Tag Archives: New York Times

EDDIE CONDON’S WORLD OF JAZZ: September 4, 1940

This is the first of a series devoted to the wonders created by Eddie Condon and his friends.  Unfortunately, I cannot offer rare musical examples.  That you will have to do for yourselves, and it is reassuring that so much of what Mr. Condon and his colleagues created was documented on disc so that we can now hear it.

What I have to offer you are snippets of print documentation — new to me at the time I discovered them, and I hope to you. Perhaps a decade ago, at work in the microfilm archives of my college’s library, I was searching the New York Times archives for something literary.  On a whim, I typed in “Eddie Condon” and found perhaps thirty or forty mentions of him in that newspaper.  I remember putting dimes into the printer and copying each page.  The file folder with the copies turned up not long ago — reason to begin a series for JAZZ LIVES.

Eddie’s wife, Phyllis (born Smith) was an invaluable part of the D’Arcy advertising agency (she handled the Coca-Cola account, which should tell you something about her stature at the firm). Eddie was ambitious about getting the music heard — by people who might not come down to a night club where the clientele was drinking liquor and smoking — so Phyllis made connections.  A New York Times advertisement from September 4, 1940, is one of my favorite Imagined Delights.

John Wanamaker

Fashion Show

Today at 3 P.M.!

Cum Laude Clinic

(A line drawing of a guitarist, string bassist, trumpeter, clarinetist, trombonist)

Do you know what Bennington girls bowl in? what Smith seniors snooze in? what the Princeton stags think of black? of red? Do you know of what stuff Daisy chains are made–and what about knees?  and prom-bees?  Get the lowdown insight straight from the shoulders of our cum laude clinic–five brainy beauties from Sarah Lawrence, VAssar, Michigan State, Swarthmore, Mt. Holyoke.  See big men from Virginia, Williams, Cornell, M.I.T., Stevens turkey-trot down the runway in tweeds and tails. Learn how pink-snuggle-bunnies can help you get an A-double-plus in Pol. Sci.; learn what clothes distract half-backs, shot-putters.

*    *   *

Hear swing as swung by Bobby Hackett’s All Star Band from Nick’s-in-the-Village — hear jive experts Eddie Condon, Bobby Hackett, Pee Wee Russell, Brad Gowans, Artie Shapiro, Joe Sullivan, George Wettling. Come early and hear the music, today at 3!  Fourth Floor, Fashion Store.

We could deconstruct this advertisement for all the obsolete assumptions about young women and young men, about college life, about materialism in the United States, but I’d rather think about the band.

If I had been twenty in September 1940, I’d be ninety-four now.  Had I a Presto disc cutter or a 16 mm sound camera . . . that way sadness lies.  Better to bask in the whimsy of one of the best bands ever playing hot those gorgeously and expensively-dressed young men and women.

And, yes, there was once a time when hot music was popular music.

May your happiness increase!

LOCAL NEWS: “A FREAKISH STORM” (Oct. 29, 2011)

It was snowing today in New York City — earlier in the year than ever recorded, and records go back to 1879.  More than a million people in the area lost power; tree limbs fell . . . more details here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/us/northeast-snow-storm.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&src=igw

The Beloved and I were out on the street (on our way to a fascinating documentary called URBANIZED) and she started to sing this song (it seems to some who know us a theme-song-in-the-making), so I thought I would provide the musical soundtrack, even if the JAZZ LIVES audience is far from snow and slush.

You’ll recognize the eminent participants: Clint Baker on banjo and trumpet; Marc Caparone on string bass; Katie Cavera on banjo; Ralf Reynolds on washboard; Paul Mehling on banjo; John Reynolds on banjo . . . all recorded at the 2011 Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, California:

If that performance doesn’t make the temperature rise, I give up.

HOT STRINGS AT MONTEREY (Dixieland Monterey 2011: The Final Set)

I know it’s subjective, but I find some instruments intrinsically more pleasing than others.  I am slightly ashamed that when someone asked, “Are you going to hear the four-banjo set at the Wharf Theatre?” the words “four” and “banjos” in such proximity made me a little nervous.

But then I got more information.  “It should be good, Michael.  The four banjos will be played by Clint Baker, Katie Cavera, Paul Mehling, and John Reynolds.  Marc Caparone will play bass, and Ralf Reynolds will swing out on the washboard and blow his whistle whenever he hears a musical ‘Foul!'”

