This post is part three of three. I wish it were part three of ten, but one can’t be greedy. Here’s part one, and parttwo. And here is the 1927 Oldsmobile.
And now . . . . four classic performances that we all associate with Jean Goldkette, Bill Challis, Bix Beiderbecke, and Frank Trumbauer, music conceived in 1927 and revisited for enthusiasm, style, and expertise in 2015.
I’M COMIN’ VIRGINIA:
IN MY MERRY OLDSMOBILE (the 4 / 4 version), with Mike Davis blowing a scorching chorus where the vocal once was:
CLEMENTINE (From New Orleans), the last side this band recorded for Victor:
MY PRETTY GIRL:
It was an honor to be there, and it is a privilege to share these dozen performances with you. Blessings on the musicians, on Chauncey Morehouse’s friends and family, and, as before, this post is dedicated to Susan Anne Atherton.
Here‘s the first part of my trip to the Capitol Theater in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania — Chauncey Morehouse’s home town — including performances of I’M GONNA MEET MY SWEETIE NOW, SLOW RIVER, DINAH, and MIDNIGHT OIL by Josh Duffee’s Graystone Monarchs, a wonderful orchestra of musicians from New York, Iowa, and Australia. And, yes, that gun is loaded.
Here are the next four delightful performances.
THE PANIC (a musical satire on the unwise rush to get married):
CONGOLAND, a Morehouse composition, whose title Josh explains:
And back to the Goldkette book, with the ODJB’s OSTRICH WALK:
And the hot-romantic IDOLIZING (which is all that seems worthwhile):
This post, as are the others in this series, is dedicated to Susan Anne Atherton.
I hadn’t heard of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania before the summer of 2015, when drummer-percussionist-archivist Josh Duffee announced his intention of giving a concert with his ten-piece Graystone Monarchs to celebrate the appearance of the Jean Goldkette Orchestra at the Capitol Theater on May 4, 1927, which was a triumphant evening, made even more so because Chambersburg was legendary drummer Chauncey Morehouse’s home town.
As you will see, the modern evening was triumphant also. And a fact that says something about Josh’s devotion to the jazz heritage — the 2015 concert was free to the public (I am sure the 1927 one wasn’t).
Of course, I asked Josh if he needed a videographer, and he did, so you can see highlights of that concert here. The band — expert and hot — was Josh on drums; Leigh Barker, string bass; John Scurry, banjo / guitar; Tom Roberts, piano; Jason Downes, Michael McQuaid, Jay Rattman, reeds; Jim Fryer, trombone; Andy Schumm, Mike Davis, trumpets.
Twelve performances from this evening have been approved for you to enjoy, and I have taken the perhaps unusual step in presenting them in three portions, as if you’d bought two new records from the local Victor dealer and would have weeks or more to savor them. But eight more performances will follow.
An exuberant start:
SLOW RIVER, arranged by Bill Challis, who told Phil Schaap he hated the limp melody and tried to bury and sabotage it:
DINAH, harking back to the 1926 version featuring Steve Brown:
And the fourth “side,” from Chauncey’s days with the 1935 Russ Morgan orchestra:
I believe that the first version of this now-neglected classic song I heard was Jolson’s, then Billie’s . . . and it is even more pertinent now, as an antidote to the restless itch to be somewhere else, or to have a “bucket list” of places to visit. In this time of sheltering-at-home, to me it seems the ideal soundtrack, even if your backyard is only imaginary or remembered.
Later that year, and closer to my backyard:
I even have a version of this song recorded in March 2020, but it hasn’t passed the Imperial Board of Censors just yet. And since I am keenly aware of ironies, I know that for all but one of these performances celebrating the joys of one’s own place, I had to get on a plane to enjoy and record it. Calling Steven Wright or perhaps Ralph Waldo Emerson — the latter of whom wrote “Traveling is a fool’s paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from.”
So today, perhaps, I will put off the thrilling journey to the Post Office and, later, when adventure calls to me, I will take the cardboard boxes to the recycling area. Back in my own backyard for sure. Possibly constrained, but reasonably safe from harm.
Al Gande, Bix Beiderbecke, Johnny Hartwell, from Dick Voynow’s scrapbook. Courtesy of Michael Feinstein and THE SYNCOPATED TIMES.
Here, on November 4, 2016, a group of International Bixians played a set of the dear boy’s music at the Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party. The premise was a small group modeled after the 1927 “Bix and his Gang” recordings for OKeh, but with some songs Bix would have known or did play but never recorded in this format.
The players should be familiar, but I will elucidate. Andy Schumm, cornet; Jim Fryer, trombone; Lars Frank, clarinet; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Robert Fowler, in his maiden outing on bass saxophone; Josh Duffee, drums.
Souvenirs of a brilliant weekend, even though many of us did not make it to the Village Hotel, Newcastle, for this Party, held annually in November, bringing together wonderful European, British, and American musicians. Three v.hot selections from the last jam session of the Party, captured for us by Chris Jonsson, the nattily dressed fellow next to Anne-Christine Persson in the photo. I know them as “Chris and Chris” on YouTube, they are neatly CANDCJ:
Here’s CHRIS and CHRIS
I’M GONNA STOMP MISTER HENRY LEE (I prefer the version without the comma, but grammarians who wish to explicate this title may email me):
Andy Schumm, clarinet; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Dave Bock, tuba; Josh Duffee, drums; Torstein Kubban, trumpet; Graham Hughes, trombone; Matthias Seuffert, clarinet; Stephane Gillot, alto saxophone; Jacob Ullberger, banjo.
