Tag Archives: Rebecca Kilgore Quartet

IN ITS GLORY: THE ALDEN-BARRETT QUINTET at JAZZ at CHAUTAUQUA (Sept. 22, 2012)

Howard Alden, guitar; Dan Barrett, trombone, cornet, arrangements, of course.  A working band is one of the great glories of jazz.  Although some prize the ideal of the jam session, where disparate musicians come together, elate and startle us, a group of players who have stood side by side for a period of time might create something more lasting.  Think of Soprano Summit, of Davern and Wellstood, of the Ruby Braff trios and quartets, the Rebecca Kilgore Quartet.  If you would like historical precedent, there’s the rapport that Bird and Diz developed or the Armstrong All-Stars.

The ABQ was nurtured by the friendship of its two California pals, then mentored even more by the aging but still very creative Buck Clayton.  It held together as a working (and recording) band for less time than it should have, but one of the delights of Jazz at Chautauqua was the ABQ reunions that its late founder Joe Boughton insisted on and made possible.  The charter members of the ABQ are Chuck Wilson, clarinet / alto; Frank Tate, string bass; Jackie Williams, drums — and in my delicious immersions at Jazz at Chautauqua beginning in 2004, I believe I saw an ABQ that was authentic in all but Jackie.  And it always swung — a neat mixture of stripped-down Ellington colors, Kirby-with-guts classicism, a Basie rock, a Kansas City Six swagger.

Here, from the 2012 Jazz at Chautauqua, are two lengthy outings for this glorious band — Howard, Dan, Dan Block on alto and tenor, Frank Tate, Pete Siers.  The first is a Buck Clayton composition and arrangement: Buck had very good times in France, so IN A PARISIAN MOOD is groovy, hardly gloomy:

Then, a beautifully realized nod to Buck’s colleague Lester with LADY BE GOOD, explained carefully by Professor Barrett:

I dream of a world where working bands of this sleek swing persuasion could work as themselves.  We’re so fortunate that the ABQ can reassemble . . . too bad it seems to be only once a year.

May your happiness increase. 

REBECCA KILGORE, HER QUARTET, HER CELESTIAL SELVES

When I sat down to spread the good news, I was reminded of an unpublished e.e. cummings poem about the Rebecca Kilgore Quartet (known to those who know as the RK4):

the rk4

is back for more

don’t

blink

don’t

snore

get out

the door

Cummings was right.

The RK4 (the group formerly known, under an old regime, as B E D) is going to be playing for lucky motivated Californians in November 2012.  The group is our Becky (vocals, guitar); Dan Barrett (trombone, cornet, vocal, mischief); Eddie Erickson (guitar, vocal, banjo, more mischief); Joel Forbes (string bass, dark raptures).

They are one of those rare jazz groups that understands their audience: so they move from a heartbreaking ballad to vaudeville fun, from virtuosity to sweet swing.  The audiences don’t fidget; they’re busy being entranced and the evening rushes by.  The RK4 doesn’t get as many opportunities to appear together as they should — by rights, they should have their very own Sunday-evening television show, with guests — so this is not at all an ordinary occasion.  It’s rather like one of those celestial happenings . . . . if you miss the Perseid meteor shower, there won’t be one in three days.  So do go if you can!

Details:

Sunday, November 4, 2012:  The Norris Center for the Performing Arts, Palos Verdes, California: “Cabajazz” with the Rebecca Kilgore Quartet — Rebecca, Dan Barrett, Eddie Erickson, Joel Forbes.  The Center is located at 27525 Crossfield Drive, Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274, and it appears that the RK4 will be doing two shows — an 11:30 AM one with brunch; a 5 PM one with “Supper”.  More information here.  Or call (310) 544-0403.

But wait!  There’s more!

Becky’s home town is Portland, Oregon, where she gigs regularly.  On Friday, October 19, it will be Western Swing Night at the Bijou Cafe, 132 SW 3rd Avenue in Portland (503.222.3187).  Becky will sing with James Mason, fiddle; Doc Stein, steel guitar and dobro, Pete Lampe, string bass.  “Dancers very welcome!”

On Saturday, October 20 (do you see a pattern here?  I hope I do.), Becky will be appearing from 8-11 PM at Ivories Jazz Lounge and Restaurant, 1435 NW Flanders (also Portland: 503,241,6514)  with the wonderful David Evans on reeds, Randy Porter, piano; Tom Wakeling, string bass.  And Becky will play her rhythm guitar on both gigs — a real asset.

But wait!  There’s more!