I headed north to the Wharf with expectations that it would be, well, not bad.  I could endure four banjos . . .

The music I heard not only lifted me out of my seat but is a rebuke to my inherent jazz snobbery.  This set swung as hard as anything I’ve ever heard live, and you will see that I ain’t jiving.

And since I am still grappling with a wicked cold as I write this post, I think of Aimee Gauvin’s words (when he put on his white coat and became Dr. Jazz): GOOD FOR WHAT AILS YOU!

For once, I will present with a minimum of comment.  If this music needs explanation (and the onstage speakers are wonderfully, hilariously articulate), you need more than Sudafed.

Politically incorrect intro, please?  CHINATOWN, MY CHINATOWN:

Something for Louis!  SOMEDAY YOU’LL BE SORRY:

John explains that shiny thing!  DIGA DIGA DOO:

Clint warns us — SOME OF THESE DAYS:

Did you know the secret rules of banjo culture?  Now you do.  And Katie (Baby Face) explains it all, in the key of Ab.  I wanted so badly to sing along but didn’t want my voice to overwhelm the video, so you are encouraged to sing loudly at home:

Something pretty — the 1931 DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME:

Paul reinforces the banjo’s international theme with DARK EYES:

Once Katie explains the great gender-divide, we can head into what I think is a highlight of my life in 2011.  If you watch only clip in this posting (perhaps being banjo-timid) please watch this one. Surprises abound!  Watch out for flying cornets on CHARLEY, MY BOY:

Something hinting at Claude Hopkins and Fletcher Henderson c. 1932-33, HONEYSUCKLE ROSE.  Identify the quotations and win the prize:

Since these folks love their home state, what would be a better closer than CALIFORNIA, HERE I COME with a cornet interlude:

My pal Ricky Riccardi says he wants to see the Reynolds Brothers on Mount Rushmore — a fine sentiment.  But I am a man of more modest dreams.  I’d like to hear the Reynolds Brothers’ music being played on jazz / vintage pop radio shows — do any of my readers have a radio program?  Get in touch with me!

I’d like to see the Brothers appearing at jazz festivals outside of their home state.  California will just have to stop being selfish and allow the boys to travel.  We’ll change that restrictive law.  What, New York doesn’t need ferocious, hilarious swing?  England?  Really!

These are the last of the videos I took at Monterey — a mere ninety or so.  I am very proud of what I captured and have shared, and am only sad that I didn’t take more . . . But Rae Ann Berry (that’s SFRaeAnn to YouTube) has posted videos of a session or two that I didn’t catch, so head on over to YouTube to see more.

I know it is a bad idea to rush time away — with every day a wrapped box full of surprises! — but I can’t wait for the 2012 Jazz Bash By The Bay.  Thanks to all of the musicians for lifting the stage up and up and up; thanks to Sue Kroninger for creating a wonderful world for all of us to float in for that weekend.

I will close with a very personal note.

At the end of the set, Clint — who has a heart as big as the Bay Area — asked all the musicians to sign his banjo head.  I watched from a distance, not wanting to intrude.  How sweet!  His way of saying, “I never want to forget this moment, and we are all brothers and sisters.”  Then he asked me to sign it also.

I have never been so honored in my life.

I’ve won awards.  I’ve had my books reviewed in the New York Times.  But to be handed a Sharpie and encouraged to sign was something I wouldn’t have had the temerity to dream of.  I wrote only three words, “With deep love,” but that was what I felt and feel.  No one is going to ask me to sit in by playing, and that’s a good thing for the jazz cosmos, but I’ve been embraced by the people I love and admire.

WOW! to quote the Sage, Eddie Erickson.

JOHN BUNCH by RANDY SANDKE

Randy Sandke writes:

Someone should really acknowledge the passing of John Bunch.  He was a truly unique stylist and a brilliant improviser.  I remember listening with awe once as he played multiple choruses on the blues, every one taking up a new idea and developing it through each 12-bar sequence without being the slightest bit pedantic.  I thought I was listening to the spontaneous creation of a 20th Century Goldberg Variations.  John had a all the qualities of a great player – originality, flawless technique (which never called attention to itself), great subtlety, and infectious swing.  All he lacked was the major recognition, partly because his personality was very much like his playing: no flash or gimmicks.  Also, perhaps because he was identified as a “mainstream” player, which signifies lack of originality in critical parlance.  But as Harry Allen once said, John was always the most modern (and timeless I would add) player on the bandstand.