Colin Hancock, cornet, and Henry Lemaire, string bass, come in for Gillot and Bock, and Graham Hughes sings MAMA’S GONE, GOOD-BYE (splendidly!):
and, finally, MILENBERG JOYS, with Boeddinghaus, Hancock, Kubban, Duffee, Ullberger, Lemaire, Lars Frank, clarinet . . . and if I am not mistaken, Torstein essays his own version of Louis’ Hot Chorus here, magnificently:
I would have expected more violent approval, but it was after 2 AM.
A word about my title. What, you might ask, is “v. hot“? It’s an inside joke for those of us — including percussion wizard Nicholas D. Ball, who have visited the Village Hotel in Newcastle with any regularity: a meant-to-be-terribly-cute advertising gimmick:
and a different view:
When I was there last in 2016, the elevator (sorry, the lift) had inside it a glossy photo of a larger-than-life young woman and the words “v. snuggly” or some such. We joked about this, and wondered if the toilets in each room were labeled “v. flushy” or the pizza “v. costly.” And so on. But nothing can take away from the jam session, which was indeed “v.hot.” Bless the musicians and both Chrisses (Christer and Anne-Christine) too.
Our subjects today are the overlap of “madness” and “pleasure.” Please be prepared to take notes.
“But first, this,” as they used to say on public radio.
PLEASURE MAD, a Sidney Bechet composition, was recorded in 1924 but the vocal versions weren’t issued, except for this one. Did the record company find it too direct to be acceptable? Here’s Ethel Waters’ version, clear as a bell:
Perhaps the song continued to be performed with those lyrics, but I don’t have any evidence. However, it resurfaced in 1938 as VIPER MAD, new lyrics, as sung — memorably — by O’Neil Spencer:
There might be other ways to pose the rhetorical question, but at what moment in those fourteen years did sexual pleasure become a less interesting subject in popular song than smoking reefers?
While you consider that intriguing philosophical question, I have a new double-CD set (36 tracks! 12 pounds!) to share with you. A little personal history: I attended the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party, then renamed Mike Durham’s International Classic Jazz Party, from 2009 to 2016, and had a fine time: the best American, European, Australian, and occasionally South American musicians turned loose for a long weekend of hot and sweet jazz, its spiritual center the late Twenties and early Thirties.
Here are three samples, videoed by me, songs and personnels named:
I ended with GOT BUTTER ON IT so that JAZZ LIVES readers can — as they say — get a flavor of the experience. The Party continues to do its special magic splendidly, a magic that videos only partially convey. This year it’s November 1-3, and details can be found here. And if you search JAZZ LIVES for “Whitley Bay” or “Durham,” you will find a deluge of posts and videos.
But this post isn’t exactly about the Party as such, nor is it about my videos. Its subject — now, pay attention — is a 2-CD set of live performances from the 2018 Party, which is just thrilling. It’s called PLEASURE MAD: ‘LIVE RECORDINGS FROM MIKE DURHAM’S INTERNATIONAL CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY 2017 (WVR RECORDS WVR1007). As I wrote above, 36 live performances in beautiful sound.
And the sound is worth noting, with delight. At the Party, some fans record the music from the audience with everything from ancient cassette recorders to digital ones; when I was there, I videoed as much as I could. But this CD issue has the benefit of superb sound, because of the young Norwegian trumpeter and recording engineer Torstein Kubban, who has recorded every session for the past six years. Torstein is a phenomenal player, so I may be permitted this digression:
He’s got it, for sure. And his recordings are wonderful.
Here are the songs performed — referencing Duke Ellington, Ben Pollack, Bennie Moten, the Halfway House Orchestra, Alex Hill, Rube Bloom, Jabbo Smith, Louis Armstrong,Eddie Condon, Willie “the Lion” Smith, Clarence Williams, Luis Russell, King Oliver, James P. Johnson, and more:
And the musicians: Mike Davis, Andy Schumm, Duke Heitger, Jamie Brownfield, Malo Mazurie, Kristoffer Kompen, Jim Fryer, Graham Hughes, Ewan Bleach, Michael McQuaid, Richard Exall, Claus Jacobi, Matthias Seuffert, Lars Frank, Jean-Francois Bonnel, Emma Fisk, David Boeddinghaus, Martin Litton, Keith Nichols, Morten Gunnar Larsen, Martin Wheatley, Spats Langham, Peter Beyerer, Henry Lemaire, Jacob Ullberger, Phil Rutherford, Elise Sut, Malcolm Sked, Josh Duffee, Richard Pite, Nick Ward, Nick Ball, Joan Viskant, Nicolle Rochelle. If I’ve left anyone out, let me know and I will impale myself on a cactus needle as penance, and video the event.
I think it’s taken me so long to write this post because every time I wanted to take the CDs into the house to write about them, I would start them up on the car player and there they would stay. A few highlights, deeply subjective: Martin Litton’s sensitive and tender solo LAURA; the riotous hot polyphony of CHATTANOOGA STOMP (which I recently played six times in the car, non-stop); the exuberant GIVE ME YOUR TELEPHONE NUMBER; Spats Langham’s NEW ORLEANS SHUFFLE; a completely headlong RAILROAD MAN; a version of THE CHARLESTON that starts with Louis’ WEST END BLUES cadenza; SHIM-ME-SHA-WABBLE that rocks tremendously; I FOUND A NEW BABY that sounds as if Hines (in the guise of Boeddinghaus) visited a Condon jam session in 1933; SOBBIN’ BLUES with layers and textures as rich as great architecture. You will find your own favorites; those are mine of the moment.
My advice? If you can, get thee to the Party, where seats are going fast. Once there, buy several copies of this set — for yourself, national holidays, the birthdays of hip relatives — and enjoy for decades. If you can’t get to the UK, you can still purchase the set, which I urge you to do.
