We all may have reasons for thinking the spring of 2021 particularly memorable — I know I do.
But I will also think of it as the season of The Ear Out, a frankly miraculous series of Sunday-afternoon soirees (or revival meetings?) with the EarRegulars preaching the mellow sermon whose text, “Isn’t it glorious to be alive and breathing?”
Do I overstate? I think not. Here’s some secular-sacred evidence from Sunday, May 16, 2021, laid down by Jon-Erik Kellso, Puje trumpet; John Allred, trombone; Joe Cohn, guitar; Neal Miner, string bass — the venerable chapter being SOME OF THESE DAYS:
That feels good. Bless this foursome, and thank them, too — and all the other memorable EarRegulars.
I said to a friend while we were seated outside The Ear Inn, “During the pandemic, if you’d told me that I would be sitting outdoors in the sunshine, watching and listening to the EarRegulars, I would have said it was cruel to tease.”
But now it’s happened, and it’s glorious. On May 2, the band was Jon-Erik Kellso, Scott Robinson, Matt Munisteri, and Pat O’Leary. Two weeks later (rain got in the way) it was Jon-Erik, John Allred, Neal Miner, and Joe Cohn.
AND on May 23 — which is today! — from 1-3:30, the band will be Jon-Erik, Scott, Pat, and Chris Flory. So if you (in the tri-state area, of course) are sitting home amidst coffee mugs and the remnants of the Times, you could be feeling the spirit at 326 Spring Street. I don’t mean to nag. Just a suggestion.
In case you woke up and said, “Honey, what day is today?” the EarRegulars answer the question:
and this venerable song, so associated with Billie Holiday, is addressed to those who can see live music but choose to live their aesthetic lives through the computer, wherever they are:
Will there be more? Oh goodness, yes. Joy will be spread like cream cheese on a genuine New York bagel.
It wasn’t, as the expression goes, a “one-shot deal” when the EarRegulars lit up both the street and our hopes by playing two glorious sets at 326 Spring Street on May 2, 2021. Nay nay, as Louis says. Rain got in the way the next week, and a few inhospitable droplets spattered the faithful on May 16, but the skies cleared and the EarRegulars did it once again — Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; John Allred, trombone; Joe Cohn, guitar; Neal Miner, string bass. Here are three marvels from their first set. And before you immerse yourself in video-recorded joys, let me point out that Jon-Erik, Scott Robinson, Pat O’Leary, and Chris Flory will be playing there again on May 23, 1-3:30. Neato, peachy keen, and just swell.
LULLABY OF THE LEAVES, featuring the eloquent Neal Miner:
And musically saying the YES! we all felt, ‘DEED I DO:
There’s more to come from this session, but if you can make it to 326 Spring Street on Sunday, May 26, from 1-3:30, joy and swing will be there to greet you in a now-permitted embrace. No livestream at the moment, but if you want to contribute to a virtual tip jar, let me know and I will pass the information on to The EarRegulars’ Accounting Division.
What could be better? — sunshine, friends, The EarRegulars, swinging rebirth outside The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, New York, Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Scott Robinson, C-melody and tenor saxophones, Eb tuba; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Pat O’Leary, string bass, Fats Waller’s I’M CRAZY ‘BOUT MY BABY, complete with verse:
And here’s the JAZZ LIVES Official Mobius Strip: I am posting this video on Sunday, May 16, 2021, and IF IT ISN’T RAINING (caps essential here) I will be outside The Ear Inn, digging the sounds created by Jon-Erik, John Allred, trombone; Joe Cohn, guitar; Neal Miner, string bass . . . while you might be reading this post and listening to the sounds created on May 2. Don’t think too much about it: just enjoy. It’s Newton’s Law — Frank, not Isaac — “With swing, all things are possible.”
Walter Donaldson’s IT’S BEEN SO LONG could have been the theme song of the pandemic. But this performance, two months before the lights went out, is cheerful, rambunctious, uplifting.
These celestial noises were created below stairs at Cafe Bohemia, 15 Barrow Street, at one of their Thursday-night revels, this one featuring Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; John Allred, trombone; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Tal Ronen, string bass. Apologies to John for not including him in the frame: I recall trying to do so and being blocked by someone’s head, never a great accomplishment in cinematography:
Cafe Bohemia has not resumed its revels, although we live in hope. But — did you know — Jon-Erik, John, Joe Cohn, guitar; Neal Miner, string bass, will be playing outside The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York, tomorrow, Sunday, May 15, from 1 to 3:30?