<http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/02/arts/music/02bunch.html>

Nate Chinen’s piece in the NY Times was respectful and accurate to a point, but again, it implied that John was a “swing” player (there’s that word again).  John’s conception began with bebop, and his whole approach (rhythm, harmonic, melodic) was much more in the Hank Jones school than Teddy Wilson, though again, he spoke unequivocally in his own voice.

John was also a gentle and self-effacing person, on the reserved side, but one who had a wealth of fascinating stories to tell: of being shot down over Germany in WWII and spending months in a prisoner-of-war camp (all of which he told me as we were touring Germany); how his trio in Indianapolis couldn’t find a bass player so they used Wes Montgomery playing bass lines on guitar; and how, after playing with a young Freddie Hubbard, he thought “this guy sounds terrible; he’ll never make it.”

John will be sorely missed by those who knew him and those who revered his playing.  Like any true artist, he leaves a void that cannot be filled.

I can only add that I first saw and heard John play with Ruby Braff in the early Seventies.  In retrospect, I was so awed by Ruby’s playing that it took some time for me to actually hear closely what John was consistently, quietly doing.  But I can still see and hear Ruby standing by the piano while John soloed, urging him on, agreeing, smiling at what he heard. 

In a musical landscape of extroverts and self-dramatizers, John pursued his art — serenely and thoughtfully, with wonderful swing and understated eloquence.  In my experience, certain musicians, now gone, were always reliable and more: seeing them onstage, I could relax, knowing that the music was going to be superb.  Jake Hanna, George Duvivier, Milt Hinton, John Bunch.  We are fortunate to have heard them, to have been welcomed into their individual rooms.

To hear more from John himself, visit Marc Myers’ invaluable JazzWax, where he is posting an interview he did with John — incomplete but invaluable: http://www.jazzwax.com/2010/04/interview-john-bunch-part-1.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Jazzwax+%28JazzWax%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher

FELONIOUS JUNK!

Thanks to scrubs123.com

Jazz scholar and friend David Schacker provided this news story.  All I thought was, “Where does this man’s doctor practice?  I want to be part of that medical group.  Perhaps (s)he can write me a prescription to ward off what I hear booming from the SUV in the next lane.”

Officer, That’s Not Jazz, I Say, It’s Felonious Junk!

By THE NEW YORK TIMES

Published: December 12, 2009

Is contemporary music grounds for arrest? An angry purist attending the Sigüenza Jazz Festival in Spain called the police last week to protest the appearance of the Larry Ochs Sax and Drumming Core, The Guardian of London reported. His doctor had told him that listening to anything but jazz was “psychologically inadvisable.” The Civil Guard showed up, armed, and passed the complaint along to a judge. The festival director, Ricardo Checa, told the newspaper El País that the jazz purist didn’t get a refund. “The question of what constitutes jazz and what does not is obviously a subjective one,” Mr. Checa said, “but not everything is New Orleans funeral music.”

I don’t ordinarily take an energetically exclusionary approach to art — people who say that THIS is our kind of music and THIS isn’t might be depriving themselves of delights — but in this case I wouldn’t mind accepting applications for members of my New York chapter of Angry Jazz Purists.  This being New York, though, perhaps our group would be Fast-Talking Sarcastic Jazz Purists With An Ironic Edge.  Anyone want to design our logo?

Thank you, David!

43-30 46th STREET

I find this photograph of this commemorative plaque in Sunnyside, Queens (a New York City suburb) sad but also glorious: sad that Bix Beiderbecke lived so short a life, and that the plaque marks the building in which he died . . . but glorious in that his sound and spirit continue to inspire both listeners and musicians. 

BixPlaqueNYT25Oct2009

Thanks to Albert Haim, patriarch and guiding spirit of the Bixography Forum, for sharing this with us, and for Dan Saltzstein, who took the photograph of the plaque for the New York Times.  And if the Times can break away from its contemplation of the present day, its failing ad revenues, and rumors of the death of print journalism to celebrate Bix — even in death — that’s a good thing.

JAMES STEVENSON REMEMBERS CONDON’S

from THEW NEW YORK TIMES, September 4, 2009:
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/06/05/opinion/20090904_opart.html