Tag Archives: Lynn Stein

THE EARREGULARS TAKE ROCA, or LET ME OFF UPSTATE: JON-ERIK KELLSO, MATT MUNISTERI, PETE MARTINEZ, NEAL MINER (Dec. 9, 2012)

If you read JAZZ LIVES, you know who The EarRegulars are — a compact group of highly inspired improvising musicians who invariably bring joy, most often found on Sunday nights (8-11 PM) at The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York — co-founders Matt Munisteri (guitar, vocal); Jon-Erik Kellso (trumpet).  But ROCA may be new to you — see here and find out more about the Rockland Center for the Arts, a quiet space in West Nyack, New York, lovingly watched over by our friend Lynn Stein, the Center’s Artistic Director.

The EarRegulars came uptown to West Nyack one Sunday afternoon about two months ago — December 9, 2012 — and played their own brand of beautiful music, serene and intense.  I was fortunate to be right in front of the band so that I could bring the sounds to you.  From the first note, it was a splendid affair — with clarinetist Pete Martinez and bassist Neal Miner joining in the fun.  See and hear for  yourself:

A famous set-cloer used as the opening, AFTER YOU’VE GONE:

Feeling optimistic, here’s WRAP YOUR TROUBLES IN DREAMS:

A Dixieland classic, FIDGETY FEET:

Neal’s feature on LULLABY OF THE LEAVES:

HAPPY FEET (no longer FIDGETY — with a few words about The Ear Inn from Skip Hayman):

THE NEARNESS OF YOU — for our very own Pete:

‘S’POSIN’ with a wry yet sweet vocal from Matt:

A wistful reading of AM I BLUE?:

And a rousing SOME OF THESE DAYS:

“The Fellas” (as regular Nan Irwin calls them) outdid themselves — but they do that Regularly.  Thank you, Matt, Jon, Neal, Pete, and Lynn!  (And without acting as anyone’s unsolicited press agent or manager, it does suggest to me that The EarRegulars could be hired for all sorts of concerts, affairs, private and public occasions.  Just a thought.)

May your happiness increase.

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“TEA FOR TWO”: LYNN STEIN with HARRY ALLEN, MIKE GREENSILL, FRANK TATE, PETE SIERS (Jazz at Chautauqua, Sept. 20, 2012)

Singer Lynn Stein (happy as happy can be) takes us on an ambitious and sweet adventure through what might be the most venerable standard in the Jazz Book — from 1922.  Her friends along the way are Harry Allen, tenor saxophone; Mike Greensill, piano; Frank Tate, string bass; Pete Siers, drums.

It’s clear that there are no “old tunes” when the material is treated with energy, amusement, and feeling.

May your happiness increase.

JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA 2012 IS ALMOST HERE!

Four little reminders.

1.  Jazz at Chautauqua begins on Thursday evening, September 20, 2012, and concludes on Sunday afternoon, September 23.  (The Traditional Jazz Workshop precedes it — details below.)

2.  I have been attending Jazz at Chautauqua every year since 2004, and it is one of the high points of my year.  It’s not simply the music, which is superb and varied.  It’s the lovely Hotel Athenaeum overlooking Lake Chautauqua, the beautiful surroundings (think old-fashioned houses with awnings and hydrangeas), and seeing old friends — meeting new ones, too.

3.  I think these are magical names (in alphabetical order, for a change): Howard Alden, Harry Allen, Dan Barrett, Dan Block, Jon Burr, Faux Frenchmen, Mike Greensill, Marty Grosz, Bob Havens, Duke Heitger, Alex Hoffman, Keith Ingham, Jon-Erik Kellso, Rebecca Kilgore, Kerry Lewis, Ricky Malichi, Bill Ransom, Randy Reinhart, Bob Reitmeier, Scott Robinson, Andy Schumm, John Sheridan, Pete Siers, Rossano Sportiello, Lynn Stein, Frank Tate.  

4.  In case all of this seems financially overwhelming (and I understand that feeling, really) Jazz at Chautauqua has now arranged something they call single-event pricing . . . which means that you can buy a ticket to attend one or more of four lengthy sessions (Friday night, Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, Sunday afternoon) for $120 each.  Details can be found here.  And it is not too late to sign up for the Traditional Jazz Workshop: imagine taking a master class with personalized instruction from Dan Barrett, Becky Kilgore, Duke Heitger, Scott Robinson, and the others — the stuff that dreams are made of.

I consider it a stroke of great good fortune to be attending Jazz at Chautauqua again this year, and I would like everyone I know who loves this music to share the pleasure . . . although they’d then have to build a much larger hotel ballroom.

May your happiness increase.

EMILY ASHER’S DREAMS TAKE US ALOFT

Something good.  And about time!  It’s trombonist / singer / composer / arranger / bandleader Emily Asher’s debut CD, sweetly titled DREAMS MAY TAKE YOU.