Today the image is different, surprising, but I think appropriate:
That’s Janus, the Roman god of doorways and thresholds — the icon with two faces, one contemplating the past, one looking into the future.
Why has JAZZ LIVES descended into mythology? This post looks both ways as well. For nearly a year, I’ve been reminding viewers / listeners of the heroically uplifting music made at The Ear Inn by the EarRegulars — to keep our sprits up in the darkness of inertia and isolation. Today, May 2, 2021, perhaps while some of you are reading this, I hope to be at 326 Spring Street — live and in person, surrounded by other mortals — enjoying the playing of the EarRegulars for the first of a series of Sunday-afternoon outdoor concerts (1-3:30 PM). They will be Jon-Erik Kellso, Matt Munisteri, Scott Robinson, and Pat O’Leary.)
So that is the three-dimensional non-virtual future, soon to be the present, yet I couldn’t leave you in silence and darkness: although this post is short (I have to run), it still celebrates what has been created.
From January 23, 2011, the EarRegulars: Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Tad Shull, tenor saxophone; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Neal Miner, string bass:
May 2, 2021, will bring its own joys and surprises. I am certain of this.
Postscript: IT HAPPENED. And it was wonderful. Those four heroes swung, soared, played, traded phrases in the most delightful way, and those who know the EarRegulars and the Ear Inn had tears in their eyes. Of relief, of joy, of a return to blissful possibilities. The Fellas (as Nan Irwin calls them) played two sets of long leisurely performances, eleven of them. Who knows? You might be able to see some of what happened. And perhaps . . . .
Listen up, as someone used to say. And I’m not reminding you to watch the Oscars. On Sunday, May 2, Jon-Erik Kellso and the EarRegulars will be performing outside the Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, New York City, from 1-3:30.
That will soon be NOW. Until that moment, here’s some beauty from THEN — January 16, 2011, created by Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Mark Lopeman, tenor saxophone and clarinet; Neal Miner, string bass.
‘WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS:
BALLIN’ THE JACK:
with Chris Flory sitting in for Matt, Miner, HAPPY FEET:
The pot is a-bubble, slowly. Maybe there will be EarRegularity in our collective futures: what a dream come true!
Speaking of “something to look forward to,” did you know that Jon-Erik Kellso and the EarRegulars will be playing outside The Ear Inn on Sunday, May 2, 2021, from 1 to 3:30? Of course you knew.
It’s premature to play this, but I don’t care. And any excuse to feature Bobby Hackett, Ernie Caceres, Joe Bushkin, Eddie Condon, and Sidney Catlett has to be seized:
And here are some “old times” that are forever new, from January 16, 2011. provided generously by Jon-Erik Kellso, Matt Munisteri, Mark Lopeman, Neal Miner, and friends Pete Martinez, Chris Flory, Tamar Korn, and Jerron Paxton.
Chris sits in for Matt on that most durable of philosophical statements, I WANT TO BE HAPPY:
Tamar sings of love — surrender and power — in BODY AND SOUL:
Jerron Paxton tells us what will happen SOME OF THESE DAYS:
Tamar sings a faster-than-usual WRAP YOUR TROUBLES IN DREAMS:
Overheard . . . an order at the bar at The Ear Inn on Sunday night, January 16, 2011: “I need one TIGER, two of HAPPY, an order of LOVE.” The EarRegulars, Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Mark Lopeman, tenor saxophone and clarinet; Pete Martinez, clarinet; Matt Munisteri or Chris Flory, guitar; Neal Miner, string bass, were eager to comply.
The videos are extraordinarily dark. It is, after all, a New York bar in January with no light coming in from outside. Close your eyes and enjoy.
Chris Flory, always welcome, takes over the guitar chair for HAPPY FEET:
I WANT TO BE HAPPY, with Pete Martinez, paying his own visit:
A Shrine for Swing, which the EarRegulars create when / wherever they play.
This, my children, is The Way. But until we can get to 326 Spring Street, follow here . . .
