We take our personalities with us wherever we go. In the case of creative musicians, this is always a good thing, and a new double-disc set showcasing the fine New Orleans trumpeter Alvin Alcorn in concert with a nifty Australian jazz band is a very rewarding example of how well hot music keeps its essential self no matter how many miles from “the source” it is. The set, from the Victorian Jazz Archive (VJAZZ 026), is subtitled “Rare Collectible Jazz From the Archive,” and that’s accurate. By itself, the VJA is a fascinating place: read more here.
The VJA has been quietly yet steadily releasing a series of compact discs of previously unheard or at least quite rare material — featuring Tom Baker, Fred Parkes, Ade Monsbourgh, Frank Traynor, Graeme and Roger Bell and other luminaries, as well as several CDs for “The Progressives”. Details — and sound samples — here.
The newest release in the series is a double-disc package spotlighting New Orleans trumpeter / singer Alvin Alcorn and the Yarra Yarra Jazz Band in concert in 1973. The selections are a comfortable mix of “good old good ones,” with several very fine impromptu vocals from Alvin and one from Kay Younger: THE SECOND LINE / I WANT A LITTLE GIRL / TIPI-TIPI- TIN / EENY MEENY MINEY MO / SAY “SI SI” / BUGLE BOY MARCH / BOURBON STREET PARADE / THAT’S A-PLENTY / BEALE STREET BLUES / INDIANA / TIN ROOF BLUES / JUST A CLOSER WALK WITH THEE / MUSKRAT RAMBLE / I CAN’T GET STARTED / HINDUSTAN / SOME OF THESE DAYS / FIDGETY FEET / ROYAL GARDEN BLUES / BILL BAILEY / ST. LOUIS BLUES / PANAMA / OH, DIDN’T HE RAMBLE – SAINTS. Each disc is nearly seventy-seven minutes of music, and the sound is better than one hears on other concert recordings of this vintage.
The Yarra Yarras (a band formed in 1960) had fine credentials and connections with musicians as diverse as Don Ewell and Ken Colyer, and they bring a fine springy bounce to the sessions. I did notice the rhythm section being slightly at sea on a few of the more unfamiliar songs, but this wasn’t enough to disturb my pleasure.
The real pleasure, for me, is in Alcorn. I came to jazz from a “later” perspective, musically: Forties and Fifties Louis, Bobby Hackett, Ruby Braff, Buck Clayton . . . so I often find “authentic” New Orleans trumpet playing — that I am expected to admire if not revere — a bit rough around the edges. But Alcorn was obviously someone with great subtleties, even when playing the most familiar repertoire. The band rocks and powers along around and below him, and he creates tidy filigree — sounding more like Jonah Jones or Doc Cheatham than Kid Thomas. Everyone seems happy, and Alvin’s vocals are delightful. I encourage you to investigate this set and its colleagues at the VJA site.
May your happiness increase!
Posted in "Thanks A Million", Jazz Titans, Jazz Worth Reading, Pay Attention!, Swing You Cats!, The Real Thing, The Things We Love
Tagged Ade Monsbourgh, Alvin Alcorn, Australian jazz, Bobby Hackett, Buck Clayton, Doc Cheatham, Don Ewell, Frank Traynor, Fred Parkes, Graeme and Roger Bell, Jazz Lives, Kay Younger, Ken Colyer, Kid Thomas, Louis Armstrong, Melbourne, Michael Steinman, New Orleans jazz, Ruby Braff, Tom Baker, Victorian Jazz Archive, Yarra Yarra Jazz Band
Here’s the good news — guitarist John Scurry has announced some regular gigs for his lively band REVERSE SWING (which also features my multi-instrumentalist friend Michael McQuaid, trumpeter Eugene Ball, string bassist Leigh Barker, and singer Heather Stewart.
I looked at my calendar in the kitchen and saw that Thursdays in March were fairly free. Ten dollars is a bargain for two hours of creative improvised music, certainly.
So how am I to get there?
I decided to check out the possible directions through Google Maps . . . and was somewhat dismayed. I read the first two of three stern warnings: “This route has tolls. This route includes a ferry.” I could deal with those details. But “This route crosses through Japan.” gave me pause, as did the distance: 16, 139 miles, and the proposed time: 56 days, 7 hours.
John, I might not make it in time.
But if any JAZZ LIVES readers are closer to Melbourne, I hope they will attend, fill the tip jar (or whatever they call it in Australia) lavishly, perhaps take a few neat videos, and report back. I can attend vicariously.
Posted in Awful Sad, Ideal Places, Jazz Titans, Pay Attention!, Swing You Cats!, The Heroes Among Us, The Real Thing, The Things We Love
Tagged Australia, Eugene Ball, Google Maps, Heather Stewart, Jazz Lives, John Scurry, Leigh Barker, Melbourne, Michael McQuaid, Michael Steinman, reverse swing
I didn’t know who Frank Traynor was until a few weeks ago. And I apologize!
My friend John Trudinger sent me a CD called TROMBONE FRANKIE — a production of the Victorian Jazz Archive — and I confess that because none of the names were particularly recognizable to me in my mind-glossary of Australian musicians (no Bob or Len Barnard, no Fred Parkes) I let the CD sit to the left of my computer monitor for a perversely long time.
One morning, looking for something new to play in the car on the way to work (an ineffable mixture of craving novelty and feeling guilty) I slipped the CD into my pocket and then into the player . . . also because I had been thinking of Bessie Smith’s performance of TROMBONE CHOLLY — a raucous paean to Charlie “Big” Green, who’s Bessie’s partner on that joyous record. So I began listening to Frank Traynor’s Jazz Preachers with the alternate take of TROMBONE FRANKIE, vocal by one Judith Dunham, someone also new to me (although I learned that she became world-famous as a member of the Seekers).
Here’s a version of what I heard — and the elation I felt meant that I played this one track over until I arrived at work. Listen for yourself:
If you’d like to know much more about Traynor and his singular adventures — including a remarkable folk / jazz club, click here (there’s also a beautiful biography and discography):
Posted in "Thanks A Million", Irreplaceable, Jazz Titans, Pay Attention!, Swing You Cats!, The Heroes Among Us, The Real Thing, The Things We Love
Tagged Australian jazz, Bessie Smith, Bill Tope, Bob Barnard, Bob Crawford, Charlie "Big" Green, Charlie Green, Don Bentley, Frank Traynor, Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers, Fred Parkes, Graham Coyle, Helen Violaris, jazz blog, Jazz Lives, John Trudinger, John Woolff, Judith Durham, Len Barnard, Louis Armstrong, Margaret Roadknight, Martin Finn, Mary Traynor, Melbourne, Michael Steinman, Paul Marks, Peter Cleaver, Peter Couchman, PLEASE GIRLS PLEASE, Roger Bell, SWEET PATOOTIE, The Jazz Preachers, The Seekers, Traynor's, TROMBONE CHOLLY, TROMBONE FRANKIE, Victorian Jazz Archive, WASHINGTON SQUARE