Tag Archives: Michael Steinman

QUIETLY MESMERIZING: JINJOO YOO PLAYS HARRY WARREN (Birdland, April 17, 2022)

You know Beauty when it stops you in your tracks and says, “Sit still. Clear your mind. Something real is happening.” Beauty doesn’t have to be loud; it avoids capital letters; it seduces rather than commands. And in its presence, the heart and the ears open wide and stay that way, reveling in the rare world that has been created.

Pianist JinJoo Yoo had a gig at Birdland a little less than a month ago, with her trio and the bass clarinetist Stefano Doglioni. I wasn’t there because I was recuperating from an overseas trip. But JinJoo filled the air with the most delicate compelling lovely sounds. Thank the Deities for video-recording: here she is, performing Harry Warren’s WOULD YOU LIKE TO TAKE A WALK? — complete with verse — as if reverent attention to melody, harmony, and subtle rhythmic motion was the most important thing in the world. Listen attentively and marvel at the sweet structures (and occasional surprises) she lays out for us: a completely fulfilling musical experience.

As delicious as a walk with someone you love, or in rewarding solitude. What magic!

May your happiness increase!

THE IMMORTAL BOB BARNARD (1933-2022), PART FIVE: BOB AT THE EUREKA JAZZ FESTIVAL, BALLARAT, with THE AUSTRALIANS: NEVILLE STRIBLING, ADE MONSBOURGH, GRAHAM COYLE, CONRAD JOYCE, PETER CLEAVER, ALLAN BROWNE (1986)

These video performances (thanks to Simon Stribling, a brilliant trumpeter and alto saxophonist) have been on YouTube for perhaps fifteen years, but even I didn’t know of all of them, so I urge you to watch, enjoy, and marvel.

The band alongside Bob, cornet, is Neville Stribling, alto saxophone, clarinet, vocal; Ade Monsbourgh, tenor saxophone, clarinet, vocal; Graham Coyle, piano; Conrad Joyce, string bass; Peter Cleaver, guitar / banjo; Allan Browne, drums, washboard. Jazz royalty. And the repertoire has a distinct Louis flavor with one bow to the Rhythmakers and another to Coleman Hawkins and Benny Carter: what could be wrong with that?

Astonishing lyrical hot playing, offered to us with the greatest casualness: the work of masters.

WHEN YOU’RE SMILING:

IF I COULD BE WITH YOU ONE HOUR TONIGHT (vocal, Neville):

OH, PETER (YOU’RE SO NICE)!:

MY BUDDY (for Coleman Hawkins and Benny Carter):

I’M A DING DONG DADDY (FROM DUMAS):

I rarely make such claims, but if you can listen to this music without being uplifted, I would think we have little in common.

I am, for the moment, concluding my little series of loving homages to Bob Barnard. But he and his sound are never far from my ears and heart. And I — a retired academic — offer JAZZ LIVES’ readers the most pleasing homework: go and find more of his music, to start and end your days in joy.

Thanks also to John Scurry for his consistent support and his help with this post.

May your happiness increase!

THE IMMORTAL BOB BARNARD (1933-2022), PART FOUR: BOB, CAPTURED IN FLIGHT (Jazz at Chautauqua and with Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks)

Thinking of mid-period blue-label Decca Louis for I’M SHOOTING HIGH, with John Sheridan, piano; Frank Tate, string bass; Arnie Kinsella, drums (Jazz at Chautauqua, September 21, 2007, surreptitious audio only):

On a visit to New York in 2010, Bob sat in with Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks (personnel given in the description) for a few songs:

SOMEBODY LOVES ME:

More Louis, appropriately, with SOMEDAY YOU’LL BE SORRY:

and that hymn to staying at home, BACK IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD:

Bob brought joy then and continues to do so now.

May your happiness increase!

THE IMMORTAL BOB BARNARD (1933-2022), PART THREE, CREATING JOY WITH FRIENDS: The ALL STARS SWINGBAND LIVE in DELFT. JOEP PEETERS, JOHN SMITH, FRANK ROBERSCHEUTEN, ROBERT VEEN, MIKE GOETZ, JOHN RIJNEN, ONNO De BRUIN, SARA KOOLEN. (“Jazzclub The Five, August 21, 1997: Grand Café ‘Verderop.'”)

I could go on praising, celebrating, and mourning Bob Barnard for quite some time, especially as wondrous new evidence comes up on YouTube, such as this informal delicious eruption by an international band of heroes. Thanks to Willem van Geest for capturing and sharing it; thanks to Bob, Joep Peeters, vibraphone; John Smith, soprano saxophone; Frank Roberscheuten, tenor saxophone; Robert Veen, clarinet; Mike Goetz, piano; John Rijnen, string bass; Onno de Bruin, drums; Sara Koolen, vocal. Good old-new-fashioned Swing-Mainstream, expert loving capers from all.