Along with Emily, you will hear Wycliffe Gordon, on sousaphone and trombone; Bria Skonberg, trumpet, vocal; Philip Dizack, trumpet; Dan Levinson, tenor sax, clarinet; William Anderson, alto sax; Nick Russo, guitar, banjo; Gordon Webster, piano; Kelly Friesen, bass; Rob Adkins, bass; Kevin Dorn, drums; Rob Garcia, drums.  For those of you familiar with the hot New York scene, those names are a guarantee of fine swinging inventive jazz.

Much of the repertoire would appear to be “good old good ones,” including SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET and SOMEDAY YOU’LL BE SORRY, but the CD is anything but by-the-numbers.  Emily is more than a fine trombonist and a sweetly winning singer: she is an imaginative musician, so the CD doesn’t bog down in the same thing; every track is its own vignette.

It begins with a romping version of ORY’S CREOLE TROMBONE, which Emily delivers with a fine gutty fervor (and her own version of a trombone cadenza).  The soloists share Emily’s high-flying enthusiasm, and the rhythm sections couldn’t be better.  So the chestnuts have a delightful 2012 Condonite bounce and looseness.  The CD’s title comes from an Asher original — by Emily’s father — called LULLABY FOR A LITTLE ONE, on which Miss Asher sings with winsome charm.  (And she knows when to leave an audience wanting more: the LULLABY is a delicious cameo, slightly over two minutes.)  It’s followed by a New Orleans “second line” version of CHANGES MADE, which would cause the sedentary to start dancing.  The original SWEET PEA is part cowboy-ballad, part rocking barcarolle, with touches of Fifties West Coast cool arranging.  HEY, LOOK ME OVER is Emily’s childhood party piece — which begins in an easy waltz-time before morphing into sleek swing — that won me over when I saw her do it (with apt choreography) at Radegast.  A streamlined EMPEROR NORTON’S HUNCH has shed all its two-beat trappings, and bursts forth gracefully.  SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET features the duet stylings of Asher and Skonberg — neatly warbling the hip variations I associate with John Birks Gillespie — before the ensemble gives way to a piano / trombone duet.  Emily’s original GREAT BIG WALL will be the only song you know (I would guess) that mixes Latin rhythms and Middle Eastern tonalities.  Successfully, I must add.  YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE begins with a slide guitar / trombone duet and then blossoms, lyrically.  MUSKRAT RAMBLE begins with the Hot Five introduction and rocks from the first note (not too slow, not too fast, either) — with a splendidly tapping drum solo by Kevin Dorn in the middle.  SOMEDAY YOU’LL BE SORRY, taken at a brisk clip, is another trombone-piano outing, very delicate in its earnestness, with a straight-from-the-shoulder vocal by Emily, taking the lyrics with a gentle seriousness that would have pleased its creator.  And the disc ends with LIMEHOUSE BLUES, a version that had the energy of the World’s Greatest Jazz Band of fabled memory.

Nothing’s dull or forced on this CD: it’s one of those rare creations where you want to play it over again when it ends.

I couldn’t attend Emily’s May 29 CD release party at Radegast — a true Garden Party, I hear — but the CD is its own jubilant party.  You can purchase one here — either as a digital download or a physical CD.

And the GP will be strolling around the New Jersey Jazz Society’s JAZZFEST on Saturday, June 16, which begins at noon and ends at 9 PM.  And when Emily and company need a rest, you can hear Jon Burr,  Lynn Stein, Andy Farber’s Swing Mavens featuring Champian Fulton, the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra, the Tony DeSare trio, Eddie Monteiro, Swingadelic, and more.  Tickets can be ordered at 908.273.7827 or online at http://www.njjs.org.

Look out, world: here she comes!

May your happiness increase.

SONG STYLISTS: SONYA PINCON, CHRIS PEETERS, LYNN STEIN

One of the many pleasures of JAZZ LIVES is that I find about artists I would ordinarily never have known about.  Here are three singers who might be new to you, whose work will please you.  Each one is a strong individual stylist: no repeater pencils here.  And since some of my metaphorical way of looking at the world finds food-analogies everywhere, if you think of the three singers below as very sharply flavored cuisines, you wouldn’t be far off.

