Tag Archives: Michael Boving

“SWEET LIKE THIS”: The SCANDINAVIAN RHYTHM BOYS “KEEP HOT”

At the end  of last year, a wonderful CD arrived in the mail — by one of my favorite [not sufficiently well-known] small bands, the SCANDINAVIAN RHYTHM BOYS, a fertile crescent of hot jazz supervised beautifully by banjoist / singer Michael Boving.

Here are some necessary details:

CD-sweet-3a

and the front:

SCANDINAVIAN RHYTHM BOYSand the liner notes by Twenties jazz authority Matt Chauvin:

Notes for SWEET LIKE THIS SRB

The SRB has (or have) been making music since 1997, and we are all the richer for their devotion to the art.

They do not seek to reproduce precisely hallowed recordings.  Rather, they take memorable melodies and great spirit and make them their own.  And they are wise as well as swinging: songs are presented with their verses, and at tempos that feel just right.  They respect the music, but their playing isn’t pedantic; rather, one can feel an impudent playfulness bubbling up from beneath.

Some readers might wonder whether the SRB are a quartet trying to sound like a full ensemble.  Heavens, no: a deep listening session with this disc might make you wonder why other bands need those additional musicians, the overall music and musicality is so satisfying.  And the instrument-doubling comes off beautifully, giving the disc (and the band) an ever-changing variety.  In the age of extended performance, others might wonder why the SRB performances are uncharacteristically brief.  The answer is also brief: they can do more in three minutes than some bands can do all week.

Consider, for a moment, WANG WANG BLUES — which runs just over three minutes.  A brief tour, if you will allow me. The sprightly performance starts with the verse, agile clarinet taking the lead over trumpet commentary and stringed rhythm.  Then, some neat riffing by the horns.  When the band shifts into the chorus, the clarinet is still in the lead, with trumpet echoing the melody, the banjo and string bass making themselves heard and felt.  This section (the first third of the performance) is a sweet throwback to the hot dance records of the Twenties and early Thirties: let the dancers hear the melody, neatly harmonized or in unison, to dance to.  No violent improvisations, no hot polyphony.  Not yet.  At this point, many bands would launch into solos or into ensemble jamming.  But the SRB has other things, very happy ones, in mind. The instruments stop, and the four musicians sing the chorus a cappella, Michael leading them, then repeat it, adding rhythm.  It’s utterly charming, and makes me think happily of a vaudeville act where the musicians did everything to entertain.  Vocal interlude over, the horns set a Basie-out-of-Louis harmony riff behind an arco bass statement of the melody (with nice intonation) backed by banjo.  (Incidentally, Michael is a very subtle banjo artist, a model for those who choose that instrument.)  The final forty-five seconds of this performance offer a gentle mix of polyphony, trumpet in the lead, with a few passages where the horns take the famous melody lines together.

When I first heard this performance, I got stuck on it — and it wasn’t a defect in the disc.  I played it five or six times in a row, delighting in its fresh generosity. And its honesty: it continues to feel authentic to me, deep music made by people who have chosen it as their vocation.

Hear for yourself!  Click the top-right speaker icon hereI rest my case.

The SRB is busy making “old” music fresh, lively, and new.  I salute them.  To purchase the CD, please email Michael Bøving at srbjazz@srbjazz.com — or, if you feel like a chat, his phone is 0045 31230292.

And “Keep hot” is how Michael signs his letters and emails.  A good spiritual philosophy.

May your happiness increase! 

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“ISTEN VELED, KEDVES BARÁTUNK!” or “GOODBYE, DEAR FRIEND”: FOR JOE MURANYI

Michael Cogswell of the Louis Armstrong House Museum has just told us that the memorial service for Joe Muranyi will take place on Tuesday, May 29, 2012, from 7-10 PM.  It will be held at St. Peter’s Church, 619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street, in New York City.  I will provide more details when I know them.

I will have just come back from the Sacramento Music Festival, but I am sure that some JAZZ LIVES readers will be at the memorial service — to honor Joe, to hear good music, and to enjoy his presence through anecdotes and more.