NAGASAKI / I CAN’T GIVE YOU ANYTHING BUT LOVE (Sara) / I FOUND A NEW BABY / Closing:

The music lives on, as do those who create it and share it from their generous souls.

May your happiness increase!

THE IMMORTAL BOB BARNARD (1933-2022), PART TWO: CHEER IN THE MIDST OF SORROW

In yesterday’s post celebrating the extraordinary person and musician Bob Barnard, I referred to his delightful penchant for songs no one else was playing or improvising on. I suggested it was a love of melodies, but I think also it was a way of avoiding routine, sweetly challenging himself and the others on the stand, so the musical special for this evening wouldn’t be ROYAL GARDEN BLUES or SATIN DOLL, although he played them with ingenuity and fervor.

I wish I had had my recording equipment at Jazz at Chautauqua when Bob played A BROWN SLOUCH HAT, the patriotic Australian song from 1942 that I suspect few, if any in the audience had heard or heard of. But I was properly equipped in 2007 (although secretly) when he called this tune, from PINOCCHIO, by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington, sung by Cliff Edwards as “Jiminy Cricket”:

So to celebrate Bob properly, as a bright beacon of joy, I offer this audio-only performance from the 2007 Jazz at Chautauqua weekend. The other soloists are Bob Havens, trombone; Dan Block, clarinet; Keith Ingham, piano; Frank Tate, string bass; Arnie Kinsella, drums. Performed on Friday, September 14, 2007 and recorded surreptitiously, of course:

And always let your conscience be your guide.

THE IMMORTAL BOB BARNARD (1933-2022)

Wikipedia, where almost-cooked facts are arranged for our pleasure, tells me today that Bob Barnard, “an Australian trumpet and cornet player,” born November 24, 1933, died yesterday, May 7, 2022. I heard the news yesterday from the very fine friend of the music John Trudinger. My first reaction was double: I felt as if I’d been pierced right through my chest, but at the same time I heard a great golden sound, that of Bob’s glowing horn. And I thought of what Bobby Hackett had said of Louis Armstrong’s “death,” that Louis was alive as long as we could hear him.

I was fortunate to see and hear and even chat with Bob on his visits to New York and to Jazz at Chautauqua, which is why I start with his rare character. He had his own center, a sweet equanimity. He was ready to find the world both welcoming and amusing, and although I never heard him tell a joke (or be mean at someone’s expense), he always looked as if he was ready to start laughing — of course, not when the horn was at his lips, when he was completely serious. I think of him with a gentle amiability, head slightly cocked at the latest absurdity but ready to make everything right through music.

Along with that ease in the world, and perhaps its foundation, was a lovely mature courage. When he led groups at Chautauqua and elsewhere — musicians who didn’t usually play together or who (let me whisper this) always know more obscure repertoire, he was beautifully unflappable. He called tunes that he knew everyone would enjoy, but when he announced BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS or GIVE A LITTLE WHISTLE I could see the faintest looks of “What the hell is this? How does the bridge go?” among the very experienced musicians on the stand. Bob called a medium tempo and started playing the melody . . . wordlessly teaching by example, “THIS is how it goes. Follow me and I won’t let you get lost.” And no one did.

I hope that my readers know what an unforgiving instrument the trumpet (or cornet) is, how demanding . . . and if they don’t know, they pick one up sometime and attempt a clear tone, held notes, the barest semblance of agility.

Bob, Pat O’Leary, Scott Robinson, Matt Munisteri at The Ear Inn, 2010.

Bob is — not was — an absolutely spectacular brass virtuoso. But one with deep-seated taste and grace. He came out of Louis and Bix, but with a keen sense of their songful lyricism: the only one who approached his mastery in this is Connie Jones. He was also fearlessly agile all over the range of the horn. I think of Bob’s limber, audaciously sweet playing as skywriting or acrobatics on the highest diving board.

Here’s a sample from Bob’s visit to The Ear Inn, September 26, 2010, with Scott Robinson, tenor saxophone; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Pat O’Leary, string bass:

and also in sweetly Louis-inspired mode, performances with John Sheridan, piano; Arnie Kinsella, drums, at Jazz at Chautauqua, September 16, 2010.

