Tag Archives: Jon Penn

ANYONE CAN PLAY FAST, BUT IT TAKES YEARS TO UNDERSTAND HOW TO PLAY SLOWLY (MENNO DAAMS, TORSTEIN KUBBAN, LARS FRANK, JON PENN: Newcastle, November 5, 2016) — and a PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

The v.memorable decor at the Village Hotel.

The song is MEMORIES OF YOU, and this is a performance to remember. It took place after the scheduled musical events had concluded at the 2016 Whitley Bay International Jazz Party, held at the Village Hotel in Newcastle, UK.

Fast tempos wow the crowd, but I think most musicians would agree with me that slow tempos are much harder to handle with coherence, variety, and feeling. When the bars are going along like telephone poles out the window, one can simply rely on learned patterns and hang on. Some trumpet players, and I think of Rex Stewart, play faster as the tempo increases; some, like mid-period Louis (hear the 1932-33 Victors) know that whole notes and “long tones” convey intense emotional messages.

Thus it is with this performance: it has its own sustained beauty — no one plays double-time; they let the emotions unfold. Directly in front of my camera was Menno Daams, cornet; to his left, a string bassist whose name I did not learn; Torstein Kubban, trumpet; Lars Frank, tenor saxophone; Jon Penn, keyboard. And although one might associate this Eubie Blake – Noble Sissle evergreen with Benny Goodman, there is Louis in the air — but more so, I am reminded of a Jerry Newman recording from some undocumented early morning in 1941 at Minton’s. Hawkins is here, and so is Frank Newton. At least in my imagination. V.beautiful, as we say at the Village Hotel (with a big wave of my hand to my honoured friend Nicholas D. Ball):

There is drama here, and passion, but no rush: these musicians know (and feel) how to take time to let beauty unfold on its own terms. Even in the pub.

Now for the Public Service Announcement. I began publishing this blog in February 2008, which is an infinity of delighted keystrokes and videos ago. During the pandemic, I felt it was my responsibility to add joy to the air by posting every day. I hope many of you can say along with me, “I have come out of my house. I am less afraid. My life has expanded.” Instead of spending eight hours a day in front of this lit screen, I have returned to a life that resembles the one I cherished sixteen months ago. So this is only to say I am reverting to a summer schedule . . . a day might go by without a post. This is not to cause alarm, but it is a sign that your faithful blogger might have gotten home late from a concert in New Jersey or dinner in Brooklyn and not be up to posting a new blog that day. I don’t intend to stop . . . but this is just to let my faithful, sometimes anxious audience know that if there is no blogpost that day, I am not in the ER.

The blog has been an instrument, rather like a spiritual megaphone, through which I could send love and gratitude, often in the form of music, and I have gotten it back so wonderfully for thirteen years. I am not quitting, but don’t worry if I play hookey (or even hooky). There are something like five thousand blogposts stored here: you might be able to amuse yourself while I am capering in the sunshine (or eating something with capers.) Love, Michael

May your happiness increase!

“I’D LOVE IT”: WHITLEY BAY JOYS — 2011, 2012, 2013 . . . !

I’ve attended the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party for the last few years . . . and always had an extraordinary experience . . . meeting and hearing players who don’t often make it to the United States, including Jean-Francois Bonnel, Bent Persson, Frans Sjostrom, Michel Bastide, Nick Ward, Norman Field, Spats Langham, Michael McQuaid, John Scurry, Jason Downes, Matthias Seuffert, Enrico Tomasso, Jacob Ullberger, and two dozen other luminaries — even musicians from the US I don’t encounter often enough, such as Andy Schumm, Josh Duffee, and Jeff Barnhart.

The 2012 Jazz Party is sold out, but if you want a portable audio sampling of the 2011 Party, I urge you to snap up a copy of this limited edition CD . . . only 100 copies were produced.

The CD was recorded live at the 2011 Party by Torstein Kubban, and features this stellar assortment of players: Michel Bastide, Mike Durham, Bent Persson, Andy Schumm, Enrico Tomasso, Andy Woon, Alistair Allan, Kristoffer Kompen, Paul Munnery, David Sager, Steve Andrews, Bernard Anetherieu, Michel Bescont, Jean-Francois Bonnel, Norman Field, Mauro Porro, Matthias Seuffert, Paul Asaro, Jon Penn, Keith Nichols, Martin Seck, Jean-Pierre Dubois, Phillippe Guignier, Keith Stephen, Martin Wheatley, Roly Veitch, Christian LeFevre,Henry Lemaire, Bruce Rollo, Phil Rutherford, Debbie Arthurs, Josh Duffee, Richard Pite, Nick Ward, Raymond Grasier, Mike Piggott, Frans Sjostrom, Caroline Irwin, Cecile McLorin Salvant.