Thanks to the fine swinging Tamas Itzes for the Hungarian farewell-from-the-heart.  And here’s a musical embrace — from Joe, for Joe:

This sweet, sad rendition of NEW ORLEANS features Joe with one of my favorite bands, the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys: Robert Hansson, trumpet; Frans Sjostrom, bass sax; Ole Olsen, string bass; Michael Boving, banjo / vocal.  It was recorded in 2009 by one of my generous-spirited video comrades, Flemming Thorbye.

Goodbye, Joe!  We celebrate you.

May your happiness increase.

GO, LITTLE BAND! — THE SCANDINAVIAN RHYTHM BOYS

Some governments know how to support the arts.

In Denmark, “Nyboder” (which means “new houses”) refers to a historic district of yellow row houses in Copenhagen — houses that were once a naval barracks, built in the early seventeenth century during the reign of King Christian IV.  In 2011, the Danish Ministry of Defense created a documentary film about Nyboder.

One of my favorite hot bands — the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys — were invited to play the theme song.  IN PRAISE OF NYBODER (“Nyboders Pris”) sounds like a traditional air, but it was written in 1930.

The Boys are Robert Hansson, trumpet; Frans Sjostrom, soprano sax; Ole Olsen, bass; Michael Boving, banjo/vocal.  And the fine cinematography is courtesy of Flemming Thorbye, a good friend of JAZZ LIVES:

That song sticks in the memory . . . and here’s one more familiar, the ROYAL GARDEN BLUES (offered at the leisurely Bixish Twenties tempo that Basie and Goodman recalled in the early Forties):

ROYAL GARDEN is also appropriate here because Nyboder is a part of the complex of Rosenborg Castle and the Royal Garden, in the historic part of Copenhagen.  A far cry from South Side Chicago, but Joe Oliver would have admired both performances.  (Incidentally, a vocal chorus on this song is now a rarity, but in its heyday the lyrics were part of the performance: think of the 1931 Ted Lewis recording on which Fats Waller sings.)

For more from the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys, visit them here

— they obviously know how to create beautiful rhythms and melodies!

SOUL MUSIC: THE SCANDINAVIAN RHYTHM BOYS (April 2011)

The four gentlemen who make up the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys make more music than a full orchestra — simple yet deep, propulsive yet full of feeling, with arching melodies, deep roots, and more.  They are Robert Hansson, trumpet; Frans Sjostrom, bass and soprano saxophones; Michael Boving, banjo, guitar, and vocal; Ole Olsen, bass and clarinet.  The excellent videos were created by Flemming Thorbye, my Scandinavian comrade.

Here’s a lovely, poignant version of I’M COMIN’ VIRGINA, with Bix in mind:

MAKE ME A PALLET ON THE FLOOR was “written” by W.C. Handy as the ATLANTA BLUES.  Here, this achingly slow version features Frans on soprano saxophone and Michael on one of his irreplaceable deep-inside vocals.  Robert dares the brass Fates and Ole lays down a foundation you could build a cathedral on:

The Boys ask the unanswerable existential question, HAVE YOU EVER FELT THAT WAY?

Michael continues in the same searching vein, “How long will I have to wait?” enclosed in this rendition of HESITATING BLUES.  (For passion without artifice, he touches the heart every time!):

JUST A CLOSER WALK WITH ME is perfect for a jazz lecture in a church (a very hip church that has both the SRB and a menorah):

Moving again towards secular matters, the Boys explore BUDDY’S HABIT.  We don’t know what his habit was — but I suspect he couldn’t get enough hot, lyrical jazz of the kind the SRB lays down here:

And finally — the most endearing version of “Mind your own business!” you’ll ever hear — AIN’T NOBODY’S BUSINESS IF I DO:

For those who can’t get enough of proper documentation, the first performance was recorded at the Hotel Christiansminde, Svendborg, Denmark, on April 16, 2011.  The remainder were captured at a jazz lecture given by the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys on April 30, 2011, at Broenshoej Kirke — the oldest church in Copenhagen (from 1180) titled GOSPEL, JAZZ, AND THE SONGS OF THE OPPRESSED. 

To hear more, find the SRB’s latest CD — CHARLESTON MAD — a wonderful effort.    

Thank you, Michael, Frans, Robert, Ole, and Flemming!

P.S.  Flemming Thorbye has excellent taste in hot jazz: visit his YouTube channel, thorbye, for much more enjoyment.

