Tag Archives: Laurie Whitlock

SWEET AND HOT: REBECCA KILGORE, DAN BARRETT, EDDIE ERICKSON, JOEL FORBES, and TIM LAUGHLIN (September 3, 2011)

“You’ll find that happiness lies / right under your eyes,” say the lyrics for BACK IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD.  I don’t have a backyard any more, but I stumbled across this performance — that made me happy in 2011 and continues to do so now — by accident.  In the decade or so that I’ve had this blog, I’ve spent a good deal of energy with a video camera, recording live performances.  Around six thousand of them are visible on YouTube now, and I get notified when viewers comment.  Ungenerous comments from armchair critics make me fume, and if they insult “my” artists, I delete the comments.  But someone saw this, felt about it as I do, and so it is Time To Share Some Joy.

This performance came from the 2011 Sweet and Hot Music Festival, held in Los Angeles over Labor Day weekend.  I was fortunate to attend it in its last year, and it offered joyous music and very lovely people, not all of them musicians.  (“Hello, Laurie Whitlock!  Love from New York!”)

But the music was often stunningly pleasurable.

I think that I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS vied with GOODNIGHT, SWEETHEART to be the song played at the end of the evening.  But Henderson recorded it as a hot dance number in 1925 (Louis on the verse) and it was picked up in the Swing Era by bands large and small — my favorite the Teddy Wilson Brunswick side.

But this 2011 live version is so dear: sweetly lyrical and rocking, balancing tenderness and Fifty-Second Street riffing.  And it adds to my delight that the musicians in this video are very much alive and making music.  Bless them.  I single out Rebecca Kilgore as my ideal of lyrical heartfelt witty swing.  Now and forever.

May your happiness increase!

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AWFUL SAD: THE SWEET AND HOT MUSIC FESTIVAL

It is possible to feel a stinging grief at the loss of an institution.  I write these words in a very sorrowful mood, because I have learned that the 2012 Sweet and Hot Music Festival has been cancelled. 

I came late to this particular party: my first (and only) encounter with this musical cornucopia was during the 2011 Labor Day weekend.  But as I’ve documented elsewhere on JAZZ LIVES, it was overflowing with good music — sweet and hot — and good feeling.   

I understand why enterprises of this scope find it impossible to continue, and I don’t plan to analyze the economic realities of 2012 here.  I feel so sorry for the musicians who have lost another place to play, and for the hard-working people behind the scenes, especially my dear friend Laurie Whitlock, one of the hardest-working and kindest people in jazz.  For now, I will think fondly of a whirlwind of jazz . . . I documented it on many videos on YouTube, but the future — at least my own version of it — isn’t going to be the same without the Sweet and Hot Music Festival. 

I originally planned to add a video performance or two from the 2011 Sweet and Hot Music Festival to show what had happened there . . . and, by extension, what the dimensions of our loss would be — but it seemed an impiety.  My feelings find their best expression in silence. 

This is the space where the Sweet and Hot Music Festival used to be.

I JUST FLEW IN FROM SAN DIEGO!

. . . and boy, are my arms tired!  But my ears are still full of wonderful music.  I don’t mean “San Diego” as a city, but the 32nd annual San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival, which began for me on last Thursday night and continued into the middle of Sunday afternoon.

Festivals and parties take on the personalities of their organizers, and this one benefited so much from Paul Daspit, who stepped in after the death of the much-loved trombonist Alan Adams.  Paul is tall, soft-spoken, carefully-dressed, usually sporting a nifty hat (no beanie with a propeller for this gent), and his demeanor is both calm and amused.  Even when he was dealing with a series of flooded hotel rooms, he seemed to know that getting all flurried would do him — and us — no good.  So it was a great delight to see Paul come in, savor the music with a quiet smile on his face, and move on to something else.  His generosity of spirit made it possible for me to attend, for the musicians to play their best.  By the way, when I asked Paul about this, he said he was only carrying on Alan’s philosophy: to establish a space where everyone would be so comfortable and easy that the music would flow out and around everyone.

And it did.  I am a devoted follower of a few bands — my heroes are the Reynolds Brothers and the Tim Laughlin-Connie Jones All-Stars, the Yerba Buena Stompers, High Sierra, as well as the individual musicians Clint Baker, Jeff Hamilton, Sue Fischer, Bryan Shaw, Dawn Lambeth, Hal Smith, Carl Sonny Leyland, Marty Eggers, Kevin Dorn, Marc Caparone, the amazing Paul Woltz, and a dozen others . . . but I looked at the schedule more than a dozen times and figured that if I had been able to see all the sets I’d wanted to, the number would have been more than fifty . . . not possible for one person.  Because the festival was unashamedly a cornucopia, with six or more bands playing at once in different venues, I would have had to be willing to run from the middle of one set to the middle of another, which I wasn’t willing to do.

