I’m not offering a splendidly energizing bottle of cayenne peppers and vinegar — but its musical equivalent, designed to make everything taste better.
Here, courtesy of Rae Ann Barry, roving videographer, are performances by Clint Baker’s New Orleans Jazz Band, recorded live on December 20, 2009, at the monthly jazz party of the Basin Street Regulars in Pismo Beach, California.
The eloquent down-home players are Clint Baker, trombone, trumpet, and bass; Marc Caparone, trumpet; Mike Baird, clarinet; Carl “Sonny” Leyland; Mike Fay, bass; Katie Cavera, banjo, guitar, vocal; Hal Smith, drums, and two surprises.
PANAMA (not PANAMA RAG) is where Stompy Jones — and STOMPY JONES — come from. Not only is this song often played too fast; some of its strains are left out or forgotten by bands eager to get to the familiar refrain. Clint’s band knows all the ins and outs, and the tempo is just right. Catch Hal Smith’s tom-tom accents and his homage to Zutty and Baby Dodds! Marc sounds like a very hip Joe Oliver . . . perhaps a King Joe who had lived on to play more in 1938. And Rae Ann is intrepid indeed, never flinching away from what must have been perilous proximity to those umbrellas. (Note to self: Call to find cost of liability insurance for jazz videographers.)
And here’s BIG CHIEF BATTLE AX, a song — with several strains — that Bunk Johnson loved to play, in a performance that lets everyone romp, with special praise for Carl’s righteous piano. I tried to find the lyrics, but only come up with the wonderful sheet music cover. Can anyone help?:
UP JUMPED THE DEVIL reminds me of DO WHAT ORY SAY with a dash of SISTER KATE (or GET OFF KATIE’S HEAD, if you prefer) stirred in at the end. But what I find captivating — aside from Marc’s fervent lead throughout, is the wonderful ensemble rock: not faster, not louder, just cumulatively intensifying:
And a delightful surprise — one of my favorite singers, Dawn Lambeth, comes to sing ALWAYS, first as it was written, and then courtesy of Mr. Leyland, as a Fifties boogie. Watch Dawn sway happily as Marc aims for the stars (and gets there)! And Mike Baird takes a few Pee Wee Russell turns. I love Dawn’s third chorus — she’s subtle but she really improvises:
CANAL STREET BLUES takes on a different flavor with Clint switching to trumpet and Marc’s father, the estimable Dave Caparone, coming in on trombone. Dave is a renowned winemaker, but I first admired him not for his big reds, but because he could sound like Benny Morton — a great virtue! You can hear a bit of his neat Thirties glide here. Love that rhythm section!:
And a neat change of pace: Katie Cavera brings her guitar and sweet voice for the late-Twenties version of “Shut up and kiss me!” — DO SOMETHING, with the band coming together in a great loose way as the performance proceeds, the hot honors going to Clint at the start:
MARYLAND, MY MARYLAND (turned into MARCH OF THE BOB CATS by the Crosby-ites) has the benefit of a fine trombone section. Mike Baird makes me think of HIGH SOCIETY, and Katie swings out most musically. Let’s hear it for Hal’s melodic snare-drum chorus, and also for the red-shirted man who gives Rae Ann an astonished look the first time he walks in front of her lens. Maybe he had forgotten his umbrella? If that closing ensemble doesn’t move you, perhaps you need cayenne peppers:
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Thanks to all the spicy, expert roisterers!
COPYRIGHT, MICHAEL STEINMAN AND JAZZ LIVES, 2009
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