Tag Archives: Mike Pittsley

GOIN’ TO SAN DIEGO (The San Diego Jazz Fest, November 23-27, 2016)

california-here-i-come-eddie

Why, you ask?  Why would a reasonably stable person spend most of a day traveling across the country on Thursday and then do the same on Sunday night? The answer is the 37th San Diego Jazz Fest, which runs from November 23 through the 27th.  Many of my friends — musical, personal, and both! — will be there.  (Facebook page here).

Here’s a sample of what happened in November 2015:

and in 2014:

a day earlier in 2014:

and in 2013:

Optimism in 2012:

and a feature for the rhythm section in 2012.

Tim and Connie won’t be there this year — Connie has retired from playing, alas — but these videos sum up what I find most endearing about the Fest.  There’s nothing like it.  And it’s worth sitting in seat 7C, coming and going.  I assure you. And here is the schedule: if you can’t find something / someone to listen to, you might not be trying at all.

And, as a joyous bit of laginappe, here is a Frolick from Dixieland Monterey 2011 (John Reynolds, ever polite, calls this song, CALIFORNIA, HERE I BREATHE HEAVILY):

Dixieland Monterey is no more.  You — yes, you — are essential to keeping these mammoth enterprises afloat.  But you know that.

May your happiness increase!

 

“IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD” AT THE SAN DIEGO JAZZ FEST: TIM LAUGHLIN, CONNIE JONES, MIKE PITTSLEY, CHRIS DAWSON, KATIE CAVERA, MARTY EGGERS, HAL SMITH

You don’t have to write Odes to Nightingales to be lyrically poetic. In this century, we have Tim Laughlin, clarinet; Connie Jones, cornet and vocal; Mike Pittsley, trombone; Chris Dawson, piano; Marty Eggers, string bass; Katie Cavera, rhythm guitar; Hal Smith, drums, to prove this.

The song on which they wax poetic is IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD, performed at the 2012 San Diego Jazz Fest:

(Connie — a great unheralded singer — embodies a special optimism. Bless him and his colleagues.)

While you are basking in the good sounds and good feeling, think of this: Tim and Connie, with their New Orleans All Stars — Doug Finke, trombone; Chris, Marty, Katie, and Hal — will be playing more than a few sets at this year’s San Diego Jazz Fest, November 26-30.

And they are certainly not the only band: click here.

If you can live joyously, it’s always a wonderful world.

May your happiness increase!

LOOK OUT! STEAMBOAT COMIN’ ROUND THE BEND!

It is May. Yet I am making plans for November 14-16, 2014. That’s the kind of fellow I am, even if it goes against all the good advice about living in the moment.

I learned from Duke Heitger at last weekend’s jubilant Atlanta Jazz Party that the 2014 Steamboat Stomp — a three-day floating jazz festival held on the steamboat Natchez, floating up and down the Mississippi from New Orleans, is going to happen.

890_stomp2014

It was a glorious weekend in 2013.

steamboatnatchez-paddle

And Duke has some of the same people lined up — the Yerba Buena Stompers, Banu Gibson, and Topsy Chapman — with hints of other heroes and heroines to come.

Of course, much of my pleasure was in the glorious music. But some of it was deeper and harder to explicate. Maybe it was looking out at the Mississippi River flowing by after all those years of reading and teaching HUCKLEBERRY FINN. Maybe it was being on an actual steamboat listening to jazz — the way one might have heard it in 1921 when Fate Marable’s band swung out. Maybe it was getting to walk down the streets of New Orleans — those fabled streets — and try different varieties of gumbo. I can’t tell you exactly what parts of the experience made the strongest impact. But I will be there! And I hope some of my friends can join me.

Here’s some musical evidence of the New Orleans Joys available to people at the Stomp. I do not overstate, you will see.

Before:

Palm Court Cafe, Part One

Palm Court Cafe, Part Two

Oh, Sheik That Thing!

