At the end of the three-day memorable immersion that was the July 2009 Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival, I was overwhelmed — awash in the contradictory feelings I always have when nearing the end of a jazz party. I am terriibly sad, because I don’t want the music ever to end, but at the same time I have had just about enough of the rich sensations offered in set after set. I’m full — as anyone would be after a lavish multi-course meal. But I know Monday is coming . . .
So when Bob Cox came and found me sometime on Sunday evening and said, “Where have you been? You’ve got to come and hear the Swiss Yerba Buena Creole Rice Jazz Band,” I was mildly reluctant, being in full-mode. I confess I was unfamiliar with their work; it may even be that the sheer length of their name intimidated me.
“Rene Hagmann is playing with them,” Bob said, which was more than enough reason for me go hear their set.
I was delighted then — and I am delighted now to be able to share these video clips here. I don’t know the precise personnel of the band, but the Clerc family is its backbone — father Beat and son Fabien on trumpets, and son Olivier on drums and washboard. Besides Hagmann and Jean-Francois Bonnel guest stars on reeds, there is also Leonard Muller. I confess I don’t know the name of the wonderful trombonist (and occasional scat-singer); the pianist is Jean-Pierre Burkhard; the banjoist is Nidi Niederhauser; Jean-Daniel Gisclon plays the tuba. On their latest CD, Regis Dessimoz is also on trumpet.
Much of the SYBCRJB’s repertoire is drawn from venerable jazz recordings, and the thrill is in hearing a real band play these charts live, with solos that dart in and out of the ones we know by heart.
To start, here is something for the Bixians — a Goldkette romp on I’M GOING TO MEET MY SWEETIE NOW, with reed virtuoso Bonnel playing trumpet:
Then the band honors I’LL BE A FRIEND WITH PLEASURE, with Bonnel taking an impassioned early-Thirties Hawkins solo instead of the vocal:
What more could I say about DO SOMETHING except to point out that the band certainly lives up to the imperative:
Finally, two maniacally ecstatic performances featuring the tireless Olivier Clerc on washboard. The first is GOIN’ NUTS, taken from a 1929 record session by an Ellington small group, the Six Jolly Jesters. Once again I apologize to the trombonist — not only didn’t I know his name, but I couldn’t tear my camera lens away from Olivier to record his memorably uninhibited scatting. So sorry, Sir, wherever you may be at the moment. And don’t miss Rene Hagmann on kazoo or air-trombone:
And more! that ancient pop tune, PADDLIN’ MADELINE (or MADELIN’?) HOME (with its suggestion that she is in no hurry to have the hedonism come to an end so that she can go back to sedate life, Mother and Father, and dry land):
When this set ended, I, too, was on my feet, applauding. I went over to the piano to buy the SYBCRJB’s latest CD and to pay homage to young Olivier. I praised his incredible stamina and said — as innocently as I could — that I hoped his lady love was equally appreciative of it. It took a moment for that to translate, but my naughtiness made him laugh, which was what I had hoped for.
Down the hall, a jam session in the bar lasted until I went to my room at 2 AM– bravely facing the inevitable, that Monday would come soon enough. Which it did. But here’s what I took away with me.
Goodbye, Whitley Bay! See you next year . . . .
TheSYBCRJB’s website, not incidentally, is http://www.swissyerba.com. And they have other videos on YouTube — several recorded by the nimble Elin Smith.