Perhaps there are some JAZZ LIVES readers who have only a dim notion of just how remarkable our Ms. Kilgore actually is.  I don’t know how this could happen, but I am assuming the possibility.  So just to really make sure that no one is in the dark, here is a performance by Becky, Dan Barrett, Rossano Sportiello, piano; Jon Burr, string bass; Ricky Malichi, drums, from the September 2012 Jazz at Chautauqua.  Appropriately for my vision of Rebecca Kilgore as a rare phenomenon, someone who is wholly herself — and we are glad — the song is I SAW STARS:

For more information, you can always catch Rebecca here or  here.  “Celestial” is putting it mildly.  Don’t blink, don’t snore . . .

May your happiness increase.

BEWITCHED BY BECKY (Sacramento Music Festival, May 2012)

She shall make music wherever she goes!

Becky is our own Rebecca Kilgore, and we are so lucky to be able to see and hear her.  I had the privilege once again at the Sacramento Music Festival.  There she was joined by Dan Barrett (trombone, narratives), and Rossano Sportiello (piano) for a number of wonderful sessions.

I marvel again at the lovely music that these three created for us.

BEWITCHED, BOTHERED, AND BEWILDERED (Rodgers and Hart):

THIS CAN’T BE LOVE (again):

and a Thirties tune that some associate with Connee Boswell, others with the Washboard Rhythm Kings, HUMMIN’ TO MYSELF:

In the presence of the highest art: such beauty is easy to love but not so easy to create.

And I should point out that even though Becky appears with a variety of combos — each one offering beautiful interplay between her voice and the players — the Rebecca Kilgore Quartet (formerly known as B E D) is still thriving!  (That’s Becky, Dan, Eddie Erickson, Joel Forbes.)  Coming soon to a festival / party / concert near you!

But for the moment, we’ll all go on being BEWITCHED.

These three video performances have been approved by the Canadian Film Board of Review.

May your happiness increase.

A DECADE OF SWING AND FUN!

Congratulations are in order to the splendidly swinging Rebecca Kilgore Quartet (formerly known as B E D) — a very gratifying group that has just completed its first decade of appearances, recordings, and accolades.  They are Rebecca Kilgore, vocals and rhythm guitar; Eddie Erickson, vocals, guitar, banjo, and hi-jinks; Dan Barrett, trombone, cornet, arrangements, vocals, piano, and travelogues; Joel Forbes, string bass.

Here they are — plus the wonderful New Orleans clarinetist Tim Laughlin — to show us what true spaciousness, even amplitude means — I’ll translate that as THAT’S A PLENTY — recorded at the much-missed Sweet and Hot Music Festival in 2011:

There are many other small groups out there clamoring for our attention, but the RK4 is special.  For one thing, they are an engaging bunch: there is always laughter on the stand, and the audience is encouraged to join in.  This quartet quickly turns listeners into friends.  There’s always something happening during their performances, which are delightfully varied — Becky floats delicately above the rocking rhythms provided by Eddie and Joel; Dan takes a cornet solo backed by Eddie’s banjo; Eddie sings a tender ballad or Becky shows off her multilingual prowess in French or Portuguese.  Dan shifts over to the piano to turn the band into a modern King Cole trio . . . the hour goes by too quickly.

Here’s what I wrote in 2010 about their glorious CD, YES, INDEED!

The Rebecca Kilgore Quartet has appeared at jazz festivals and parties worldwide — from Roswell, New Mexico, to Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Monterey in California, to Odessa, Texas and Clearwater Beach, Florida; they’ve done concerts and student outreach programs; they’ve appeared on the JazzFest at Sea Cruise; they perform at private parties big and small.  Since they joined forces a decade ago, they’ve created five rewarding compact discs: GET READY FOR B E D (2002) ; BEDlam (2004); WATCH OUT! (2006); B E D Four + 1 (2008); YES, INDEED! (2010) — all available on the Blue Swing Fine Recordings label.*

When they began to delight listeners a decade ago, their stated goal was “to swing and have fun.”  This hasn’t changed.  In fact, they’ve gotten better — offering lively, joyous music that you don’t have to be a “jazz fan” to enjoy.

I hear them in my dreams.

For bookings please contact Michael Francis: (575) 653-4603 or (575) 937-6304.  His email is: mfjazz@pvtnetworks.net — or find him at www.mfjazz.com

My only problem in writing this celebratory post is a philosophical one.  Should we be wishing the RK4 a Happy Birthday or a Happy Anniversary?  Readers are invited to write in with suggestions — but, better yet, pick a date for your next celebration and make sure that the RK4 is there, too.

*About those discs.  Each one is a treat . . . but that’s no surprise.  I always think the best way to buy one is to find the RK4 on a gig and get the discs direct, but I realize that isn’t always possible. The most recent one, YES, INDEED! is available here (that’s CDBaby).  For the others, you could go to the source — www.rebeccakilgore.com or email the lady herself at   info@rebeccakilgore.  (Becky’s got info. Who could ask for anything more?)

May your happiness increase.