I first encountered SONYA PINÇON on YouTube — singing as part of a group led by her husband, the fine swing pianist Philippe Souplet.  She has a new CD out, IN THE MOOD FOR DUKE, where she’s accompanied by Souplet, Patrick Stanislawski, string bass; Joel Toussaint, drums.  I was at first struck by the focused ease of her voice, evoking any number of fine singers but not imitating anyone.  The repertoire is tried-and-true Ellington / Strayhorn, but it certainly sounds lively rather than overfamiliar.  (I have my usual problems with the lyrics added after the fact, but Sonya doesn’t take it all too seriously, as if she were singing Sondheim or Hart, and husband Philippe strides splendidly and in a delightfully understated way.)  They perform — live — DUKE’S PLACE / DROP ME OFF IN HARLEM / SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR / PRELUDE TO A KISS / CARAVAN / I AIN’T GOT NOTHING BUT THE BLUES / SATIN DOLL / SOPHISTICATED LADY / JUST SQUEEZE ME / IT DON’T MEAN A THING / DAY DREAM.

Here’s a fourteen-minute YouTube preview from the CD: .  Visit http://www.sonyapincon.com for more information.  To order the CD, email Sonya at sonya.jazz@yahoo.fr

If I heard CHRIS PEETERS singing from another room — on the radio or her new CD, that my reaction would be, “Wow!  Who is that?”  And then when I heard her own blues — which has the refrain, “Well, a little strange is good,” I knew the amused and amusing souce of her appeal.  It seems as if her world is charmingly atilt . . . perhaps ten degrees off what the world calls “level.”  About half of her debut CD is devoted to her own compositions, which are surprisingly refreshing — her own versions of hip Europop, the theme songs for films that we might never see, music that we would keep humming to ourselves.  Here’s that BLUES: 

Chris has the benefit of imaginative and often surprising backing on her CD — including Dirk van der Linden; piano, organ, vocal, Vincent Koning, guitar, vocal; Jos Machtel, string bass; Rene Winter, drums, percussion, vocal; David Lukacs, tenor saxophone, clarinet; Joep Peeters, vibraphone; Ellister van der Molen, trumpet; Dennis Kolen, vocal.  She is one of the few singers who can take on the Billie Holiday repertoire without being swallowed up by it — hear her YOU LET ME DOWN as a funeral march with a swinging pulse.  The songs are NOT THE FIRST TIME / BAR FLY / PETITE DANSEUSE DE QUATORZE ANS / MY MAN / CHRIS’ BLUES / SUIT / YOU LET ME DOWN / OH, LOOK AT ME NOW / ONLY ALONE / IT’S LOVE / THE SPINACH SONG (I DIDN’T LIKE IT THE FIRST TIME) / LA VALSE DES LILAS / HALLELUJAH, I LOVE HIM SO.  Find out more here

So far, LYNN STEIN doesn’t have a glossy YouTube video (more about that later).  But she is the only singer of this trio that I’ve had the good fortune to hear live, and her new CD shows off what she can do — and more — in the best way.  Although her new CD, SOFTLY, is brief, she shows off a variety of approaches in six compact performances: from risk-taking to carefully evocative to genre-bending (a version of I’LL BE AROUND that is tough, resilient rather than maudlin).  Her singing can be coy, ironic, sweeping, and rich.  And on the CD she has splendid musical partners: Jon Burr, string bass; John Hart, guitar; Matt Ray, piano; Warren Vache, cornet (on I’LL BE AROUND).  Living in New York, I have the opportunity to hear Lynn and Jon often — and the best part is that Jonathan Schwartz is playing this CD on the radio: always a sign of great things to come.  The songs are SOFTLY, AS IN A MORNING SUNRISE / ALONE TOGETHER / ONLY TRUST YOUR HEART / I’LL BE AROUND / WHAT A LITTLE MOONLIGHT CAN DO / MY FOOLISH HEART.  Lynn’s singing sounds simple, but it isn’t . . . close listening reveals a great deal.

About the video!  Here’s Lynn in September 2011 at Jazz at Chautauqua, telling us that everything was fine but it’s even better now — I WAS DOING ALL RIGHT — with Jon on bass, Howard Alden, guitar; Harry Allen, tenor sax; Dan Barrett, trombone; Rossano Sportiello, piano; Pete Siers, drums.  I admire the performance; I was there; I held the camera:

Sing out, sisters!

GLIDING AT CHAUTAUQUA 2011 with HOWARD ALDEN, HARRY ALLEN, DAN BARRETT, ROSSANO SPORTIELLO, JON BURR, PETE SIERS, and LYNN STEIN

The Thursday-night informal sessions at the 2011 Jazz at Chautauqua turned from homegrown Gypsy jazz (the Faux Frenchmen) to modern Chicago-style (Marty Grosz and his Peerless Players) to deep Mainstream with Howard Alden, guitar; Harry Allen, tenor sax; Dan Barrett, trombone; Rossano Sportiello, piano; Jon Burr, string bass; Pete Siers, drums; Lynn Stein, vocal.