I LOVE YOU, SAMANTHA (from High Society):

LYIN’ TO MYSELF (from the glorious Deccas):

and, finally, THE SKELETON IN THE CLOSET. Originally I thought that bringing this performance forward to mark Bob’s moving on would seem a failure of taste, but I think he would laugh at the juxtaposition, never one to take himself too seriously:

And a beautiful interlude from Bob’s last recording session, JUST MY LUCK, with guitarist Ian Date in March 2016:

Bob made his first recordings in 1949, and readers who know him will have their own favorites. But you can hear his style, his joy, his lyrical exuberance in these performances. And if you knew him, even glancingly, as I did, you hear the friendly singular man, in love with melodies, in every note.

He lives on and will live on in those sounds.

May your happiness increase!

“A HEROIC THING”: VIC, SUPREME

Vic Dickenson spent most of 1945-47 in California and recorded prolifically with a wide variety of bands — appearing memorably alongside Louis, Hawkins, Leo Watson — as well as playing on JUBILEE broadcasts. And he had the opportunity to record as a leader for I think the first time, for the rather under-publicized SUPREME label, in late 1947. (The impending record ban may have made this even more of an opportunity.) From what I saw of Vic in person, later in life, he was perfectly happy to be a sideman, although he was asked to lead in the recording studio often in the last three decades of his life.

I stumbled across this YouTube posting of one of the SUPREME sides and noted with dismay that only 33 people had viewed it, the other side had 17 views. This post is my small effort to raise those numbers for the greater glory of Vic.

The band is not what some might expect from Vic — much more 1947 bop than loose improvising — but he stands out beautifully among the more “modern” Californians: Jack Trainor, trumpet; Jewell Grant, alto saxophone; J.D. King, tenor saxophone; Skip Johnson, piano, arranger; Billy Hadnott, string bass; Chico Hamilton, drums. Yes, ST. LOUIS BLUES begins with Vic playing Louis’ WEST END BLUES cadenza, slightly truncated (I heard him play it all, gorgeously, a number of times in performance) and his later solo is still rooted in his own version of 1928 Louis. And his winning vocal!

and a song Vic made his own many times, YOU MADE ME LOVE YOU. Here, much of the record is given over to the band (Vic was never one to demand the spotlight) and they have their own take on the Eddie Heywood arrangement Vic had recorded a year earlier:

To me, Vic is a hero of sound among heroes, someone consistently underrated — but not by people like Roswell Rudd, who was most eloquent in his praise:

Vic Dickenson. You know it right away from the sound. Every note that he plays. He’s got so much personality. This is something you find in the older players, that every note they play is imbued with their own character. I guess it breaks down to where nowadays it’s hard to separate people by the particular personality that they have in their sound. But back in the days when there were fewer people doing this, there was more identifiable individuality. But now so many more people are doing this that it becomes harder and harder to identify the individuals. But they’re still there! I’m telling you. And especially on this instrument, which is all about imbuing the sound with your own personality so that you can be identified just from the sound of a few notes that you play. . . . You know who he is right away. I don’t know whether it’s because I was there or I grew up on it. But these sounds are so distinctive, these voices. Vic Dickenson liberated the trombone into linear improvisation the same way Jack Teagarden did, and this was a heroic thing.  

from a 2001 “Blindfold Test” conducted for Down Beat by Ted Panken, reprinted from Ted’s blog, TODAY IS THE QUESTION.

Listen to Vic, I say. And not just these sides.

May your happiness increase!

FIVE MINUTES OF HEATED BLISS: RAY SKJELBRED AND HIS CUBS at SACRAMENTO (KIM CUSACK, CLINT BAKER, JEFF HAMILTON, KATIE CAVERA: May 24, 2014) and A BRIEF EMERSONIAN INTERLUDE: RAY SKJELBRED, March 8, 2014.

The song is CHINA BOY and I believe the next words of the chorus are GO SLEEP, but you couldn’t find a finer example of being brilliantly awake than this performance.

These five musicians are billed as RAY SKJELBRED AND HIS CUBS, with Ray at the piano, the occasional vocal, arrangements and spiritual-ethical leadership; Kim Cusack, clarinet; Katie Cavera, guitar; Clint Baker, string bass; Jeff Hamilton, drums. (Study Hamilton’s melodic accompaniment and solo!)

This performance comes from the Sacramento Music Festival (although I may have the rapidly-changing name wrong) in a delightfully compact room on May 24, 2014:

That is compelling evidence of the magnificence of this little band: hot and delicate all at once, plunging forward with the greatest relaxation. I hope our paths intersect before too long.

In 2014, I had the serious luxury of encountering Ray in a variety of settings at a number of festivals and gigs: I look back on those days and those sounds with wonder — both that they occurred and that I was able to witness them and capture them.

