Tag Archives: May your happiness increase

“MAKIN’ FRIENDS”: THE JAZZ LIVES 2012 YEAR-END REPORT

At the end of a calendar year, many people take stock of where they’ve been and where they will be going.  I hope my readers will forgive me if I offer a brief JAZZ LIVES version.

Since the spring of 2004, I have been having the time of my life.  Not only have I been able to hear more live music than ever before; I have been able to travel to hear it; I have been able to document it in words and pictures and videos.  A year ago, at the start of 2012, I decided — with the heedless enthusiasm and joy of someone one-third my age, “I am going to follow every impulse I can.  My life is finite.  The lives of the people I revere are also finite.  Not only do I want to extend myself to the utmost; I feel I must do it.”

And I set out on this path, or these paths.  If you were to look at my kitchen calendar or my datebook or the notebooks I write when / where / who played / what did it sound like, you would see that I have been busy.  Jazz parties in Connecticut, Chautauqua, San Diego, Monterey, Sacramento, Atlanta, Whitley Bay.  Club gigs in New York and California.  And I might have left some things out.

I flew so often and slept so little that by the last third of 2012, I was at the bottom edge of my energy, and I felt it.  The Blessed Milton J. Hinton used to have a joking expression: FUMP, which was his synonym for the excrement of whales . . . nothing could be lower than that, because it rested on the ocean floor.  I felt like fump, I assure you.  But I am coming back to my ordinarily resilient self, so do not worry.  (The combination of being with the Beloved, sleep, acupuncture by Marcia Salter, antibiotics, and homeopathy is wondrous.)

JAZZ LIVES is not a profit-making proposition.  Had I a financial advisor, (s)he would say, “You cannot continue to do this.  You will have no money,” and 2012 would prove him / her right.  But that, too, is not entirely important.

What is important — to me — is that I have gained new friends.  Some of them I have been able to meet.  And if I called 2012 THE YEAR OF THE HUGS, I think it would be accurate.  I have been hugged in cyber-space, on the telephone, by mail.  And in person.  And although (as they say at the Academy Awards) I accept this award for myself, it is really because I realized that my role in life is to attempt to spread joy through music.

I am so indebted to the real creators — the musicians — who so generously and good-humoredly allow and encourage me to help their notes and phrases be heard by audiences who will never be able to see and hear them live.  JAZZ LIVES both spreads and receives love, and I am proud of this.

So 2012 has been a year where I have been able to accomplish things I never thought possible.  I send love and thanks to everyone who has ever clicked on a page, even if it was searching “dressed as a girl by my mother,” which still comes up in Search Engine Terms.

And I hope no one will mind if I close this love letter to all the musicians in the house, all the viewers and all the readers — with the lesson from Mezz Mezzrow’s autobiography.  The lesson took place in 1929, but it never grows old.

I used to sit huddled up on my [subway] seat, shrinking into a corner, my head shoved down between my knees and my arms wrapped tight around it, to keep from screaming.

One day, just as the train pulled into 110th Street, I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder, and when I worked up enough courage to raise my head, there was a nice-looking old colored man with a thick crop of snow-white hair, looking down at me with the kindest, most sympathetic expression I ever saw. “Son,” he said to me real soft, “if you can’t make money, make friends,” and with that he stepped out on the platform and drifted away. He saved my life that day.

Make friends.  Spread joy.  Swing out.

May your happiness increase.

SCALING MOUNTAINS AT MONTEREY 2012 with the HIGH SIERRA JAZZ BAND and MARC CAPARONE (March 2, 2012)

No, no one burst into CLIMB EV’RY MOUNTAIN, and Julie Andrews was otherwise engaged.  But the High Sierra Jazz Band — here with guest hero Marc Caparone added to an already hot front line — knows how to get to the top and stay there.  I present (for your listening, dining, and dancing pleasure) an early set from the 2012 Dixieland Monterey Jazz Bash by the Bay — with leader and raconteur Pieter Meijers on reeds and wry commentary; Charlie Castro, drums; Earl McKee, sousaphone and vocals; Stan Huddleston, banjo; Bruce Huddleston, piano; Howard Miyata (“the happiest man in Dixieland,” but why stop there?) on trombone, misc. brass, and vocal; and the electrifying two-cornet team of Bryan Shaw and Marc.

They began with the Creole Jazz Band’s irresistible MABEL’S DREAM.  Pieter has obviously told many audiences a long wooly tale about who Mabel was and what she dreamed about (thrilling but somehow dubious).  Does anyone know the real story?  Was Mabel someone’s girlfriend, and did she dream lucky?  Do tell:

Earl McKee takes us under her wing — let’s go DOWN IN HONKY TONK TOWN:

Ah, that Boy is here again — and he has something to tell us named the WININ’ BOY BLUES:

Mister Morton, take the stand!  KANSAS CITY STOMPS:

When Sidney Bechet and Pieter book the tour, PASSPORT TO PARADISE is not merely an extravagant figure of speech:

Oh, Mister Jelly!  “Get off the sidewalk, can’t you?”  SIDEWALK BLUES:

They concluded their set with Fats Waller’s composed-in-a-taxicab-on-the-way-to-the-recording-studio-and-possibly-misidentified-on-the-label MINOR DRAG.  Another thing we have Eddie Condon to thank for.  (Should this song have been issued as HARLEM FUSS?  One never knows.  Do one?):

Good, good, good — hot and powerful, at the very peak.

May your happiness increase.

MERRIE MELODIES at MONTEREY 2012: THE REYNOLDS BROTHERS with BOB DRAGA (March 2, 2012)

The Reynolds Brothers are always SHOW-READY.  No question. 

And they began the 2012 Jazz Bash By The Bay with a riotous set — including clarinetist and master of witty repartee Bob Draga.  That’s cornet man Marc Caparone, string bassist / charming singer Katie Cavera, Brother Ralf on the washboard, and Brother John on the guitar, vocal, and whistle.  A good time was had by all, even though it was midafternoon, rather early for hot jazz. 

They began with the Gershwin call-to-musical-arms, STRIKE UP THE BAND:

What are the THREE LITTLE WORDS?  Of course, I LOVE YOU comes in first, but I would make a case for THE REYNOLDS BROTHERS.  I’m waiting for Congress to legislate that one into law:

Bob Draga probably doesn’t know my Aunt Ida, but the telepathic vectors in the cosmos suggested to him that it would be nice to play IDA, SWEET AS APPLE CIDER.  It was and is!

Katie Cavera is full of surprises.  Ask anyone!  And the surprise she pulled out of her Show-Ready bag of tricks was the sweet and mildly naughty 1932 OH, IT LOOKS LIKE RAIN.  Bob sat this one out; perhaps he went to play cards?

Professor Ralf wants the washboard to be returned to its former glory, rightly so.  He accomplishes this by playing it with a swing, but also by reminding us all of the music that it once propelled — here, Tiny Parham’s WASHBOARD WIGGLES:

John Reynolds is a magnificently swinging singer, sweet and hilarious at the same time.  I never tire of his TUCK ME TO SLEEP IN MY OLD ‘TUCKY HOME:

And another surprise — I can’t watch the Disney films, but their music is priceless and memorable.  If I began my day with WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK, I would arrive at my office with a big smile.  You try it and report back:

A powerful answer to darkness in the universe! 

May your happiness increase.