Tag Archives: Reynolds Brothers

MONTEREY DELIGHTS! (Jazz Bash By the Bay, 40th Anniversary Edition, March 5-8, 2020)

It’s never too early to get prepared for joy, especially the varieties that the Jazz Bash by the Bay delivers so generously.  (An All-Events badge is available at a discount before December 31, so if thrift makes your eyes gleam, check here.) Now.

I’ve been attending this March festival every year since 2011 (I missed 2018) and have fond memories.  I could write a good deal about the pleasures of this grouping of musicians and fans, and the pleasures of being able to walk around a truly charming town center . . . or the pleasure of being a guest at the Portola Hotel and Spa, with the music just a trot away, but I will simply direct you to the Bash’s website, where you can find out such useful information as the dates (March 6-8), the band schedule (not available yet), ticket prices, and the bands themselves.

For me, the bands and guest stars are the reason to come to a particular festival, so I will list them here (as of January 2020) so you can see the delights to be had.  First, the Musician of the Year is my hero Marc Caparone, so even though I doubt there will be a parasol-laden coronation, I want to be there to see the rites and praises.  Then, guest stars Bob Draga, Brian Holland, Danny Coots, Dawn Lambeth, Eddie Erickson, Gary Ryan, Jeff Barnhart, Jerry Krahn, and Katie Cavera.  The bands: Blue Street Jazz Band, Bye Bye Blues Boys Band, Carl Sonny Leyland Trio, Clint Baker’s New Orleans Jazz Band, Cornet Chop Suey, Crescent Katz, Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, Fast Mama Excitement, Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet, Ivory&Gold, Le Jazz Hot, Midiri Brothers, Sierra Seven, Tom Rigney and Flambeau, We Three (Thursday only), Yve Evans and Company, and the Zydeco Flames.

Looking at the 2019 schedule, the Bash offered four simultaneous sessions for full twelve-hour days on Friday and Saturday, and a half day on Sunday . . . one hundred and fifty sessions, including full bands, singers, solo and duo pianos, youth bands, sets for amateur jammers, and more.  Even someone like myself, who doesn’t fell compelled to see and hear everything, finds it a delightfully exhausting experience.  There’s a separate Thursday-night dance and an appearance by We Three, and I quote: “Kick off Jazz Bash by the Bay on Thursday, March 5, 2020, with a big band dance party featuring Clicktrax Jazz Orchestra. Attendees will enjoy danceable swing and traditional jazz at the Portola Hotel and Spa from 7:30 to 11 pm. Admission is $25.00. Also, in a Special One-Night-Only appearance, the hit trio We3 featuring Bob Draga, Jeff Barnhart, and Danny Coots will be playing from 7 to 8:30 pm. Admission is $30.00. Add the dance for $20 more. All tickets can be purchased by phone, mail, online or at the door.”

Did you notice that there is an Early Bird All-Events Badge at a discount if you order before December 31, 2019?  Yes, I repeat myself: details here.

For me, a post advertising a particular festival is not effective unless some musical evidence can be included.  I broke one of my rules — that is, there are musicians in the 2011-19 videos below who do not appear at this year’s Bash, and I apologize to them if anyone’s feelings are bruised.  But I started to go through the 200+ videos I’d posted of various Monterey Bashes, and some of them were do fine that I couldn’t leave them out.  You’ll get a panoramic sense of the wide variety of good, lively, inventive music that happens here.  And each video has a detailed description of who’s playing and singing, and when it happened.

an old song, swung, 2019:

for Django:

Becky and the blues:

the late Westy Westenhofer:

Ivory&Gold (Jeff and Anne Barnhart):

Paolo Alderighi, Phil Flanigan, Jeff Hamilton:

Katie Cavera and the Au Brothers:

Bob Schulz and the Frisco Jazz Band:

Allan Vache, John Sheridan, John Cocuzzi, Paul Keller, Ed Metz:

High Sierra:

Hot Strings at Monterey 2011:

a jam session with Bryan Shaw, Jeff Barnhart, Dan Barrett, Marc Caparone, John Reynolds, Katie Cavera, Ralf Reynolds:

Carl Sonny Leyland, Marty Eggers, Jeff Hamilton, performing Sonny’s composition that insures that no rodents visit the Portola during the Bash:

It might seem a long way away, but it isn’t.  And it’s a truly enjoyable event.

May your happiness increase!

HAIL AND FAREWELL: SACRAMENTO MUSIC FESTIVAL (a/k/a SACRAMENTO JAZZ JUBILEE) TO CLOSE AFTER 44 YEARS

More bad news for people who like their jazz in profusion over one weekend: the Sacramento Music Festival, once known as the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, will not continue on next year. Here is the whole story.

An observant person could tell the reasons for this decision, and they are primarily financial: festivals are terribly expensive to run, and the ratio between costs and audience was not always encouraging.  I am sad to read this, because in the past six months a number of festivals have said goodbye.  I won’t mount the soapbox and harangue readers who had said, “Oh, I’ll go next year,” but the moral — carpe diem over a swinging 4/4 — is clear.

My videos — about one hundred and fifty — show that I attended the SJJ in 2011, 12, and 14.  It was an unusual event.  I seem to remember racing from one side of the causeway (if that is what it was called) to the other for sets, and scurrying (that’s not true — I don’t really scurry) from one venue to another.  There was an astonishing amount of good music in the years I attended, and some very lovely performances took place in the oddest venues.

Here are more than a half-dozen splendid performances, so we can grieve for the loss of a festival while at the same time smiling and swinging.

