I could write at length about the time when jazz and popular music embraced worldwide, but rather than lament that era’s diminution, I will say only that it was a privilege to witness these four performances: masterful artists at play.
The first two songs were performed by Freddy Cole, piano and vocal; Randy Napoleon, guitar; Frank Tate, string bass, and the latter two Had Freddy and Randy joined by Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar; Paul Keller, string bass; Eddie Metz, drums.
Melody plus swinging improvisation plus sentiment plus joy.
Slow down. Where’s the fire? Do you have to be somewhere all of a sudden? Take a load off. Make yourself to home. There’s more coffee if you’d like it, and cookies, too.
All of the above translates to LINGER AWHILE, a song created in 1923 and still played and recorded a century later.
The performance below is a splendidly energized interlude for two friendly clarinets and a swinging rhythm team: Allan Vaché (left) and Tom Fischer (right), supported by Danny Coots, drums; Paul Keller, string bass; Johnny Varro, piano. All of this happened at the much-missed Atlanta Jazz Party, but happily everyone on stage is still working their magic. Don’t miss the sly references to DON’T BE THAT WAY, HIGH SOCIETY, DIGA DIGA DOO:
I hope you’ll linger over this performance: it will repay your attentiveness. And there’s more to share from this session.
The last song of the night, when both musicians and the audience are drained, is traditionally a rouser. When everyone is overwhelmed by an evening of sensations, the leader might call for SWEET GEORGIA BROWN, or JUMPIN’ AT THE WOODSIDE to send the crowd to their rooms feeling exhilarated, feeling that they’ve got their money’s worth. In truth, some of these spectacles seem formulaic, seasoned lightly with desperation: I would imagine that the last thing the band wants to do is to play Fast and Loud through weary lips and hands, but it’s expected of them.
I always think that calling AFTER YOU’VE GONE is an inside joke — a hot way of saying, “Could you go away, already?” to an audience that surely has had its fill. (Audience members sometimes stand up and shout “MORE! MORE!” although they’ve been well and over-fed, and perhaps have talked through the last set.) For Duke Heitger to call SLEEP as a closing tune is a nice bundle of ironies: it doubles as the kind suggestion, “Go to bed, so that we can stop playing and relax,” but it’s also a high-energy, spectacular jazz performance. The song didn’t begin that way. Here’s Fred Waring’s first recorded performance of it (he took it as his band’s theme):
So it began as lulling, soporific, but since 1940 (Benny Carter’s big band) and 1944 (Sid Catlett – Ben Webster) the song SLEEP has often been a high-powered showcase . . . as it is here, featuring Duke Heitger, Bria Skonberg, trumpet; Allan Vache, clarinet; Dan Block, tenor saxophone; Bob Havens, trombone; Rossano Sportiello, piano; Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar; Paul Keller, string bass; Eddie Metz, drums.
Please note all the fun these possibly-exhausted musicians are having: the glance Bucky gives Rossano when the latter begins the performance, “Oh, so THAT’s the tempo?!” and the delightful hi-jinks between Eddie, Paul, and Rossano (Eddie, especially, is the boy at the back of the classroom passing notes while Mrs. McGillicuddy is droning on about the Pyramids) — they way the horns float and soar; Duke’s idea of having an ensemble chorus in the middle of the tune (no one else does this); Bucky’s super-turbo-charged chord solo, Paul and Eddie taking their romping turns, all leading up to a very tidy two-chorus rideout.
I am delighted to be able to share these two deeply swinging performances (talk about “being in the pocket”!) by Freddy Cole, piano and vocal; Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar; Randy Napoleon, guitar; Paul Keller, string bass; Eddie Metz, drums — performed and recorded at the 2014 Atlanta Jazz Party.