The Steamboat Stomp itself:

Ms. Gibson’s Singular Cardiological Rhythms

Mr. Thompson’s Indigos

Doctor Pistorius and the Worlds of Love

Rocking the River

Stomping for Joy

Joe Oliver  Is Pleased

If that doesn’t convince the hesitant, I don’t know what will.  For myself, the thought of it suddenly becoming November is terrifying. But as far as the 2014 Steamboat Stomp is concerned, I’m ready.

May your happiness increase!

SHE’S GOT A HEART FULL OF RHYTHM

Portions of this musical self-portrait are not entirely accurate.  The ebullient singer, improviser, and comedienne Banu Gibson has very fine shoes as well as something to eat. So the dramatic lyrics of the 1937 Louis Armstrong song I’VE GOT A HEART FULL OF RHYTHM don’t apply in a self-pitying way.

But as this performance shows, the title is absolutely the truth, and Banu makes everyone feel comfortable in a matter of seconds: swing can do that!

Her Swing Band is on the same jubilant wavelength: Randy Reinhart, cornet; Mike Pittsley, trombone; Nick Ellman, reeds; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Kerry Lewis, string bass; Kevin Dorn, drums. This brief life-enhancing experience took place on October 12, 2013, at Duke Heitger’s first Steamboat Stomp in New Orleans.

Vitamins for the soul:

May your happiness increase!

“CALIFORNIA, HERE I COME!”: TIM LAUGHLIN – CONNIE JONES at SAN DIEGO (Nov. 24, 2012)

Just one more set!” as Bing Crosby might have crooned it in 1931.  Here is  the final one of a series of glorious Musical Offerings performed at the 2012 San Diego Jazz Fest by Tim Laughlin, clarinet; Connie Jones, cornet / vocal; Mike Pittsley, trombone; Chris Dawson, piano; Katie Cavera, guitar; Marty Eggers, string bass; Hal Smith, drums.

For me, the opportunity to see / hear / record this band was not simply one of the high points of the San Diego experience, or of 2012, but of my jazz experience.  Period.  No stage joke.  Here they are!

ROYAL GARDEN BLUES:

A BIENTOT:

MY GAL SAL:

NEW ORLEANS AND A RUSTY OLD HORN:

MY BUDDY:

IT’S WONDERFUL:

LULLABY OF THE LEAVES:

YOU CAN’T LOSE A BROKEN HEART:

CALIFORNIA, HERE I COME!:

Thank you to Paul Daspit and the members of this lovely band.  I won’t forget these sounds!

May your happiness increase.

“THAT OLD FEELING”: TIM LAUGHLIN, CONNIE JONES, MIKE PITTSLEY, HAL SMITH, CHRIS DAWSON, MARTY EGGERS, KATIE CAVERA at SAN DIEGO (Nov. 23, 2012)

Here is my penultimate offering by the Tim Laughlin All Stars featuring Connie Jones from the 2012 San Diego Jazz Fest.  That’s Tim on clarinet; Connie on cornet and vocal; Mike Pittsley, trombone; Chris Dawson, piano; Katie Cavera, guitar; Marty Eggers, string bass; Hal Smith, drums.

I rejoice that there are still more video performances by this wonderful band — let’s call it by its true name, an orchestra — although I wish the supply had no end.  They’re lucky to us (whatever the score is or was)!

YOU’RE LUCKY TO ME:

THAT OLD FEELING (with the warm sweet melody by Tim):

ONCE IN A WHILE (the Hot Five classic, though at a nice easy bounce):

Something pretty by Tim, CRESCENT CITY MOON:

Give that peerless rhythm section something healthy — how about CHERRY:

SUGAR:

THE ONE I LOVE:

AFTER I SAY I’M SORRY:

What delicious lyricism — that old feeling, indeed.

May your happiness increase.

“LINGER AWHILE”: TIM LAUGHLIN, CONNIE JONES, CHLOE FEORANZO, MIKE PITTSLEY, HAL SMITH, KATIE CAVERA, MARTY EGGERS, CHRIS DAWSON at SAN DIEGO (Nov. 25, 2012)

Here’s that lovely band again, with a youthful guest star who fits right in.  Tim Laughlin, clarinet; Connie Jones, cornet / vocal; Mike Pittsley, trombone; Chris Dawson, piano; Katie Cavera, guitar; Marty Eggers, string bass; Hal Smith, drums, and Chloe Feoranzo, clarinet / tenor.  Recorded at the San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Festival, now the San Diego Jazz Fest, on November 23, 2012.