Without a four-bar introduction or even needed foreplay, let’s jump in to the delights of January 16, 2011, provided by Jon-Erik Kellso, Matt Munisteri, Mark Lopeman, and Neal Miner, trumpet, guitar, tenor saxophone, and string bass. Respectively and respectably . . .
‘WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS:
BALLIN’ THE JACK, and with the verse:
OLD FOLKS, scored for a trio of Matt, Mark, and Neal:
And, speaking of worlds within worlds, the EarRegulars did a livestream concert today that was the cat’s meow, the bee’s knees, and whatever other metaphors for glorious irreproducible experience you can imagine. Here it is again if you missed it.
If, having watched this, you’d like to show the EarRegulars some love, and who with a heart and ears wouldn’t? — you can find out from Jon-Erik himself how to do so here.
See you in real life, I hope, soon, intact, and grinning.
I think my subject line says it all. There are musicians who can swing when the band is swinging (they hitch onto the back of the truck and ride along). Others can swing the whole room, unaccompanied, in eight bars.
Chris Flory is a shining example of the latter species; his playing is full of emotion but limber, and his music always feels honest. Here he is, improvising on Harold Arlen’s I GOTTA RIGHT TO SING THE BLUES at Cafe Bohemia in the fabled past — November 14, 2019 — with Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Evan Arntzen, clarinet; Neal Miner, string bass:
Don’t let the red lighting disconcert you: everything Chris plays has, somewhere in it, indigos. They shine, and they warm us.
In the glory days, which are waiting in the wings for their cue to return, joy reigned supreme at The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City) on Sunday nights.
January 16, 2011 was no exception.
I witnessed it myself — uplifting music provided generously by the EarRegulars and friends: Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Mark Lopeman, tenor saxophone; Neal Miner, string bass, and friends Pete Martinez, clarinet; Bob Curtis, clarinet; Tamar Korn, vocal, and Jerron Paxton, vocal.
Tamar’s incredibly passionate BODY AND SOUL, featuring Jon-Erik, Mark, Matt, Pete, and Neal:
SOME OF THESE DAYS featuring Jerron and Bob with the core quartet:
Harry Barris’s classic uplifting melody becomes even more airborne here, thanks to Tamar, Jon-Erik, Mark, Pete, Matt, and Neal:
I was there. Perhaps you were also? We look forward to reunions — an idea we can safely embrace. Until then, do as I do and hug the music and its creators to your heart.
Care for a cup of caffeinated groove? Here’s Vincent Youmans’ 1922 Broadway classic, performed for a quietly appreciative audience at Cafe Bohemia, 15 Barrow Street, New York City. The noble players here are Neal Miner, string bass; Chris Flory, guitar; Evan Arntzen, clarinet; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet.
I won’t write about the emotions that surround such a performance as I and others view it now: you can imagine. We live in hope that such marvels will come again, in a recognizable landscape. Until then, let the music help us to float from day to day, from poignant memory to poignant memory.
I looked in the kitchen cupboard where the Fanciful Prose is kept, and I’m nearly all out — so all I will write is that I hope you join me on our Sunday journey through time and space to that Oasis of Good Sounds and Good Friends, The Ear Inn at 326 Spring Street. Let us visit with the EarRegulars, that noble group of superheroes who pretend to be mortals with ordinary powers — an illusion that drops when they begin to make music.
Come with me to November 7, 2010, for some quartet magic from Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet, Alex Hoffman, tenor saxophone, Matt Munisteri, guitar; Neal Miner, string bass.
Memory and cognition are wonderful things, thus, I THOUGHT ABOUT YOU:
That’s not a cane! It’s MY WALKING STICK, thanks to Irving and Louis:
And the ballad that Frank Chace so loved, UNDER A BLANKET OF BLUE:
Let’s have some peaceful Sundays, shall we, where we can gather in loving friendship. Someday, face to face and hand in hand — but until that’s possible, let us pretend that it is, in front of our lit screens.
Certain simultaneous experiences resonate in my memory even though they happened decades ago. I believe that I heard Louis sing and play CHINATOWN, MY CHINATOWN in the same year that I was first introduced to that downtown New York City neighborhood, through the kindness of S.N. Zimny, so a hot performance of that song always tastes like the first bite of roast duck chow mei fun to me.