And when the authorities knock on your door to ask about the ecstatic sounds coming from within, you can simply show them this CD and say, “Well, Officers, I’m PLEASURE MAD! Would you like to come in?” And all will be well.
There are many magnificent jazz pianists. But there’s only one David Boeddinghaus. I’ve enjoyed his rollicking swing, his lyrical groove, his tender ballads (he is a master of Porter and Rodgers and Carmichael) and deep blues, his evocations of Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, and Frank Melrose — in California, in New Orleans, in Newcastle (thus my title as well as a reference to the 1920 pop tune below, because David gets us where we’d like to go and more).
You can read his biography online; you can ponder his discography thanks to Tom Lord. But his glorious playing needs no more explication than this: it is beautiful without commentary. David is especially exultant as an ensemble player, no matter what the tempo: a one-man rhythm section full of subtlety and strength. Meaning no disrespect to Duke Heitger, Alistair Allan, Lars Frank, Henry Lemaire, Malcolm Sked, and Josh Duffee, I think David is the great engine of this romping CALIFORNIA, HERE I COME, captured at the 2016 Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party:
and here’s another performance from that set that has justly garnered a good deal of praise — with David swinging like a wonderful amalgam of Joe Sullivan and everyone wonderful uptown as well:
Musicians I know speak of his accuracy, his scholarship: he knows the verses, the right tempos, the best changes. Ask Banu Gibson, ask Larry Scala and three dozen others. But for me, it’s something larger: David Boeddinghaus transports us through sound. Bless him.
Menno Daams is one of the great trumpet players (arrangers, composers, bandleaders) of our era, but, better yet, he is a sensitive imaginer, someone who understands intuitively how to make even the most familiar standards glisten.
He does it here in his brief but very fulfilling tribute to Hoagy Carmichael at the 2016 Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party, with the help of five kindred spirits who get the feeling and never lose it: Josh Duffee, drums; Graham Hughes, string bass; Martin Wheatley, guitar; Richard Exall, tenor saxophone; David Boeddinghaus, piano. (And — consciously or unconsciously, perhaps because one thinks of Louis and Hoagy in the same moment — there are two lovely delicate slow-motion homages to Louis as well. You’ll hear them.)
For RIVERBOAT SHUFFLE, rather than go all the way back to Bix — with the Wolverines or with Trumbauer — Menno and band take what I would call a 1936 Fifty-Second Street approach to this song, with echoes of Berigan or Hackett, Forrest Crawford or Joe Marsala, Teddy Wilson or Joe Sullivan, Carmen Mastren, Sid Weiss, and Stan King — light-hearted yet potent):
A thoughtful, gentle exploration of LAZY RIVER:
Then, something gossamer yet imperishable, a medley of SKYLARK / STAR DUST that begins as a cornet-guitar duet, and then becomes a trio. But allow yourself to muse over David’s incredibly deep solo exposition:
And because we need a change from those subtle telling emotions, Menno offers an audio-visual comedy, then THANKSGIVING, featuring a rocking and rocketing solo by Josh. Appropriate, because I was thankful then and continue to be now:
This fine and nimble group led by pianist Kris Tokarski did a good deal to bring swing to the 2016 San Diego Jazz Fest. In addition to Kris, there was Chloe Feoranzo, clarinet, tenor sax, vocal; Larry Scala, guitar; Nobu Ozaki, string bass; Josh Duffee, drums (filling in for Hal Smith, now recuperating well from being the victim of a serious car accident).
Here they are, lighting our way, with a Charlie Shavers original and a Twenties ballad. Commentary beyond that would be superfluous: this music not only speaks for itself, it is gently, persuasively uplifting.
THINGS I LEARNED (OR RE-LEARNED) AT THE 2016 SAN DIEGO JAZZ FEST:
1. Never set up a travel schedule that gets you home (after a long weekend of life-changing music) at 5:20 AM Monday. Not “sleeping” on a plane is worth a higher fare.
2. Music is best experienced in the company of friends — those on the bandstand, those in the audience. The former, a partial list: Marc Caparone, Dawn Lambeth, Ray Skjelbred, Conal Fowkes, Kris Tokarski, Clint Baker, John Gill, Duke Heitger, Jeff Hamilton, Kevin Dorn, Orange Kellin, Leon Oakley, Dan Barrett, Tom Bartlett, Stephanie Trick, Paolo Alderighi, Katie Cavera, Josh Duffee, Andy Schumm, John Otto, Dave Stuckey, Dan Barrett, Larry Scala, David Boeddinghaus, Nobu Ozaki, Virginia Tichenor, Marty Eggers, Mike Davis.
Off the stand: John Ochs, Pamela Ochs, Donna Feoranzo, Allene Harding, Rae Ann Berry, Barbara L. Sully, Judith Navoy, Mary (“The Ambassador of Fun”) and her twin, Chris and Chris, Paul Daspit, Jim and Mary McNaughton, Gretchen Haugen, Patti Durham, Angelica, Carol Andersen, Bess Wade, Cat and Scotty Doggett, Ed Adams.
Much-missed and I await their return: Hal Smith, Janie McCue Lynch, Donna Courtney, Mary Cross.
I know those lists are incomplete, and I apologize to any reader I’ve accidentally omitted.
3. This festival is delightfully overwhelming. At any given time, music was happening in seven rooms simultaneously. There was a Wednesday night session, a Thursday night session, full days on Friday and Saturday (with approximately seventy offerings of music, most an hour long) and a full afternoon on Monday. By six PM on Monday, I was full and sloshing.