The tune list reminds me of an imagined Eden — Eddie Condon’s in the late Fifties.  A few old-fashioned singable pop hits of the Twenties, some “Chicago jazz,” Morton, Beiderbecke, Carmichael, Handy, Charles Ellsworth Russell.  A perfectly balanced diet: ask any swing nutritionist.

LINGER AWHILE:

PEE WEE’S BLUES:

WOLVERINE BLUES:

SINGIN’ THE BLUES:

THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE:

BEALE STREET BLUES (how splendidly Connie — the great storyteller — sings this!):

AVALON:

NEW ORLEANS:

I’ve written a good deal about this band — whose music thrills me every time — but I’d like to point out a few things: the way Tim and Chloe intertwine, and his beautiful low register and her energies.  Marty’s unerring pulse and big fat notes! The beautiful introductions Chris creates.  How Hal keeps everyone on track, and his wonderful sounds.  Katie’s delicious acousticism!  Mike’s intelligent, intuitive ensemble work, and conversational solos.  And Connie’s poignancy. Beautiful tempos that never seem too fast or too slow: music for dancing, for dreaming, for uplifting the heart.

LINGER AWHILE isn’t just a song title here; it’s a gracious invitation into deep mysteries of beauty, accessible to everyone but nearly impossible to reproduce.

May your happiness increase.

“IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD”: TIM LAUGHLIN – CONNIE JONES ALL STARS at SAN DIEGO (Nov. 24, 2012)

Let me be candid.  This band impressed and moved me so much in person, and the videos continue to make me very happy — “tonation and phrasing” carried to the very apex of swinging beauty.

They are Tim Laughlin, clarinet; Connie Jones, cornet and vocal; Mike Pittsley, trombone; Chris Dawson, piano; Marty Eggers, string bass; Katie Cavera, guitar; Hal Smith, drums — all recorded at the San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival (this session on November 24, 2013).  This music emphasized the truth of this post’s title, I am positive.

I CRIED FOR YOU:

IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD:

TOGETHER:

WABASH BLUES:

IT’S BEEN SO LONG:

IF I HAD YOU:

LENA, THE QUEEN OF PALESTEENA:

SPAIN:

DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO MISS NEW ORLEANS?:

And, for the near future — the 34th Festival (now called The San Diego Jazz Festival) will take place from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, with music by Bob Schulz, Ray Skjelbred, Glenn Crytzer, the Yerba Buena Stompers, the Reynolds Brothers, High Sierra, Stephanie Trick, Paolo Alderighi, Jason Wanner, Bob Draga, Carl Sonny Leyland, Grand Dominion, Chloe Feoranzo, and much more.  For information, visit here.

May your happiness increase.

DEEP IN THE HEART OF JAZZ: THE JIM CULLUM JAZZ BAND IS COMING TO NEW YORK (March 20, 2013: Sidney Bechet Society at Symphony Space)

Jack Webb “The facts, Sir.  Just the facts.”

“Yes, Sergeant Friday.  On Wednesday, March 20, 2013, the Jim Cullum Jazz Band will play a hot jazz concert at Symphony Space (Broadway at 95th Street) beginning at 7:15 PM.  The concert is arranged by the Sidney Bechet Society.  The band is Jim Cullum, cornet; Mike Pittsley, trombone; Allan Vache, clarinet, John Sheridan, piano; Hal Smith, drums; Adam Brisbin, guitar; Zack Sapunor, string bass.”

“That’s enough, Sir.  That’s all we need to go on.”

“May I say one thing more, Sergeant?”

“Yes.”

“The website for more information and tickets is here and I know it will be a special evening of hot jazz.  And you can hear 350 Riverwalk radio programs streaming here for free.”