While I was sauntering through my archive of unreleased performances by Ray and friends, I found something unusual — although not unusual for those of us who honor and follow him, those of us who have seen him at jazz festivals, moving from one venue to another, becoming friends with each new piano, taking its pulse by playing it, meditatively yet with strong emotions. During the Jazz Fest by the Bay in Monterey, I knew his meditative ways well enough to turn my camera on him before he became part of the ensemble — Bob Schulz’s Frisco Jazz Band, in red polo shirts. And I was rewarded.

Ray told me, “The piano interlude is sort of what I like to do as I adjust to a new piano and setting.” I’ve heard him explore rare Ellington, a Monk blues, Thirties pop songs, and more. I hear the laandmarks of a characteristic blues strain and Bud Freeman’s AFTER AWHILE.

But the interlude so strongly made me think of someone who probably spent no time at the keyboard and who died long before Jess Stacy was born . . . I mean Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote in SELF-RELIANCE, the source of these lines: “It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.“

Yes, perfect sweetness, mixed with Chicago grit and California musing. Thank you, Cubs. Thank you, Ray.

May your happiness increase!

DOWNSTAIRS JOYS AT 15 BARROW STREET: JON-ERIK KELLSO, EVAN ARNTZEN, ALBANIE FALLETTA, JEN HODGE (Cafe Bohemia, January 9, 2020)

Cafe Bohemia, 15 Barrow Street, Greenwich Village, New York City c. 2020.

“On the night in question,” as they say on police procedural television shows, Jen Hodge, string bass, and Albanie Falletta, resonator guitar:

Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet, and Evan Arntzen, clarinet:
Magic grooving, one flight down:

I recently uncovered much more music from this night — before the world went into its nightmarish nap — and hope to share it with you. What wonders were created! And, fortunately for us, the four heroes are alive and well and playing / singing beautifully today.

May your happiness increase!

BRILLIANT, EXPERT, FUN: THE ANACHRONIC JAZZ BAND (Nice, July 16, 1977)

Thirty years ago and more, in a used record store, I found this disc. I was so provincial that the names on the front and back covers did not mean anything to me, but the premise of the disc fascinated me and I bought it.

That premise was splendidly unusual: to take modern jazz classics, score them for a jazz orchestra in consciously anachronistic styles — not jamming, although there were hot solos in abundance — but “styles” that were precise and expert . . . let us say, ANTHROPOLOGY as the 1925 Fletcher Henderson band would have played it, or a Monk composition as played by the Red Hot Peppers.

I had seen a number of examples of this time-travel created in the Fifties (including Phil Sunkel, Dave McKenna, and Bob Wilber) where bands took, for instance, MUSKRAT RAMBLE and scored it in “cool” or “modern” style. But the Anachronics went both forwards and backwards in the most expert and hilarious style: dazzling deft syncopated fun.

They were a working band from 1976-79 and had a reunion in 2013. Fortunately for us, many of their recordings have been collected on three CDs — a two-disc set of their 1976-79 recordings, below —

and their reunion, BACK IN TOWN, which I reviewed here.

This spring, a friend sent me a video of their forty-minute set at the Nice Jazz Festival in July 1977. Excerpts from this performance have been shared on YouTube for more than a decade, but this copy is clear and complete.

And joyous. And wise. Only musicians who not only know the whole continuum of jazz and can play it superbly could make this happen.

So I present it to you: even if you have seen it before, you will find it uplifting. Think of a clarinet trio on BERNIE’S TUNE, or Louis playing ASK ME NOW in his 1933 Victor style, or YARDBIRD SUITE as a thrilling showcase for clarinet and recorder, JORDU reimagined as early Ellington with a tuba solo and echoes of Cecil Scott, ANTHROPOLOGY played as if by a superbly free Morton group, BLUE MONK with a tango interlude, I HOPE GABRIEL LIKES MY MUSIC as if Louis had stopped by in Camden, New Jersey, for the final Moten session.

And once you have admired the whole delightful conception, the just-right ensemble work and the glowing horn soloists, step back and admire the heartbeat pulse of the band, that rhythm section. I find it difficult to restrict my enthusiasm . . . and you will feel, hear, and see why.

ANACHRONIC JAZZ BAND (La grande parade du jazz, Nice, July 16, 1977): Patrick Artero, trumpet, arrangements; Daniel Barda, trombone; Marc Richard, clarinet, arrangements; André Villeger, tenor saxophone, arrangements; Daniel Huck, vocal, clarinet, alto saxophone; Philippe Baudoin, piano, arrangements; Gérard Gervois, brass bass; Patrick Diaz, banjo; Bernard Laye, drums. Göran Eriksson, recorder added on YARDBIRD SUITE and GABRIEL.