The Groove here is quite remarkable — as is the ensemble teamwork. Please notice the immaculate empathy among these musicians, with Paul and Ed acting as one but with discrete personalities, Freddy an orchestra in himself, and the wonderful rocking created by Bucky and Randy. Two other things I would call to your attention: the way Maestro Bucky, the senior member of the ad hoc aggregation, takes it upon himself — and why not? — to direct traffic, and does so with decades of experience. Also, the smile on Randy’s face: if we could harness that glowing energy, we could abandon fossil fuel.
On the basis of empirical observations made over the last fifteen years, I would state without fear of contradiction that Rebecca Kilgore, residing in Portland, Oregon, is a recognizable member of our species, genus, phylum, etc. I’ve seen her drink cranberry juice, check her iPhone, write something down with a pen, eat Thai food, and so on. Once, she picked me up at the airport in a little white car, a great honor.
Yet something magical that I can’t explain happens when she sings in front of an ensemble. She doesn’t grow larger or louder, she has no magic wand or pointed hat, and if she has a cauldron it’s out of sight behind the stage. She entrances us. She doesn’t make us meow or bark or do silly things for the mocking amusement of others, but we fall under her spell — musical and emotional.
If you think I exaggerate, I present nearly seven minutes of magic (on the second or third viewing, look at how happy the band is!) created by Rebecca on a 1945 pop hit by Billy Reid — we know it, probably, from the recordings by Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker. This performance, created on the spot at the 2014 Atlanta Jazz Party, finds Rebecca among friends and magicians Ed Metz, drums; Paul Keller, string bass; Rossano Sportiello, piano; Dan Barrett, trombone; Dan Block, tenor saxophone; Duke Heitger, trumpet. Entrancing.
Don’t go back to preparing dinner or that Zoom call too quickly — an abrupt descent from the sublime to the mundane could have damaging side-effects. If you’re like me, one visit to THE GYPSY as imagined by Becky and friends won’t be enough.
That was seven years ago. Rebecca, pianist Randy Porter, and string bassist Tom Wakeling (“the Rebecca Kilgore Trio”) have recorded a new CD — a mixture of wonderful songs, many new to me, all equally entrancing. It’s not released yet, but you will be able to find out more about it and Rebecca’s other recordings here.
Sometimes what’s in the archives is there for a reason: imperfections; sometimes what’s been hidden is sublime. Case in point: this performance of Ellington’s IN A MELLOTONE (a/k/a ROSE ROOM) by a small group at the Atlanta Jazz Party on April 25, 2014. The personnel: Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar; Randy Napoleon, guitar; Freddy Cole, piano; Paul Keller, string bass; Ed Metz, drums. Bucky and Freddy have left us just this year, but when I checked with the younger members of this quintet, their delight in seeing this video was strong, as was their eagerness to share it.
Part of the pleasure of this performance is its infallible swing; another is watching the Old Master, Bucky, direct traffic; a third part is the joy on the faces of Randy, Paul, and Ed.
The archives hold more surprises from Atlanta in April 2014.
I believe that the first version of this now-neglected classic song I heard was Jolson’s, then Billie’s . . . and it is even more pertinent now, as an antidote to the restless itch to be somewhere else, or to have a “bucket list” of places to visit. In this time of sheltering-at-home, to me it seems the ideal soundtrack, even if your backyard is only imaginary or remembered.
Later that year, and closer to my backyard:
I even have a version of this song recorded in March 2020, but it hasn’t passed the Imperial Board of Censors just yet. And since I am keenly aware of ironies, I know that for all but one of these performances celebrating the joys of one’s own place, I had to get on a plane to enjoy and record it. Calling Steven Wright or perhaps Ralph Waldo Emerson — the latter of whom wrote “Traveling is a fool’s paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from.”
So today, perhaps, I will put off the thrilling journey to the Post Office and, later, when adventure calls to me, I will take the cardboard boxes to the recycling area. Back in my own backyard for sure. Possibly constrained, but reasonably safe from harm.
It’s never too early to get prepared for joy, especially the varieties that the Jazz Bash by the Bay delivers so generously. (An All-Events badge is available at a discount before December 31, so if thrift makes your eyes gleam, check here.) Now.