“That was three things, Sir.”

“I apologize, Sergeant.  I know your time is valuable.”

“Yes, it is.  Thank you for your cooperation, Sir.”

May your happiness increase.

IN CELEBRATION! “WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE”: TIM LAUGHLIN – CONNIE JONES at SAN DIEGO (Nov. 23, 2012)

Facebook, the cyber-world’s town crier, let me know this morning that today, March 6, is clarinetist / bandleader / composer Tim Laughlin’s birthday.  That is a major event, for Mr. Laughlin not only creates beautiful swirling melodies, but he surrounds himself with synergistic bands that uplift us all.  In celebration of this very notable day, I present another set that his All-Stars played at the November 2013 San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival.  They are Connie Jones, cornet; Mike Pittsley, trombone; Chris Dawson, piano; Katie Cavera, guitar; Marty Eggers, string bass; Hal Smith, drums.  And in their honor, I have changed the title of the first selection from the tentative to the more optimistically assertive, for this band made and makes dreams take tangible swinging shape.  (And the wonderful repertoire!)

WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE:

TEARS:

MY BUDDY:

A HUNDRED YEARS FROM TODAY:

CHINA BOY (Hal kicks it off!):

TEA FOR TWO (featuring Chris, Marty, Katie, and Hal):

FOR ALL WE KNOW:

JUBILEE:

Happy birthday, Mr. Laughlin.  You and your friends increase our happiness more than you could imagine.  I’ve seen and heard it happen.

May your happiness increase.

“LOVE NEST”: TIM LAUGHLIN – CONNIE JONES at SAN DIEGO (Nov. 23, 2012)

Yes, this set begins with a farewell — but a rather cheerful one despite the woebegone title.  Just a wonderful band, caught in action at the 2012 San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival (thanks to Paul Daspit as well as the musicians!) — Tim Laughlin, clarinet; Connie Jones, cornet and occasional vocal; Mike Pittsley, trombone; Chris Dawson, piano; Katie Cavera, guitar; Marty Eggers, string bass; Hal Smith, drums.

MAMA’S GONE, GOOD-BYE:

AUNT HAGAR’S BLUES:

DO YOU EVER THINK OF ME?:

IF YOU WERE THE ONLY GIRL IN THE WORLD:

SOME OF THESE DAYS (a feature for that superb rhythm team):

LOVE NEST:

SLEEPY TIME DOWN SOUTH:

I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS:

DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO MISS NEW ORLEANS?:

Not exactly a Love Nest . . . more like a Love Fest.  I could go on at length about the virtues of the players and the delicious ensemble textures . . . but it’s all audible to anyone who cares to sit down and listen.  (It’s a Rolls-Royce of a band . . . but affordable!)

May your happiness increase.

“SWING THAT MUSIC”: TIM LAUGHLIN – CONNIE JONES at SAN DIEGO (Nov. 23, 2012)

The second set by this glorious band at the 2012 San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Fest . . . worth the trip across the country!  And SWING THAT MUSIC is no idle declaration: they know it; they do it.

That’s Tim Laughlin, clarinet; Connie Jones, cornet; Mike Pittsley, trombone; Chris Dawson, piano; Marty Eggers, string bass; Katie Cavera, guitar; Hal Smith, drums.  Condon meets Bobcats meets Wilson meets Basie meets bliss.

ALL BY MYSELF:

TISHOMINGO BLUES:

WHO’S SORRY NOW?:

SINGIN’ THE BLUES:

ALICE BLUE GOWN:

SI TU VOIS MA MERE:

I’M SORRY I MADE YOU CRY:

NEW ORLEANS:

SWING THAT MUSIC:

And to those of you in thrall to a more dramatic band, louder, faster, more jolly, with more special effects . . . I know taste is subjective, and I don’t expect to woo you away from the bands you love.  But I hope everyone can take a few minutes to sit down calmly, leave the relentless multitasking aside for a bit, and deeply listen to this group.  I think you will go away enriched, surprised, glowing.

