Tag Archives: Olivier Clerc

WHITLEY BAY 2009: THE CLOSING SET

At the end of the three-day memorable immersion that was the July 2009 Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival, I was overwhelmed — awash in the contradictory feelings I always have when nearing the end of a jazz party.  I am terriibly sad, because I don’t want the music ever to end, but at the same time I have had just about enough of the rich sensations offered in set after set.  I’m full — as anyone would be after a lavish multi-course meal.  But I know Monday is coming . . .  

So when Bob Cox came and found me sometime on Sunday evening and said, “Where have you been?  You’ve got to come and hear the Swiss Yerba Buena Creole Rice Jazz Band,” I was mildly reluctant, being in full-mode.  I confess I was unfamiliar with their work; it may even be that the sheer length of their name intimidated me. 

Rene Hagmann is playing with them,” Bob said, which was  more than enough reason for me go hear their set.  

I was delighted then — and I am delighted now to be able to share these video clips here.  I don’t know the precise personnel of the band, but the Clerc family is its backbone — father Beat and son Fabien on trumpets, and son Olivier on drums and washboard.  Besides Hagmann and Jean-Francois Bonnel guest stars on reeds, there is also Leonard Muller.  I confess I don’t know the name of the wonderful trombonist (and occasional scat-singer); the pianist is Jean-Pierre Burkhard; the banjoist is Nidi Niederhauser; Jean-Daniel Gisclon plays the tuba.  On their latest CD, Regis Dessimoz is also on trumpet.

Much of the SYBCRJB’s repertoire is drawn from venerable jazz recordings, and the thrill is in hearing a real band play these charts live, with solos that dart in and out of the ones we know by heart.      

To start, here is something for the Bixians — a Goldkette romp on I’M GOING TO MEET MY SWEETIE NOW, with reed virtuoso Bonnel playing trumpet:

Then the band honors I’LL BE A FRIEND WITH PLEASURE, with Bonnel taking an impassioned early-Thirties Hawkins solo instead of the vocal:

What more could I say about DO SOMETHING except to point out that the band certainly lives up to the imperative:

Finally, two maniacally ecstatic performances featuring the tireless Olivier Clerc on washboard.  The first is GOIN’ NUTS, taken from a 1929 record session by an Ellington small group, the Six Jolly Jesters.  Once again I apologize to the trombonist — not only didn’t I know his name, but I couldn’t tear my camera lens away from Olivier to record his memorably uninhibited scatting.  So sorry, Sir, wherever you may be at the moment.  And don’t miss Rene Hagmann on kazoo or air-trombone:

And more!  that ancient pop tune, PADDLIN’ MADELINE (or MADELIN’?)  HOME (with its suggestion that she is in no hurry to have the hedonism come to an end so that she can go back to sedate life, Mother and Father, and dry land):

When this set ended, I, too, was on my feet, applauding.  I went over to the piano to buy the SYBCRJB’s latest CD and to pay homage to young Olivier.  I praised his incredible stamina and said — as innocently as I could — that I hoped his lady love was equally appreciative of it.  It took a moment for that to translate, but my naughtiness made him laugh, which was what I had hoped for.

Down the hall, a jam session in the bar lasted until I went to my room at 2 AM– bravely facing the inevitable, that Monday would come soon enough.  Which it did.  But here’s what I took away with me.

Goodbye, Whitley Bay!  See you next year . . . .  

TheSYBCRJB’s website, not incidentally, is http://www.swissyerba.com.  And they have other videos on YouTube — several recorded by the nimble Elin Smith.

SEUFFERT-HAGMANN, INC.

Three more hot performances from “South Side Special,” recorded live at the Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival, July 11, 2009, featuring the incendiary combination of Matthias Seuffert (clarinet), Rene Hagmann (trumpet), Paul Munnery (trombone), Martin Seck (piano), Jacob Ullberger (banjo / guitar), Bruce Rollo (bass), and Olivier Clerc (washboard) — concluding their program of music associated with Johnny Dodds and colleagues.

First, PERDIDO STREET BLUES (associated, as Matthias points out, not only with Dodds and Mitchell but also with Louis and Bechet, in a famous Decca session from 1940 whose results belie the stories of musical acrimony).  Catch Maestro Hagmann in charge of the ensemble:

Then, WILD MAN BLUES — not taken at the melodramatic tempo we know from 1927 recordings by Louis and Jelly Roll Morton, but as a swinging bounce — the tempo at which Dodds recorded it in 1938 with Charlie Shavers, Teddy Bunn, John Kirby, and O’Neil Spencer — as “His Chicago Boys” in 1938:

Finally, BALLIN’ THE JACK (or is it BALLIN’ A JACK?) — not the more widely known Chris Smith composition, but one whose title surely has the same erotic implications:

Hotter than that!