Louis loved Chinese food, by the way.
More recently, through the good offices of Joel and Mary Forrester, I found out about XO Kitchen Restaurant on Hester Street, pictured above and below.
They are open for business! I don’t have the psychic energy needed to go there, but I can dream. (If you go, know that they don’t take credit cards.)
WordPress is not yet sophisticated enough for me to send you dinner through this blogpost — you’re on your own — but I can and will share a hot performance of CHINATOWN that was created right in front of me on November 14, 2019, by Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Chris Flory, guitar; Evan Arntzen, clarinet and tenor saxophone; Neal Miner, string bass, at Cafe Bohemia, 15 Barrow Street.
Returning to the culinary thread for just a moment, Google Maps says it’s a 1.7 mile walk from Cafe Bohemia to X O — either way — that would take 12 minutes. They haven’t seen me walk, but no matter.
Here’s the music: as satisfying as any meal I could imagine and then some:
Perhaps 2021 will be the year when both these pleasures are once again available to us, freely and easily. For now, you can change the dinner menu in intriguing ways — perhaps add stir-fried broccoli? — and you can watch and listen, I hope joyously in both cases.
Is it Sunday again? Covid-time defies ordinary physics: we experience it as rushing and dragging at once. But ordinary physics is dull and restrictive, so let me invite you this Sunday, January 10, 2021, to be with me in November 7, 2010, and wherever you are, to join me at The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, Greenwich Village, New York City.
I know an arm around the shoulders violates CDC guidelines about keeping proper distance, but I offer you mine, metaphysically, in swing friendship.
Here are two extended performances by a sextet, really the EarRegulars quartet of that moment expanded by three hero-pals with reed instruments: Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Alex Hoffman, tenor saxophone; Neal Miner, string bass; and friends Andy Farber, tenor; Dan Block, alto.
Gene Ammons’ RED TOP (solos: Block, Kellso, Hoffman, Farber):
RED TOP (concluded — solos Munisteri, Miner):
Adding the brilliant clarinetist Pete Martinez, on a barstool to my left, with a lovely curious admirer as well, to asking the musical question, HOW AM I TO KNOW? — at a tempo slower than Miles’, faster than Billie’s:
HOW AM I TO KNOW? (concluded):
See you next week! I hope you can glide from this Sunday to the next.
An hour ago, I was on the phone with my dear friend Matthew Rivera, and when we hung up I was pierced with nostalgia for past times, joys temporarily suspended. Nostalgia for pure New York City – Kansas City groove, first created by Eddie Durham. Nostalgia for 15 Barrow Street, Cafe Bohemia nights. Music by Chris Flory, guitar; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Evan Arntzen, tenor saxophone; Neal Miner, string bass, created on November 14, 2019. The title? TOPSY:
I pray these gatherings will come again, and I know I am not alone in this.
Look! We’ve made it through another week, and I hope without damage to our hearts, our relationships, the furniture. And as a reward, may I invite you to join me, metaphysically, for some teleportation to 326 Spring Street, The Ear Inn?
Never mind that it’s September 5, 2010. If that makes you slightly queasy, just have your seat belt low and tight across your hips. Or hold on to what (whom) ever you can. The noble participants, continued from Part Twenty-Six, are Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Dmitry Baevsky, alto saxophone; Ray Macchiarola, guitar, and Neal Miner, string bass — with Mark Lopeman, alto saxophone, joining in. (I think Danny Tobias had an early teaching gig on Monday, so he is here only in spirit.)
A groovy I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH ME:
Saxophones only, please, for SLOW BOAT TO CHINA:
AFTER YOU’VE GONE (Part the First):
AFTER YOU’VE GONE (so brief, too good to ignore, to document Kellso-joy):
Is everyone here? Has everyone got their psychic Metrocards? Follow me down to 326 Spring Street, although there’s no rush. In cyberspace there is no worry about getting a good seat at The Ear Inn.
This Sunday night, we are journeying to September 5, 2010. I won’t say “journeying back,” because it’s all timeless. As is the music, in this case created by Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Dmitry Baevsky, alto saxophone; Ray Macchiarola, guitar; Neal Miner, string bass — with guest appearances by Mark Lopeman, tenor saxophone; Danny Tobias, trumpet.