4. I am a man of narrow, precisely defined “tastes.” I didn’t grow up sitting in Turk Murphy’s lap — now there’s a picture! — I began my listening education with Forties and Fifties Louis, so I need lyricism and melody the way plants need sun and air.
Many of the bands so dear to my California friends strike me as perhaps over-exuberant. And when a fellow listener, politely curious, asked me “When did you get into trad?” I had to consider that question for a moment before saying, “I didn’t start listening to ‘trad’ . . . ” As I get older, I find my compass needle points much more to subtle, quiet, sweet, witty, delicate — rather than the Dixie-Apocalypse. Each to his or her own, though.
5. Videos: I videoed approximately eighteen sets, and came home with perhaps ten times that number of individual videos. They won’t all surface; the musicians have to approve. And I probably didn’t video your favorite band, The New Orleans Pop Tarts. Rather than mumble about the unfairness of it all, come to next year’s Fest and live in reality rather than virtually! Or buy an RV and a good camera so that you can become an official NOPT groupie-roadie-archivist.
6. For the first time in my life I helped sponsor a group. It was extremely rewarding to think that I had helped some music to be heard in public that otherwise would not have. I’ve offered to do it again for 2017. And, not incidentally, sponsors get to sit in the very front row, a great boon for people like me who want to capture the music to share with you. Videographers like myself want to be made welcome.
7. Moral tradeoffs are always possible and sometimes happily inevitable. At the San Diego Jazz Fest, one can share a large platter of tempura-batter-fried pickle slices and fresh jalapenos . . . because one is doing so much walking that the second activity outweighs the first. Or one tells oneself this.
8. On a darker note, odd public behavior is more pungently evident. People who call themselves jazz fans talk through a whole set about the new puppy (and I like puppies). Years ago I would have blamed this on television and the way viewers have been able to forget the difference between private and public behavior. Now I simply call it self-absorption, and look for a window that I can open.
Others stand up in front of a band to take iPhone photos of the musicians, pushing their phones into the faces of people who are playing and singing. Photographers have treasured costly cameras that beep, whir, and snap — we ignore these aberrations at many events (I think some photographers are secretly excited by such things) but at musical performances these noises are distracting.
I won’t say anything about those folks who fire off flash explosions in well-lit rooms.
I cannot be the only person who thinks of creatively improvised music as holy, a phenomenon not to be soiled by oblivious behavior. As a friend of mine says, “You’re not the only person on the planet.”
9. The previous paragraph cannot overshadow the generosity of the people who put on the Fest and the extreme generosity of those who create the music. Bless them. And the nice young sound people who worked hard to make music sound as it should!
It’s appropriate that the Fest takes place at Thanksgiving: I feel so much gratitude as I write these words, upload videos, and look at my notes of the performances I attended.
More — including videos! — to come. Start planning to come to the 2017 Fest, to bring your friends, to sponsor a band. Any or all of these activities are so much more life-enhancing than Black Friday.
If we believed in the narratives forced on us by advertisers, we would know that NEW is best, NEW AND IMPROVED better still, and anything OLD is to be discarded. I present joyous evidence to the contrary. Here’s a tune all the musicians like to jam. And even though it is nearly a hundred years old, no one worries about having to dust it.
This performance was created on November 6, 2016, at the Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. The band was originally called DUKE HEITGER’S RHYTHMAGICIANS, a name Duke politely disavowed, but I hope he doesn’t mind my retitling this group his JOYMAKERS, because that is truth in advertising. This performance speeds my heart rate in the most healthy ways.
The Romping Masters here are Duke Heitger, trumpet; Alistair Allan, trombone; Lars Frank, reeds; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Henry Lemaire, banjo; Malcolm Sked, string bass; Josh Duffee, drums. Please notice Duke’s little Louis-flourish at 3:20 onwards and the immense wisdom of his putting an ensemble chorus at 4:38, in the middle of the performance, to keep it rollin’. Also, riffs, backgrounds. a drum solo with stop-time accents. These fellows are my heroes and I hope yours too.
Once you’ve caught your breath, you may read on.
For the past eight years, I’ve attended the Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party with great pleasure, and I’ve come home with a basketful of videos, which the musicians allowed me to disperse for free. This was generous of them, and it took a good deal of labor for me to create and distribute them.
This year, a variety of difficulties — technical and logistical — got in the way of my being an unpaid Jazz Cornucopia. There will be videos, but perhaps two dozen rather than four times that. I wish it were otherwise, but not everything is within my control.
I write this in sadness, but also with a point.
Several jazz fans, who I am convinced are good people who love the music as I do, came to me during the weekend and were unhappy with my news: “This is not good for us!” said one to me in the hallway.
I am sorry to have let the imagined Team down, but I am not a natural resource like the sun, and I cannot reproduce an entire event for public consumption, nor do I want to. Let these words be a reminder that not everything is for free, nor can it be, and let these sentences act as encouragement for people to slowly and carefully — those who can! — get out of their chairs in front of their computers and GO SOMEWHERE in front of the actual musicians rather than expecting it all to be given to us.
I hope this doesn’t sound excessively rancorous, but it is the truth, at least what the man behind the camera perceives it to be. And I plan to be very selective about posting comments, pro and con, on this point. (To paraphrase Lesley Gore, “It’s MY blog and I’ll post if I want to.”) Exultant praise of Duke and his band is, as always, welcome.
And to mute any bad feelings, or to attempt to, here are Duke and his Joymakers again. I could watch and listen to this a dozen times and not stop marveling:
Thanks to CineDevine for rescuing me so graciously from some of the technical problems: without him, this video would not be shared with JAZZ LIVES.
