I perceive this world as a place where authenticity must battle with fakery all the time — sushi is sometimes shoved aside for plastic food. So when a dining companion asks me how I like my dinner, I might say, “Tastes like food!” which few understand as sincere appreciation of genuineness. That expression works equally well for me in what I hear in improvised performance.
This morning, I checked YouTube and found videos — thanks to RaeAnn Hopkins Berry — of Clint Baker’s Golden Gate Swing Band at the Bootleggers’ Jamboree Weekend (I put the apostrophe there whether they like it or not) on May 26th. The band is Clint, trombone; Marc Caparone, trumpet; Paul Cosentino, reeds; Jeff Hamilton, piano; Bill Reinhart, guitar [whose name I misspelled in my first, pre-coffee, version]; Katie Cavera, string bass; Riley Baker, drums.
I started with JIVE AT FIVE, and was content. Knowing that such music is possible — inspired by Basie but not copying the Decca 78 — is consoling:
and ROSETTA, at one of many good tempos:
Leaving Jabbo Smith out would be neither wise nor gracious, so here is Clint’s ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY:
and the song Pee Wee Russell would title THREE LITTLE BIRDS (with a Commodore ancestry):
RaeAnn shot twenty-four videos of this fine band (including vocals by Dawn Lambeth and Jessica King) — which I will leave to your investigation (also so that you can subscribe to her YouTube channel) — but those should make you feel delight in the presence of the Real.
May your happiness increase!
Posted in "Thanks A Million", Bliss!, Generosities, Hotter Than That, Ideal Places, Irreplaceable, It's All True, Jazz Titans, Pay Attention!, Swing You Cats!, That Was Fun!, The Heroes Among Us, The Real Thing, The Things We Love, Wow!
Tagged Bill Reinhart, Clint Baker, Commodore Records, Count Basie, Dawn Lambeth, Golden Gate Swing Band, Jabbo Smith, Jazz Lives, Jeff Hamilton, Jessica King, Katie Cavera, Marc Caparone, Michael Steinman, Paul Cosentino, RaeAnn Hopkins Berry, Riley Baker, SFRaeAnn, swing
The clearly indefatigable RaeAnn Berry captured some wonderful performances at the 27th Annual America’s Classic Jazz Festival in Lacey, Washington. So far, I am most fond of these duets between the consistently delightful singer Dawn Lambeth and the nimble, sensitive pianist Conal Fowkes. Here’s a selection.
Conal runs the risk of being typecast as Cole Porter in Woody Allen’s films, but he bears up nobly under the burden, we think. Here’s his sparkling solo rendition of Porter’s YOU’VE GOT THAT THING (to be defined ad lib) — I think of this as Park Avenue barrelhouse:
The Festival’s sound system doesn’t do Dawn’s rich voice justice, but you can get a good idea of the sweet subtleties that endear her to us on MORE THAN YOU KNOW:
Dawn charms us with the evergreen (certainties undermined in swingtime) I MAY BE WRONG. Incidentally, I read somewhere that the conceit of the lyric is that the optimistic singer is seriously visually impaired, so the song then makes better sense:
The moral of MOONBURN — Hoagy Carmichael’s first song for films, composed with Edward Heyman — might be “Always carry protection,” or not. Most of us know it from a wonderful 1935 Decca recording featuring Bing Crosby and Joe Sullivan. Dawn and Conal make me want to research lunar moonscreen:
Harold Arlen’s song of emotional confusion (I guess?) BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, occasion for a lengthy and splendid Frolick by Conal:
Finally, for this posting, here’s that paean to the magic powers of caffeine when mixed with love, YOU’RE THE CREAM IN MY COFFEE:
To see and hear more from Dawn and Conal, and other glowing artists recorded live, visit SFRaeAnn — our video benefactor’s YouTube channel. Another thousand subscribers would please her mightily.
May your happiness increase!
Posted in "Thanks A Million", Bliss!, Generosities, It's All True, Jazz Titans, Pay Attention!, Swing You Cats!, That Was Fun!, The Heroes Among Us, The Real Thing, The Things We Love, Wow!
Tagged Cole Porter, Conal Fowkes, Dawn Lambeth, Jazz Lives, Michael Steinman, RaeAnn Berry, RaeAnn Hopkins Berry, Woody Allen
I’d heard pianist Mike Lipskin in New York City in the Seventies, and treasured his recording with his mentor Willie “The Lion” Smith, CALIFORNIA HERE I COME — appropriately — but what the Beloved and I heard tonight at San Francisco’s Pier 23 was a delightful revelation. Mike led a trio with Clint Baker, trumpet and clarinet, and Paul Mehling, leader of the Hot Club of San Francisco, guitar. Their interplay was delicious — a gleeful tossing back and forth of phrases and musical ideas — but Mike has remained one of the contemporary giants of Harlem stride piano.
Stride playing is an athletic art (ask anyone from Stephanie Trick to Dick Hyman to Rossano Sportiello) and even the greatest players occasionally falter as they come out of middle age. Mike Lipskin’s fastball still blazes.
It’s not simply that he plays rocketing tempos, but his time is steady (no matter what the groove) and his inventions dazzling without being exhibitionistic. And his style is his own — not simply a collection of mannerisms learned from the Lion and the great players he heard and followed — Donald Lambert, Cliff Jackson, and others. So although he may whimsically offer a Fats gesture or a Lion roar, he is always creating small surprises, key changes and small modulations in the manner of a far less rococo Tatum. He doesn’t call attention to such things, and they could slide by listeners absorbed in the greater aural picture, but his playing is a series of small explosions that serve the song rather than detract from it.
Mike, Clint, and Paul offered music that was at once complex, endlessly rooted in the traditions and common language, but remained sweet and clear. Special pleasures were several Ellington medleys, a rocking SPREADIN’ RHYTHM AROUND, a somber I’M COMIN’ VIRGINIA, a sweet MEMORIES OF YOU and IF I HAD YOU, and a few hallowed but little-played Thirties songs, ZING! WENT THE STRINGS OF MY HEART and I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU — all played in ways that were both witty and heartfelt. Clint and Paul distinguished themselves by deep melodic playing, taking risks, and swinging out in ensemble and solo.
Someone as devoted to his video camera as I am occasionally takes a rest: I’d decided it would be a refreshing way to spend an evening with the Beloved where I wasn’t staring at the viewfinder, so there is no video evidence to accompany this. But anyone willing to spend an extra minute on YouTube can find videos of this trio captured by the assiduous RaeAnn Berry . . . and I might have some good things for JAZZ LIVES in future. Mike will be playing solo at Bix Restaurant in San Francisco this coming Saturday and two Sundays a month (call ahead) and you can visit here to keep up with his schedule and recordings.
He’s absolutely genuine: a true explorer of those sacred arts.
May your happiness increase!
Posted in "Thanks A Million", Bliss!, Generosities, Hotter Than That, Jazz Titans, Pay Attention!, Swing You Cats!, That Was Fun!, The Heroes Among Us, The Real Thing, The Things We Love, Wow!
Tagged Art Tatum, Cliff Jackson, Clint Baker, Dick Hyman, Donald Lambert, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, HArlem stride piano, Jazz Lives, Michael Steinman, Mike Lipskin, Paul Mehling, Pier 23, RaeAnn Hopkins Berry, Rossano Sportiello, Stephanie Trick, Willie "the Lion" Smith