When it’s good, you know it. When it’s sublime, you feel it. Here are four previously unseen treasures from the sprawling JAZZ LIVES vault of video sweetness, recorded at the Hotel Athenaeum in Chautauqua, New York, on September 23, 2012, during the delightful gathering of cosmic energies once called “Jazz at Chautauqua,” the creation of Joe Boughton and then Nancy Hancock Griffith.
We take so much for granted, and on paper, this set might just have seemed another pleasing interlude in a long weekend of delights — a Sunday-brunch set focused on the music of Louis Armstrong. With other players, even such an inspiring theme could have turned into genial formula. But not with Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Bob Havens, trombone; Scott Robinson, metal clarinet, tenor saxophone, and taragoto; John Sheridan, piano; Kerry Lewis, string bass; Pete Siers, drums.
How they soar. How tenderly they caress the music. You’ll experience it for yourselves.
First, a WEARY BLUES that gently piles delight upon delight, a great piece of Hot Architecture reaching toward the sky:
and, with some priceless commentary from Scott Robinson — erudite comedy gently coming to earth as a loving tribute to Joe Muranyi, who loved to play BIG BUTTER AND EGG MAN:
“Right on it,” as they say, with Mr. Robinson on the tenor, for ONCE IN A WHILE, where the rhythm section shines:
If the closing ninety seconds of that performance doesn’t make you jubilant, then perhaps you should consider seeing a specialist.
What could be better to close off such a glorious episode than an expression of gratitude, in this case, THANKS A MILLION, beginning with a Kellso-Sheridan duet on the verse:
I find that performance incredibly tender: gratitude not only from the musicians to the audience, but to Louis and the worlds he created for us.
Perhaps it’s true that “you can’t go home again,” but if I could book a flight to Buffalo in the certainty that I would see this band again, I’d be packed and ready. Maybe it’s because I can’t get back to this morning in September 2012 in some temporal way that I feel so deeply the precious vibrations these ministers of swinging grace offer us. Bless them. It was a privilege to be there, an honor to be allowed to capture this for posterity.
Watch this with full attention; savor it; share it; exult in it. Let us never take beauty for granted.
May your happiness increase!