Tag Archives: Reynolds Brothers Rhythm Rascals

FIFTY-FOUR SECONDS OF BLISS

Someone took his or her phone / camera to California Adventure Disney and caught the Ellis Island Boys in action — Ralf Reynolds, washboard, vocal; John Reynolds, guitar, vocal; Marc Caparone, trumpet; Westy Westenhofer, sousaphone (sitting in for Katie Cavera, string bass). 

SADIE GREEN (The Vamp of New Orleans) from 1926 — a delicious miniature of hot jazz, hokum, and hilarity — and listen to the way Marc ends his bridge.  Mother, mother, pin a rose on me!

Pssssst.  The Ellis Island Boys are usually known as The Reynolds Brothers or The Reynolds Brothers Rhythm Rascals when they perform elsewhere . . . they will be at the 2012 Dixieland Monterey Jazz Bash by the Bay . . . will you?

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GRATITUDE IN 4/4 (Part Two): THE 2011 SAN DIEGO THANKSGIVING DIXIELAND FESTIVAL: THE REYNOLDS BROTHERS (with thanks to Rae Ann Berry)

More wonderful music from the 2011 San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Festival, proving that gratitude doesn’t require roast turkey.

Here are four delicious selections by the Reynolds Brothers, made available for JAZZ LIVES through the generosity of Rae Ann Berry, whose handiwork can be seen in two places (if you don’t encounter her at a concert, gig, or jazz party): her up-to-date list of hot jazz gigs in the area on www.sfraeann.com and her YouTube channel here.

The Reynolds Brothers Rhythm Rascals masquerade as the Ellis Island Boys when they’re at California Adventure Disney, but I just think of them as Katie Cavera, string bass and vocals; John Reynolds, guitar, banjo, vocals, and whistling; Ralf Reynolds, washboard, refereeing, and vocals; Marc Caparone, trumpet, vocals.  On this set the youthful Nik Snyder joined them on banjo, too.  And we had a splendid visit from Dawn Lambeth!

CHARLEY, MY BOY — with a neat vocal by Katie at a more leisurely tempo than usual, bringing out the song’s coy humor:

I GOTTA RIGHT TO SING THE BLUES showcased Dawn’s sweet singing — and she began with the verse, a rare treat.  Louis and Django smile on this performance, as well:

I’M COMIN’ VIRGINIA always summons up Bix –always a good thing. One audience member was audibly enthusiastic during this performance, and with good reason:

YES, SIR, THAT’S MY BABY adds young Mr. Snyder to the party — great fun (and catch Nik observing John intently):

Ready to launch!

Thanks to Paul Daspit and these glorious musicians.  More to come!

SOUTHERN (CALIFORNIA) COMFORT: THE “ELLIS ISLAND BOYS (and GIRL)” at CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE DISNEY

It’s not too soon to make plans for hot jazz for the next two months.  For the first time in its existence, JAZZ LIVES can recommend a trip to California Adventure Disney in Anaheim — the Paradise Garden Bandstand, to be precise, where this band is playing seven half-hour sets (beginning at 11:50 AM and ending at 7 PM) three days a week:

Do they look familiar in this action shot taken by our friend Susan Miyata?  Yes — you guessed right — the “Ellis Island” crew is our Peerless Quartet, known to the authorities as the Reynolds Brothers, and sometimes as the Reynolds Brothers Rhythm Rascals.  From the left, that’s Marc Caparone, trumpet and vocals; Ralf Reynolds, washboard, vocals; Katie Cavera, string bass, banjo, guitar, vocals; John Reynolds, guitar, banjo, whistling, vocals.  We knew that the Ellis Island Boys had arrived when we saw they had their own Facebook page: Ellis-Island-Boys

For the remainder of January, they will be appearing on the 10, 14, 15, 19, 21, 22, 24, 27, and 30.  In February, they will be swinging out on the 3, 5, 8, 11, 12, 14, 17, 22, 24, 25, 26, 28.

Founder Walt had a real love for hot jazz and it looks as if the tradition is being carried on in the best way.  I want the great Disney marketing machinery to kick in — souvenir washboards would be the first step . . .

And here’s another photo — by Alex Matthews — that shows Bryan Shaw sitting in for Marc Caparone . . . same hot music and high-level entertainment!

FAMILIES THAT PLAY TOGETHER (at DIXIELAND MONTEREY, March 5, 2011)

They stay together, if you hadn’t noticed.

Here’s more rollicking joy from Dixieland Monterey (the Jazz Bash by the Bay) that I attended in March 2011.

(“Attended” isn’t really the right word — too formal — but I can’t find a really good way to say “floated.”  I’m still floating, and if you wonder why you need only to sit down in front of the videos below.)