My experience of 2012 is personal and thus limited . . . but I came to San Diego not feeling all that well and getting worse as the weekend progressed.  I survived thanks to the sweet-natured staff at the hotel and the proximity of a CVS — but what kept me from giving up, lying face down on my bed until Sunday afternoon, was the thought that this band would be playing, and that I needed to be there — to hear it for myself, to capture it for you.  And that’s no stage joke.

And here are some coming attractions — music to anticipate with pleasure at the 2013 San Diego cornucopia of sounds: the most recent list of artists invited to perform there:

If you are averse to clicking, I can tell you that I see Stephanie Trick and Paolo Alderighi, the Reynolds Brothers, Ray Skjelbred and his Cubs, Bob Schulz, High Sierra, Dave Bennett, Carl Sonny Leyland, Chloe Feoranzo,  Bob Draga, Glenn Crytzer, Grand Dominion, Jason Wanner . . . . and I know more swinging surprises are in store.

May your happiness increase.

“IT’S WONDERFUL”: TIM LAUGHLIN – CONNIE JONES at SAN DIEGO (Nov. 24, 2012)

Imagine a small jazz band — “flexible, wasteless,” as Whitney Balliett said of an ideal group: three horns, four rhythm: trumpet, trombone, clarinet, piano, acoustic rhythm guitar, acoustic string bass, drums.   Now imagine that this group easily brought a modern lyricism — singing melodies, inspired counterpoint in the ensembles, and a lightly swinging rhythm, combining (let us say) the 1938 Teddy Wilson small groups, the Basie rhythm section, Condon in the Fifties, New Orleans seasonings — echoes of Hackett, Fazola, Jo Jones, and more.

An impossible fantasy?  No, it exists — I saw this band at the much-missed Sweet and Hot Music Festival in 2011, and in San Diego both in 2012 and 2013.  Is the suspense too much?  It’s clarinetist Tim Laughlin’s band, with cornetist Connie Jones, trombonist Mike Pittsley, pianist Chris Dawson, string bassist Marty Eggers, guitarist Katie Cavera, and drummer Hal Smith.  And although I have too many “favorites” to place one group at the apex of my listening experiences, this band shines.  See and hear for yourself.

I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH ME:

KEEPIN’ OUT OF MISCHIEF NOW:

WANG WANG BLUES:

IT’S WONDERFUL:

PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ (for that wonderful rhythm section):

AS LONG AS I LIVE:

Mike Pittsley’s solo turn on STARS FELL ON ALABAMA:

JAZZ ME BLUES:

Midway through their first set at the San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival, while I was taking notes on what I was recording, I wrote the word FLOATING on the top of the page.  I still think it’s an apt title for all the music this band created over the three days of the festival (eight sets) but IT’S WONDERFUL is completely apt for them, too — the comfortable feeling of warm elation one gets from hearing the Vic Dickenson Showcase, or Jazz Ultimate with Bobby Hackett and Jack Teagarden, or perhaps a Basie small group . . . you can name your own ideals.  For now, I’m just going to think it an immense blessing that this group could be assembled and that I could be in the same place to record it . . . for myself, for all of you.

May your happiness increase.

BEAUTIFUL SOUNDS FILL THE AIR: SAN DIEGO JAZZ FEST, November 21-25, 2012

My spirits are superbly high after a lovely long weekend at the San Diego Dixieland Thanksgiving Jazz Festival, now to be known as the San Diego Jazz Fest.

But first, an autobiographical digression.  Even though the mirror says otherwise, I still in some deep way think I am nineteen.  Nineteen can run from pleasure to pleasure; nineteen doesn’t need much sleep; ninteen will “be fine.”  I did achieve a major birthday recently (“I am no longer 45 but still some distance from 78” is all I will say) and I went to San Diego somewhat drained of energy and nurturing a noisy case of bronchitis.  I worry as I write this that many of my videos will have in the distance what sounds like a small terrier barking: that would be JAZZ LIVES with a cold, coughing.  (For my loving readers who worry — JAZZ LIVES will live to video another day.  I promise you.)