Imagine, if you will, a friendly conversation between Bix Beiderbecke and Hugo Gernsback — rendered without a word, in lovely mysterious music — and you have some idea of what follows.
I don’t care to rank artists — let others create pyramids with The Hero(ine) at the apex — but it fascinates me that the collective grief at the death of Bix is so strong that generations of musicians have energized themselves in homages, exact or imaginative. It is as if we cannot endure the fact of his death, so musicians invent contexts in which his glowing spirit can be summoned anew. It used to take the form of copying a Bix solo (SINGIN’ THE BLUES might be the most copied one I know) but that had its limits, so musicians began to imagine alternate universes. What if Bix had played Gershwin? What if we could know what CLOUDY sounded like? And, most recently, how might Bix have sounded on songs of his time and place that he never recorded?
In 2014, an expert and heartfelt group assembled after the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party — Andy Schumm, cornet; Kristoffer Kompen, trombone; Mauro Porro, reeds; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Frans Sjostrom, bass saxophone; Josh Duffee, drums — to create the CD for Lake Records, called whimsically BIX OFF THE RECORD:
In 2015, the same players — with Michael McQuaid taking Mauro’s place — played another set: the delightful results below. Andy provides commentary as needed.
CATARACT RAY BLUES:
MY BABY’S ARMS:
Beautiful performances of songs that haven’t been overplayed, all in the idiom but expansively imagined.
But wait! There’s more! Andy, Rico Tomasso, and other nobles have recorded a new CD for Lake Records — WHEN LOUIS MET BIX, celebrating hot nights in 1928 Chicago — with Matthias Seuffert, Alistair Allan, Morten Gunnar Larsen, ‘Spats’ Langham, Malcolm Sked, Nicholas D. Ball.
The songs are Ol’ Man River; Milenberg Joys; Chloe; Mandy Make Up your Mind; Who’s It; Put ‘Em Down Blues; Whispering; Manhattan; Skid-Dat-De-Dat; Bessie Couldn’t Help It; Come On and Stomp, Stomp, Stomp; My Melancholy Baby; When She Came To Me; I’m Just Wild About Harry; The Baltimore.
A copy is winging its way to me through the mail. Details (of a digital sort) here.
For Part One of these delights, please click here.
Trumpeter / singer / bandleader / composer Enrico Tomasso, “Rico” to the legions of people whom he’s adopted and vice versa, is an endearing human being (fully embodying the spirit of Louis) and stellar musician. What might not be immediately apparent is that he is also a superhuman trumpet player. What you will see and hear below is the final performance of a four-day marathon party (Thursday through Sunday) where Rico had often been playing lead trumpet in front of large ensembles. And he ended the Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party on a high note, no a series of high notes, with his rendition of Louis’ 1938 Decca recording of STRUTTIN’ WITH SOME BARBECUE.
I will leave the discussion of the song’s authorship to others, and merely point out that the title is then-contemporary slang for walking proudly down the street with one’s stunning woman partner, not eating a dripping meat sandwich on the run. And the arrangement you’ll hear is by the brilliant Chappie Willet, whose work has been extensively explored by John Wriggle — and is the subject of John’s forthcoming book.
But to the music.
Rico is joined by and supported by Duke Heitger, Andy Schumm, Kristoffer Kompen, Alistair Allan, Michael McQuaid, Lars Frank, Matthias Seuffert, Robert Fowler, Keith Nichols, Spats Langham, Malcolm Sked, Josh Duffee:
That’s superhuman but also delicately beautiful. Thank you, Rico, and friends. And as I said in my previous post, the Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party is scheduled once again for 2016, but it would be terribly nice if you were there. Since all human enterprises are finite, do what you can to attend this fiesta of music while it’s accessible, rather than saying, “Oh, I’ll get there some day!” and then saying, “I wish I had gone.” It can be done. Class dismissed.
There won’t be much prose in this blogpost: a seventeen-hour travel day has a way of overpowering ordinary cognition (Newcastle to Amsterdam to New York to home, including a taxi, two planes, two airports, a shuttle, and a drive home in rush hour).
But I wanted to let the JAZZ LIVES faithful know that I hadn’t decided to abandon them or the blog. I will have something to say about the glorious cabaret evening that singer Janice Day and pianist Martin Litton put on in Hay-on-Wye. And I assure you I will have much more to say about the Mike Durham Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party, which is still ringing beautifully in my ears.
Nick Ball and Josh Duffee in the Victory Pub, November 2015, at the Party
But music speaks louder than words, as Charlie Parker reminded Earl Wilson. So here’s a sample from the Thursday, November 5, 2015, after-hours jam session at the Victory Pub in the Village Hotel Newcastle . . . on RIVERBOAT SHUFFLE.
The energized participants are Torstein Kubban, cornet; Frans Sjostrom, bass saxophone; Thomas Winteler, clarinet; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Jacob Ullberger, banjo; Nick Ball, drums:
The Party will go on in 2016, but it needs you to survive and flourish. So do make a note of that, in honor of hot jazz, in honor of Hoagy and Bix too.
I mean no offense or slight to my friends and heroes who organize Parties, Stomps, Fests, and other weekend galas, but the MDCJP (the Party formerly known as the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party) is special. Many musicians simply want to get up on the stand and sing or play among their friends and peers, and this is standard — often exhilarating — fare at most jazz weekends. And the MDCJP encourages such frolic with a nightly jam session in the Victory Pub. But many musicians devoted to the sounds of the Twenties and Thirties and beyond want to pay reverent homage to their forbears while having their own say — so this Party is organized into small concerts, each celebrating a band, a sound, a leader: it becomes a wondrous living evocation of where we’ve all come from.