‘ROUND MIDNIGHT (Huck, vocal) / BERNIE’S TUNE / ASK ME NOW / YARDBIRD SUITE / JORDU / ANTHROPOLOGY / BLUE MONK / I HOPE GABRIEL LIKES MY MUSIC (Huck, vocal).

What an extraordinary orchestra they are. Unforgettable. Thanks to Monsieurs Artero, Richard, Baudoin, and Jean-Francois Bonnel for making this post possible.

May your happiness increase!

“FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART, DEAR”: CLAUDE HOPKINS, BUDDY TATE, JOE THOMAS, WENDELL MARSHALL, J.C. HEARD (February 21, 1961)

I haven’t done anything that would require an apology or what my friend Richard would call an act of contrition, but this lovely ballad, I APOLOGIZE, has taken up residence in my head. You can find emotional versions by Bing, many by Billy Eckstine, and other singers on YouTube, but this instrumental version feels like the ideal ballad performance: quiet but completely intense.

This performance by Claude Hopkins, piano; Buddy Tate, tenor saxophone; Joe Thomas, trumpet; Wendell Marshall, string bass; J.C. Heard, drums was recorded in 1961. My microgroove copy of this session goes back to the very early Seventies, when Prestige, Riverside, and Verve lps were being sold at very low prices, and it remains a treasure. In the Seventies as well, I saw (and sometimes spoke to) Claude, Joe, and Buddy, so I feel connected to their work.

It is very much a showpiece for the two horns, with the rhythm section discreetly supporting (Claude’s tremolos behind Buddy are a wonderful touch). Buddy’s approach to the melody is like the embrace of someone in a fur coat, delightfully enveloping both the notes and the listener; Joe’s sotto voce comments are perfect counterpoint, affirming and responding. I am sorry that Prestige did not consider a whole album of ballads for this team (they had a “Moodsville” series, presumably meant as a soundtrack for quiet intimacies) but this is memorable to me. And, I hope, to you:

Simple and simply beautiful.

May your happiness increase!

PIANO OUT FRONT: JOHNNY GUARNIERI, EARL HINES, ART HODES, SAMMY PRICE (Nice Jazz Festival, July 1975)

Johnny Guarnieri

Here is a piano potpourri from the 1975 Nice Jazz Festival, broadcast on French television in 1977. In reverse, we have the amazingly durable Sammy Price and Art Hodes approaching the blues in their own ways, the former creating Saturday-night dance music, the latter burrowing deep inside the form; Earl Hines wandering the cosmos in his astonishing fashion, improvising on a swing standard and two “pop tunes” as he had always done. For me, the crown goes to the less-heralded Johnny Guarnieri, swinging and striding irresistibly at a variety of tempos: I wish more people paid attention to his beautiful approaches to the idiom. Listen to his WILD ABOUT HARRY and the rest. But you’ll decide; there’s no final examination in this post.

Johnny Guarnieri: BYE BYE BLUES [mislabeled as WANG WANG BLUES] – I’M JUST WILD ABOUT HARRY (solo) / S’POSIN’ (add Larry Ridley, string bass, Ray Mosca, drums) (7.22-23.75)

Earl Hines: CANADIAN SUNSET – LULLABY OF BIRDLAND – CLOSE TO YOU (Harley White, string bass; Eddie Graham, drums)

Art Hodes (7.27.75) THE MOOCHE

Johnny Guarnieri: THE SHEIK OF ARABY / (7.24.75) CAROLINA SHOUT

Sammy Price (7.25.75) BOOGIE WOOGIE (Doc Cheatham, Gene Connors, John Hardee, others):

What marvels the Elders created, so casually and so fervently.

May your happiness increase!

WHEN THE RADIO WAS HOT: “JAZZ AT STORYVILLE,” featuring PEANUTS HUCKO, JOHNNY WINDHURST, GEORGE WEIN, DICK LE FAVE, JOHN FIELD, MARQUIS FOSTER, ERWIN FERRY, EDDIE PHYFE, and NAT HENTOFF (WMEX, Boston 1951).

Johnny Windhurst
Peanuts Hucko at the Famous Door, 1946-48, by William P. Gottlieb
George Wein

There was a time when live hot jazz came pouring out of the speaker of your AM radio. We’ve heard airshots by the big bands and Charlie Parker and his friends, but radio station WMEX in Boston, for a time, offered prime live music, often hosted by a then-young Nat Hentoff. Collectors recorded and saved these broadcasts, doing us a great service decades later. My copy of this music may have originated with Joe Boughton, who passed it on to John L. Fell.