WHEN I GROW TOO OLD TO DREAM:
WHEN I GROW TOO OLD TO DREAM (concluded):
LADY BE GOOD (adding Danny to the quartet):
BLUES (with Mark making it a sextet):
A return to the quartet for a hot beverage in swing, TEA FOR TWO:
I hope you heard all that! It is worth hearing over and over.
This post marks six months of our celebration of The Ear Inn and The EarRegulars. My hope, expressed often, is that sometime in the next six months we can all visit this life-affirming scene in tangible reality. Until that time, I will keep the celebration going: the musicians and the Ear Inn deserve no less.
I’m told it’s Sunday again. How this happened, I have no idea, but here we are.
Sunday means that it’s time to saddle the cyberspace pack animals and head to 326 Spring Street, The Ear Inn, the home of happy ears, for a restorative session with the EarRegulars: our weekly uplift. I am assuming you can find your way “there,” to the previous twenty-two weekly posts. If not, just ask.
Ready? Bang your ruby slippers together and it’s Sunday night, June 13, 2010. And although our Guardian Angel might be Billy Kyle, that night it was a quiet, witty, irreplaceable fellow from New Jersey, Bill Basie — with the swinging music being created by Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Andy Farber, tenor saxophone; Chris Flory, guitar; Neal Miner, string bass:
Here’s Herschel Evans’ DOGGIN’ AROUND:
and a Youmans melody that started its life with Jimmie Noone and still keeps its freshness, I KNOW THAT YOU KNOW:
For Ruby Braff as well as Herschel, we have BLUE AND SENTIMENTAL:
Thinking of Lester Young, we have Andy Farber, Dan Block, tenors left and right; Chris Flory, guitar; Fumi Tomita, string bass:
Beautiful, isn’t it? I know better times are coming, and I hope to celebrate with you all at 326 Spring Street . . . sooner rather than later.
This is my antidote to the gnawing signs that winter, yes, winter, is coming — even though it’s over sixty degrees outside, the radiator is swinging out Blakey-fashion in my apartment and online sites are offering me forty-pound Thanksgiving turkeys for the crowd that exists in their imagination.
I plan to enjoy some time with the EarRegulars at The Ear Inn. You come too.
Last week, I presented a lovely long set by Jon-Erik, Scott, Matt, and Neal (these names should be familiar to you by now) with guest Julian Lage. If you missed this excursion, feel free to join in here.
Here are the closing selections from a long late-spring (May 30, 2010) session at 326 Spring Street, featuring in various combinations Danny Tobias, cornet; Chuck Wilson, alto sax; James Chirillo, guitar; Murray Wall, bass — and guests Dan Block, clarinet; Pat O’Leary, cello and bass; Tony Steele, bass. . . .although not everyone is present on every number. I didn’t need to be reminded how much we all miss Chuck, who moved to another neighborhood two years ago. Goddamnit.
(The selections performed earlier that night will appear next week in Part Twenty. Have faith.)
BEALE STREET BLUES:
AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ (the conclusion, very brief, good to the last drop):
LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME:
LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME (the conclusion):
And a final romp on CHINA BOY by the original Quartet:
Until we meet again, ideally in person but perhaps here only for a time, may your Ears be full of good sounds.
Hereis last week’s DOWNTOWN UPROAR, with its cast of glorious characters. Or its “glorious cast of characters,” both being true.
JAZZ LIVES takes another Sunday-night trip to May 23, 2010, for a session with Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Neal Miner, bass; Scott Robinson, tenor sax and cornet, and guest Julian Lage, guitar.
Please don’t make any remarks about my sister (someone completely lovable to whom I owe so much) but here’s OH, SISTER, AIN’T THAT HOT?
It’s getting dark earlier: join me ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET:
IF DREAMS COME TRUE we know some of the shapes they will take:
and the DREAMS are so spacious they needed a second part:
The moody WABASH BLUES, plunged to perfection:
and its conclusion:
Here’s the first part of Lil Hardin’s STRUTTIN’ WITH SOME BARBECUE:
and its tasty conclusion (even though BARBECUE was an attractive person, not a meal):
How generous these musicians are — their gifts continue to reverberate. Until the day we can meet in person, keep swinging wherever you are.