Because I felt physically awful, I saw and video-recorded fewer sets than I would have liked . . . fourteen or so over four days.  I spent more time sittin’ in the sun (to reference Irving Berlin) in hopes that it would make me feel better.

I’m still coughing a bit but I feel glorious because of the music.

Here I must bow low to that urbane and generous man Paul Daspit, who has a fine humane sense for the little dramas that explode beneath the surface of a large-scale enterprise such as this.  I am not sure how clearly most “jazz fans” understand how much work is involved in keeping a jazz party from self-destructing.  Of course I mean the simple business of having a comfortable space for musicians to perform and listeners to hear.  The Town and Country Convention Center, although it is mazelike by night and day, is exceedingly comfortable with a wide variety of performance spaces.

But a jazz festival is rather like a brightly-colored version of Noah’s Ark packed to the rafters with vigorous personalities.  The facilities need to be looked after: lighting and sound and chairs; doors need to be locked or unlocked; musicians need a safe place to stow instruments and (whisper it) a place to sit down in peace amidst their kind, breathe deeply, eat something.

There needs to be a well-organized corps of willing volunteers: at their most kind, they tell us how to get here or there, where the restrooms are; at their most severe, they say the icy words, “You cannot sit there.  You are not a ______.”  And the interloper flees.

The musicians, and no one can blame them, want to know where they will be sleeping, eating, playing.  The patrons have their own concerns, since each of us is occasionally an armchair general: “Why isn’t my favorite band (The Nirvana Street Joyboys) on the program this year?  Will they be here next year?  Why did the snack room run out of turkey sandwiches before I got here?  Have you seen my husband?  I left him here just a minute ago?  Why are the sets so long?  Why are the sets so short?  Why did you arrange it so that my two favorite bands are playing at the same time?  My eggs were cold at breakfast. . .” 

That Paul remains serene, amused, and kind is a great thing.  A lesser man might take up martial arts or retreat to his tent with earplugs.  He applies tact to the afflicted area; he knows what can be fixed and what cannot; he moves on to the next person who Must Speak To Him, whether the subject is hot jazz or the threat of sex trafficking at jazz festivals.

The San Diego extravaganza was bigger and better than ever.

There was a true panorama of musical sounds: walking from left to right or north to south, I could hear a small tubaish group with a woman singing that life is a cabaret; a big band walloping through SING SING SING; a Jerry Lee Lewis tribute; rollicking solo piano boogie woogie by Mister Layland; a Sunday-morning Dixieland “hymn-along,” another woman inciting the crowd to sing along with her on GOODY GOODY; young Miss Trick showing us her version of OLD-FASHIONED LOVE .

Imagine!   Two cornets are giving a properly ethnic flavor to ORIENTAL STRUT; in another room, someone is singing, “She’s got a shape like a ukulele.” In twenty-three hourlong solo piano sets, everything possible is being explored — Joplin to Bud Powell as well as James P. Johnson and Cripple Clarence Lofton.  Elsewhere a clarinetist is playing DIZZY SPELLS at a vertiginous pace; a small gypsy-jazz group is romping through MINOR SWING; Joe Oliver is still King in another venue . . . and more.  My weary math shows that there were over one hundred and eighty hours of music — although I, like everyone else, had to make hard choices.  If I stay here for the full hour of _________, then I will miss ____________.  Those choices were easy for me, because I didn’t have the energy to run around to catch fifteen minutes here and a half-hour there.  (Also, a tripod and a camera makes for an ungainly dance partner.)  So I saw / heard / delighted in less than ten percent of the jazz cornucopia here.

But — as Spencer Tracy says of Katharine Hepburn in ADAM’S RIB (I think) it was all cherce.

