Tag Archives: Le Colonial

SWING SCENE: MONDAY NIGHT at LE COLONIAL SF with THE IVORY CLUB BOYS (PAUL MEHLING, EVAN PRICE, CLINT BAKER, SAM ROCHA, ISABELLE FONTAINE: April 28, 2014)

A week ago, last Monday night, I was making the scene at Le Colonial SF (20 Cosmo Place, San Francisco) on the site of the famous Trader Vic’s.

Virtuoso guitarist Paul Mehling and friends usually play hot gypsy jazz — homage to Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli — as the Hot Club of San Francisco. But Paul brought a new variation on swinging themes, The Ivory Club Boys, to Le Colonial on April 28, 2014.

The Ivory Club Boys evoke the jazz scene of the late Thirties on New York City’s fabled Swing Street (Fifty-Second Street) with a special emphasis on the hot music of violinist Stuff Smith.

Along with Paul, the ICB are Evan Price, electric violin; Clint Baker, trumpet AND trombone AND vocal; Isabelle Fontaine, guitar, vocal, and non-Boyishness; Sam Rocha, string bass, vocal.

OPENING BLUES (like the old days, and wonderful):

CRAZY RHYTHM:

CARELESS LOVE (a blues Stuff Smith adored):

An assertively quick reinvention of SWEET AND LOVELY:

DESERT SANDS:

DINAH:

Le Colonial is a fine place to be on Mondays — to hear hot music; to dance to it; to watch the exuberantly acrobatic dancers; to eat Vietnamese food and drink all sorts of intriguing liquids.  And now “20 Cosmo Place” is in my GPS, so I feel both secure and excited.

May your happiness increase!

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ROCKIN’ IN RHYTHM and DANCING FOR JOY with LE JAZZ HOT: CLINT BAKER, EVAN PRICE, ROBERT YOUNG, SAM ROCHA (Le Colonial, July 8, 2013)

The Beloved and I made the scene at Le Colonial (20 Cosmo Place, San Francisco) on July 8 to hear some hot music.  As an extra bonus, we saw much expert, energetic dancing.

The music was provided by a compact, inventive band — Le Jazz Hot for four (leader Paul Mehling was stuck in France for a spell): Clint Baker, guitar, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, vocal; Evan Price, violin, guitar; Robert Young, saxophones, vocal; Sam Rocha, string bass.  They romped — musicians and dancers in sweet reciprocity!  Here are a few songs from the first set.

Incidentally, the Hopperesque lighting of the scene is very unjust to violinist Evan Price, who is seated at one side of the group.  But please don’t forget to pay attention to him — his playing, never sticky-sweet, always swinging — is delightful.

Before viewers embark on this jazz voyage, I should note that I was videoing from across the room, and the dancers — properly — were in motion.  So the visual aspect of what follows may strike some as more surreal than usual, but I think these videos are lovely in a moving-sculpture way (the famous 1954 short film JAZZ DANCE came to mind).

Someone who is willing to get in the groove with us can delight in the interplay between the expertly moving dancers and the hot band.  Viewing this at home, in the right frame of mind, one can sit back and be transported, as we were.

HONEYSUCKLE ROSE:

THREE LITTLE WORDS:

I’M CONFESSIN’:

WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE?:

ONE HOUR:

MY BLUE HEAVEN:

HESITATING BLUES:

LIMEHOUSE BLUES:

What a delicious scene!  Every Monday night this happens at Le Colonial, I hear tell — but Clint, Evan, Robert, Sam, and Paul bring the best vibrations with them wherever they play.

May your happiness increase!

SWINGING AT LE COLONIAL with ROB REICH, KALLY PRICE, DANNY BROWN, CLINT BAKER, ERIC GARLAND (August 2, 2012)

Le Colonial, hidden away on Cosmo Street in San Francisco, is known for its ambiance, drinks, cuisine . . . and intriguing music.  Last Thursday night I made my way there to hear a small group led by the inventive pianist / accordionist Rob Reich — with the soulful Kally Price on vocals — with reedman Danny Brown, drummer Eric Garland, and the reliably swinging Clint Baker on string bass.