Too many highlights, and I won’t list them here for fear of leaving something out that was good, better, best.  I think I liked the surprises, though: being outside the main building, coming back from dinner, and hearing a band — it turned out to be Grand Dominion — and recognizing, “My goodness!  That’s Clint Baker — on trumpet — beating out JOE LOUIS STOMP!”  Or, again, hearing music from afar of a small group, around 9 AM, working its way through MUSKRAT RAMBLE — with an absolutely spine-tingling trombone solo . . . none other than tne Saint of Dixieland, Uncle Howie Miyata, playing that thing.  I also had my spirits lifted by people who don’t play instruments, at least not professionally: Jane Lynch and husband Kevin; Allene Harding; Frank Selman; Susie Miyata, Yvonne and Bill Au, Brandon and Justin of the same lineage.  I got to sit between Jane, Laurie Whitlock, and Carol Andersen . . . fun times in SoCal!

I’ll be posting my videos in a few weeks (I have Whitley Bay to share with you) but would point out that my newly-mobile West Coast doppelganger Rae Ann Berry had her video camera, her tripod, and many batteries . . . and she’s already posted a great many videos which would warm the coldest day.

But I’ll just say that there was a Reynolds-Brothers-plus jam session on Saturday night . . . where fourteen musicians got onto a tiny bandstand to wail — and I don’t use that word lightly — on MY LITTLE BIMBO and DIGA DIGA DOO.  You could hear the angels stomping.

More to come . . . . but I have already made a mental space for Thanksgiving 2012.

THEY’RE JUST TOO MUCH!: THE REYNOLDS BROTHERS and FRIENDS at SWEET AND HOT (September 2, 2011)

My title comes from an unsolicited comment by a listener next to me at this set at the 2011 Sweet and Hot Music Festival.  It’s all true!

JAZZ LIVES readers will know of my admiration for the Reynolds Brothers, nurtured through videos, recordings, and encountering them in the flesh at Monterey by the Bay in March 2011).  They hit new heights in set after set at this Los Angeles music extravaganza, and I captured as much as I could.

The band began with the regulars plus one: that’s Ralf on washboard, banter, the occasional vocal, and serious moral leadership; his younger brother John on guitar, vocal, whistling, and commentaries; Marc Caparone on cornet, thermodynamics, and vocal; Katie Cavera on string bass and sweet singing.  Add to that mix one Larry Wright on alto saxophone, ocarina, and the occasional toy instrument . . . that would be enough for anyone.  But the guest star was the irrepressible (perhaps “unchained” would be more appropriate) clarinetist Bob Draga . . . and a figure appeared to my left early on — none other than Dan Barrett on trombone, head-arrangements-while-you-wait and riffs (no waiting); later on, pianist David Boeddinghaus came on board.

(An aside: someone said to me, “Isn’t it nice how the Reynolds Brothers invite all those musicians to join them?”  “It is nice,” I said, “but it’s the other way around: the Brothers swing so hard that everyone wants to sit in with them.”)

They began their first set with I MAY BE WRONG (both humble and incorrect):

Dan Barrett is long out of diapers, but he showed up early on in I FOUND A NEW BABY:

Katie sang and swung DOWN AMONG THE SHELTERING PALMS, a performance notable also for the impromptu duets among the sheltering front line:

Having found that new baby, it would be natural for fondness to develop into adoration — thus I’M CRAZY ‘BOUT MY BABY (note sly David Boeddinghus finding his way to the piano bench, happily for us):

I knew Harry White (“Father” White in the Cab Calloway trombone section) as the composer of EVENIN’ — but we must credit him with another opus, the indescribably-titled FUTURISTIC JUNGLEISM (which is also the title of a Reynolds Brothers CD):

Telepathically, John Reynolds answered my silent request for another version of TUCK ME TO SLEEP IN MY OLD ‘TUCKY HOME:

And the set closed with James P. Johnson’s ode to abandon, RUNNIN’ WILD:

When this musical exaltation was over, I said to no one in particular, “Now I can go home!” because I felt so uplifted by what I heard, a completely fulfilling musical experience.  Happily, I didn’t . . . .

P.S.  The Brothers aren’t really attired in pink suits or deep purple dreams at the start; it was a trick of the interior lighting.  And thanks to Laurie Whitlock for her generous guidance: I’ll be back next year!