkness to embrace us. And the ping-pong players were dancing at their tables, so they heard it too.

BIG CITY BLUES:

CLOSE YOUR EYES:

and, cosmologically, with an “oration” from essayist-philosopher Michael Ventura, Tamar and the band soar HOW HIGH THE MOON:

An absolutely delightful musical evening. Elsewhere on this blog I have posted three instrumentals by the Kellso-Shane-Dorn powerhouse, and Tamar’s completely touching performances of ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? and YOUNG AT HEART. Watch, marvel, and be there in spirit.

May your happiness increase!

“MY NEW RECRUIT IS MIGHTY SWEET AND CUTE,” THE ROMANTIC MISTER MORTON: JON-ERIK KELLSO, HARVEY TIBBS, MATT MUNISTERI, NEAL MINER (The Ear Out, October 3, 2021)

At the end of last summer, one of the great pleasures was the Sunday sessions created by the EarRegulars outside of the Ear Inn on 326 Spring Street. I’ve been sending their wonderful music out slowly, a performance at a time, hoping to come to the end of the 2021 gifts as the 2022 summer sessions begin again. Cue Helen Humes singing I CAN DREAM, CAN’T I?

On October 3, the EarRegulars were Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Harvey Tibbs, trombone; Neal Miner, string bass. And here they are musing their way, collectively and singly, through Jelly Roll Morton’s SWEET SUBSTITUTE, with delicacy and fervor:

Accept no substitutes. Ask for The EarRegulars wherever better music can be found. (They have resumed their Sunday evening sessions indoors, from 8-11, loosely, and those gatherings at 326 Spring Street are also life-changing, in subtle ways.)

May your happiness increase!

“HERE IS THE BEST PART”: TAMAR KORN, JON-ERIK KELLSO, MARK SHANE, KEVIN DORN (Cellar Dog, March 16, 2022)

It’s never seemed more accurate. Thank you, Tamar, Jon-Erik, Mark, and Kevin. Thank you, Johnny Richards (music) and Carolyn Leigh (lyrics):

Fairy tales CAN come true.

May your happiness increase!

HOTNESS IN THE DARKNESS: JON-ERIK KELLSO, MARK SHANE, KEVIN DORN (Cellar Dog, March 16, 2022)

I’m here to share pleasures: on March 16th, otherwise an ordinary Wednesday night, the OAO and I witnessed a memorable musical constellation. It took place in the darkness, but darkness is not the enemy of swing. Billed as the Tamar Korn Quartet (at Cellar Dog, 75 Christopher Street, Greenwich Village, New York City) it was Tamar, magnificently herself; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Mark Shane, piano; Kevin Dorn, drums. It’s been my good fortune to know and hear all of them, separately and together, for years. Inspiration was evident, and good feeling.

Three times during the night, Tamar suggested that they trio have an instrumental interlude, opportunities that were memorable from the first bar.

For their first performance, Mark chose the Dietz-Schwartz affirmation (think Fred Astaire, think Henry “Red” Allen): SHINE ON YOUR SHOES:

Then, the very friendly-reliable EXACTLY LIKE YOU (I missed the first seconds, and apologize for it):

and the (musical) question I hope my readers don’t have to ask, WHAT’S THE REASON (I’M NOT PLEASIN’ YOU)?:

And because Tamar sang, acted, danced, so wonderfully, I call your attention to the wonderful song she sang at the start:

They were wonderful. They are wonderful. And there will be more music from this glorious below-stairs event to share with you.

May your happiness increase!

“WHERE SHALL I GO?”: JON-ERIK KELLSO, HARVEY TIBBS, MATT MUNISTERI, NEAL MINER (The Ear Out, October 3, 2021)

“Where shall I go?” seems one of the deepest questions we can ask ourselves, perhaps because the answer is always tinged with “I have no idea,” and it then opens into “How did I get here?” “What am I supposed to be doing?” “Can I make sense of this day / my time on the planet?” Lucky are the people who KNOW their path: “After work I’m going to Target to get some new clothes for the kids, and then home, and tomorrow is another day.”

Fortunately for us, the plaintive SONG OF THE WANDERER — which I always hear, in my mind’s ear, Helen Humes singing — can stand alone without such existential ruminations as a swinging expression of the simple joy of making the best sounds, in company or alone. That’s what happened at The Ear Out (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City) last October 3, when the EarRegulars — then Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet, Matt Munisteri, guitar, Harvey Tibbs, trombone, and Neal Miner, string bass, got together to explore the song:

Those four heroes sure as anything know where they are going, and what a gift it is that they take us along.

May your happiness increase!

“MOVING SHADOWS WRITE THE OLDEST MAGIC WORD”: TAMAR KORN, JON-ERIK KELLSO, MARK SHANE, KEVIN DORN (Cellar Dog, March 16, 2022)

The basement venue formerly known as FAT CAT (75 Christopher Street, Greenwich Village, New York City) reopened in July 2021 as CELLAR DOG, cleaned up and refurbished — a great gift to us. Here’s a brief 360-degree video that sums up the cheerful ambiance of the place:

But this is not a crabby elder’s post about Those Young People, because their fun makes wonderful music possible. Last Wednesday night when the Tamar Korn Quartet appeared — Tamar, singing, dancing, theatre, joy; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Mark Shane, piano; Kevin Dorn, drums — the OAO whispered that people were dancing at their ping-pong tables, something that makes me happy and hopeful.