From 2011, TRUCKIN’ by Hal Smith’s International Sextet:

and one of my favorite 1926 songs, HE’S THE LAST WORD:

The Jubilee also made room for pretty ballads like this one, featuring John Cocuzzi, Jennifer Leitham, and Johnny Varro:

A year later, Rebecca Kilgore was HUMMIN’ TO HERSELF:

Marc Caparone doffs his handmade cap to Louis for HE’S A SON OF THE SOUTH:

Another pretty one — MORE THAN YOU KNOW — featuring Allan Vache:

and some Orientalia out of doors — SAN by the Reynolds Brothers and Clint Baker:

A nice medium blues by Dan Barrett and Rossano Sportiello:

THE BOB AND RAY SHOW in 2014 — Schulz and Skjelbred, performing SHOE SHINE BOY:

CAN’T WE BE FRIENDS, featuring Dave Stone and Russ Phillips with Vince Bartels and Johnny Varro:

and an extended performance by Ray Skjelbred and his Cubs from 2014:

One of my favorite stories — a Louise Hay affirmation of sorts — comes from the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee.  It was held over Memorial Day weekend, and there was riotous excitement on the days preceding Monday — but Sacramento on Memorial Day was one of the most deserted urban centers I’ve ever encountered. The nice Vietnamese restaurant I had hopes of returning to was shuttered for the holiday, the streets were quiet with only the intermittent homeless person taking his ease.  Since I have been a New Yorker all my life, the criminal offense termed “jaywalking” does not terrify me.  On one such Monday, the light was red against me but there were no cars in sight.  Full of assurance, I strolled across the street and made eye contact with a young woman standing — a law-abiding citizen — on the opposite curb.  When I reached her and grinned at her legal timidity, she looked disapprovingly at me and said, “Rule-breaker!”  I grinned some more and replied, “Free spirit!”

At its best, the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee inspired such free-spirited behavior, musical and otherwise — among dear friends.  Adieu, adieu!

May your happiness increase!

“YEAH, MAN!”: THE REYNOLDS BROTHERS / CLINT BAKER / DAVID BOEDDINGHAUS at DIXIELAND MONTEREY 2013

Warming us all up in the best ways are John Reynolds, guitar / whistle; Ralf Reynolds, washboard; Marc Caparone, cornet / vocal; Katie Cavera, string bass; Clint Baker, clarinet / vocal — at Dixieland Monterey / Jazz Bash by the Bay, March 3, 2013, with repertoire honoring Bing, Louis, Clarence Williams, Punch Miller, early Disney, and the sweet energies of the Thirties.  Guest pianist David Boeddinghaus joins in for the final three songs.

WHEN I GROW TOO OLD TO DREAM:

WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK:

EXACTLY LIKE YOU

OUT OF NOWHERE:

HE’S A SON OF THE SOUTH:

CANDY LIPS:

May your happiness increase!

WHEN THE SONG (and the BAND) SAY “YES!”: STEPHANIE TRICK, CHRIS DAWSON, NATE KETNER, JOHN REYNOLDS, RALF REYNOLDS, KATIE CAVERA, BRAD ROTH at SAN DIEGO 2012

The song chosen was the cheerful assent ‘DEED I DO.  And they certainly did.  This took place at the San Diego Jazz Fest (nee the San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival) on November 25, 2012, and the participants were that festival’s edition of the Reynolds Brothers (John, guitar); Ralf (washboard); Nate Ketner (alto saxophone); Katie Cavera (string bass) . . . and guests Brad Roth (banjo) and the duo-pianists, the team of Dawson and Trick . . . Chris and Stephanie.

There is a bit of bench-swapping here, but it’s legal, innocent, and consensual.  No need to send the children from the room.  And those eye-popping visual explosions?  Not the Fourth of July or Guy Fawkes Day . . . someone’s flash camera.  But the music triumphs, as always.

May your happiness increase.

A LITTLE JAM AT SAN DIEGO (Nov. 25, 2012): JOHN REYNOLDS, CHRIS DAWSON, NATE KETNER, KATIE CAVERA, MOLLY REEVES, BRAD ROTH, RALF REYNOLDS

Two tunes from the end of a Reynolds Brothers set at the 2012 San Diego Jazz Fest that show brother John in typically fine voice (vocal / tricone resonator guitar) along with the splendid Chris Dawson (piano); Nate Ketner (alto saxophone); Katie Cavera (string bass); Molly Reeves (guitar); Brad Roth (banjo); Ralf Reynolds (washboard).

AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’:

ALL GOD’S CHILLUN GOT RHYTHM:

I hope that you have time for some swing misbehavin’ this fine day!

May your happiness increase.

FEEL LIKE A (JAZZ) BASH? (MARCH 1-2-3, 2013, MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA)

The music doesn’t start for another ten days, give or take — but we’re excited about the 2013 Jazz Bash by the Bay (or you can call it Dixieland Monterey . . . call it what you will as long as you support it by your presence!).

The Beloved and I will be there for as much of it as possible.  The music begins on Thursday night (Feb. 28, if my dates are right) with a special benefit concert by “We3” — Jeff Barnhart, Danny Coots, and Bob Draga — and runs like an express train until Sunday, March 3, late in the afternoon.

Here‘s the schedule.  And although my counting skills are imperfect, I see 149 or so sets in that weekend — because of simultaneous action in a variety of rooms.  What this means to me: Marc Caparone, Dawn Lambeth, Jeff Barnhart, Anne Barhart, Bryan Shaw, Howard Miyata, John Reynolds, Clint Baker, Ralf Reynolds, Katie Cavera, Carl Sonny Leyland, Banu Gibson, John Sheridan, John Cocuzzi, Allan Vache, Ed Metz, Paul Keller, Sue Kroninger, Eddie Erickson, Chris Calabrese, Jim Fryer, Danny Coots, Jeff Hamilton, Virginia Tichenor, Marty Eggers, Gordon Au, Justin Au, Brandon Au, David Boeddinghaus, Jason Wanner, Ray Templin . . . and you can add your own favorites, heroes, heroines, and heartthrobs.

Here‘s ticket information.  Few people I know are moved to take positive action because of fear and dread, but the evidence speaks for itself: many jazz festivals have vanished or morphed unrecognizably before vanishing: join us at the Jazz Bash by the Bay!

And for those readers who say, “I’m not convinced.  I need evidence before I get in the car, find someone to walk the dog, and unstrap my wallet,” will this do?  Recorded on March 2, 2012 — something to provoke SMILES:

May your happiness increase. 