CHARLESTON MAD! (The SCANDINAVIAN RHYTHM BOYS)

The Scandinavian Rhythm Boys are a deeply rewarding hot band, and they’ve just come out with a new CD, CHARLESTON MAD.  I’ve been excited by the band for a few years now.  And I was delighted to be able to write a short liner note for this new release, which I’ve reprinted below.

I first encountered the SRB on YouTube and was astonished and delighted by their skill and feeling, their wit and casual intensity. I didn’t feel the need for a pianist, a trombonist, a drummer. They swung; they were complete; they lived within the jazz tradition without imitating its recorded artifacts. Even better, they had solved the problem common to musical groups and larger communities (world leaders take note): how to gather individuals with strong personalities and blend them into a cohesive whole without trampling on anyone’s identity.

Who are the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys? I’ll start with the one musician I’ve been privileged to meet: reed master Frans Sjostrom. (I’m especially happy that I’ve learned how to pronounce his name correctly.) Frans’ rhythm is irresistible; his solos are haunting songs. The easy assessment on hearing Frans play the bass sax is to compare him to Adrian Rollini, but why define his creativity in such a narrow way? When I hear Frans play any saxophone I think of Coleman Hawkins; I think of Pablo Casals.

Then there’s Ole Olsen, whose clarinet playing has the deep feeling and down-home ease of Louis Cottrell and the New Orleans masters. On string bass, he supports and guides the group with his simple, neat lines, his woody sound, his strong pulse. His partner is the splendid Michael Boving, whose banjo rings and whispers – never a threat to communal serenity. Ole and Michael could rock a seventeen-piece band and have energy left over after the gig. Michael is also an astonishing singer whose vocals come from his heart. When he sings, “How long will I have to wait?” it has the mournful shouting force of a soul in torment; when he tells you he’s “Charleston mad,” we know it’s true.

Robert Hansson must have daredevils and acrobats in his genetic makeup, because he knows no fear: his spinning, shining lines, light as air, leap and dance high above the crowd. I think of early Bill Coleman, of Doc Cheatham, of Bob Barnard when I hear Robert – and of bright traceries in the twilight sky.

These four players combine to make lovely music, an art that doesn’t show off how difficult its achievements are. Whether they’re playing the classic jazz repertoire of Joe Oliver, Clarence Williams, Lovie Austin, or the ODJB, or Scandinavian pop classics – they spread joy and inspire us to smile, to dance, to exult. What a delicious accomplishment this CD is!

The website for the SRB is http://www.srbjazz.com.  There you can hear two performances from the CD, HESITATING BLUES and CLARINET MARMALADE, and there you can buy the CD.  Or, as Michael Boving suggested, “JAZZCLUB Copenhagen is our best jazz record shop in town.  They have
got the CD and it can be ordered now – your readers can find Jazzclub Copenhagen on Google and it’s there.”

Here are two video clips recorded by our mutual friend Flemming Thorbye — of the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys on a harbor cruise in Copenhagen.  One of the sweetest things about this CD, by the way, is that the SRB create swinging versions of Scandinavian classic pop tunes — giving listeners like myself something new to hum (something new that we can’t get out of our heads no matter how hard we try)!

Here’s TRUBBLE:

And here’s the title tune, with a thrilling, rough-cut vocal by Michael Boving, CHARLESTON MAD:

There are many video clips of the SRB on YouTube, including a few with the esteemed Joe Muranyi, but none of them will substitute for the pleasure of this CD — which I’ve been playing while driving through Central Park, for instance, with my window rolled down and the volume up to respectable (I hope not annoying) levels, sending this Good Hot Music out into the world.  It deserves to be heard!  (One of the best vignettes on this disc is the Richard M. Jones song — I associate it with the Oliver band — I AIN’T GONNA TELL NOBODY — which I’ve never heard with lyrics.  That is the very opposite of the way I feel about this music.)

ALL AROUND US on MAY 23, 2010

YouTube provided a very encouraging coincidence — two inspiring jazz events taking place on the same day, May 23, 2010 — one in Denmark, one in Arizona.  I always hope that Hot jazz is ubiquitous, that somewhere the Ghanian Revelers or the Croatian Wanderers are playing MABEL’S DREAM or DICKIE’S DREAM or SOLID OLD MAN — and these two clips suggest the truth might not be that far away. 