This was a session held at the Wharf Theatre.  It wasn’t billed as FAMILY REUNION, but it might as well have been. 

First, the Reynolds Brothers (and they are!): John Reynolds on National steel guitar, vocals, and sweet whistling, and brother Ralf on washboard, whistle, emotional uplift, and traffic control. 

Then there’s the Caparone Family.  Marc on cornet; his father Dave (the fellow over to the left of your screen, looking very serious, sounding like Benny Morton — in fact, sounding like Don Redman’s trombone section of 1932-3 with an occasional nod to Dicky Wells — a real prize!), and daughter-in-law Dawn Lambeth (vocals, piano, and cheer). 

Observant eyes will catch that Dawn is about to become a Jazz Mommy (Marc had something to do with this, it was told to me) so there’s another generation of Caparone onstage.  And baby does make three! 

The sole non-relative was the sweetly leafy Katie Cavera (string bass and vocals) . . . but everyone who meets Katie adopts her within the first few minutes, so she’s not an outsider.

Free-range and locally sourced, too!  She’s NOBODY’S SWEETHEART NOW (for the dancers):

Jazz scholars will note so many wonderful influences floating through these performance: Bing, the QHCF, Louis, Basie, Steve Brown, Red Allen, Billie Holiday, Teddy Wilson, Bobby Hackett, Lee Wiley, the Marx Brothers, Brunswick Records, the Washboard Rhythm Kings, Steve Washington, and more.

Time for something deeply satisfying in its sweetness: and watch everyone’s face as they feel the love on that stand, just as we do.  What tenderness as Dawn, Dave, and Marc celebrate SUGAR!

Something exultant — from the man who wrote the brooding ON GREEN DOLPHIN STREET — a song from A DAY AT THE RACES (originally sung by Ivie Anderson).  How they rock it here!  And at the end, Marc reminds us of a song from another 1937 movie.  Hint: “Mister Gloom won’t be about / Music always knocks him out.”  Here’s ALL GOD’S CHILLUN GOT RHYTHM:

Dawn had a cold — a great problem for a singer! — but her natural swinging heart, her spirited earnestness comes through complete . . . and no one bends and slides into notes as she does.  Here, MY BLUE HEAVEN, the perfectly appropriate song for the moment, with the verse.  And Marc suggests what might have happened if Louis and the Mills Brothers had recorded this one for Decca, before Papa Dave and John show what they can do:

One of the great delights is being introduced to a “new” “old” song — from 1922 or 1923 . . . a song Vic Dickenson loved (although I never heard him play it), TUCK ME TO SLEEP IN MY OLD ‘TUCKY HOME.  Isn’t it wonderful how lovely / hilariously comfortable Whislin’ John Reynolds is in front of an audience!  He’s a thrill and a hoot all in one.  And the brass section — worth another watching.  Like father, like son.  More below*:

Finally, something sweet and tenderly nostalgic — Dawn sings BLUE ROOM, which has very endearing lyrics (although the position the lovers find themselves in — an innocent one — might lead to neck pain, whether your head is wee or not):

“Every day’s a holiday” with a band like this, for sure!

While watching these videos, I keep thinking of Baby Lambeth-Caparone, who’s going to greet the new day at the end of March 2011.  Someday that Baby is going to be able to see these clips and say, “There’s Mommy, and Daddy, and Grandpa, and I was there, too!”  Yes, Baby — you were swinging with your families.

CLICK HERE TO GIVE BACK TO THE MUSICIANS IN THE VIDEOS (ALL MONEY COLLECTED GOES TO THEM):

 https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

THE REYNOLDS BROTHERS IN HIGH STYLE, 2010

Living on the East Coast, I only knew about the Reynolds Brothers (that’s Ralf on washboard; John on National guitar; both sing; both are grnsdons of the legendary screen star ZaSu Pitts) through finding them on YouTube — a live session with singer Dawn Lambeth, trumpeter Marc Caparone, and plectrist Katie Cavera on her new triple, the string bass. 

I was both amused and elated: they were very funny, often sweet, but they swung very hard without raising their volume. 

Now, they have a new CD, and it’s is a corker.  A pip.  A honey.  A dazzler.  You find the appropriate adjective for “must-have.”

This CD features a beautifully-recorded, energetically hot quartet — with John taking most of the vocals, but with Ralf, Marc, and Katie having their own specialties.  What does a quartet of trumpet, amplified National guitar, string bass, and washboard sound like?

Listen (you can watch, too!): here are two performances by this very group recorded at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood, California, on January 13, 2010 (courtesy of Katie Cavera’s YouTube channel, “kcavera”).