BEAUTIFUL SOUNDS FILL THE AIR: SAN DIEGO JAZZ FEST, November 21-25, 2012

My spirits are superbly high after a lovely long weekend at the San Diego Dixieland Thanksgiving Jazz Festival, now to be known as the San Diego Jazz Fest.

But first, an autobiographical digression.  Even though the mirror says otherwise, I still in some deep way think I am nineteen.  Nineteen can run from pleasure to pleasure; nineteen doesn’t need much sleep; ninteen will “be fine.”  I did achieve a major birthday recently (“I am no longer 45 but still some distance from 78” is all I will say) and I went to San Diego somewhat drained of energy and nurturing a noisy case of bronchitis.  I worry as I write this that many of my videos will have in the distance what sounds like a small terrier barking: that would be JAZZ LIVES with a cold, coughing.  (For my loving readers who worry — JAZZ LIVES will live to video another day.  I promise you.)

Because I felt physically awful, I saw and video-recorded fewer sets than I would have liked . . . fourteen or so over four days.  I spent more time sittin’ in the sun (to reference Irving Berlin) in hopes that it would make me feel better.

I’m still coughing a bit but I feel glorious because of the music.

Here I must bow low to that urbane and generous man Paul Daspit, who has a fine humane sense for the little dramas that explode beneath the surface of a large-scale enterprise such as this.  I am not sure how clearly most “jazz fans” understand how much work is involved in keeping a jazz party from self-destructing.  Of course I mean the simple business of having a comfortable space for musicians to perform and listeners to hear.  The Town and Country Convention Center, although it is mazelike by night and day, is exceedingly comfortable with a wide variety of performance spaces.

But a jazz festival is rather like a brightly-colored version of Noah’s Ark packed to the rafters with vigorous personalities.  The facilities need to be looked after: lighting and sound and chairs; doors need to be locked or unlocked; musicians need a safe place to stow instruments and (whisper it) a place to sit down in peace amidst their kind, breathe deeply, eat something.

There needs to be a well-organized corps of willing volunteers: at their most kind, they tell us how to get here or there, where the restrooms are; at their most severe, they say the icy words, “You cannot sit there.  You are not a ______.”  And the interloper flees.

The musicians, and no one can blame them, want to know where they will be sleeping, eating, playing.  The patrons have their own concerns, since each of us is occasionally an armchair general: “Why isn’t my favorite band (The Nirvana Street Joyboys) on the program this year?  Will they be here next year?  Why did the snack room run out of turkey sandwiches before I got here?  Have you seen my husband?  I left him here just a minute ago?  Why are the sets so long?  Why are the sets so short?  Why did you arrange it so that my two favorite bands are playing at the same time?  My eggs were cold at breakfast. . .” 

That Paul remains serene, amused, and kind is a great thing.  A lesser man might take up martial arts or retreat to his tent with earplugs.  He applies tact to the afflicted area; he knows what can be fixed and what cannot; he moves on to the next person who Must Speak To Him, whether the subject is hot jazz or the threat of sex trafficking at jazz festivals.

The San Diego extravaganza was bigger and better than ever.

There was a true panorama of musical sounds: walking from left to right or north to south, I could hear a small tubaish group with a woman singing that life is a cabaret; a big band walloping through SING SING SING; a Jerry Lee Lewis tribute; rollicking solo piano boogie woogie by Mister Layland; a Sunday-morning Dixieland “hymn-along,” another woman inciting the crowd to sing along with her on GOODY GOODY; young Miss Trick showing us her version of OLD-FASHIONED LOVE .

Imagine!   Two cornets are giving a properly ethnic flavor to ORIENTAL STRUT; in another room, someone is singing, “She’s got a shape like a ukulele.” In twenty-three hourlong solo piano sets, everything possible is being explored — Joplin to Bud Powell as well as James P. Johnson and Cripple Clarence Lofton.  Elsewhere a clarinetist is playing DIZZY SPELLS at a vertiginous pace; a small gypsy-jazz group is romping through MINOR SWING; Joe Oliver is still King in another venue . . . and more.  My weary math shows that there were over one hundred and eighty hours of music — although I, like everyone else, had to make hard choices.  If I stay here for the full hour of _________, then I will miss ____________.  Those choices were easy for me, because I didn’t have the energy to run around to catch fifteen minutes here and a half-hour there.  (Also, a tripod and a camera makes for an ungainly dance partner.)  So I saw / heard / delighted in less than ten percent of the jazz cornucopia here.

But — as Spencer Tracy says of Katharine Hepburn in ADAM’S RIB (I think) it was all cherce.

I saw a number of sets with my perennial favorites, the Reynolds Brothers, and they rocked the house, with and without guests.  The rocking down-home Yerba Buena Stompers (that’s John Gill, Leon Oakley, Duke Heitger, Orange Kellin, Tom Bartlett, Kevin Dorn, Conal Fowkes, Clint Baker) offered both I MUST HAVE IT and JUST A GIGOLO; Chloe Feoranzo had a sweetly giggly set with her young friends; Grand Dominion surged ahead in a most endearing way.  A dangerous (that’s a good thing) quartet of Carl Sonny Leyland, Clint (trumpet), Chloe (mostly on tenor), Marty Eggers (string bass), Jeff Hamilton (drums, just off the boat in the best way) played some deliciously greasy (also a good thing) music.

And I heard every note by the Tim Lauglin All-Stars with Connie Jones — and Hal Smith, Marty Eggers, Katie Cavera, Chris Dawson, Mike Pittsley.  They floated; they sang; they decorated the air with melodies.  People who like to trace such things would hear Teddy Wilson 1938, of the Bob Crosby Bobcats; Irving Fazola; the Basie rhythm section; the Condon Town Hall Concerts; Bobby Hackett; Abram Lincoln.  All I will say at this point is that if someone had come to me and said, “Your room has caught on fire and you must come with me now to save your clothes,” while the band was playing, I would have said, “Let me be.  I’ll deal with that when the set is over.  Can’t you see that Beauty is being made?”