Here’s a half-hour of lively music from the spring of 1951, a Sunday afternoon session, “Jazz at Storyville,” from George Wein’s club in that city. The players are Johnny Windhurst, cornet; Peanuts Hucko, clarinet, vocal; Dick Le Fave, trombone; Wein, piano; John Field, string bass; Marquis Foster, drums, later joined by Erwin Ferry, trombone, with Eddie Phyfe replacing Foster.

The repertoire is what you would hear at Eddie Condon’s club in New York, and that is no bad thing: INTRODUCTION / ROYAL GARDEN BLUES / SQUEEZE ME (scat vocal Hucko) / STEALIN’ APPLES (Hucko, Wein, Field, Foster) / Eddie Phyfe, drums, replaces Foster; Erwin Perry, tenor saxophone added for EASTER PARADE / WHEN YOU’RE SMILING / IMPROVISATION FOR THE MARCH OF TIME (or DEEP HARLEM) //

I’m most charmed by Hucko’s vocal, Windhurst’s electricity, and Wein in splendid form, but this half-hour stands as testimony to the durability of the common hot language, call the results what you will:

Seventy-one years old, but it doesn’t show its age.

May your happiness increase!

“SPIRITUAL REFRESHMENT”: YAALA BALLIN and MICHAEL KANAN (February 13, 2022)

It was the Sunday before Valentine’s Day . . . and properly, the OAO and I were at St. John’s in the Village on Eleventh Street to hear and capture another delightful recital by Yaala Ballin and Michael Kanan, two of my favorite song-explorers.

As is their playful habit, Yaala and Michael made their recital inclusive in the nicest ways. No, the audience was not invited to sing along, but they did shape the event by choosing the repertoire, on the spot and in advance. And wonders resulted.

Because of the holiday, love was the theme. But since the repertoire is not only celebratory, their were beautiful tributes to devotion, harder-edged rueful dialogues on love that got away as well as its glories. Here are six beauties, some as brief as one chorus, but how much music Yaala and Michael can create in thirty-two bars!

The banner inviting all to Yaala and Michael’s 2019 concert. Truth in advertising.

LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY:

I LET A SONG GO OUT OF MY HEART:

ALL TOO SOON:

FALLING IN LOVE WITH LOVE:

IT’S ALL RIGHT WITH ME:

MORE THAN YOU KNOW:

It was snowing that afternoon, but the music kept us warm for days, and it continues to do so now.

May your happiness increase!

ALL AGLOW IN THE DARK: TAMAR KORN, MARK SHANE, JON-ERIK KELLSO, KEVIN DORN (Cellar Dog, March 16, 2022)

Memorable music flourishes in the most unlikely situations. Cellar Dog (once Fat Cat) at 75 Christopher Street, is dark — and the happy crowd of young people playing ping-pong and other indoor sports can sometimes be, let us say, overly conversational. But one’s eye and ear get used to these imperfections: the world isn’t a concert hall. The delightfully shaded music comes right through, as it did on the evening of March 16, 2022, when Tamar Korn, voice; Mark Shane, piano; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Kevin Dorn, drums, came out of the darkness to embrace us. And the ping-pong players were dancing at their tables, so they heard it too.

BIG CITY BLUES:

CLOSE YOUR EYES:

and, cosmologically, with an “oration” from essayist-philosopher Michael Ventura, Tamar and the band soar HOW HIGH THE MOON:

An absolutely delightful musical evening. Elsewhere on this blog I have posted three instrumentals by the Kellso-Shane-Dorn powerhouse, and Tamar’s completely touching performances of ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? and YOUNG AT HEART. Watch, marvel, and be there in spirit.

May your happiness increase!

A TENDER INTERLUDE: GABRIELLE STRAVELLI, MICHAEL KANAN, DAN BLOCK, PAT O’LEARY (Swing 46, December 14, 2021)

A WEAVER OF DREAMS, music by Victor Young, lyrics by Jack Elliott, published in 1951, is both notable and obscure. It’s been recorded by so many people (Lord’s discography lists 154 recordings): Carmen McRae, Nat King Cole, Billy Eckstine, John Coltrane, Kenny Burrell, Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, Cedar Walton, Lee Konitz, Tony Bennett come to mind, but I couldn’t remember hearing it performed on a gig until Gabrielle Stravelli sang it with Dan Block, tenor saxophone; Michael Kanan, piano; Pat O’Leary, string bass, at Swing 46, on December 14, 2021.