They began with an improvisation on the Forties jump tune IDAHO which then offered Coleman Hawkins’ line on the theme (was it BEAN STALKING or SPORTMAN’S HOP?):

Then, a Cole Porter song introduced by Bing Crosby in the film HIGH SOCIETY (sung to the lovely Grace Kelly) — Ruby Braff loved it too, I LOVE YOU, SAMANTHA:

Jon Burr invited the singer Lynn Stein to join in, and she gave us a sweet jazz affirmation in I WAS DOING ALL RIGHT:

And the session ended (to make way for another community of great minds who think alike in 4 /4) with a romp on I GOT RHYTHM changes, APPLE HONEY (associated with Woody Herman’s First Herd):

Gliding with intensity and grace . . . .

THE EARREGULARS AT “THE FAMOUS EAR” (June 12, 2011)

I had a minor jazz-history epiphany last Sunday at The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City) early in the second set, when past and present coincided.

The Ear Inn, for those who have never been there, isn’t a huge space (it is New York real estate) but everyone gets comfortable. 

The second set at the Ear began with that Sunday’s edition of the EarRegulars: charter members and co-founders Jon-Erik Kellso and Matt Munisteri on trumpet and guitar, respectively; Greg Cohen on string bass; Michael Blake (a risk-embracer who loves Lester Young) on tenor saxophone. 

Here, they embark on RIFFTIDE, a variation on LADY BE GOOD chord changes that began with Coleman Hawkins and ended up in the hands of Thelonious Monk as HACKENSACK:

For good reasons, musicians often come to the Ear — not only to sit in, but to enjoy the sounds.  Last Sunday the musicians were bassist Jon Burr and singer Lynn Stein, reed master Dan Block, then (slightly later) tenorist Nick Hempton and drummer Dan Aran (toting a snare drum).  The observant Nan Irwin was there, also, keeping everyone reasonably honest. 

Michael Blake thought aloud about a great tune whose title he couldn’t quite remember — one of those riffy Basie things connected (like so many jazz classics) to trains — and Jon-Erik or Matt remembered it, 9:20 SPECIAL.  They invited Dan Block to join them, and the two tenors had much pleasing interplay:

Then, Jon-Erik invited Nick and Dan to join in, and what marvels ensued!

The first was a long, swaying WABASH BLUES — with Jon-Erik using both his metal mute and an empty beer glass to make growling, hallooing, far-away Cootie Williams musings.  That interlude (Beery or Hoppy?) lasted only a minute, but it was remarkable and remains so now.  And the ensemble swelled and reinvented itself throughout:

And that nifty swing tune of Edgar Sampson’s, beloved by stride pianists and bands, by James P. and Billie, Lester and Dick Wellstood, a masterpiece of quiet optimism, IF DREAMS COME TRUE:

For a finale — JUMPIN’ AT THE WOODSIDE — where Jon-Erik, for a moment, becomes a hilarious three-man Basie trombone section:

At some point during those final three performances, I looked at the bandstand, saw the musicians and their instruments — trumpet, guitar, bass, drum, and three tenor saxophones jammed in (my choice of words is no accident) shoulder to shoulder, having a good time.  

I thought, “Where have I seen this before?”  And — as my UK friends might say — the penny dropped. 

Basie.  1938.  The Famous Door.

Some will know the story of that Fifty-Second Street paradise.  A small club with a low ceiling, it had been host to a variety of bands in the middle Thirties but — with no air-conditioning — had always closed in the summer.  John Hammond, always full of ideas, paid for the installation of an air-conditioning system so that his favorite band, led by one Bill Basie from New Jersey, could play there in the summer.  The Basieties had to play softly at first, but it’s clear from the radio airshots that exist — not enough for my taste! — that they had a wonderful time and made irreplaceable music.

Here’s a photo essay from the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University(photographs from the Frank Driggs Collection) of that musical splendor.  Look for Herschel Evans, short-lived and insufficiently-photographed:

http://newarkwww.rutgers.edu/ijs/cb/famousDoor.htm

Yes, the physical resemblance between The Famous Door and The Ear Inn is not exact, but the two places share the same ebullient spirit, with brilliant musicians improvising at the peak of their powers in a small space. 

Henceforth, I dub 326 Spring Street THE FAMOUS EAR.  It well deserves the new name!

And to finish the thought: the EarRegulars continue to swing as beautifully and as joyously as the 1938 Basie band.  No doubt about it!

P.S.  If you’re reading this in real time (however you wish to define it) you might want to know that The EarRegulars will be celebrating their fourth anniversary of steady Sunday-night gigs at The Famous Ear this Sunday, June 19, 2011.  Gifts, please!  (I meant their gifts — not that people have to show up with trinkets, although trinkets might be pleasant, too.)

P.P.S.  On June 12, I was able to savor Abigail Riccards and Michael Kanan, creating music with delicacy and strength — then I drove from Brooklyn to Soho to capture these five performances, hilariously creative.  This, to me, says only one thing:  JAZZ (emphatic pause) LIVES (exultant exclamation point)!