I’ve been attending this March festival every year since 2011 (I missed 2018) and have fond memories. I could write a good deal about the pleasures of this grouping of musicians and fans, and the pleasures of being able to walk around a truly charming town center . . . or the pleasure of being a guest at the Portola Hotel and Spa, with the music just a trot away, but I will simply direct you to the Bash’s website, where you can find out such useful information as the dates (March 6-8), the band schedule (not available yet), ticket prices, and the bands themselves.
For me, the bands and guest stars are the reason to come to a particular festival, so I will list them here (as of January 2020) so you can see the delights to be had. First, the Musician of the Year is my hero Marc Caparone, so even though I doubt there will be a parasol-laden coronation, I want to be there to see the rites and praises. Then, guest stars Bob Draga, Brian Holland, Danny Coots, Dawn Lambeth, Eddie Erickson, Gary Ryan, Jeff Barnhart, Jerry Krahn, and Katie Cavera. The bands: Blue Street Jazz Band, Bye Bye Blues Boys Band, Carl Sonny Leyland Trio, Clint Baker’s New Orleans Jazz Band, Cornet Chop Suey, Crescent Katz, Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, Fast Mama Excitement, Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet, Ivory&Gold, Le Jazz Hot, Midiri Brothers, Sierra Seven, Tom Rigney and Flambeau, We Three (Thursday only), Yve Evans and Company, and the Zydeco Flames.
Looking at the 2019 schedule, the Bash offered four simultaneous sessions for full twelve-hour days on Friday and Saturday, and a half day on Sunday . . . one hundred and fifty sessions, including full bands, singers, solo and duo pianos, youth bands, sets for amateur jammers, and more. Even someone like myself, who doesn’t fell compelled to see and hear everything, finds it a delightfully exhausting experience. There’s a separate Thursday-night dance and an appearance by We Three, and I quote: “Kick off Jazz Bash by the Bay on Thursday, March 5, 2020, with a big band dance party featuring Clicktrax Jazz Orchestra. Attendees will enjoy danceable swing and traditional jazz at the Portola Hotel and Spa from 7:30 to 11 pm. Admission is $25.00. Also, in a Special One-Night-Only appearance, the hit trio We3 featuring Bob Draga, Jeff Barnhart, and Danny Coots will be playing from 7 to 8:30 pm. Admission is $30.00. Add the dance for $20 more. All tickets can be purchased by phone, mail, online or at the door.”
Did you notice that there is an Early Bird All-Events Badge at a discount if you order before December 31, 2019? Yes, I repeat myself: details here.
For me, a post advertising a particular festival is not effective unless some musical evidence can be included. I broke one of my rules — that is, there are musicians in the 2011-19 videos below who do not appear at this year’s Bash, and I apologize to them if anyone’s feelings are bruised. But I started to go through the 200+ videos I’d posted of various Monterey Bashes, and some of them were do fine that I couldn’t leave them out. You’ll get a panoramic sense of the wide variety of good, lively, inventive music that happens here. And each video has a detailed description of who’s playing and singing, and when it happened.
an old song, swung, 2019:
Becky and the blues:
the late Westy Westenhofer:
Ivory&Gold (Jeff and Anne Barnhart):
Paolo Alderighi, Phil Flanigan, Jeff Hamilton:
Katie Cavera and the Au Brothers:
Bob Schulz and the Frisco Jazz Band:
Allan Vache, John Sheridan, John Cocuzzi, Paul Keller, Ed Metz:
Hot Strings at Monterey 2011:
a jam session with Bryan Shaw, Jeff Barnhart, Dan Barrett, Marc Caparone, John Reynolds, Katie Cavera, Ralf Reynolds:
Carl Sonny Leyland, Marty Eggers, Jeff Hamilton, performing Sonny’s composition that insures that no rodents visit the Portola during the Bash:
It might seem a long way away, but it isn’t. And it’s a truly enjoyable event.