You’ll hear and see some of this Beauty, I promise you.

Thanks to all the lovely people who made my experience so sweetly memorable.  The musicians!  Mr. Daspit.  Friends new and familiar: Sue, Juliet, Barbara Ann, Carol, Tom, Frank, Anna-Christine and Christer, Mary Helen, Rae Ann, Alene, Janie and Kevin, Donna . . . you know who you are.  I am grateful to people, some of whom remain anonymous, who rescued me when I needed it — Orlando the young bellman and two dozen other people — I hope that none of you went home coughing because of me.

Let us say you are thinking aloud to your partner,  “Sounds like fun.  Why weren’t we there, Honey?”  I leave the rest of that dialogue to you.  But there will be a 2013 San Diego Jazz Fest.  It will be the thirty-fourth, which is frankly amazing.  Same place (the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center): November 27 – December 1, 2013.  The invited bands include High Sierra, Bob Schulz’ Frisco Jazz Band; Reynolds Brothers; Paolo Alderighi; Stephanie Trick; Ray Skjelbred and his Cubs; Chloe Feoranzo; Glenn Crytzer; Katie Cavera; Dave Bennett . . . “and more to be announced.”  Click here for more information.

For me, all I can say is that before it was officially Autumn in New York, I searched for and bought a 2013 wall calendar I liked just for the purpose of planning my Pleasures . . . I’ve already marked off November 27 – December 1 with “SAN DIEGO.”  Carpe diem, dear friends.  See you there!

May your happiness increase.

SPREADING JOY, MAKING THE EVANESCENT TANGIBLE, WITH COMPLEXITIES ON THE SIDE

It all goes back to my father, who loved music and was intrigued by the technology of his time.  We had a Revere reel-to-reel tape recorder when I was a child, and I, too, was fascinated.

I could put on a tape and hear his voice coming out of the speaker; I could record myself playing the accordion; I could tape-record a record a friend owned.  Recording music and voices ran parallel to my early interest (or blossoming obsession) with jazz.

I realized that when I saw Louis Armstrong on television (in 1967, he appeared with Herb Alpert and the Tia Juana Brass) I could connect the tape recorder and have an audio artifact — precious — to be revisited at my leisure.

I knew that my favorite books and records could be replayed; why not “real-time performances”?  At about the same time, my father brought home a new toy, a cassette player.  Now I could tape-record my favorite records and bring them on car trips; my sister and her husband could send us taped letters while on vacation in Mexico.

In 1969, I had the opportunity to venture into New York City for my first live jazz concert (after seeing Louis and the All Stars in 1967).  I think the concert was a Dick Gibson extravaganza with The World’s Greatest Jazz Band (Eddie Hubble and Vic Dickenson on trombones) and a small group of Zoot and Al, Joe Newman, a trombonist, and a rhythm section.  Gibson told the story of THE WHITE DEER in between sets.

I had a wonderful time.  But I also made my first foray into criminality.  In a bright blue airline bag I brought and hid that very same cassette recorder and taped the concert.  (I no longer have the tapes.  Alas.  Zoot and Al played MOTORING ALONG and THE RED DOOR; the WGJB rocked and hollered gorgrously.)

I brought the same recorder to a concert at Queens College, capturing Ray Nance, Newman, Garnett Brown, Herb Hall, Hank Jones, Milt Hinton, and Al Foster . . . names to conjure with for sure.  And from that point on, when I went to hear jazz, I brought some machinery with me.  Occasionally I borrowed another recorder (my friend Stu had a Tandberg) or I brought my own heavy Teac reel-to-reel for special occasions.

Most of the musicians were either politely resigned to the spectacle of a nervous, worshipful college student who wanted nothing more than to make sure their beautiful music didn’t vanish.  Joe Thomas was concerned that the union man was going to come along.  Kenny Davern briefly yet politely explained that I hadn’t set the microphone up properly, then showed me what would work.

I can recall two players becoming vigorously exercised at the sight of a microphone and either miming (Dicky Wells) or saying (Cyril Haynes) NO . . . and Wild Bill Davison tried to strike a bargain: “You want to tape me?”  “Yes, Mister Davison.”  “Well, that’ll be one Scotch now and one for each set you want to tape.”  My budget wasn’t large, so I put the recorder away.

Proceedingly happily along this path, I made tape recordings of many musicians betwen 1969 and 1982, and traded tapes with other collectors.  And those tapes made what otherwise would have been lost in time permanent; we could revisit past joys in the present.

Early in this century, I began to notice that everyone around me seemed to have a video camera.  Grandparents were videoing the infants on the rug; lovers were capturing each other (in a nice way) on the subway platform.  I thought, “Why can’t I do this with the music?”  I started my own YouTube channel in 2006, eighteen months before JAZZ LIVES saw the light.

I had purchased first a Flip camera (easy, portable, with poor video) and then a mini-DVD Sony camera.  At the New York traditional-jazz hangout, the Cajun, and elsewhere, I video-recorded the people I admired.  They understood my love for the music and that I wasn’t making a profit: Barbara Rosene, Joel Forrester, John Gill, Kevin Dorn, Jon-Erik Kellso, Craig Ventresco, and many others.

If my recording made musicians uncomfortable, they didn’t show it.  Fewer than five players or singers have flatly said NO — politely — to me.

Some of the good-humored acceptance I would like to say is the result of my great enthusiasm and joy in the music.  I have not attempted to make money for myself on what I have recorded; I have not made the best videos into a private DVD for profit.

More pragmatic people might say, “Look, Michael, you were reviewing X’s new CD in THE MISSISSIPPI RAG or CADENCE; you wrote liner notes for a major record label.  X knew it was good business to be nice to you.”  I am not so naive as to discount this explanation.  And some musicians, seeing the attention I paid to the Kinky Boys or the Cornettinas, might have wanted some of the same for themselves.  Even the sometimes irascible couple who ran the Cajun saw my appearances there with camera as good publicity and paid me in dubious cuisine.