Readers of JAZZ LIVES will know how much I admire the independent spirits Kally, Rob, and Clint — individualists each paddling their way upstream and sharing the surprises with us.  Rob continued to approach his keyboards from unexpected angles, the results energetic and full of feeling.  I distrust the accordion, having had a childhood involvement with that cumbersome instrument, but Rob has clearly left both left-hand chugging and melodrama behind him (in the case, no doubt).  And his piano work sounds like something heard in the right small club in 1946.

Clint swings the band no matter what he’s doing there — leading it on trumpet, supporting it on bass, tuba, drums, guitar, banjo . . . singing . . . and so on.  And what an eloquent soloist he is!

Kally Price is dramatic without artifice, searching for meaning, unwilling to sing any song if one phrase feels false to her, going beneath the comfortable surfaces of the familiar popular twists and turns to extract deep feeling. Hear what she does, for instance, with the verse of BORN TO LOVE or the whole of IT’S THE TALK OF THE TOWN.

Danny Brown and Eric Garland were new to me, but they provided musical conversion experiences.  As the evening progressed, Danny moved from a lazy late-Lester approach to a more assertive stance, suggesting that Jacquet and Dexter had returned to their California haunts.  He didn’t walk the bar or carry on, but his rough, dark energies were irresistible.  And Eric, playing wire brushes for most of the evening, just swung in his own way — not loud or overbearing, but reliably forceful with a beautiful steadiness in his time.

Here are some highlights.

STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY — not too fast but certainly compelling from the first beat:

A Latin-flavored COCKTAILS FOR TWO with just a hint of ironic amusement — a Jazz Mojito with a twenty-first century twist:

Kally’s version of BORN TO LOVE, inspired by Billie Holiday but darker, more passionately raw:

RUSSIAN LULLABY, which made no one sleepy:

GETTING SOME FUN OUT OF LIFE, again thanks to Billie but taken quite seriously:

I associated THE DUMMY SONG with a 1953 performance by Louis, but I hadn’t known that the song dated back to 1925 — by Lew Brown, Billy Rose, and Ray Henderson.  The story is told in the verses: Johnny, a returning soldier, surely from the Great War, finds his sweetheart is unfaithful to him — first with a sergeant, than a colonel — so he sings this vindictive song:

A SMOOTH ONE, homage to Charlie Christian and tenor saxophonists who glide without forgetting how to be a little rough:

An utterly impassioned reading of IT’S THE TALK OF THE TOWN that dwells much more on the rejection, the slight, than it blithely suggests that the romance can be saved:

May your happiness increase.

LE JAZZ HOT: MAKING THE SCENE ON MONDAY (August 8, 2011)

Monday nights are usually low-key if not anxious: the week looms.  Perhaps we should bring lunch to work?  But Le Jazz Hot has created a scene for musicians, listeners, and swing dancers at Le Colonial (which, I’m told, used to be Trader Vic’s), every Monday night from 7-10 PM.

I took my camera there on Monday, August 8, and captured these three performances by Paul Mehling, guitar, vocal, and leader; Sam Rocha, Isabelle Fontaine, guitars; Jeff Sandford, reeds; Clint Baker, bass.  And a variety of swing dancers, most expert, with our friend Leslie Harlib twirling and dipping at the bottom right of my frame.

Paul began with his own version of wild-eyed Harry “the Hipster” Gibson’s Forties drug-hallucination-fantasy, STOP THAT DANCING UP THERE:

Nothing could follow that except a peaceful song — pastoral rather than hallucinogenic — so here’s Carmichael’s SKYLARK:

And in another mood, the 1920 warning, beloved of Sophie Tucker and jazz bands alike, SOME OF THESE DAYS:

Make the scene at Le Colonial some Monday — it’s at 20 Cosmo Place in San Francisco; it has a very intriguing Vietnamese menu.  No cover, no minimum, nice acoustics.  To quote Slim Gaillard, “Very mellow.  Very groovy.”