I saw a number of sets with my perennial favorites, the Reynolds Brothers, and they rocked the house, with and without guests.  The rocking down-home Yerba Buena Stompers (that’s John Gill, Leon Oakley, Duke Heitger, Orange Kellin, Tom Bartlett, Kevin Dorn, Conal Fowkes, Clint Baker) offered both I MUST HAVE IT and JUST A GIGOLO; Chloe Feoranzo had a sweetly giggly set with her young friends; Grand Dominion surged ahead in a most endearing way.  A dangerous (that’s a good thing) quartet of Carl Sonny Leyland, Clint (trumpet), Chloe (mostly on tenor), Marty Eggers (string bass), Jeff Hamilton (drums, just off the boat in the best way) played some deliciously greasy (also a good thing) music.

And I heard every note by the Tim Lauglin All-Stars with Connie Jones — and Hal Smith, Marty Eggers, Katie Cavera, Chris Dawson, Mike Pittsley.  They floated; they sang; they decorated the air with melodies.  People who like to trace such things would hear Teddy Wilson 1938, of the Bob Crosby Bobcats; Irving Fazola; the Basie rhythm section; the Condon Town Hall Concerts; Bobby Hackett; Abram Lincoln.  All I will say at this point is that if someone had come to me and said, “Your room has caught on fire and you must come with me now to save your clothes,” while the band was playing, I would have said, “Let me be.  I’ll deal with that when the set is over.  Can’t you see that Beauty is being made?”

You’ll hear and see some of this Beauty, I promise you.

Thanks to all the lovely people who made my experience so sweetly memorable.  The musicians!  Mr. Daspit.  Friends new and familiar: Sue, Juliet, Barbara Ann, Carol, Tom, Frank, Anna-Christine and Christer, Mary Helen, Rae Ann, Alene, Janie and Kevin, Donna . . . you know who you are.  I am grateful to people, some of whom remain anonymous, who rescued me when I needed it — Orlando the young bellman and two dozen other people — I hope that none of you went home coughing because of me.

Let us say you are thinking aloud to your partner,  “Sounds like fun.  Why weren’t we there, Honey?”  I leave the rest of that dialogue to you.  But there will be a 2013 San Diego Jazz Fest.  It will be the thirty-fourth, which is frankly amazing.  Same place (the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center): November 27 – December 1, 2013.  The invited bands include High Sierra, Bob Schulz’ Frisco Jazz Band; Reynolds Brothers; Paolo Alderighi; Stephanie Trick; Ray Skjelbred and his Cubs; Chloe Feoranzo; Glenn Crytzer; Katie Cavera; Dave Bennett . . . “and more to be announced.”  Click here for more information.

For me, all I can say is that before it was officially Autumn in New York, I searched for and bought a 2013 wall calendar I liked just for the purpose of planning my Pleasures . . . I’ve already marked off November 27 – December 1 with “SAN DIEGO.”  Carpe diem, dear friends.  See you there!

May your happiness increase.

I’M THANKFUL FOR HOT MUSIC (San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Festival, November 21-25, 2012)

My plans for the holiday weekend include very little turkey but plenty of hot jazz and good feeling — at the 33rd San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Festival.  The music begins Wednesday night (November 21) and goes breathlessly through until Sunday afternoon (November 25).  Here’s the tentative schedule, vibrating with good sounds.

Off the top of my head, I think of Ralf Reynolds, John Reynolds, Katie Cavera, John Gill, Duke Heitger, Tom Bartlett, Leon Oakley, Orange Kellin, Clint Baker, Conal Fowkes, Kevin Dorn, Hal Smith, Chris Dawson, Connie Jones, Mike Pittsley, Chloe Feoranzo, Stephanie Trick, Marty Eggers, Carl Sonny Leyland, Tim Laughlin, Lorraine Feather, Sue Fischer, Dave Bennett, Justin and Brandon Au, and about four dozen more bands and soloists.  Apologies to any of your favorites I’ve neglected to mention here . . . but the whole schedule is available for real or fantasy planning.

I feel immensely fortunate to be getting on a plane Thursday morning with San Diego as my eventual goal.  Look for me in the front row: notebook and pen, intently gazing into the viewfinder, aloha shirt . . . the JAZZ LIVES official regalia.  And for those of you who can’t make it, I will do my best to take you along through the magic of video.

So much to be thankful for!  More details here.

May your happiness increase.  