First, the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys on a Copenhagen canal boat — recorded in lovely HD by Thorbye Flemming.  Their choice is LOUIS-I-AN-I-A (by Joe Darensbourg, I think?) with a very lively and current impromptu set of lyrics by banjoist Michael Boving, who has a remarkable shouting style.  He’s joined here by Robert Hansson, trumpet; Frans Sjostrom, bass sax; Ole Olsen; bass.  Sit down, you’re rocking the boat!

Rae Ann Berry went to the Arizona Classic Jazz Society’s May meeting (how lucky for us!) and had a hand in this concert appearance by Ray Skjelbred and his Cubs, who are Ray on piano; Kim Cusack on reeds; Katie Cavera on guitar; Clint Baker on bass; Hal Smith on drums.  (Hal would have me tell you, in the spirit of full and frank disclosure, that he had a terrible cold and was filled to the gills with immobilizing medicine.  He sounds fine to me.)

Here’s their slow-burning take on IDOLIZING, which is entirely associated with Bix and Jean Goldkette, who took it at a much faster tempo:

And some Western Swing (I think of Retta Christie’s great version) on RIDIN’ DOWN THE CANYON, a special treat being Ray’s laconic but utterly idiomatic vocal:

And in honor of Lillie Delk Christian, Billie Holiday, and Benny Goodman, here’s I MUST HAVE THAT MAN:

This is only a sample: the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys also favored the passengers with CLARINET MARMALADE, and Ray and the Cubs performed about twenty more songs: enjoy what happened on May 23, 2010!

“KEEP HOT!”

In THE SPIRIT OF LOUIS, 2009, not long ago, I posted three video performances where the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys were joined by one of the remaining Elders, clarinetist Joe Muranyi.  (https://jazzlives.wordpress.com/2009/11/02/the-spirit-of-louis-2009/)

If those videos eluded you, or the SRB are new to you, here they are, in Toronto, playing BLUE (and BROKEN-HEARTED).  The “Boys” in this incarnation are Hans Jorgen Hansen, bass saxophone and other reeds; Robert Hansson, trumpet; Paul Waters, bass; Michael Bøving, banjo and vocal.  And the nicely-done video is by Flemming Thorbye, who has preserved so much fine jazz on YouTube.   

I find this very affecting.  It takes experience to play with such emotion yet to be so restrained.  As the late Leroy “Sam” Parkins often said, a group like this is in no hurry; they are taking their time.  And they get there!

A package arrived the other day, STARDUST, a CD with two sessions by the SRB — one with Joe Muranyi.  I had been impressed with the YouTube clips I had seen, but they were nothing compared to the sound of the SRB in the recording studio.  For one thing, the studio itself is spacious — I would guess that the musicians get to see each other and hear other without baffles and headphones.  Thus the result is like being very close up to a live performance in a space with ideal acoustics and ambiance. 

And the SRB plays its collective heart out, without strain.  Waters’ bass is propulsive without being pushing; his slap-technique is never monotonous or wooden.  Hansen has a fine, eloquent facility on all his horns, and he is a masterful ensemble player.  Boving is a steady, serene banjoist without the excesses of enthusiasm often connected to that instrument, and he is a compelling singer — idiosyncratic but with a huge, exuberant voice and attack, a heroic vibrato that made it seem as if every song was his own personal, passionate utterance.  And Hansson is simply a magnificent trumpeter — with a casual daring that honors Louis and Bix, without copying their phrases.  His easy mountain-scaling reminded me of Hackett, Cheatham, and Bob Barnard — and it’s supported by a sophisticated harmonic and rhythmic awareness.  Muranyi, the guest star, brings his own amused fervor to the proceedings, whether playing or singing his own gleeful I DIG SATCH.  And the SRB, with or without Joe, is clearly having fun without being self-consciously silly.  They are a wonderfully rewarding band, and this CD is just delightful, with repertoire that goes from Handy to Lyttelton to Jobim and back to Bix-associated tunes without anything sounding forced.  (A prize goes to listeners who recognize the Armstrong ending that brilliantly concludes SMILES!)

The CD is available through the SRB website (www.srbjazz.com.) and email inquiries can be sent to srbjazz@srbjazz.com

And my title?  It’s how Michael Boving signed his little note along with the CD.  The music it contains shows that he and his colleagues are keeping the faith.