Tag Archives: Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five

THE AU BROTHERS “TAKE OFF!”

Readers of JAZZ LIVES know Gordon Au (youthful brass Maestro / composer / arranger / occasional vocalist) but may be less familiar with his gifted younger siblings — Justin (trumpet) and Brandon (trombone).  They’ve played jazz festivals as the Au Brothers Jazz Band, keeping family ties strong with the addition of Howard (Uncle How) Miyata on tuba.  Friends who round out the band are guitarist / banjoist / vocalist Katie Cavera and swing percussionist Danny Coots.  On paper, especially for those used to the “traditional” line-up, this combination might look unorthodox, but it works beautifully.  I can prove it!

They’ve just released their debut CD, aptly called THE AU BROTHERS TAKE OFF! (with witty art by Molly Reeves of the Red Skunk Gipzee band, and characteristically literate liner notes by Gordon).

AU!

The CD features a few chestnuts given new life — JELLY ROLL (with a vocal by Uncle How that is reminiscent of a good bakery) and LIMEHOUSE BLUES, several songs from a century ago — WHEN FRANCIS DANCES WITH ME (vocal by the choreographic Katie) and CENTRAL, GIVE ME BACK MY DIME (a song new to me but one that gives Brandon an opportunity to rail at the limitations of the “new” technology when it’s involved in romance) — and originals by Gordon which show his range from wooing to hilarious, from swing to comedic grotesquerie: PISMO BEACH PARADE, STINKY FEET BLUES (not what you might expect), CAPITAL-BOUND, HOW COULD I SAY THAT I LOVE YOU, TANGO OF LOST LOVES, BROOKLYNBURG RAG — and a wonderful collage of themes from jazz classics, BIG CHIEF DADA’S AXE OF PLENTY STRAIN.  The interplay between the horns is marvelous; the rhythm section rocks, and the whole enterprises sits comfortably somewhere between the Hot Five, Gil Evans, Tom Lehrer, and Spike Jones, the balance shifting from song to song.

You can find out more about the band (their schedule of future appearances) and the CD here, and the Brothers have generously posted many videos of the band on this site.

I will take this opportunity to add to the Brothers’ video hoard — for current watchers and future generations as well as life forms on other planets who might be vibrating to the gigabytes in interstellar space — with some engaging evidence of the ABJB in action at the 2013 Jazz Fest by the Bay in Monterey, California. Gordon’s casual wardrobe was especially arranged by American Airlines’ baggage handlers.

PISMO BEACH PARADE:

PENNIES FROM HEAVEN:

BROOKLYNBURG RAG:

HOW CAN I SAY THAT I LOVE YOU?:

TANGO OF LOST LOVES:

WHEN FRANCIS DANCES WITH ME:

CAPITAL-BOUND:

In the words of the 1933 LAUGHIN’ LOUIE, “Take off, Gate!”

May your happiness increase!

Advertisements

“GEORGIA BO BO”

This song, originally recorded in 1926 by “Lil’s Hot Shots” — a transparent pseudonym for the Louis Armstrong Hot Five, under contract to OKeh — nominally led by Lil Hardin Armstrong for Vocalion — is a fairly simple blues. 

Jesse’s Jazz Band, led by trombonist Jens “Jesse” Lindgren, is seen here at the 1999 Akersunds Jazz Festival in Sweden.  I knew in a minute that the Hot cornetist was my hero Bent Persson, but don’t know the name of the other sterling players: the clarinetist who has Dodds down, nimbly; the drummer accenting the rhythm on the rim of his bass drum, the steady banjoist and drummer.  If someone knows their names, please let us all know!  This video was posted on YouTube by “jazze1947,” and we thank him, as well as the players!

And perhaps Stephen Calt (author / compiler of BARRELHOUSE WORDS) will tell us if the “Georgia Bo Bo” was a euphemism, as was the “Georgia Grind.”  Inquiring minds want to know!