This version is pensive and lovely. I hope more people add this song to their repertoires, and, as always, I hope to expand the fan clubs of Gabrielle, Dan, Michael, and Pat — working band of four friends:

This band and these musicians are reasons I plan to stay in New York: they make what could be an urban desert bloom and keep blooming.

May your happiness increase!

“MY NEW RECRUIT IS MIGHTY SWEET AND CUTE,” THE ROMANTIC MISTER MORTON: JON-ERIK KELLSO, HARVEY TIBBS, MATT MUNISTERI, NEAL MINER (The Ear Out, October 3, 2021)

At the end of last summer, one of the great pleasures was the Sunday sessions created by the EarRegulars outside of the Ear Inn on 326 Spring Street. I’ve been sending their wonderful music out slowly, a performance at a time, hoping to come to the end of the 2021 gifts as the 2022 summer sessions begin again. Cue Helen Humes singing I CAN DREAM, CAN’T I?

On October 3, the EarRegulars were Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Harvey Tibbs, trombone; Neal Miner, string bass. And here they are musing their way, collectively and singly, through Jelly Roll Morton’s SWEET SUBSTITUTE, with delicacy and fervor:

Accept no substitutes. Ask for The EarRegulars wherever better music can be found. (They have resumed their Sunday evening sessions indoors, from 8-11, loosely, and those gatherings at 326 Spring Street are also life-changing, in subtle ways.)

May your happiness increase!

“WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, YOU CAN TURN TO JAZZ”: A CONCERT FOR RICHIE COLE (1867 Sanctuary, Sunday, May 1, 2022)

If you don’t know the alto saxophonist Richie Cole, a New Jersey native who left us in 2020, please listen to these two examples of his work. First, joyously playful:

Here, making a well-worn ballad both entrancing and swinging:

A passionate approach grounded in the great traditions but stamped with his own personality. Please enjoy the video announcing the concert (fine work by Mike Salvatore) and if you are nearby, be sure to come by. The Sanctuary has wonderful acoustics and a lovely ambiance.

And the details of the concert — Richie’s ALTO MADNESS band with sitters-in invited — are in the video:

Richie was not only a sweet soulful player; he was a sweet soulful person. My friend Richard Salvucci, a wise jazz listener and writer, encountered Richie in person:

I guess it was around the summer of 2000 when I was in London for research work. Our kids were with us. So we took every opportunity to take them to museums, concerts, whatever. I was especially happy because there was a lot of jazz around London, and I could take Martin to hear people like Lou Donaldson, Warren Vache, and Ralph Sutton. We didn’t know Richie was gonna be in town until we stumbled on an advert for a new club (run by a singer whose name I can’t recall). I jumped and told Martin we’re gonna go have some fun.

Cole was with a local rhythm section that he seemed to be having a few problems with, but he played superbly. The club was, alas, hardly full, so we got a good seat at the fifty yard line. When you get to hear Cole doing Cherokee (in B), you just smile. He was wonderful. On a break, he walked around to the tables to chat with people (including his then wife, I think!). When he came over to us, Martin, then about 12, was agog. He told Richie he was learning trumpet, and Cole asked him whom he liked. “Miles,” whose “So What” solo he was learning by heart. Well, Cole asked him which Miles, early or late? We sort of said Martin was getting tuition in the real Miles, which amused Cole. I asked him if he was from Trenton, NJ, and he seemed surprised. He wasn’t surprised when I said I was from Philly–my “correct” pronunciation of Trenton gave it away. I guess we must have chatted for 10 minutes. Richie couldn’t have been nicer, and my impression was he talked to most everyone.

He was a wonderful player and a wonderful guy.

For those who like their details on the half-shell with only a squeeze of lemon, the 1867 Sanctuary is at 101 Scotch Rd, Ewing Township, New Jersey 08628-2501: 2 PM on Sunday, May 1 — and here’s more:

A tribute concert to the legendary jazz saxophonist and Trenton native Richie Cole. Event presented by Richie Cole’s family.
Please join us to celebrate Richie Cole’s music, life and legacy!
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/206902128837

Members of Richie’s jazz group will be performing a diverse lineup of Richie’s music. The show will end with a very special farewell from Richie Cole, himself! If you play an instrument or sing, come sit in!
Vince Lardear – Alto sax
Pete Lauffer – Piano, vocals

John Sheridan, Electric guitar
Chris Clark – Bass
Joe Falcey – Percussion
Limited seats!
Tickets can be purchased prior to the event, as well as at the door, if tickets are still available.
Looking forward to an amazing event – Alto Madness style!
Doors: 2 PM – memorial hour // Show: 3 PM

Please reach out to Annie Cole with any questions or if you would like to coordinate purchasing tickets directly: anniecole82@gmail.com. Proceeds go to the musicians and to preserving Richie Cole’s music and other works.