The “stage lighting” for the band is almost nonexistent, but remember what Dante took three volumes to tell us, that we must descend into darkness to rise into paradise. And paradise is what these four bright sparks created for us all evening.

I will never forget this performance: Tamar’s brave sweet first chorus, and then, after the modulation, how she plays with the words and melody as if she were stretching clay or kneading dough. When the late Sam Parkins first saw Tamar, he told me that she “got him right in the gizzard,” in the same way as Louis and Caruso. That wasn’t hyperbole. And the lovely work of Jon-Erik, Mark, and Kevin — listening, urging on, responding, lighting the way for all of us.

Isn’t it romantic? Do we even need to ask the question? And there are more glorious interludes to come.

May your happiness increase!

CAHIERS DU CINEMA, or REVISITING PLEASURE: JON-ERIK KELLSO, DAN BLOCK, JAMES DAPOGNY, NICKI PARROTT at the CLEVELAND CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (September 12, 2015)

Playful heroic figures: Jim Dapogny, Jon-Erik Kellso, Dan Block, Nicki Parrott

There’s a brief story behind this post, but you can skip forward to the wonderful music, performed at the 2015 Cleveland Classic Jazz Party by Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Dan Block, tenor saxophone and clarinet; James Dapogny, piano; Nicki Parrott, string bass. My friend and videographer Laura Wyman (of WYMAN VIDEO) were both at this party, with cameras, tripods, batteries, all the detritus of the profession, and we both eagerly recorded this session: four of our heroes stretching out in the nicest ways. I had the videos in my archives, unseen, and thought to release them to the eager public, and got permission to do so, and then saw that I had publicized Laura’s versions on this blog in 2015 here . . . but saw that those videos had not been seen by the thousands of viewers they deserved. So here is my exercise in — archaeology? — comparative cinematography? — or simply spreading joy. You pick. And here, as if we needed them, are three more reasons to miss Jim Dapogny terribly.

The first is Irving Berlin’s RUSSIAN LULLABY (and, even given the political climate of March 2022, please don’t boycott this performance):

ISHAM JONES’ pretty ON THE ALAMO:

Finally, revenge and remorse, thanks to Harry Ruby and Gus Kahn, WHO’S SORRY NOW?:

Gratitude and blessings to Laura, the four inventive marvels on the stand, and to Nancy Hancock Griffith and her mother for making all of this happen in Cleveland, not that many years ago.

May your happiness increase!

ON THE STREET WHERE THEY SWING: JON-ERIK KELLSO, MATT MUNISTERI, PAT O’LEARY, BILL ALLRED (The Ear Out, October 17, 2021)

This.

Here.

Last summer’s blissful Sunday sanctuary for all wise enough to visit.

My sources tell me that this is the official fight song — composed in 1910 — of Washington and Lee University. It was also the song that Jon-Erik Kellso played with his high school marching band, if my sources are correct. And I believe there were Allen Park alumnae in the audience on this balmy October 17, 2021, afternoon — outdoors at The Ear Out, 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City. The brilliant players are Jon-Erik, trumpet; Bill Allred, trombone; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Pat O’Leary, string bass. Notable highlights here are Jon-Erik’s soliloquy for buzz mute, Bill trading phrases with the rhythm section, Matt’s ringing single notes, Pat’s eloquent swinging comedy:

Two weeks from now, more or less, the calendar says it’s Spring. Can these outdoor rambles be far behind? They made a post-pandemic paradise for us. We live in hope. Always

May your happiness increase!

CANINE CAPERS: JON-ERIK KELLSO, HARVEY TIBBS, MATT MUNISTERI, NEAL MINER (The Ear Out, October 3, 2021)

Mr. Marcus Comba-Sullivan of Virginia, a loyal reader.

No, this post isn’t about cross-species jam sessions.

But the material chosen for the group improvisation in the October afternoon sunshine was Herschel Evans’ DOGGIN’ AROUND, a line on familiar chords much beloved by the 1938 Count Basie band. The wonderfully skilled musicians — a pocket orchestra with the delicacy and force of the Basie band transported decades forward — are Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Harvey Tibbs, trombone; Neal Miner, string bass. Expertly capering.

Marcus has given the paw: he approves, and we surely do.

May your happiness increase!

“EXACTLY!”: JON-ERIK KELLSO, BILL ALLRED, MATT MUNISTERI, PAT O’LEARY at The Ear Out (10.17.21)

Thank you, Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields, for one of the most durable swing-songs and love songs (also the harmonic basis of TAKE THE “A” TRAIN), the 1930 EXACTLY LIKE YOU. It became an international hit early — Tom Lord’s online jazz discography lists more than 800 versions, and while I am writing this, some band is playing it and someone’s singing it.

Notice that ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET came from the same show:

Speaking of “some band,” we are fortunate that The EarRegulars chose to take EXACTLY for a stroll on one of their outdoor revival-meetings at The Ear Out (I am not alone in hoping that they resume this spring) on October 17, 2021. The nimble participants are Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Pat O’Leary, string bass; Bill Allred, trombone:

Since I am now at a point in my life where “I know why I waited / Know why I’ve been blue / Waited, dear, for someone EXACTLY LIKE YOU” has more meaning, I am even more in favor of swinging renditions like this one. Ex-actly. But enough about me. Listen once, listen again.

May your happiness increase!