Here’s something for the intellectual puzzle-solvers in the JAZZ LIVES audience.
Kenny Davern, Yank Lawson, Connie Jones, Pee Wee Erwin, Doc Cheatham, Chuck Folds, George Masso, Don Goldie, Johnny Varro, Jon-Erik Kellso, Paul Keller, Ed Polcer, Eddie Higgins, Marty Grosz, Bill Allred, Bob Schulz, Bobby Rosengarden, Milt Hinton, Brian Torff, Johnny Frigo, Peter Ecklund, John Sheridan, Brian Holland, Rebecca Kilgore, Dan Barrett, Eddie Erickson, Ken Peplowski, Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, the Fat Babies, and more.
Figured it out? The answers, although indirect, are below, and they relate to the Juvae Jazz Society and the Central Illinois Jazz Festival: the story of their inception is here.
I confess that Decatur, Illinois has really never loomed large in my vision of bucket-list places. But I have been terribly myopic about this for the past quarter-century. Consider the poster below, please:
The Juvae Jazz Society is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary, and rather than expecting people to bring them silver plates and candelabra, they are throwing a one-day jazz party, which you might have understood from the poster above. (The list of musicians is just some of the notables who have played and sung for them in the last quarter-century.)
Although I admire Petra van Nuis and Andy Brown immensely, I’ve never had a chance to hear Petra and the Recession Seven live. The Chicago Cellar Boys are one of my favorite bands and would even be so if Dave Bock wore a more sedate bow tie. Other surprises are possible as well.
The New Jersey Jazz Society is a fount of good things — concerts, publications, supporting the music and the musicians. And no one has a bad word to say about Bucky Pizzarelli . . . so take a few very brief minutes and watch this:
For those who don’t want to watch even brief videos (there’s music in this one), a flurry of reiterated details:
Don Braden, Director, Tenor Sax/Flute WBGO’s Rhonda Hamilton, Mistress of Ceremonies Special guest Dorthaan Kirk, “Newark’s First Lady of Jazz”
Nathan Eklund Trumpet Jason Jackson Trombone Ed Laub, Dave Stryker Guitar Tomoko Ohno Piano Martin Pizzarelli Bass Bernard Purdie Drums Danny Bacher, Antoinette Montague, Alexis Morrast, Marlene VerPlanck Vocals Leonieke Scheuble Piano Tim Givens Bass Nick Scheuble Drums William Paterson University Students “Little Big Band”
Sunday, October 22, 2017 3:00– 6:00pm Dorothy Young Center for the Arts on the campus of Drew University, 36 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ 07940
Big Band to Bebop and Beyond A “Jersey Best” celebration of the rich jazz history of New Jersey; honoring the 75-year career of the Garden State’s own legendary guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. NJJS Members advance sale $30 each (at the door: $35) Non-members advance sale $35 each (at the door: $40) Students balcony seating $15 each (I.D. required) Proceeds from the event benefit NJJS scholarships, and its educational program Generations of Jazz. Please consider making a separate, tax-deductible contribution over and above the ticket price. 3 ways to order tickets: • online: njjs.org • by phone: 1-800-838-3006; select option 1. • by mail: send a check payable to NJJS, including a $3 per order handling fee, together with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: NJJS, c/o Kate Casano, 158 Cotton Street, Philadelphia, PA 19127. Your order must be mailed no later than October 12. NJJS is a qualified I.R.C. 501(c)(3) dedicated to the performance, promotion and preservation of jazz. Ticket price is not tax deductible. NJJS is a qualified agency of the New Jersey Cultural Trust
It is possible but inconceivable that some people don’t know Bucky’s mastery (where might they have been hiding for the past decades?) so I offer two examples.