JAMMIN’ AT NICK’S: Jan. 11, 2010

On January 10, 2010, the energetic Rae Ann Berry captured these performances by the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation Staff and Directors Band — jamming at Nick’s at Rockaway Beach in Pacifica, California.  It wasn’t the Nick’s of “sizzling steaks” and fabled memory, where Eddie Condon and his friends played before Eddie decided to open his own club in 1946, but the ambiance was the same.  In fact, both selections — SUNDAY and AM I BLUE? — are played at those nice medium tempos that musicians of a certain age and musical education associate with Condon.  And the solos — compact and eloquent — would have pleased him greatly. 

The players are Bob Schulz, cornet; Bill Carter, clarinet; Marty Eggers, piano; Bill Reinhart, bass; Scott Anthony, guitar; and Virginia Tichenor, drums.  It’s possible, if you get into the right mindset, to imagine — in your mind’s ear — that this is a session for Commodore or Decca, with Bob’s serious, flexible lead (Marsala, Max, or Muggsy), Bill’s curlicues (reminiscent of Pee Wee, Cless, or Marsala) and a strong rhythm section driven by Scott’s swinging guitar and Marty’s Stacyish piano.  And — with apologies to the dozen fine trombonists I know — the simple two-man frontline is eager, dancing, and light on its feet.

Ignore the dancers; ignore the conversation: the music’s delightful.  No one was embarking on a studious repertory recreation: they just got in the spirit and stayed there.  All hail!  (And Rae Ann has posted another substantial handful of performances by this band with guest singer Pat Yankee, doing old favorites and Hot Five tunes.  Rewarding stuff!)

IN A LOUIS MOOD: CLINT BAKER and FRIENDS

Milt Hinton used to say, “If you don’t like this, you don’t like broccoli.”  (Readers who loathe that delicious green are advised that here at Jazz Lives substitutions are possible, even encouraged.)

Courtesy of SFRaeAnn (is that her dainty manicured hand descending from the right of the frame in “Come Back Sweet Papa”?) I present some fine jazz from Clint Baker’s Cafe Borrone All-Stars, recorded live just a few days ago (June 5, 3009) in Menlo Park, California.  The CBAS are Clint Baker, clarinet; Leon Oakley, cornet; Jim Klippert, trombone; Evan Price, guitar; Bill Reinhart, bass; Tom Wilson, guitar; and J. Hansen, drums. 

First, they swing out on the Hot Five classic (a favorite of Vic Dickenson’s, when he could surround himself with people who knew the changes), COME BACK, SWEET PAPA — notable for Oakley’s stop-time excursion, Hansen’s old-time melodic solo, and the general ebullience.  

Here’s SOME OF THESE DAYS, not too fast:

I especially admire the flourishes Clint gets into at the end of his chorus (he was ready to go for another one), Leon’s soaring eloquence (and no one applauded?  for shame!), the four-bar trades that precede Clint’s nicely offhanded vocal, and Hansen’s energetic tom-tom accents in the final eight bars.

Since I’ve been only recently reminded that Louis did, in fact, record SOMEDAY, SWEETHEART, I felt obliged to include this version — complete with verse and neat horn backing to Clint’s clarinet chorus.  Leon leaps into his solo almost aggressively and returns in the same mood after Jim has had a brief comment.  (Need I say that I am exceedingly envious of Clint’s abilities on what are apparently a half-dozen instruments?)

James P. Johnson’s sweetly sentimental paean to romantic love, IF I COULD BE WITH YOU ONE HOUR TONIGHT, begins with some down-home Oakley eloquence (his solo begins with a sidelong remembrance of WE JUST COULDN’T SAY GOODBYE, which is both musicially and thematically apt).  Nice rhythm section playing — subtle harmonies — behind Clint’s clarinet, as well. 

These clips make me want to take a plane to Cafe Borrone some Friday (8-11 PM, I’m told) and experience this band in person.  Broccoli, anyone?