Thanks to Bob Kull, Annie Cole, and Richard Salvucci, who made the concert and this post possible. Inevitable, even!

May your happiness increase!

SERIOUS SWING IN SWITZERLAND: WARREN VACHÉ, BILL ALLRED, BOB WILBER, DICK WELLSTOOD, BUCKY PIZZARELLI, MILT HINTON, JAKE HANNA, and WILD BILL DAVISON: “SONS OF CHICAGO JAZZ,” Bern Jazz Festival 1986.

Warren Vaché, photograph by Stuart Nicholson

I don’t think JAZZ LIVES’ readers will need an introduction to this wonderful band. Eddie Condon would have called this band SONS OF BIXES. And they are! (In a nice way, mind you.) Warren Vaché, cornet; Bill Allred, trombone; Bob Wilber, reeds; Dick Wellstood, piano; Milt Hinton, string bass; Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar; Jake Hanna, drums; guest Wild Bill Davison, cornet, who also talks about Al Capone with an interviewer at the end. (Bill hadn’t been able to warm up properly for his first chorus of MONDAY DATE but was in wonderful form a few minutes in.)

The music: AT THE JAZZ BAND BALL / BEALE STREET BLUES / THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE (Vaché-Allred) / MOOONLIGHT ON THE GANGES (Wilber-Bucky-Milt-Jake) / add Wild Bill, Warren out: MONDAY DATE / BLUE TURNING GREY OVER YOU / YOU TOOK ADVANTAGE OF ME (don’t miss Bill’s Hackett-coda!) / Warren returns: LADY BE GOOD / Encore (Wild Bill out): HINDUSTAN //

Incidentally, the music is billed as “Chicago jazz,” and I suppose that is evident in some of the repertoire choices. But if you take away all the labels — “Nicksieland,” “hot jazz,” “Mainstream,” the music stands on its own, with masterful players regarding the past with affection and skill while completely being themselves. And, with no disrespect to the elegantly hot front line, WHAT a rhythm section! Make sure that fragile items nearby are secured because you will feel turbulence of the best kind throughout the cabin.

I could watch and listen to that all day. What a blessing that it was performed, recorded, and preserved, and that Warren and Bill are still with us, making music.

May your happiness increase!

WE’VE ALWAYS KNOWN THEY’VE GOT RHYTHM, BUT IT’S SO NICE TO HAVE THIS PROOF: MENNO DAAMS and ROSSANO SPORTIELLO (Hotel Ascona, April 7, 2022)

Menno Daams

A two-person dream band is what I call it. And the two majestic persons are Menno Daams, cornet, and Rossano Sportiello, piano.

Rossano Sportiello

They play I GOT RHYTHM. “Oh,” I can hear some saying. “That old thing?” YES. In all twelve keys, gently ascending without a misstep or a failure of swing and lyricism. At once it is a history of jazz; at once it is a compact dance party; at once it is brilliant virtuosity that is never self-conscious. I could go on, but you should stop, look, and listen.

AND a thousand thanks to expert videographer Werner Sutter, without whom this would be merely the stuff of oral history. Bless you, all three of you:

When does the world tour start? I want to be there to relieve Werner when his arm gets tired. These are my heroes, in whatever key.

May your happiness increase!

“HERE IS THE BEST PART”: TAMAR KORN, JON-ERIK KELLSO, MARK SHANE, KEVIN DORN (Cellar Dog, March 16, 2022)

It’s never seemed more accurate. Thank you, Tamar, Jon-Erik, Mark, and Kevin. Thank you, Johnny Richards (music) and Carolyn Leigh (lyrics):

Fairy tales CAN come true.

May your happiness increase!

“GONE FISHIN'”: APRIL 1-14, 2022

This is the Official JAZZ LIVES Out-Of-Office Message. It’s a metaphor: I love fish but someone else catches them for me. But I will be taking a break from blogging for the dates above. For good reasons, I assure you, not any blog-related disorders including my chronic stiff neck from too much time in front of the lit screen. And it’s not an April Fool joke, either. Because people worry, I haven’t received any ominous diagnosis; I am not going into rehab; I am not going to Mexico for bargain-priced blog-liposuction. I am taking a break for very good and pleasing reasons, and I am coming back.

I doubt that any reader is seized with anxiety at this news. However, since I have been sending out blogposts since February 2008 along with YouTube videos (at my “swingyoucats” channel here) I trust you can find some music to brighten your days.

Here’s something to start you off.

May your happiness increase!