PLAYING FOR KEEPS: REBECCA KILGORE QUARTET with TIM LAUGHLIN at SWEET AND HOT 2011

I mean my title literally.  This band is at its easy playful best — but what they offer us won’t erode with time.  The music that Rebecca Kilgore, Tim Laughlin (clarinet), Dan Barrett (trombone and cornet), Eddie Erickson (guitar, banjo, vocal), and Joel Forbes (string bass) created at the September 2011 Sweet and Hot Music Festival will last.

It’s energetic, personal, lively, sweet, as you;ll see and hear.  And Ms. Kilgore, our Becky, is in top form — her opening choruses are thirty-two bar seminars in melodic invention over a swinging pulse; her second choruses say, “There’s always another way to sing these words and these notes,” and I know she could go on from one set of subtle variations on the theme to another all night long. (A Kilgore chorus has the same subtlety and structure as the solo of a great instrumentalist.)

Dan, Eddie, and Joel work together beautifully — their inventiveness, pulse, and swing — but the guest star, the limpid-toned Tim Laughlin, fit in as if he’d been working with this group for years.  Maybe he should be!

This nimble quintet began their set with an old favorite — but one whose optimistic message is always needed — BACK IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD.  With the little Louis-touches, that backyard might well have been the garden next door to his house in Corona:

Because of Tim’s home town and the love it evokes from all the musicians in this idiom, Becky called for DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO MISS NEW ORLEANS?:

Then, the perennial Harold Arlen – Ted Koehler declaration of fidelity (based on BASIN STREET BLUES, more or less), AS LONG AS I LIVE:

The jazz pedigree of I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS goes all the way back to Louis with Fletcher Henderson.  Often this song is played as the last one of the night — I’m glad there was more to come in this set.  And the Barrett – Laughlin riff behind Becky’s first chorus is somewhat reminiscent of “With no pants on” in some versions of THE SHEIK.  Listen to Becky’s pearly phrasing, then dig the hilarious horn conversation of Dan and Tim — bringing Vic Dickenson and Ed Hall into the twenty-first century, with the best aupport from Eddie and then Joel:

I had the original Kapp 45 of MIDNIGHT IN MOSCOW by the Kenny Ball Jazz Band — but with all respects to them, this version is even better.  Dan is one of the finest cornetists you’ll ever hear — careful and headlong at the same time, while Tim weaves leafy lines around him, Eddie and Joel rocking the room without strain:

Readers of JAZZ LIVES know the name of Edgar Sampson (as well as his main instrument) but it’s always lovely to hear IF DREAMS COME TRUE again, with its echoes of Billie, James P., and Dick Wellstood:

I wonder how many listeners get all the clever Thirties references in the lyrics of TANGERINE (look up Lilly Dache sometime) but the song stands on its own, sinuous and sly — let’s raise a toast to Becky’s choice of tempo and Joel’s eloquent playing:

And as a tribute to New Orleans and the romping early days, the band closed with THAT’S A PLENTY — fitted out with tongue-twisting lyrics perhaps thirty years after its initial recording — Buster’s gang came to town, with Eddie adding his smooth voice in sweet harmony:

This was such a superb set — the only thing missing was a rendition of IT’S ONLY A PAPER MOON (appropriate to the decor): maybe next year?

WHY CURSE THE DARKNESS?

It’s dark in New York.  Daylight seems to get swallowed up every day.  

What to do?

Moving away isn’t an option, and reassurances that we will make it to April seem very thin comfort.  Were I a bear or a squirrel, I could drown my sorrows by stuffing myself with acorns and go hibernate.  But acorns give me indigestion and my college frowns on professors staying home for four months.

The only thing I can do is a jubilant nose-thumbing at winter.  I’ve paid for a seat at a hot jazz extravaganza for March 2011 — DIXIELAND MONTEREY — JAZZ BASH BY THE BAY.  That’s in California, by the way.  (Look at the bright yellow of the Bash logo — that’s much better than a full-spectrum light, isn’t it?)

Dixieland Monterey will take place March 4-6, and will be held at the Portola Hotel and Spa, the Monterey Conference Center and Fisherman’s Wharf.  The Monterey waterfront, I’ve been told, is lovely — and this Bash has been presenting “Dixieland, Big Band, Swing, Ragtime, Blues, and Gypsy Jazz” for more than thirty years.  In addition to the sets by a wide variety of bands, there will be a Swing Dance Party, three afternoon Banjo Jubilees, and a Dance Marathon.

“Well, Michael, who’s going to be there?” I can hear my loyal readership clamoring — on two and four, of course.

How about this list?   

And the website notes that reduced prices will be in effect until the end of 2010.  Better to go to a jazz party than curse the darkness.  I forget: did Eleanor Roosevelt say that or was it Zutty Singleton? 