First, a list of who’s going to be there on the bandstand — an illustrious lot for sure:
Janice Day, Mellow Baku (vocal); Emma Fisk (violin); Andy Schumm, Menno Daams, Duke Heitger, Bent Persson, Enrico Tomasso (trumpet); Kris Kompen, Graham Hughes, Alistair Allan (trombone); Matthias Seuffert, Michael McQuaid, Robert Fowler, Lars Frank, Thomas Winteler, Claus Jacobi (reeds); Martin Litton, David Boeddinghaus, Morten Gunnar Larsen, Keith Nichols (piano); Spats Langham, Jacob Ullberger, Martin Wheatley (banjo, guitar); Phil Rutherford, John Hallam, Malcolm Sked (bass, brass bass); Frans Sjostrom (bass saxophone); Henry Lemaire (bass, guitar, banjo); Richard Pite (drums, bass); Josh Duffee (drums, vibraphone); Nicholas Ball (drums, washboard)
(If I have left anyone out, I apologize.)
And a brief listing of the concert themes: the Union Rhythm Kings; a tribute to Mike Durham; the Original Memphis Five; the Quintette of the Hot Club of France; Jelly Roll Morton; Bunny Berigan; the “avant-garde” of Red Nichols and Miff Mole; Spats Langham’s Hot Combination; Lu Watters; solo piano recitals; Teddy Brown; the Dixie Stompers; Dance Band Divas; Thirties small-group sessions; Louis (featuring Bent and Enrico); the 1938 Morton Library of Congress recordings; Black New Orleans; chamber jazz; Western Swing; Spike Hughes; Chicago South Side; the Cotton Club; Casa Loma Orchestra; more unrecorded Bix; Bechet; Duke Heitger; California Ramblers; Eddie Condon; the Nichols-Duffee Orchestra . . . and more.
And two highlights of the 2104 Festival — moments to remember!
It’s a musical feast. Don’t miss out on this Party.
I confess I come late to this party — the delightful CD below was released almost five months ago — but I don’t arrive empty-handed. The words tell it all.
And the music is joyful — more than the solemn faces on the cover suggest.
For whatever reasons — an elusive individual who thrills his contemporaries and vanishes, a creator of inexplicable delicate beauty — Bix Beiderbecke has been the subject of more inquiry, more debate, and more mythology than any other jazz musician. I stand back from such diligence, although I admire its limitless energy. What fascinates me is the music: the music Bix created and its reverberations after his death.
Many “Bix tributes,” to my ears, are laboring under burdens even before the first note is played or recorded. Audiences sigh more fervently than they ever did for the young Sinatra when the first cornet notes of the SINGIN’ THE BLUES solo launch into the air. Other bands offer exquisitely accurate copies of those OKehs and Gennetts. Just the sort of thing for those who like that sort of thing. “Perhaps if we can summon up GOOSE PIMPLES note for note, Bix will never have died?”
But BIX OFF THE RECORD is a more imaginative project. It doesn’t seek to say, “What would Bix have played had he been on Fifty-Second Street alongside Hawkins in 1944,” or “Let’s score Bix for string orchestra.” Rather, it imagines a lovely, plausible alternate universe where Bix, in the recording studios more often (although never enough) got to play and record songs he would have known, was known to have played, among his peers and contemporaries.
Enough words for the moment? Hear sound samples here: three full tracks from the CD, ending with a touching cornet-piano duet on MEAN TO ME. Aside from the brilliant (although honest) recorded sound, the first thing you will notice is the band. No one is imitating Lennie Hayton, Bill Rank, or Min Leibrook. The musicians — not tied to the original Bix oeuvre — are free to roam within the conventions of the genre, but not stiffly or formally. And rather than having this session be a feature for the heartening cornet of Andy Schumm, it features everyone, with delightful arranging touches that make the result more than “Let’s blow on DINAH for five minutes, solos for everyone.” Each performance has sly, sweet, effective glances at other Bix recordings and recordings of the time. It’s truly uplifting fun, not a class trip to the Museum of Jazz. And you can’t read the very fine and informative liner notes by Julio Schwarz Andrade here, but they are worth the price of admission.
The Lake RecordsFacebook page is full of good things, including news of a new duo-release by Jeff Barnhart and Spats Langham called WE WISH THAT WE WERE TWINS, a title both enticing and philosophically deep.
But back to Bix — in his century and in ours simultaneously.
I said I came to this party with gifts, and here are two. On November 7, 2014, eleven months ago, a sextet assembled on the bandstand of the Village Hotel Newcastle Inspiration Suite — where the glories of the 2014 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party took place — to play some of the songs that would be explored on the CD above. Messrs Duffee, Sjostrom, Boeddinghaus, Porro, Kompen, and Schumm, if you need reminding. I was there with one of several video cameras and (although there are heads intermittently in the way) the sound of the band was thrilling. Here are two selections from that evening’s offering.
One, a pop song of the day much beloved by Bix (an improvisation on its chords and its intent became FOR NO REASON AT ALL IN C), I’D CLIMB THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN:
Then, Morton’s WOLVERINE BLUES as if imagined by the Wolverine Orchestra:
These two performances are, I hope, inducements for those who can to hie themselves to the Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party — the Whitley Bay party appropriately renamed for its beloved, intent, humorous founder — which will start on Thursday night, November 5, 2015, with a concert / jam session by the exalted Union Rhythm Kings, and end somewhere between Sunday night and Monday morning, leaving us all weak with pleasure. Hereis all you need to know to make that state of being yours. See you there in a month’s time!