TRES PALABRAS, from the 2012 Atlanta Jazz Party:
and, on the other side of things, at the 2014 AJP. SING SING SING, with Allan Vache, John Cocuzzi, Paul Keller, and Ed Metz:
I try to avoid soda, the beverage of my childhood, but I once bought a bottle of SQUEEZE because its affectionate logo charmed me. The bottle vanished in one of several moves, but the melody lingers on.
Fats Waller’s first published song — although it was liberally based on a bawdy tune called THE BOY IN THE BOAT, whose central image was not nautical. But here are a few versions . . . . the first one from Jazz at Chautauqua in 2011 with Marty Grosz, Jon-Erik Kellso, Scott Robinson, Frank Tate:
with a pause for liquid enlightenment here:
and a solo version by Ray Skjelbred, recorded at Cline Cellars in California, June 2013:
with one more icon:
and from the 2014 Atlanta Jazz Party, with Dan Block, Duke Heitger, Bria Skonberg, Ed Polcer, John Cocuzzi, Paul Keller, Ed Metz:
Reading this post and listening to the music, I don’t know if you’ll suddenly crave an orange soda, look around for the right person to squeeze and be squeezed by . . . in such things, you’re on your own. But perhaps at the Cleveland Classic Jazz Party — starting September 15 — someone will give this wonderful song another squeeze. You never know.
Some wish to honor the past by attempting to reproduce it exactly. An honorable effort, but I much prefer those bold tightrope walkers who know that the only way to honor the glories of, say, 1929, is to make them alive in this century by adding personal innovative sparks to the outlines of the revered masterpieces. (I know that this is a controversial position, but I also have enough evidence that the great masters didn’t approve of imitation; they preferred homage through individuality. Ask Lester; ask Bix. And I’ve done scholarly work for decades, but I also reverberate to Emerson’s tart words that Shakespeare was not made by the study of Shakespeare.)
So I present to you a too-short set by a vibrant jazz band onstage at the Atlanta Jazz Party (April 18, 2015) led by the eloquent Duke Heitger, trumpet, with Tom Fischer, clarinet / tenor; Rossano Sportiello, piano; Paul Keller, string bass; Chuck Redd, drums.
What they had to tell us was plenty — and it had no connections to the Wax Museum of Hot, although one could see and hear easily that the Ancestors were being honored: Buck Clayton, Lester Young, Count Basie, Benny Carter, Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Jelly Roll Morton, and their worthy colleagues. No academia, no didacticism, no laser pointer or Power Point. Just wonderful hot music.
I NEVER KNEW:
IF WE NEVER MEET AGAIN:
I’M COMIN’ VIRGINIA:
BLACK BOTTOM STOMP (which begins with the time-honored invocation, “Meet you at the end”):
Five noblemen of jazz, honoring the past by being fully alive in Now.
Allan Vaché knows what swing is all about, and when you get him on a bandstand with a good rhythm section, floating jazz improvisations happen. And that was the case at the 2015 Atlanta Jazz Party — when he and Rossano Sportiello, piano; John Cocuzzi, vibraphone; Paul Keller, string bass; Darrian Douglas, drums, took their happy way through three Charlie Christian / Lionel Hampton riff tunes that have been associated with Benny Goodman for seventy-five years.
I’m amused that one title seems to refer to air travel (more of a novelty in 1939 than now), one to Benny’s clarinet, one to shooting craps.
SEVEN COME ELEVEN:
Yes, we certainly could lament that this is no longer our popular music, and occasionally I myself dip into that pit of despair, but the music that these five people made and still make is a true cure for any sadness.
And here is the information you’ll need about the 2016 Atlanta Jazz Party, April 22-24.
Danny Coots, who lives the words on the sign above his head.
Four delights and four comic interludes from the very lovable and talented Danny Coots, with Duke Heitger, Bria Skonberg, Ben Polcer, trumpet; Dan Barrett, Russ Phillips, trombone; Allan Vaché, Tom Fischer, reeds; Dalton Ridenhour, piano; Paul Keller, string bass: recorded at the 2015 Atlanta Jazz Party —
BEI MIR BIS DU SCHOEN:
The 27th Atlanta Jazz Party will take place in you-know-what-city from April 22 to 24, 2016. Details to comehere.