 

IMPROVISATION FOR TWO, PLEASE, JAMES

This melancholy 1935 song is rarely performed, perhaps because it’s difficult to sing the lyrics with a straight face, but the melody has its own morose charm.  (I know that both Al Bowlly and Nat Cole did their best — as did Putney Dandridge and, in our time, Marty Grosz — but the song has some of the melodramatic flavor of a late-eighteenth-century novel.)

The singer — butler to a wealthy man for a half-century (the verse) and the aristocrat himself (the chorus) are people seemingly untouched by the Depression.  And the lyrics tell of “Master’s tragedy,” a marriage broken apart by a vile lie.  The verse, as always, tells the story:

James has been butler to Mister B. for fifty years,

Come August three.  

And he still remembers the night

Of his master’s tragedy.

Master’s best friend was a Mister J.,

James didn’t like him from the first day,

He knew his type

And the game they play.

That night James laid dinner as usual for two

And the air felt heavy as lead,

The master came down, there were tears in his eyes,

And he tried hard to smile as he said:

CHORUS:

Dinner for one, please James,

Madam will not be dining,

Yes, you may bring the wine in,

Love plays such funny games.

Dinner for one, please James,

Close madam’s room, we’ve parted,

Please don’t look so downhearted,

Love plays such funny games.

Seems mybest friend told her of another,

I had no chance to deny,

You know there has never been another,

Some day she’ll find out the lie.

Maybe she’s not to blame,

Leave me with silent hours,

No, don’t move her fav’rite flowers,

Dinner for one, please James.

Love plays such funny games, but great jazz improvisers create much more.  Here are trombonist Mike Pittsley and pianist John Sheridan, swing alchemists, making something timeless of Michael Carr’s melody:

What a beautiful performance! — subtle but never coy, honoring the melody but not entombed in it.  “Tonation and phrasing,” indeed — in the way that Sheridan keeps the rhythm moving while creating beautiful translucent harmonies, making a clear path for Pittsley to sing out the melody and his variations on the theme.

I had the opportunity to visit with John Sheridan at Chautauqua (a great pleasure) and I look forward to meeting Mike Pittsley for the first time at San Diego . . . they are, separately and together, masters of quietly affecting melodic embellishment.

May your happiness increase.

SPLENDIDLY HOT: THE RAMPART STREET PARADERS with JACK TEAGARDEN, 1956

Thanks to Michael Pittsley (with trombone in hand, we know him as Mike) for alerting me to this and to vitajazz for posting this 1956 half-hour television program, STARS OF JAZZ, hosted by Bobby Troup (with the original Budweiser beer and Schweppes tonic water commercials intact, for the cultural historians).

The real joy is in being able to observe Matty Matlock’s Rampart Street Paraders on film for the first time.  They are Matlock, clarinet; Eddie Miller, tenor sax; the swashbuckling Abe Lincoln, trombone; Clyde Hurley, trumpet; Stanley Wrightsman, piano; George Van Eps, guitar; Phil Stephens, string bass; Nick Fatool, drums.  There’s even a cameo appearance by David Stone Martin . . . very hip indeed!

Two of those players are less well-known in this century — Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Hurley — but they are astonishing players.

Troup’s commentary on “Chicago style,” although dated, isn’t as bad as it might initially seem.  The Paraders offer a slow BLUES / STRUTTIN’ WITH SOME BARBECUE / DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO MISS NEW ORLEANS? (featuring Matlock over that lovely rhythm section — and a gorgeous Van Eps bridge) / LOVER (featuring Jack in pristine form — catch Matlock’s grin and listen to Fatool’s beautiful accents) / an interlude with Paul Whiteman where he and Jack comment on the recent death of Frank Trumbauer   / BASIN STREET BLUES (again for Jack — but the Paraders back him so beautifully) / After Matlock’s brief commentary there’s a rollicking HINDUSTAN which begins and concludes with an explosive showcase for Abram “Abe” Lincoln — and a heroic solo in the middle / and a return to those BLUES.

Glorious music, both shouting and subtle.

May your happiness increase.