Tag Archives: Phil Pospychala

VANESSA TAGLIABUE YORKE: “THE RACINE CONNECTION”

What it looked like at the 2012 Bix Fest, thanks to Tom Warner, Phil Pospychala, Andy Schumm, Dalton Ridenhour, Josh Duffee, and the engaging singer Vanessa Tagliabue Yorke:

This performance and ten others are now available on a Rivermont Records CD called “Vanessa Tagliabue Yorke: The Racine Connection,” and it’s a thorough pleasure.

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When most people go to a jam session, club, concert, or festival, if the music is superb, there’s often the regret mixed with the joy: “Wow, that was wonderful. Wish I could hear that again!” The new Rivermont Records CD makes it possible, and a delight.  For one thing, Vanessa isn’t simply a record-copyist (although she does a very effective Annette Hanshaw homage on IF YOU WANT THE RAINBOW).  Rather, she comes to this music with a winning combination of heartfelt emotions and deep understanding.

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She has a rangy, eloquent voice — no squeaky-girl Betty Boopisms for her — and at times she evokes the raw yet controlled passion of Piaf.  And her musical range is equally spacious, as evident in the songs selected: BLUE RIVER / WE JUST COULDN’T SAY GOODBYE / THOU SWELL / BACK WATER BLUES / THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU / IF YOU WANT THE RAINBOW / BLACK BOTTOM / LOVELESS LOVE / PETITE FLEUR / IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS OF THE MORNING / THEM THERE EYES / NEBBIA.  That three or four of those songs go beyond what one might expect at a Bix Festival — and that they are rendered with great feeling and depth — is tribute to Vanessa’s artistic honesty and breadth.

And when this earnest swinging singer is accompanied by great musicians Andy Schumm, Dalton Ridenhour, Yves Francois, John Otto, Dave Bock, Frank Gualtieri, Jason Goldsmith, Leah Bezin, MIke Waldbridge, and Josh Duffee, you know there is fine playing in solo, ensemble, and accompaniment to go along with Vanessa’s voice.  Ten of the twelve selections were recorded “live,” in performance, which is all to the good: I’ll choose that “live” sound, which makes a listener feel as if (s)he is right there, over the pure — and sometimes tense — acoustic environment of a studio any day.

You can find this CD — and many more refreshing ones, present and historical — here.  I predict that Vanessa is at the start of a long and rewarding series of performances and CDs.

May your happiness increase!

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WINNER OF THE MISC. INSTRUMENTS CATEGORY, 2012: MR. ANDY SCHUMM!

First Andy mesmerized us with his cornet playing, then his pianisms (rollicking or pensive), then his tenor saxophone and clarinet.  Now . . . the pocket comb and a strip of paper — the kazoo’s elegant cousin — in tribute to Red McKenzie.

Marty Grosz told me that Andy uses real newspaper.  That boy’s got the right spirit, even if the WORLD-TELEGRAM and the JOURNAL AMERICAN (the papers of choice for Mr. McKenzie) are no more.

Here Andy leads an all-star band at the 2012 BixFest — thanks to Phil Pospychala.  Thanks to Tom Warner for the video, complete with do it yourself closeups for the folks at home.  Here’s an evocation of the 1933 “Mound City Blue Blowers” recording — unissued at the time — of GIRLS LIKE YOU WERE MEANT FOR BOYS LIKE ME, which featured Fats Waller, Benny Goodman, Bud Freeman, and Coleman Hawkins.

The other notables making such sweet music are John Otto, reeds; Frank Gualtieri, trombone; Jason Goldsmith, reeds; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Leah Bezin, banjo; Dave Bock, tuba; Josh Duffee, drums.

I hope that at the 2012 Jazz at Chautauqua, Andy and Marty get to do a small-group set together: it will be dynamite!  And I predict a run on the dollar stores once this video reaches its widest audience — for jazz combs, of course.

May your happiness increase.