On October 17, 2015, my friend and fellow videographer Laura Beth Wyman took her nimble camera to the Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to record a rewarding constellation of musicians. (They all happen to be people I like as well as admire, which makes these videos a pleasure doubled and tripled). Laura, if her name is new to you, is sole proprietor of Wyman Video.
The participants? The delightful singer Petra van Nuis (enjoy her singular phrasing!); her husband, the eloquent guitarist Andy Brown; the wondrous James Dapogny, piano; the nifty string bassist Paul Keller; the irrepressible Pete Siers, drums.
I NEVER KNEW (Andy, Jim, Paul, Pete):
I GO FOR THAT (Petra, Andy, Jim, Paul, Pete) — remembering Mildred Bailey, but somehow I think the verse is new . . . courtesy of Petra:
I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH ME (Petra, Andy, Jim, Paul, Pete):
COME IN OUT OF THE RAIN (Petra, Andy):
IF YOU WERE MINE (Petra, Jim):
SEPTEMBER SONG (Petra, Paul):
How nice to have all my friends — now, I hope, yours too! — making light-hearted yet deep music in the same place, with the invaluable work of Laura Wyman to preserve it all for us. Bravo! Encore!
My title comes from a story Joe Bushkin told about being on the bill in 1940 with Fats Waller at the Panther Room of the Hotel Sherman in Chicago. Bushkin was then appearing as part of Muggsy Spanier’s band. He remembered that Fats would “get off a perfectly beautiful run,” look at him, grin, and say, “It’s so easy when you know how!”
I thought of this comment while watching new videos of Paul Klinger’s Easy Street Jazz Band — videos so generously created by my dear friend and videographer Laura Beth Wyman. The ESJB (for this June 9 gig) featured the delightful singer Kerry Price, Paul Klinger, cornet and soprano saxophone; Mike Jones, clarinet; Terry Kimura, trombone; James Dapogny, piano; Paul Keller, string bass; Rod McDonald, guitar; Pete Siers, drums. All of this goodness took place at Ann Arbor, Michigan’s Zal Gaz Grotto.
JELLY ROLL (with the verse, which was a delight, new to me):
SENTIMENTAL GENTLEMAN FROM GEORGIA, a Dapogny arrangement:
I’M CONFESSIN’ (a song with an unusual history — written in 1929 and published with another title and lyrics, then recreated a year later with the same melody, new lyrics, and an entirely different set of composers credited) is a lovely durable melody . . . of course, first made immortal by Louis Armstrong, who sang and played it for the next forty years. I couldn’t find a copy of the first sheet music, but here is a later version:
Many bands pick this as a reliable rhythm ballad — and some race through it as if on jazz cruise control, taking it as an interlude between one punishingly fast / loud number and the next.
Happily, this was not the case with Duke Heitger, Ben Polcer, trumpet; Russ Phillips, trombone; Tom Fischer, clarinet; John Cocuzzi, piano; Paul Keller, strig bass; Danny Coots, drums, at this year’s Atlanta Jazz Party (this performance was only the second song of the three-day marathon). These master musicians created something frankly alchemical, transforming sadness into joy:
Everything about this performance entrances me: the sweet steady tread of the rhythm section (a wonderful team saying with every beat to the horn players, “Create whatever is in your heart and we will be there to support you, to make you feel safe”) to the compact singing utterances of the horns — how to make those instruments speak in such heartfelt ways in sixteen bars! (Sixteen bars go by so quickly.) The variety of sounds!
And just as a self-referential digression: inspired by the song, I stopped writing and went twenty feet to the other end of this long room, where a cherished cornet rests on blue velour in its ancient case. I picked it up and “played” the first sixteen bars of I’M CONFESSIN’ and reminded myself only how incredibly difficult making an instrument sing is. Mine sang, but I won’t describe how or what it was singing.