For more information, check out http://www.dixieland-monterey.com/.  I now have some fun to look forward to . . . it will keep me more cheerful through the darkest days of winter. 

YES, INDEED!*

A new CD by the group formerly known as B E D is cause for celebration.  Although this quartet (by common consent) has shed its coy acronym to be known simply as the Rebecca Kilgore Quartet, their musical essence — swinging, tender, witty, surprising — has not changed except to get better. 

Rebecca’s Quartet is a musical alliance between Becky (vocals and guitar); Eddie Erickson (the same plus banjo), Dan Barrett (trombone, cornet, piano, arrangements, vocals) and Joel Forbes (string bass).  They were friends and co-conspirators long before they formed this versatile group, and their pleasure in playing and singing continues to grow, audibly.  And I stress that the RK4 is a musically interconnected group rather than a star turn for a singer and her backing rhythm section. 

This CD is also happily distinguished by its variety (most CDs seem too long not because we can’t sit still for sixty-five minutes, but because many groups present the same experience eleven or twenty times during the course of the disc) — and it’s not an artificial yearning for “something completely different” from track to track.  Singers Becky and Eddie are often out front, as they deserve to be, but the music behind and around them is both delicate and propulsive.  Much of that is due to bassist Joel, someone I’ve been privileged to see and hear at close range at The Ear Inn.  Joel knows all about the right notes in the right places, and his big woody sound lifts any ensemble.  Here — since there’s piano only on one track and no drums at all, we can hear his righteous elegance.  He’s featured throughout the CD but comes to the forefront on MY OLD FLAME, which is just lovely.

Daniel P. Barrett, to be formal, inhabits a roomy musical universe.  Shall we begin with the talents he’s less celebrated for?  His piano on THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE would make you think that Nat Cole had decided to remain an instrumentalist, and his cornet playing on A GAL IN CALICO and GET ACQUAINTED WITH YOURSELF is a flexible, swinging delight — evoking Bobby Hackett and Bill Coleman.  Want more?  He’s an impish singer on ACQUAINTED: it’s hard to hear him sing anything without grinning at his wryly personal delivery.  The clever, understated arrangements are his, and his trombone playing is what the instrument ought to sound like, whether he’s caressing a ballad line or nodding to one of Vic Dickenson’s less printable epigrams.

Eddie Erickson hasn’t yet gotten his due as a wonderful rhythm guitarist and creator of tumbling single-note lines where every note is perfectly in place, even when the tempo is supersonic.  His banjo playing is so melifluous that it makes me forget all the other things done to and with that instrument in the wrong hands.  As a singer . . . he is earnest without being homespun, someone who makes the lyrics come alive without the slightest hint of affectation.  He makes the rather violent lyrics of A GAL IN CALICO charming rather than oppressive; his MY OLD FLAME is rueful but wise; his DAY DREAM is tenderly masterful.  He is also a wonderful team player, having the time of his life joining in with Becky when they sing.

And “Rebecca (Becky) Kilgore,” as the back cover identifies her?  My feeling (based on this CD and her Jerome Kern tribute, SURE THING, just out on Audiophile) is that her only flaw is that she keeps getting better.  When I have received a new CD of hers, I think I know how good it’s going to be, but her subtlety continues to amaze me.  She is able to sing songs that I know by heart and make them evocative and fresh — including THEY CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME and THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT, which I had thought Mr. Astaire had permanently made his own.  Her wistfulness, her deep feeling are evident all through I WISH I KNEW; her multi-lingual effortlessness comes through on UNDER PARIS SKIES.  Her delivery of the lyrics is of course pitch-perfect, conversationally casual and graceful, but she is a great dramatic actress who never is caught acting: her rubatos, her hesitations and urgencies, are emotionally convincing improvisatons.  And she doesn’t demand the spotlight for herself: her singing makes acceptable songs sound much better than they would otherwise, and makes great songs astonishing.  On this CD, as well, our Becky displays another side to her character, a wholly natural kind of bluesy Funk: hear her on BUZZ ME BLUES and the half-time section (homage to Connee Boswell and the Sisters) of CHANGES MADE.  And the whole band rocks church on the opening YES, INDEED! — an appropriate title for this delightful disc. 

Here’s a link to CD Baby to purchase the Blue Swing Fine Recordings CD: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/RebeccaKilgoreQuartet

*This post’s title, of course, comes from the CD itself and its opening track: I wanted to call this YOU WILL SHOUT WHEN IT HITS YOU, but my legal advisers said that these words sounded like an incitement to civil unrest so that I should find another phrase.  And the cover picture, most atmospheric, captures Dan’s mother Dorothee striding down a busy street in St. Louis, circa 1937 — she kows where she’s going and she’s going to get there . . . just like the RK4.