The Flip videos were muzzy; the mini-DVDs impossible to transfer successfully to YouTube, so when I began JAZZ LIVES I knew I had to have a better camera, which I obtained.  It didn’t do terribly well in the darkness of The Ear Inn, but Jon-Erik Kellso and Matt Munisteri and their friends put up with me and the little red light in the darkness.  Vince Giordano never said anything negative.

I began to expand my reach so much so that some people at a jazz party or concert would not recognize me without a camera in front of my face.

The video camera and the jazz blog go together well.  I used to “trade tapes” with other collectors, and if I came to see you, I brought some Private Stock as a gift.  Now, that paradigm has changed, because what I capture I put on the blog.  Everything good is here.  It saves me the time and expense of dubbing cassettes or CDs and putting them in mailers, and it’s also nearly instantaneous: if I didn’t care about sleep (and I do) I could probably send video from the Monday night gig around the world on Tuesday afternoon.  Notice also that I have written “around the world.”

The video camera has made it possible for me to show jazz lovers in Sweden what glorious things happen at The Ear Inn or at Jazz at Chautauqua; my dear friends whom I’ve never met in person in Illinois and Michigan now know about the Reynolds Brothers; Stompy Jones can hear Becky Kilgore sing without leaving his Toronto eyrie . . . and so on.

Doing this, I have found my life-purpose and have achieved a goal: spreading joy to people who might be less able to get their fair share.  Some of JAZZ LIVES’ most fervent followers have poorer health and less freedom than I do.  And these viewers and listeners are hugely, gratifyingly grateful.  I get hugged by people I’ve never seen before when I come to a new jazz party.

And I hug back.  Knowing that there are real people on the other end of the imaginary string is a deep pleasure indeed.

There are exceptions, of course: the anonymous people who write grudging comments on YouTube about crowd sounds; the viewers who nearly insist that I drop everything and come video the XYZ Wrigglers because they can’t make it; the Corrections Officers who point out errors in detail, fact, or what they see as lapses of taste; the people who say “I see the same people over and over on your blog.”  I don’t know.

Had I done nothing beyond making more people aware of the Reynolds Brothers or the EarRegulars, I would think I had not lived in vain.  And that’s no stage joke.

But the process of my attempting to spread joy through the musical efforts of my heroes is not without its complexities, perhaps sadness.

If, in my neighborhood, I help you carry your groceries down the street to your apartment because they’re heavy and I see you’re struggling, I do it for love, and I would turn away a dollar or two offered to me.  But when I work I expect to get paid unless other circumstances are in play.  And I know the musicians I love feel the same way.

The musicians who allow (and even encourage) me to video-record them, to post the results on JAZZ LIVES and YouTube know that I cannot write them a check at union rates for this.  I can and do put more money in the tip jar, and I have bought some of my friends the occasional organic burger on brioche. But there is no way I could pay the musicians a fraction of what their brilliant labors are worth — the thirty years of practice and diligence that it took to make that cornet sound so golden, to teach a singer to touch our hearts.

I would have to be immensely wealthy to pay back the musicians I record in any meaningful way.  And one can say, “They are getting free publicity,” which is in some superficial way undeniable.

But they are also donating their services for free — for the love of jazz — because the landscape has shifted so in the past decade.  They know it and I know it.  When I was illicitly tape-recording in Carngie Hall in 1974, I could guess that there were other “tapers” in the audience but they were wisely invisible.

At a jazz party, the air is often thick with video cameras or iPhones, and people no longer have any awareness of how strange that is to the musicians.  I have seen a young man lie nearly on his back (on the floor in front of the bandstand) and aim his lighted camera up at a musician who was playing until the player asked him to stop doing that.  The young man was startled.  In the audience, we looked at each other sadly and with astonishment.

I started writing this post because I thought, not for the first time, “How many musicians who allow me to video them for free would really rather that I did not do it?”  I can imagine the phrase “theft of services” floating in the air, unspoken.

Some musicians may let me do what I do because they need the publicity; they live in the hope that a promoter or club booker will see the most recent video on YouTube and offer them a gig.  But they’d really rather get paid (as would I) and be able to control the environment (as would I).  Imagine, if you will, that someone with a video camera follows you around at work, recording what you do, how you speak.  “Is that spinach between my teeth?  Do I say “you know” all the time, really?  Did you catch me at a loss for words?”

Musicians are of course performers, working in public for pay.  And they always have the option to say, “I’m sorry, I don’t want to be videoed.  Thank you!”  I have reached arrangements — friendly ones — with some splendid musicians — that they will get to see what I have recorded and approve of it before I post it.  If they dislike the performance, it never becomes public.  And that is perfectly valid.  I don’t feel hurt that the musicians “don’t trust [Michael’s] taste,” because Michael is an experienced listener and at best an amateur musician.

But I sometimes feel uncomfortable with the situation I have created.  Wanting to preserve the delicate moment — a solo on STARDUST that made me cry, a romping TIGER RAG that made me feel that Joy was surrounding me in the best possible way — I may have imposed myself on people, artists, who weren’t in a position, or so they felt, to ask me to put the camera away.  I wonder often if the proliferation of free videos has interfered with what Hot Lips Page called his “livelihood.”  I would be very very grieved to think I was cutting into the incomes of the players and singers who have done so much for me.

Were musicians were happier to see me when I was simply an anonymous, eager, nervous fan, asking, “Mr. Hackett, would you sign my record?”  Then, in 1974, there was no thought of commerce, no thought of “I loused up the second bar of the third chorus and now it’s going on YouTube and it will stay there forever!”

I can’t speak for the musicians.  Perhaps I have already presumed overmuch to do so.  I embarked on this endeavor because I thought it was heartbreaking that the music I love disappeared into memory when the set was over.

But I hope I am exploiting no one, hurting no one’s feelings, making no one feel trapped by a smiling man in an aloha shirt with an HD camera.