BIXFEST 2012 IS ON THE WAY! (March 8-11, 2012)

I’ve never met Phil Pospychala.  But his reverence for Bix Beiderbecke, his music, and his world goes far beyond the sweet passivity of someone listening to his beloved records at home.  No, Phil has been creating and hosting his Tributes to Bix for more than two decades: this one is subtitled THE DREAM CONTINUES: PART XXIII.

That’s a serious thing.

You can find out more immediately by visiting here.   But permit me to share a few bits of information.

This year’s TRIBUTE is held in Racine, Wisconsin — and it will feature Andy Schumm, the heroic young man of jazz, with two “new” bands: his Monkey Chasers and the Scrap-Iron Jazzerinos.  The lissome and swinging singer Vanessa Tagliabue Yorke will be coming back to these shores.  Rare films, rare records to hear and to buy, a lecture by Hans Eekhoff on sound restoration and other pertinent matters; a film-demonstration of Twenties dance styles by the Queen of the Dicty Glide, Bridget Calzaretta . . . cakes in the shape of famous Bix records, contests, a magic show . . . a bus tour of sites related to Bee Palmer, Don Murray, and much more.  Josh Duffee, John Otto, Dave Bock, and Jamaica Knauer will be there.

The highest priced admission (Patron with the bus tour included) is $100.  The site will answer every question you might have — and raise some you never thought of — but you can also email Phil at bixguy@hotmail.com.  It’s advised that you register at the Marriott by February 14 (If music be the food of love, play on!) to ensure that you’ll get a room.

And here’s even more contact information:  the BIX phone hotline is (847) 996-0246.  There’s a reservation form and price schedule on the website, and checks should be mailed to Phil Pospychala at 15745 W. Birchwood Lane, Libertyville, Illinois 60048-5101.  You can also pay by Paypal.

The hotel details are as follows:  Marriott – Racine, WI (Hwy.20) 7111 Washington Ave.  Room Reservations – (262) 886-6100.  Toll Free – (800) 228-9290.  Tell the pleasant young person who takes your call that you are with the  “Bix Fest” to guarantee the special rate of $89, and be eligible for prize drawing of free room.

Register on line – www.marriott.com — type in Group Code – “bixbixa”; the group code field is on the Racine-Marriott homepage on the lower left side.  The $89 rate and room information will then pop up.  The closest airport is   Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport.  More details about bus, shuttle . . . are available on the website.

These festive events don’t go on eternally, so don’t wait.  Be a friend.  “With pleasure” will be all yours.

TRIBUTE TO BIX FEST 2011 (March 10-13)

Phil Pospychala has remarkable stamina! 

His twenty-second annual musical / cultural tribute to Bix Beiderbecke, his friends, and environment, is scheduled for March 10-13, 2011.  It will be held at the Marriott in Racine, Wisconsin. 

Appearing this year will be regulars Andy Schumm, Dave Bock, Josh Duffee, and John Otto — in an ensemble Andy promises will feature songs no one’s ever heard before (and he keeps his promises), and the wonderful singer Barbara Rosene (making her first appearance at this gala), as well as singer Jamaica Knauer, pianist Dave Drazin, and Dave Greer’s Classic Jazz Stompers. 

There’s a famous (or infamous?) bus tour, record sales, rare films, musical quizzes, a lecture by Bix scholar / trumpeter Hans Eekhoff on “Restoring the Bix Gennetts, Part Two,” and more. 

For the schedule of events, hotel information, prices, visit www.bixfest.com, email Phil directly at bixguy@hotmail.com.  There’s even a Bixfest hotline: (847) 996-0246.  And if you’re puzzled by the baked goods on display at the top of this posting, why, they’re birthday cakes for the ever-young man from Davenport, sweet edible replicas of his recordings. 