From the title alone, one would think that I’M CONFESSIN’ would be an exultant outpouring of love, with the Lover offering feelings openly. And that is indeed the case. But the Lover here is both frightened and self-aware, wondering if those feelings will be reciprocated or discarded. And the Love Object — the source of power in this interlude — is both inscrutable and ambiguous: the eyes embody one “strange” message; the lips offer another.
I think that JAZZ LIVES readers might need to hear the lyrics as well as the melody. And thanks to my dear friend Austin Casey, here is THE version of the century: Louis on the Frank Sinatra Show.
Gorgeous, light-hearted, and heartfelt. I offer this as evidence to those who think Louis didn’t care about the lyrics: here he offers each word as if it had been written by Keats. Tonation and phrasing for the ages. I also offer this performance not as a diminution of the one created on April 17, 2015, but to show that the two stand side-by-side, our heroes in this century so completely lit from within by Louis’ blessed spirit.
A last word about the alchemy of music, of candor. The musicians in Atlanta did the impossible by transforming unease and anxiety into something beautiful, in the spirit of Louis. This transformation is not always possible in what passes for real life, but it is worth attempting. Keeping one’s terrors to oneself is what we have been trained to do. Adults don’t talk about what scares them: they might terrify the children. But I wonder if we said out loud to ourselves, “I am deeply afraid that ___________ might happen,” that the fear, put into syllables we can hear ourselves saying, might be more manageable. Saying to the Love Object, “I’m afraid some day you’ll leave me / Saying ‘Can’t we still be friends?'” is a true act of courage, because the Love Object can always say back, “Indeed, that was just what I was thinking this very moment,” but [hence the MAY in my title] it could provoke reassurance.
JAZZ LIVES offers no advice in relationships, and hence is held harmless from any liability. But speaking what you feel, embodying what you feel is always courageous, no matter what the result.
C.S. Lewis never wrote a book called EXHAUSTED BY JOY, but I could do it for him — having just returned from the Atlanta Jazz Party, which ran deliciously through the weekend of April 17 through 19, 2015. I will spare you the exuberant descriptions (because I still don’t have the energy) and just offer this: the closer from Danny Coots’ Saturday-night extravaganza, a splendidly compact and ebullient PANAMA. I’ve named the alchemists above, but in case you missed a turn, they are Danny, drums and instant planning; Dalton Ridenhour, piano; Paul Keller, string bass; Allan Vaché, clarinet; Tom Fischer, tenor saxophone; Dan Barrett, Russ Phillips, trombone; Ben Polcer, Bria Skonberg, Duke Heitger, trumpet:
All I know is that William H. Tyers just left a big LIKE on Facebook. If you find my title slightly inexplicable, just count the faces in the video. And they were only part of the musical crowd.
You should have been there! It’s happening next year on April 15-16-17. Make plans.
I am excited to be attending the 2015 Atlanta Jazz Party — a week away! That’s April 17 through 19th in the very comfortable Grand Ballroom of the Westin Atlanta North at Perimeter. It’s an incredibly lavish buffet of hot music: seven sets on Friday night, seven sets on Saturday afternoon, seven sets on Saturday night, and seven sets on Sunday. All performers are featured in each session. Atlanta Jazz Party Patrons and Guarantors get to attend all four sessions plus the exclusive Saturday morning jazz brunch!
And there’s something new and exciting: the new Jazz Dinner Buffets featuring surprise special guest performers on Friday and Saturday Night, in the newly created “Johnny Mercer Room” right across from the Grand Ballroom. This change is important to the Party’s survival. And I know — don’t ask me how — that one of the “surprise special guest performers” is someone legendary.