I don’t plan to put the camera down unless someone asks me to do so.  And, to the musicians reading this posting — if I have ever captured a performance of yours on YouTube and it makes you cringe, please let me know and I will make it disappear.  I promise.  I’ve done that several times, and although I was sorry to make the music vanish, I was relieved that any unhappiness I had caused could be healed, a wrong made right.  After all, the music brings such joy to me, to the viewers, and often to the musicians creating it, they surely should have their work made as joyous as possible.

I dream of a world where artists are valued for the remarkable things they give us.

And I think, “Perhaps after I am dead, the sound waves captured by these videos will reverberate through the wide cosmos, making it gently and sweetly vibrate in the best way.”  To think that I had made pieces of the music immortal merely by standing in the right place with my camera would make me very happy.

And to the players, I Revere you all.

May your happiness increase.

HEALING VIBRATIONS: THE REYNOLDS BROTHERS and CLINT BAKER at the SACRAMENTO MUSIC FESTIVAL (May 27, 2012)

I’ve tried fish oil capsules and probiotics, saw palmetto and niacin, magnesium and multivitamins, goldenseal and Bach flower remedies.

But nothing gives me the lift of a Reynolds Brothers set — and one with Clint Baker (trombone, clarinet, occasional vocal) is even more potent.  Take as directed: like homeopathy, the smallest dosage is transformative.

The RB are, as always, Ralf (washboard); John (guitar, whistling); Marc Caparone (cornet); Katie Cavera (string bass) — all four have been known to break into song when the moment is ripe.  See for yourself in this delightful long set recorded at the 2012 Sacramento Music Festival (at the Railroad Museum on May 27, 2012, for the record-keepers).

Alex Hill must have been especially willing to please when he wrote I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR YOU, and Claude Hopkins suggested that his whole band was equally cooperative:

Sung by Bing.  Who needs more?  LOVE IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER:

THREE LITTLE WORDS (but not with the variant Turk Murphy text):

For Bix and Tram, BORNEO:

Come to Camden, New Jersey — I hear the Bennie Moten band is cooking up something good on BLUE ROOM:

Sweet and sassy, Sister Katie invites us to join her in films, with YOU OUGHTA BE IN PICTURES — and John whistles the theme so engagingly:

Mister Berlin must have liked a drop of schnapps once in a while, thus I’LL SEE YOU IN C-U-B-A — sung with spice and wit by Senorita Cavera:

From the Cotton Club Parade of 1935 (by Ted Koehler and Rube Bloom)  — I just found a copy of the original sheet music: now I’m ready to start TRUCKIN’:

A beautiful excursion into Louis Armstrong – Sammy Cahn – Saul Chaplin democrary in SHOE SHINE BOY.  That Caparone fellow didn’t study at the Waif’s Home, but he sure gets Louis:

If I could wire my refrigerator so that it played FAT AND GREASY when I opened the door, perhaps I would be back to my middle-school weight.  of course having Fats Waller sing and play it does lend a certain ironic twist.  Rockin’ in rhythm:

And the National Anthem of what Eddie Condon called “music,” Louis’ SWING THAT MUSIC:

Feeling better?  I know I am.  (And that’s not my medicine cabinet, in case you were wondering.)

May your happiness increase.

“IT’S GOOD FOR YOU”: HOT JAZZ IN THE HEALTHY OPEN AIR with THE REYNOLDS BROTHERS and CLINT BAKER at the SACRAMENTO MUSIC FESTIVAL (May 26, 2012)

My mother used to gently urge me — “urge” is the nicest way of putting it — to go outside occasionally.  “Are you going to stay in your room with a book all day?  It’s so nice outside!”

This post’s for you, Mom — I made it out-of-doors at a jazz festival — the Sacramento Music Festival — and soaked up the sun, the Vitamin D, the sweet California air.

Of course, I didn’t notice much of those cosmic gifts, because I was busy feeling the good seismic disturbances that the Reynolds Brothers and Clint Baker were creating — that’s John on guitar, vocal, and whistling; Ralf on washboard and vocal; Marc Caparone on cornet and vocal; Katie Cavera on string bass and vocal; Clint Baker on trombone, clarinet, and occasional vocal (he had some laryngitis that weekend).

They began with their public profession of loving willingness from Alex Hill and perhaps Claude Hopkins, I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR YOU.  John asserts it all so willingly; who would doubt him?

Marc sings about that naughty flirtatious COQUETTE, so tantalizing:

Ralf and John team up for their classic SADIE GREEN (The Vamp of New Orleans):

No one sings on MAHOGANY HALL STOMP (the lyrics would be about the fleshpots of Storyville) but the ghosts of Louis and Higgy certainly were enjoying the outdoors as well:

John, more plaintively this time, gives us the early Thirties version of the solitary lover, pale and wan, HUMMIN’ TO MYSELF:

The other side of the amorous spectrum — having one’s hands full of delights — is offered by the witty Miss Cavera in CHARLEY, MY BOY.  “Shivers of joy,” indeed:

My new quest.  Where or what or why is SAN?:

For Harold Arlen, Louis, and Jack, Marc lets us know he’s GOT A RIGHT TO SING THE BLUES:

I don’t know the source of STOMP STOMP! (is it Slim and Slam or the Cats and the Fiddle or a physical therapist’s command?) but it certainly made the cosmos move:

“Jack, you really come on!”  How true.  Even though no one in the band is named Jack.

“See, Mom, I went outside!  What?  Now you want me to clean my room . . . . ?”

May your happiness increase.

WHEN BEAUTY VISITS, YOU KNOW IT: “STARDUST” by MARC CAPARONE, JOHN REYNOLDS, CLINT BAKER, RALF RAYNOLDS, KATIE CAVERA (Sacramento Music Festival, May 26, 2012)

I had tears in my eyes when I witnessed this music being created in front of us for the first time, and its lovely power hasn’t diminished.

Thank you, Marc, John, Clint, Ralf, and Katie, for being yourselves and for allowing the great lyrical heroes we so revere to live through you.