Many of the hot jazz recordings of this period can be heard at the Red Hot Jazz website: http://www.redhotjazz.com/jdbbs.html

MATTHIAS SEUFFERT’S MANY SELVES

I was first impressed by the playing of reedman Matthias Seuffert on a few Stomp Off releases several years ago.  One, the BLUE RHYTHMAKERS, paired him with Bent Persson and Keith Nichols; another, PERCOLATIN’ BLUES (by the Chalumeau Serenaders)  found him with Norman Field, with Nick Ward on the drums.  Happily for me, I was asked to write the liner notes for the second volume of a Johnny Dodds tribute organized by “Pam” Pameijer — a session also featuring Jon-Erik Kellso and Jim Snyder.  On all of these discs, I had the opportunity to marvel at Matthias’s fluent technique and gritty intensity — when he’s playing Twenties clarinet, he could show Johnny Dodds a few things; when he’s playing Thirties tenor, he echoes the early, rhapsodic lines of Hawkins.  But, best of all, Matthias is his own man, choosing novel approaches for each song.

Seuffert-Sportiello CDHis originality and down-home ardor are well demonstrated in two very different contexts.  One is a CD, SWINGIN’ DUO BY THE LAGO (Styx CD 1026, available from CDBaby)  that I fear hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, considering its personnel includes Matthias, piano king Rossano Sportiello, and tenor star Harry Allen.  Recorded in 2005 and 2006, it finds Matthias in seven duets with Rossano, three quartet selections with Harry, Rossano, and drummer Anthony Howe, and three “bonus tracks,” featuring Matthias with a piano-less rhythm trio.  On it, Matthias takes wise and refreshing approaches to the sometimes familiar songs: rubbing the sharp corners off Monk’s ASK ME NOW to make a clarinet-piano duet of it that suggests both a cooler, more pensive Goodman; on a Benny Carter line, BLUE FIVE JIVE, he has all the tough swagger of a late-Fifties hard bopper.  Standing next to Harry Allen, Matthias is never combative, but it’s clear that this is a meeting of equals, whether the song is a tender CHELSEA BRIDGE or an assertive LESTER LEAPS IN.  I read about this consistently rewarding disc thanks to John Herr; it’s also music for people who say they dislike jazz — soothing without being soporific, easy to take but never “easy listening.” 

At Whitley Bay, I could greet Matthias face to face (he’s charming) and hear his “South Side Special,” a tribute to the Chicago ambiance that produced some classic Twenties sides with Johnny Dodds, George Mitchell, and Natty Dominique.  Matthias’s front-line partner was the revered Swiss multi-instrumentalist Rene Hagmann, who played magnificiently on trumpet and the reeds.  (I also saw him play air trombone with the Swiss Yerba Buena Creole Rice Jazz Band — more about them in a future posting — and Bent Persson raved about Rene’s real trombone playing to me.)  The band also included Paul Munnery (trombone), Bruce Rollo (bass), Martin Seck on piano (who’s usually a charter member of the Red Hot Reedwarmers), Jacob Ullberger on banjo (a Swedish colleague of Bent’s), and the dazzling young Swiss washboardist Olivier Clerc.  Here they are!

I am embarrassed to admit that I don’t recall the title of this first song (I believe it comes from the Dodds Victor sessions — surely one of my readers will know?) but I wasn’t about to leave it off the blog for such a trifling detail:

Matthias announced this one, pianist Lovie Austin’s MOJO BLUES:

For the more literal-minded members of the audience, this selection might have required a leap of faith.  Johnny Dodds Plays Cole Porter?  But YOU DO SOMETHING TO ME existed in 1929, and it pleases me to imagine the Dodds brothers playing this on the gig, where pop songs of the day might well have been requested.  Matthias and the group show that it’s no stretch, aesthetically:

Finally, they concluded the session with BROWN SKIN (or perhaps BROWNSKIN) GAL:

I should point out that all of this ferociously hot music was created around lunchtime: so much for the legends of jazzmen who, like bats, are nocturnal.  The sun was shining outside, although we knew such things were of lesser import.