And the songs?  Nothing “psychological,” as Ruby Braff once said.  I’D LOVE IT / I GOT RHYTHM / SWEET SUE / I DON’T KNOW IF I’M COMIN’ OR GOIN’ / COTTON CLUB STOMP / WOLVERINE BLUES / VIPER’S DRAG / SINGIN’ THE BLUES / THANKS A MILLION / STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER / WHEN YOU LEAVE ME ALONE TO PINE / SOUTH / SNOWY MORNING BLUES / BLUE AND SENTIMENTAL / ALLIGATOR CRAWL / FRONT AND CENTER / OH, BABY! / WILDFLOWER RAG / CORNFED / BUGLE CALL RAG — a nice mix of small bands, big bands, three-tenor extravaganzas, vocals, novelty showcases . . . not a dull minute in the seventy-eight contained on the CD.

You can purchase a copy of the souvenir CD by visiting here.  Your purchase helps fund future Classic Jazz Parties, but the price of the disc isn’t prohibitive.

On to the future.  The 2013 CJP will run from November 1-3, and the following musicians are being considered . . . which will give us all something to dream about:

Trumpets: Bent Persson (Sweden), Enrico Tomasso (UK), Andy Schumm (USA), Ben Cummings (UK), Andy Woon (UK)

Trombones: Kristoffer Kompen (Norway), Alistair Allan (UK)

Reeds: Aurélie Tropez (France), Stéphane Gillot (France), Claus Jacobi (Germany) , Norman Field (UK), Matthias Seuffert (Germany), Lars Frank (Norway), Mauro Porro (Italy)

Piano: Keith Nichols (UK), Jeff Barnhart (USA), Morten Gunnar Larssen (Norway), Martin Seck (Germany)

Banjo/Guitar: Spats Langham (UK), Henry Lemaire (France), Martin Wheatley (UK), Jacob Ullberger (Sweden), Keith Stephen (UK)

String Bass: Richard Pite (UK), Henry Lemaire (France), Malcolm Sked (UK)

Brass Bass: Phil Rutherford (UK), Jean-Philippe Palma (France)

Drums: Josh Duffee (USA), Richard Pite (UK), Julien Richard (France), Nick Ward (UK)

Bass Sax: Frans Sjöström (Sweden)

Violin: Mike Piggott (UK)

Vocals: Daryl Sherman (USA), Caroline Irwin (UK), Spats Langham (UK)

and you can visit here to see the “themes” being mulled over for 2013 — because, as you may already know, the CJP is remarkable in its intense focus.  Some jazz parties get wonderful results by merely putting a group of musicians onstage and saying, in effect, “You have 45 minutes to do whatever you’d like.”  The CJP arranges its musicians thematically — so there might be a Jelly Roll Morton trio, a Lionel Hampton small-group session, a recreated McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, the Rhythmakers come again, and so on.  It’s not a dry historical lesson — more like a pageant of jazz history, alive and exuberant.

So, I encourage you to do “all of the above” if possible.  You’ll love it.  Or them.

May your happiness increase.

“LINCOLN GARDENS STOMP”: DOC and MIKE’S CREOLE JAZZ BAND at the 2011 WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (thanks to Thorbye Flemming and Elin Smith)

This session took us back to Chicago circa 1923, with New Orleans standing behind it all.  Four “good old good ones,” reminding us of King Joe Oliver, Little Louis, Johnny and Baby Dodds, and more — reinvigorated by Mike Durham, Michel “Doc” Bastide, cornets; David Sager, trombone; Norman Field, clarinet; Frans Sjostrom, bass sax; Jon Penn, piano; Jean-Pierre Dubois, banjo; Henry Lemaire, string bass: Nick Ward, drums

BUDDY’S HABIT (Thorbye) features a few of those famous two-cornet breaks, eloquent solos, driving drumming by Nick, and a truly rousing outchorus:

RIVERSIDE BLUES (Elin) defines, for me, the best kind of ensemble playing:

I think MABEL’S DREAM (Elin) is an irresistible multi-strain composition:

CAMP MEETING BLUES (Thorbye) has a melancholy grandeur, and it’s over too soon:

Thanks as always to Flemming Thorbye and Elin Smith,”thorbye” and “elinshouse” on You Tube, respectively!  And there’s more to see at thorbye and elinshouse

And someone — if it hasn’t already been analyzed to death by now — might be able to explicate the “habit” and the “dream.”