May your happiness increase.

“IT’S A TÉCLA PEARL!”

At great cost and expense, a major mystery has been solved.

But first, the problem.

Here’s Henry Hall and the BBC Dance Orchestra, with George Elrick singing GOT A BRAN’ NEW SUIT — music by Arthur Schwartz, words by Howard Dietz, from the 1935 revue AT HOME ABROAD, where the song was sung by Ethel Waters:

And here’s singing / tap-dancing Eleanor Powell’s version of the same song with the young Tommy Dorsey Orchestra:

After the bridge, the singer (male or female) sings of donning a “tiepin” or “stickpin,” that’s a genuine “Técla pearl.”  In these versions, “Técla” rhymes with  “Decca,” more or less — although the two most famous versions of this song — by Mister Strong and Mister Waller — pronounce the first syllable to rhyme with “week.”

Since Thirties men’s fashion is not a subject I have studied well, I thought the singers were referring to something particularly arcane: a “T-clasp pearl,” which suggested a jeweled tie clasp.  I only found out that what they were singing was “Técla pearl” when I bought the sheet music for the song at an antique store about a year ago.

Trying to find out what kind of pearl a Téecla pearl was . . . . I must not have had my websurfer’s hat (the one with the light on) fastened correctly.  So I despaired.  I thought it would be another unsolved mystery.  But then a friend recommended that I secure the services of Sir Damien Sitzfleisch, the world’s most successful tracer of the obscure.  We haggled over price, but one we had agreed, results were immediately forthcoming.  Hence and forthwith.

Serene and radiant.

And (circa 1923) there was only one Técla shop in America, so the wearer of such a pearl was someone of means who knew (and wore) the best.  I’m also fascinated with the lyric as an early example of product placement, or perhaps giving a company a free advertisement . . . and that something so well-known in 1935 has become completely obscure today.  With or without the accent over the first E (the sheet music lacks the accent, I believe).

In 1913, the Técla pearl was a standout in Germany:

It was especially ELEGANT in France in 1932:

And here — as a special treat — is the May 2012 version of this song (in G, no less) by John Reynolds, guitar and vocal; Marc Caparone, cornet; Ralf Reynolds, washboard; Clint Baker, trombone; Katie Cavera, string bass.  John knows about a Técla pearl, because I shared the results of my preliminary research with him . . . but he hasn’t seen the advertisements!

Not only is the mystery solved, but we get to hear John sing (twice), Marc and Clint, Ralf and Katie rock it for all time . . . !

And perhaps someone more gifted will share the Louis and Fats versions on YouTube if we all ask politely . . . ?  Perhaps some JAZZ LIVES readers are specialists in early twentieth-century jewelry and can tell us more.  But for me, anything that Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz created, that Louis Armstrong, Ethel Waters, Fats Waller, Eleanor Powell, Henry Hall, George Elrick, and the Reynolds Brothers s(w)ing out is important in itself.  (There’s also an instrumental version by Ruby Braff and Dick Hyman on a wondrous Chiaroscuro recording, FATS WALLER’S HEAVENLY JIVE . . . )

You won’t find me wearing a string of Técla pearls at the next jazz party, but that’s only because they make my complexion look sallow.

P.S.  398 Fifth Avenue, once the home of Técla pearls, now is the home of a rug company.  Nothing against rugs, mind you, but sic transit gloria mundi.

May your happiness increase.

FIVE BY FIVE (Part Two): THE REYNOLDS BROTHERS and CLINT BAKER at the SACRAMENTO MUSIC FESTIVAL (May 2012)

My heroes, and that’s no stage joke.

Ralf Reynolds, washboard, vocal; John Reynolds, guitar, vocal, whistling; Marc Caparone, cornet, vocal; Katie Cavera, string bass, vocal; Clint Baker, trombone, clarinet, vocal — live at the Sacramento Music Festival, May 25, 2012.

Irving Berlin’s I’LL SEE YOU IN C-U-B-A wasn’t a stab at capitalism, but a very witty response to Prohibition.  Katie Cavera, whom I nominate for Best Swing Actress in a Motion Picture, handles the deft lyrics nimbly:

You could deconstruct THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN as a lie in swingtime fed to the hungry and desolate unemployed (“Hey, fellas and gals, an empty stomach is what God meant you to have!” or as a sweet-natured rebuke to materialism, asking in 4 /4, “How much land does a man need?”  Either way, John sings it wonderfully:

If he struts like a king, HE’S A SON OF THE SOUTH.  He’s their delight.  He’s so polite.  One of my favorite songs, letting Louis shine through Marc Caparone:

Pretty!  DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME:

Our caravan is red-hot in HINDUSTAN:

I will bet you thirteen dollars of my money (as Lester Young used to say to his JATP colleagues) that the Reynolds Brothers would go over gangbusters at a swing dance . . . or in a club . . . at a European jazz party . . . at an East Coast venue.  At present they are delighting people right and left at Disney California Adventure (as “the Ellis Island Boys”) but I want other people to have this experience.  I’m willing to share them with the world, you know.

May your happiness increase.

FIVE BY FIVE (Part One): THE REYNOLDS BROTHERS and CLINT BAKER at the SACRAMENTO MUSIC FESTIVAL (May 25, 2012)

In an early set of jubilant performances at the 2012 Sacramento Music Festival, John Reynolds (vocal, whistling, guitar); Marc Caparone (cornet, vocal); Ralf Reynolds (washboard, vocal); Katie Cavera (string bass, vocal), and Clint Baker (trombone, vocal) created enthusiastic elation in every song — the proven antidote for gloom or what passes for “news” of “current events.”

For Bix, Bing, and Red Allen, OL’ MAN RIVER:

I’LL NEVER BE THE SAME:

In my note to this Clarence Williams tune CANDY LIPS (the subtitle is I’M STUCK ON YOU) I wrote one word, “scorching”; see if you don’t agree:

One of those lucky Thirties songs recorded by both Billie and Fats, SPREADIN’ RHYTHM AROUND:

Did you know the Boswell Sisters had a connection with the song BLACK-EYED SUSAN BROWN?  Here we have the Reynolds Brothers:

More to come.  Oh, my, yes!