NEW OLD SONGS (by ANDY AND HIS GANG, March 2010)

Although it’s always a pleasure to hear JAZZ ME BLUES, for instance, listeners like to be surprised as well — not by mere novelty (playing the theme from FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE in hot style, for instance) but by songs in the idiom that aren’t overly familiar.  Here are two such performances from the 2010 Tribute to Bix, played by Andy Schumm and his Gang (Andy, cornet; Dave Bock, trombone; John Otto, reeds / vocal; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Leah Bezin, banjo; Vince Giordano, bass sax, tuba, string bass; Josh Duffee, drums). 

The first is WHAT A DAY, taken from a post-Bix session done by Frank Trumbauer:

It’s not the most inventive song — the three-note motif gets repeated cheerfully, almost without letup, but it bounces along.

The second, DON’T WAKE ME UP, LET ME DREAM, is more obscure (Abel Baer-Mabel Wayne) and has a certain oblique similarity to GOOD LITTLE, BAD LITTLE YOU — but it, too, gets a jaunty performance.  In this version, Vince got to take a much-needed breather and his place was taken by Mike Walbridge on tuba.  And Andy pounces on the melody from out of the ensemble in fine Goldkette style!

We have the intrepid Flemming Thorbye to thank for these videos: from the back of the hall, but steady and in clear sound — all that anyone could want and more!

BIX FEST 2010: GALS and RIVERS and MONDAY

These videos were taken by the multi-talented Jamaica Knauer at Phil Pospychala’s “Tribute to Bix,” the most recent celebration of Bix Beiderbecke’s life and art.  Cornetist Andy Schumm and his Gang — that’s Dave Bock (trombone), John Otto (reeds), Leah Bezin (banjo / guitar), David Boeddinghaus (piano), Vince Giordano (bass sax, string bass, tuba, vocals), and Josh Duffee (drums) performed a number of selections either recorded by Bix or evoking him.  Appropriately, the music was played on Bix’s birthday — at the Bavarian Inn in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

There are perhaps unintentional thematic connections here, easy to find.

MY GAL SAL (written by Paul Dresser, brother of novelist Theodore Dreiser):

SOMEBODY STOLE MY GAL (was it a pal of Sal or another gal?):

SLOW RIVER (harking back to the Goldkette band):

RIVERBOAT SHUFFLE (for the Wolverines and the 1927 recording with Frank Trumbauer):

Finally, because it’s Thursday, here’s the very antidote to Blue Monday, a cheerful FROM MONDAY ON:

Anyone who’s paying attention won’t need me to point to the special pleasures — the ringing playing of the front line, relaxed and hot; the rocking rhythm section, and the wonderfully steady tempos — but these performances will please over and over.  This band knows the records and the idiom inside-out but no one feels compelled to copy the famous solos.  And the smile on Josh Duffee’s face sums it all up for me.

“THE DEAR BOY”: BIXFEST 2010 (March 11-14)

First, “the dear boy” is what Louis Armstrong called Bix, writing about him in 1954.  And Bix Beiderbecke remains dear to many, as man and musician.   

Phil Pospychala is once again arranging his Tribute to Bix, to be held in the Marriott in Racine, Wisconsin.  Details can be found — along with photographs, cartoons, comedy, and information — at http://www.bixfest.com/

The music promises to be typically rewarding, with Vince Giordano leading his Midwest Nighthawks and as a member of the “Bix and his Gang” band — which features Andy Schumm on cornet, Dave Bock on trombone, John Otto on reeds, and Josh Duffee on drums.  Jamaica Knauer, videographer and singer, will be making her debut with cornetist Scott Black, Bock, Andy Schumm on piano, John Otto, and Sue Fischer on drums.  The New Century Jazz Orchestra from the UK will be playing as well. 

Jamaica says, “It’s a really nice, intimate kind of festival, with a bus trip to jazz sites, lectures, record
contests, record sales, jazz films, late night record spinning, birthday cakes in Bix’s honor….a great time to hear some fantastic music, mingle with the musicians, make friends, and visit with old ones.”

For details (prices, reservations, scheduling) visit the BixFest site above.  The video clips I have seen and posted from this festival are evidence enough that a good time was and will be had by all.  Or ask your local Bixian!