And just because it is possible to do so . . . here is the brilliantly screwy surrealistic Fleischer Screen Song (1931) of I’D CLIMB THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN — primitive karaoke through a distorting lens:
“Lo and behold!” is, by now, an archaic expression by which one refers to something surprising that has happened. In this case, the surprises are all good ones. (The record below belongs to William Berndt, who also took the photo.)
When Andy Schumm (multi-instrumentalist, arranger, composer, bandleader) came to the 2014 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party, he brought arrangements with him for a ten-piece band — which would have been a characteristic instrumentation in the late Twenties and early Thirties: three brass, three reeds, four rhythm. At home, Andy and string bassist Beau Sample pilot a hot band called THE FAT BABIES (they’ve made two delightful CDs for the Delmark label and they have a regular gig in Chicago) . . . but the charts Andy brought held no terrors for the international luminaries at Whitley Bay. In addition to Andy, there’s Menno Daams, cornet; Alistair Allan, trombone; Jean-Francois Bonnel, Lars Frank, Claus Jacobi, reeds; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Henri Lemaire, banjo; Malcolm Sked, bass and sousaphone; Josh Duffee, drums. They performed — nobly — a lengthy set of hot music, dance music, an Oriental fox-trot . . . full of surprises, including a new Schumm composition in the best style and many new arrangements of venerable songs. Herewith!
FIVE FOOT TWO, EYES OF BLUE:
BABY (in the Guy Lombardo arrangement, with heat):
SHE REMINDS ME OF YOU (a song associated with Bing):
I WANT YOU, JUST MYSELF (homage to King Oliver with new solos):
CHINA GIRL (the aforementioned “Oriental fox-trot” with a wonderful outchorus):
I WANT TO GO HOME (a Joe Sanders arrangement):
LO AND BEHOLD! (from 1932):
SMILE WHEN THE RAINDROPS FALL (for Stan and Ollie, with a group vocal):
WHEN SHE CAME TO ME (comp. Schumm; manner, Goldkette):
LIVIN’ IN THE SUNLIGHT, LOVIN’ IN THE MOONLIGHT:
And if you’d like to hear more music like this, the Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party is taking place in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, November 5-8, 2015.
A postscript. I take public transportation to get in and out of New York City, preferring that to the stress of finding parking for my car. So on the bus and on the commuter railroad, everyone has earbuds firmly mounted. Often I can hear what they are listening to through the earbuds, which means that audiologists will never want for work — but I digress. Whether or not you can make it to Whitley Bay, I would like all my readers who commute to save some of these videos for their trek to and from work. It would please me immensely to think of people on the bus or train happily grooving to BABY or LO AND BEHOLD! Do what you can, please, to help make my hot jazz / hot dance fantasy a reality.
I know that even the most devoted jazz fans get complacent. “Oh, we have to go to my sister-in-law’s that night. We can always see that band.” Or “She’ll be coming back to [insert your city or favorite jazz club] in a few months. I’m tired. I have a headache. It’s raining.” I’ve done it myself. But I think — in what I admit is a rather gloomy way — what if someone had said, “Oh, we can always hear Bix / Charlie Christian / Jimmie Blanton / Sidney Catlett / Clifford Brown,” and then woke up to the newspapers a few days later.
Now, here is a band portrait. Each of these gentlemen has many decades to go, to spread joy, to fill the air with beautiful sounds. So I am not writing a morbid post.
If you don’t recognize them, they are known as THE HOT JAZZ ALLIANCE, which is an accurate name.
BUT. This band — an Australian-US conglomeration of the highest order — is not a group that you can see every Monday and Thursday, wherever you live. Two of its members, Andy Schumm, cornet and miscellaneous instruments; Josh Duffee, drums, come from the United States. Yes, I’ve seen them in the UK, but not as part of this group. The other four luminaries hail from Australia, and although I’ve met Michael McQuaid, reeds; Jason Downes, reeds, and John Scurry, banjo / guitar, also in the UK (I apologize to Leigh Barker, string and brass bass, for not having bowed low before him. Yet.) this group took a good amount of will-power and diligence to assemble.
So they are playing three shows in the United States, unless my information is faulty. One is Josh’s July 22 tribute to Chauncey Morehouse in PoPa’s home town of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania — detailshere — I wonder how many Hot devotees in the tri-state New York area have plans to attend the HJA’s delicious two-show offering at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola? One night, July 20. Two shows, at 7:30 and 9:30. You can read about the event hereand you can purchase tickets (which I suggest you do while they are still available) here.
Now, it is possible that someone reading this post is already impatient. “What? Does Michael think I am made of money? The kids need braces; Mama needs to finish her post-doc in Spenser, and our ancient Toyota is falling apart as I sit here.” I apologize. I have a mortgage and an ancient car, and the orthodonture my parents paid for in my childhood has not stayed where it was put. I understand other people’s bills. But this is a once-in-a-who-knows-how-long event.
I’ll be at Dizzy’s . . . but without video camera. Draw whatever conclusions you like, but if you are depending on me to be the Frank Buck of Hot (you could look it up) it won’t happen. My apologies.
On another note. “Michael, why should I go to hear a band I don’t know, when I can hear the Elastic Snappers any time I want?” Good question. Valid objection. But take an aural sniff of this:
Frank Melrose’s FORTY AND TIGHT:
TEXAS MOANER BLUES:
What I hear here is intense, passionate, “clean” and dirty all at once, expert and casual. The HJA harks back to the beloved Ancestors but they aren’t in the business of reproducing old discs right in front of us. They enliven and cheer.
And — just for a thrill — here is the cover photo, the gents all spiffy! — of their debut CD. I’ve heard it and the glasses in the kitchen cabinet are still rocking. The CD will be on sale at Dizzy’s too, so you can take home a souvenir.