Who’s playing and singing? Ben Polcer, Duke Heitger, Bria Skonberg, Allan Vaché, Tom Fischer, Eddie Erickson, Darian Douglas, Sean Cronin, Dalton Ridenhour, John Cocuzzi, Johnny Varro, Rossano Sportiello, Dan Barrett, Russ Phillips, Nicki Parrott, Paul Keller, Danny Coots, Chuck Redd, Rebecca Kilgore.
Here’s Danny Coots and Ten at the 2014 AJP:
and since that sounds so good, let’s have another:
and the song that conveys the way I feel about the Party:
See you there, I hope. It’s one of those enterprises that truly deserves your energetic support.
It might be impolite to ask someone “What did you dream last night?” unless you are on very intimate terms, but here’s a deeply swinging answer to that question.
It’s an ancient but durable pop classic done with great style by Rebecca Kilgore, Duke Heitger, trumpet; Dan Block, tenor saxophone; Dan Barrett, trombone; Rossano Sportiello, piano; Paul Keller, bass; Ed Metz, drums.
This glowing performance took place on April 25, 2014, at the place where such things flourish — the Atlanta Jazz Party— which this year takes place from April 17 to April 19, which, like love, is just around the corner:
It would be nice to see you there, and you will get your money’s worth and more of music that makes you feel very good. Sweet content, in fact.
If you follow its lyrics, the 1929 song CAN’T WE BE FRIENDS? describes the sorrow and the disillusionment of a failed relationship. But as a piece of instrumental music, it’s pretty and lilting rather than morose — as in the performance below, from the 2014 Atlanta Jazz Party.
The delightful inquirers on the bandstand are Allan Vache, clarinet; Rossano Sportiello, piano; John Cocuzzi, vibraphone; Paul Keller, string bass; Randy Napoleon, guitar; Danny Coots, drums:
Hereis more information about this year’s Atlanta Jazz Party — the twenty-sixth — which will be held in a very comfortable hotel this coming April 17 through 19th. And moreinformation about practical matters. I know many gentle questions will be asked, and will receive swinging, lyrical answers.
Rossano Sportiello, piano, and Ed Metz, snare drum with wire brushes, made up a fully satisfying combo / band / orchestra in their morning set at the 2014 Atlanta Jazz Party. The music they made has resonated happily in my memory, and now I have the pleasure of sharing it with you.
Rossano began the set with a heartfelt BLUE AND SENTIMENTAL — which had a Strayhorn coloration at the start. In an age of bright colors and high volumes, it is so reassuring to hear a Maestro like Rossano play a ballad — not in any hurry to get through, to speed it up:
From Basie to his teacher, Fats, for HANDFUL OF KEYS, joined by Ed:
Then, a long interlude-concert which allows both players to shine as soloists and as part of a wondrous duo. The selections are MISTY, IT’S THE TALK OF THE TOWN, CHINATOWN (with a hand-drum solo a la Jo Jones), LUCKY TO BE ME, Liszt’s CONSOLATION #3, SHOE SHINE BOY — a full circle back to Basie:
Throughout this morning serenade, I was reminded of the beautiful sound of Johnny Guarnieri and Sidney Catlett, and I marvel at Rossano’s beautiful precision and the astonishing variety of sounds and textures Ed gets out of this most minimalist drum kit — and the duo’s apparently indefatigable swing. Proof, once again, that you don’t need a lot of volume to swing.
All this happened at the April 2014 Atlanta Jazz Party, and I have every expectation that equally beautiful music will be created there again this April. Details and registration informationhere. And since — as is the custom in most parties — the earlier you register, the better your seating . . . carpe diem in a big way.
The players this year will be Ben Polcer, Duke Heitger, Bria Skonberg, Allan Vache, Tom Fischer, Dan Barrett, Russ Phillips, John Cocuzzi, Rossano Sportiello, Johnny Varro, Dalton Ridenhour, Eddie Erickson, Nicki Parrott, Paul Keller, Sean Cronin, Danny Coots, Chuck Redd, Darrian Douglas, Rebecca Kilgore. Quite a varied and energetic crew.