More from the First Thursday Band — a small hot jazz ensemble that appears on a particular day at the New Orleans Restaurant in Seattle, Washington. They are Steve Wright on reeds and cornet; Ray Skjelbred, piano; Dave Brown, string bass; Mike Daugherty, drums. Each member of the band occasionally takes a casual but expert vocal, and these four players swing as soloists — and, even better, as an ensemble. Here are a few selections from their their Thursday date of 2.2.12 — a harmonious-looking date in itself.
A song I love deeply — could it be from hearing Louis, Bobby, Joe Thomas, Jack Teagarden, and others perform it? — HOME. And this version perfectly balances Sweet and Hot:
SO SWEET comes from Jimmie Noone, and the title describes it perfectly:
Disorientation and perhaps even homelessness never swung so hard or sounded so good as in SONG OF THE WANDERER:
MOANIN’ should be a depressing exercise, but this performance is quite uplifting:
One of my favorite tunes — which other Thirties cowboy number has ties to Red Allen, J.C. Higginbotham, and a doomed Bob Hoskins? Take another one, Mike! ROLL ALONG, PRAIRIE MOON:
To me, this compact little band is a triumph of both sound and intuition. The players hark back to a time when you could tell an instrumentalist or singer in a few notes — instantly recognizable personal identities, like the great film stars. No one ever confused Bette Davis or Benny Morton with anyone else! Each member of this quartet has his own identity, and although the whole concept honors the past (so you could, if you liked, talk about Charlie Holmes and Jess Stacy, George Wettling and Al Morgan among a hundred other heroic figures), you hear Skjelbred’s traceries, Brown’s resonant pulse, Daughterty’s cornucopia of rocking sounds, Wright’s lyrical messages. And the quartet is more than simply four great players bundled together onstage: they remind me of the great string quartets who worked together for years and played better than four individuals with bigger names. Intuition is at work here — so that each player is both advancing his own vision and listening deeply to what the other fellow just “said,” or anticipating what he thinks is coming next. A little family of people who know the same language and love its possibilities.
I don’t know when I will end up in Seattle, but I would like it to be a First Thursday.
These videos — and more! — are posted on YouTube by the very gifted Mr. Wright — you might want to subscribe to his channel, swr2408018 — so you don’t miss even a four-bar break.