Enough loving bullying for one post, one month, perhaps for ever.
But I think of a line from a late-Forties Mildred Bailey blues: “If you miss me / you’ll be missing that Acme Fast Freight.” I am not a connoisseur of Forties freight shipping . . . but obviously the AFF was something special, perhaps the FedEx of 1947:
I quietly suggest that the HJA is even more special, its New York appearance even more a rarity . . . who cares if there is not yet a special Hot Jazz Alliance matchbook?
It’s a familiar sight. But now it’s re-emerged for an even more exciting reason. Josh Duffee, drummer and bandleader who loves the hot / dance music of this period, especially admires drummer multi-instrumentalist Chauncey Morehouse. And rightly so.
Josh’s dreams are substantial, and he energetically makes them take shape. His newest venture will please up to 800 people on the evening of Wednesday, July 22, 2015, at the Capitol Theater in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
Chambersburg isn’t one of the most famous stops on the Official Jazz History tour, but it was the home town of Chauncey and of Jean Goldkette trumpeter Fuzzy Farrar. In 1927, the Goldkette orchestra played a concert in this beautiful theatre; on July 22, a reconstituted tentet of some of the finest hot musicians worldwide will honor Chauncey and his music. And it’s free.
You can find out much more about the concert here and, should you be so inclined, you can make a donation to cover the expenses.
I asked Josh for more details about the music and the musicians. First off, this ten-piece band will be primarily made up of the brilliant Hot Jazz Alliance, a sextet that is four-sixths Australian and two-sixths North American and six-sixths brilliant: From Oz, Michael McQuaid, reeds; Jason Downes, reeds; John Scurry, banjo / guitar; Leigh Barker, string bass. From the US: Andy Schumm, cornet; Josh Duffee, drums. Joining them for this concert will be Jay Rattman, reeds; Mike Davis, trumpet; David Sager, trombone; Tom Roberts, piano.
If you’ve heard nothing of the Hot Jazz Alliance, feast your ears here:
GIVE ME YOUR TELEPHONE NUMBER:
The second performance is particularly significant because it comes from the HJA’s debut CD — which is now issued, in gorgeous sound, ready for the eager multitudes.
But back to the Capitol Theatre concert.
The tentet will be playing a variety of songs that Chauncey played throughout his career. Josh says, “We’ll play the closest Goldkette recording to the date they played in 1927, Slow River. We’ll also be playing Congoland, which Chauncey co-wrote with Frank Guarente when they were with the Paul Specht Orchestra. Audience members will hear music from the bands Chauncey played in throughout his career, like Paul Specht, Jean Goldkette, Russ Morgan, Frank Trumbauer, Bix Beiderbecke, Howard Lanin’s Benjamin Franklin Dance Orchestra, Irving Mills’ Hotsy-Totsy Gang, and others. This will be the very first time this music will have been heard in this acoustic form in this theatre! Here are some of the songs we’ll be playing: Slow River; Harvey; My Pretty Girl; Midnight Oil; Clarinet Marmalade; Don’t Wake Me Up, Let Me Dream; Stampede; Dinah; Idolizing; Three Blind Mice; Congoland; Singin’ The Blues . . . .”
I don’t like being in the car for more than ninety minutes at a time, but I’m driving out to Chambersburg for this one.
And two days earlier / closer to home in New York City, the Hot Jazz Alliance will be performing two shows on Monday, July 20, at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in Jazz at Lincoln Center: details here.
As I write these words, it is ninety degrees and humid both inside and out. But even more Hot — of the best sort — is coming.
At the 2014 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party, someone titled this band and this set “The Freshmen,” but it’s clear the players were well beyond post-doctoral studies. Claus Jacobi, Mauro Porro, reeds; Alistair Allan, trombone; Andy Schumm, cornet; Morten Gunnar Larsen, piano; Spats Langham, banjo; Phil Rutherford, bass; Josh Duffee, drums.
First, two from the collaboration of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings and Jelly Roll Morton:
And from the Wolverines book —
SUSIE (she was from the Islands, if I recall. Which ones?):
If you feel like visiting the real thing in its native element, I can’t urge you too much to investigate an actual pilgrimage to the Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party which will happen Nov. 6-8, 2015. I know from past experience that tickets and seats are quickly getting snapped up. And it’s never to early to make plans to get hot.
Before the band starts MILENBERG JOYS, Claus asks, gently, “Wonderful, isn’t it?” I would change the question to an affirmation.
As a child, Enrico (“Rico”) Tomasso was full of music, a young member of the family band, someone whose epiphany through Louis Armstrong was a life-changing experience — a lightning-stroke of joy.
He had the immense good fortune to play his trumpet for Louis when the great man visited Britain. Louis was enthralled by young Rico, and they remained dear friends.
When I first heard Rico at the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party, I was moved to happy tears, and when I caught up with him later, I beamed at him and said, “The spirit of Louis shines through you,” words that pleased him.
A day ago Rico celebrated a birthday, but he is the kind of fellow who doesn’t stand with his hand out for his gift. Rather, he is a generous giver all the time — so here is his tribute to Louis and my tribute to both of them. It is a glorious evocation. Look carefully behind and to the right of Rico, and you will see Duke Heitger, who knows his Louis deeply, smiling and nodding while Rico plays and sings.
The ensemble behind our man is Menno Daams, Duke Heitger, Kristoffer Kompen, Lars Frank, Claus Jacobi, Matthias Seuffert, Keith Nichols, Spats Langham, Emma Fisk, Malcolm Sked, Richard Pite, and other luminaries, including Josh Duffee as entering master of ceremonies.
Happy birthday, dear Rico. Thank you for being born. We’re always in the market for you.