Let’s start with a brief incendiary exercise, FUTURISTIC JUNGLEISM:

And here’s something more tender (the Boswell Sisters did a lovely version of it), WAS THAT THE HUMAN THING TO DO?:

This band harks back to an almost-forgotten series of recordings by one of the great Hot organizations of the early Thirties, the Washboard Rhythm Kings.  If you didn’t have money for a trap set (and who did, during the Depression?) you could outfit what was then a common item, a laundry washboard, with a cymbal, a cowbell, perhaps other percussive side-dishes, find some thimbles, and wail away.  A great washboard player (ask Doug Pomeroy about this art: he knows) would not only be an adequate replacement for a swinging drummer with a full kit, but could outswing one.  Those recordings — sometimes at slow and medium tempos — had a wonderful momentum, and the really Hot numbers are astounding.  Famous names played with those bands — trumpeter Taft Jordan, pianist Clarence Profit, and singer Leo Watson among them. 

Now the washboard is usually relegated to truly traditional “trad” bands: in Ralf’s hands, it’s a full percussion orchestra, and he is a pleasure to watch . . . his hands swooping and diving in mid-air.  John is an engaging singer, gentle and sly — approaching music and lyrics with great casual-sounding skill.  His solos make melodic sense; his rhythm playing is a model of the art.  Katie is a fine propulsive bassist — bringing the same accuracy to this instrument that she has brought to all her banjos and guitars.  And she is a very sweet (but never sugary) singer: you believe her!  Marc Caparone, I submit, has never sounded so electrifying as he does on this CD and these clips.  I thought of what the National Forest Service calls “a controlled burn” — an intensely Hot fire that is, however, always precisely focused on its musical objectives.  And the band is more than a collection of individualists: they rock, joyously, together. 

The best way to but the CD is through the brothers’ site — (http://reynoldsbrothers.net/recordings.html) but those who prefer to use credit cards can order through CDBaby: http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/ReynoldsBrothers.  And if you’re sufficiently captivated, this quartet is “accepting engagements,” as the saying goes.  I am sure that the Brothers could add to this band to suit anyone’s desires.  

If you would like to hear more while you are waiting for your mail carrier to deliver the CD, Katie has posted a few more clips from this concert (as well as her own expert and witty short films).

WHO DO YOU THINK IS COMING TO TOWN?

“You’ll never guess who.”

dawnlambethIt’s much too early for Santa, and it’s not Emily Brown from “Miss Brown to You,” but someone real — the wonderful singer Dawn Lambeth, making another rare visit to this coast.  Dawn and her husband Marc Caparone (a brilliant trumpeter) make their home in California, and work most often with their own Usonia Jazz Band or with the Reynolds Brothers Rhythm Rascals.  So it’s a delight to have Dawn back again for a flying tri-state visit, singing with her friends, the Boilermaker Jazz Band.  Details below:

Wednesday April 22nd,  8 PM, Newark Museum Centennial
49 Washington St., Newark, New Jersey  

This is a dance party, celebrating the museum’s hendredth anniversary, so be ready to cut a rug. More info at www.newarkmuseum.org.

Friday April 24th, 9 PM, High Street Ballroom
310 East High St., Pottstown, Pennsylvania

8 pm: Dance Lesson.  9 PM:  Boilermaker Jazz Band plays for dancing!  This cozy ballroom is  just a short drive from Phiadelphia.  More info at www.swingkat.com.

Saturday April 25th, 8 PM, Wesleyan University
Beckham Hall, 45 Wyllys Ave., Middletown, Connecticut

7 PM: Dance Lesson.  8-11 PM, Boilermaker Jazz Band plays for dancing.  Their first time in the Hartford area- make them feel welcome!  More info at www.vinniesjumpandjive.com.

Sunday April 26th, 8 PM,  New York Swing Dance Society
St. Jean’s Church, 76th and Lexington, New York City

This is part of the Babble NYC weekend.  More info at www.nysds.org or www.nycbabble.com.

 If Dawn’s lovely singing is new to you, check out her CDs — MIDNIGHT BLUE and LET’S GET LOST.  She has a warm, comfortable way with a melody, delivering it lightly and conversationally in the manner of Maxine Sullivan, and she can improvise without thrusting herself into the limelight.  Even better, she knows what the lyrics mean.  Her recordings and live performances are happy evocations of the small-group swing records of the Thirties and Forties, and she sounds like herself — no tortured meowing in the style of Billie.  Don’t miss her!

(I heard a rumor that Dawn will pay a visit to Sofia’s Restaurant this Monday to hear Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks.  Who knows what could happen?  We can only imagine. . . . . )