Tag Archives: miscellaneous instruments

TWO MINUTES AND TWENTY-SEVEN SECONDS

My title doesn’t refer to someone’s hallowed solo or a famous 78 recording.  No, it’s music created this month, March 2015.

I have watched with pleasure and amusement the birth and development of a new band — no, a new instrumental ensemble with its own gravely whimsical music.  The object of my affection is the Endangered Species Trio, which brings together Emily Asher, trombone; Tom Abbott, bass saxophone; Rob Reich, accordion.

I could make a case for all species as being endangered these days, but the title refers more to the three instruments, which have been the subject of curiosity (at best), sliding down to active mockery, contempt, disdain, and incredulity. Except for the trombone, which has a certain acceptance — although there are many jokes about trombones and trombonists — the bass saxophone and the accordion are regarded, at best, as highly miscellaneous instruments, even though both of them are capable of great beauty.

Tom, Emily, and Rob just returned from a brief stay at an artists’ retreat in Banff, and they shared this delicious musical vignette, TOM AND LIZ, on YouTube.

Humor me.  Even if you have deep reservations about “original compositions” by jazz artists; even if the thought of the accordion brings up deep childhood traumas, experience this beautiful cockeyed swinging melodic many-textured interlude:

I expect to have a good day — pleasing experiences have already taken place and there are more to come — but for sheer compact pleasure, these two minutes and twenty-seven seconds will be hard to top.

Go ahead:  see if you can listen to it only once.  I dare you.

More about this wonderful group here.

May your happiness increase! 

Advertisements

MARTY GROSZ AND HIS CELESTIAL BEINGS (ANDY SCHUMM, SCOTT ROBINSON, JOHN SHERIDAN, PETE SIERS): SEPTEMBER 21, 2013

Here are three informal pleasures from the 2013 Jazz at Chautauqua (now reborn in a westerly direction as the Allegheny Jazz Party), created by Marty Grosz, guitar, vocal, asides; Andy Schumm, cornet, “secret weapon”; Scott Robinson, alto clarinet, tenor saxophone; John Sheridan, piano; Pete Siers, snare drum, wire brushes.  These performances come from September 21, 2013, but they evoke any number of small groups that flourished in the preceding century. And still flourish.

It’s delightful how much music can come from a small group with apparently “unorthordox” instrumentation: no third or fourth horn, no amplified guitar or string bass — no string bass at all — and a seriously minimalist drum kit. I think of other Grosz assemblages that have the same lilt, or the EarRegulars, or the Braff-Barnes quartet, some Basie small groups, skiffle extravaganzas, Josh Billings, blue-label Deccas, or any number of groups that one could find on Fifty-Second Street or in the decades that followed.

Here are three delights.

James P. Johnson’s perennial bit of yearning, ONE HOUR — recast as a living tribute to the Mound City Blue Blowers, eminently lyrical:

LOVE IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER, that jaunty 1936 love song, which always makes me think of Bing and Pee Wee:

And another expression of Swing Amour, ALL MY LIFE, also a new tune in 1936:

Marty calls this “music from a vanished era.” Or did he say “banished”?  Hard to tell, and either works in this context.  But as long as these players — and their descendants — walk the earth, such music has a good chance of surviving and enriching our lives and those of future generations. and Mister Grosz walks among us, still making those quarter notes swing: he is on the West Coast, among friends, as I write this.

May your happiness increase!

WINNER OF THE MISC. INSTRUMENTS CATEGORY, 2012: MR. ANDY SCHUMM!

First Andy mesmerized us with his cornet playing, then his pianisms (rollicking or pensive), then his tenor saxophone and clarinet.  Now . . . the pocket comb and a strip of paper — the kazoo’s elegant cousin — in tribute to Red McKenzie.

Marty Grosz told me that Andy uses real newspaper.  That boy’s got the right spirit, even if the WORLD-TELEGRAM and the JOURNAL AMERICAN (the papers of choice for Mr. McKenzie) are no more.

Here Andy leads an all-star band at the 2012 BixFest — thanks to Phil Pospychala.  Thanks to Tom Warner for the video, complete with do it yourself closeups for the folks at home.  Here’s an evocation of the 1933 “Mound City Blue Blowers” recording — unissued at the time — of GIRLS LIKE YOU WERE MEANT FOR BOYS LIKE ME, which featured Fats Waller, Benny Goodman, Bud Freeman, and Coleman Hawkins.

The other notables making such sweet music are John Otto, reeds; Frank Gualtieri, trombone; Jason Goldsmith, reeds; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Leah Bezin, banjo; Dave Bock, tuba; Josh Duffee, drums.

I hope that at the 2012 Jazz at Chautauqua, Andy and Marty get to do a small-group set together: it will be dynamite!  And I predict a run on the dollar stores once this video reaches its widest audience — for jazz combs, of course.

May your happiness increase.