May your happiness increase.

GET READY FOR THANKSGIVING JAZZ (Nov. 21-25, 2012)

It might seem odd to be thinking about Thanksgiving at the end of July, but this post has very little to do with heavier clothing or sitting down with the family to a traditional holiday meal.  In fact, what I’m suggesting might be the way to escape the predictable festivities, or at least to make them festive in a different way with more lively music.

Why not run off to the 33rd annual San Diego Thanksgiving Jazz Festival — beginning on Wednesday night, November 21, 2012, and continuing until Sunday afternoon, November 25?  There will be over forty hours of live music — with several bands playing simultaneously in different locations.  The location is the comfortable Town and Country Resort and Convention Center, 500 Hotel Circle North, San Diego, California 92110.  Rates start at $105 per night, and you can call 800-772-8527 or 619-291-7131 to reserve.  A badge enabling you to see and hear everything for five days and nights is $95.  For more information about the festival, visit here.

But I can hear you saying, “If I’m going to run off from a family gathering, there had better be hot music in profusion to make it worth my while.”  No worries, as the children say.  How about Katie Cavera, John Gill, the Reynolds Brothers, Carl Sonny Leyland, Uptown Lowdown, the Yerba Buena Stompers, the Heliotrope Ragtime Orchestra, Grand Dominion, Tim Laughlin and Connie Jones and their New Orleans All-Stars, Chloe Feoranzo, Red Skunk Jipzee Swing, Nannette and her Hotsy Totsy Boys, Stephanie Trick, Cornet Chop Suey, Dave Bennett, and many others?

One special attraction — appearing on Friday night only — is Nouveau Stride, which pairs singer Lorraine Feather and pianist Stephanie Trick in a program of compositions by Fats Waller, Dick Hyman, and James P. Johnson — to which the Grammy-nominated Ms. Feather has put original lyrics . . . to be sung to the accompaniment of Stephanie’s romping piano.  For more information about this group, visit here.

And as our friend Hal Smith writes, Nouveau Stride will make its debut at San Diego in a multi-media presentation: “The show includes a ‘piano cam’ (enabling the entire audience to watch Stephanie’s flying fingers) and Lorraine’s lyrics projected onto a screen.  Also included is a “soundie” of Fats Waller (the soundie was the pre-MTV version of a music video) and an award-winning stride cartoon produced by Lorraine in 2009.”

And guests at the San Diego Thanksgiving Jazz Festival can dine on traditional holiday fare on Thursday night . . .

We savor the rituals . . .

but one can always invigorate the familiar with a new tradition.

May your happiness increase.

MAKING MERRY at MONTEREY 2012: A REYNOLDS BROTHERS JAM SESSION with JOHN SHERIDAN, ALLAN VACHE, JOHN COCUZZI, DAWN LAMBETH, and SUE KRONINGER (March 4, 2012)

Some jazz parties and festivals visibly deflate in their final hours.  Not the 2012 Jazz Bash by the Bay — also known as Dixieland Monterey.  This was, for me, the final set of the three-day blowout, and it was a delight.

Once again, the sly truth came out: the Reynolds Brothers don’t have the international reputation their music deserves, and on some festival bills they aren’t the band whose name appears in the largest font.

But they exude jazz pheronomes — or, to put it more simply, the best musicians on the bill always make it a point to sit in with John Reynolds, Ralf Reynolds, Katie Cavera, and Marc Caparone.  It’s the jazz equivalent of a civilian finding the restaurant where the chefs eat on their night off.  The noble sitters-in were John Sheridan, piano; Allan Vache, clarinet; John Cocuzzi, unamplified vibraphone.  “Three Johns, no waiting,” says Mr. John Reynolds at the start.

The set started right off with an enthusiastic affirmation — saying YES to life is a good thing! — I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR YOU:

Another affirmation, even when it’s couched as a question by way of Fats Waller, AIN’T ‘CHA GLAD?:

One of Ralf’s many secrets is that he did graduate work in European history . . . who better to instruct the crowd in historical geography with CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS . . . making Merry, of course.  Merry says hello:

From raillery to romance with the help of Dawn Lambeth, the living embodiment of what Louis called “tonation and phrasing,” her subtly textured voice and her speaking rubatos beautifully on display in SUGAR (with majestically quiet help from John Sheridan):

What might seem odd, an instrumental version of a song associated with Bing Crosby, works perfectly, with Marc leading the way into YOUNG AND HEALTHY:

A friend of the music and one of the gracious shapers of the Jazz Bash by the Bay, Sue Kroninger — also a dynamic singer — joined in with WHAT A LITTLE MOONLIGHT CAN DO, giving Allan a chance to show off his version of early Benny to great advantage with Hamp Cocuzzi and Teddy Sheridan in hot pursuit.  1936, anyone?:

The tempo had to slow down — so here’s a tender I’VE GOT A FEELIN’ I’M FALLING.  Beneath that serious exterior, John Sheridan is a deep romantic — and his playing of the verse is just another glorious piece of evidence.  And it’s not just the verse!  Listening to this one again, I think it might have been one of the highlights of the whole weekend:

John’s choice of THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN is always a wise one — not only is it a romping song, but its political / ethical sentiments continue to strike chords today — Thoreau in swingtime:

And — to close — CRAZY RHYTHM — a rendition that truly lives up to its name with a cutting contest or a conversation between Ralf on washboard and John on vibraphone — or at least parts of his vibraphone — that has to be seen to be believed.  Or something like that.  Crazy, man, crazy! (With very strong echoes of a Hampton Victor circa 1937, too.):

Thank you, Reynolds Brothers.  Thank you, friends.  Thank you, Merry.  Thank you, Jazz Bash by the Bay.  I’m ready to make my room reservations for March 2013.  Just let me know the dates!  Dixieland Monterey / Jazz Bash by the Bay is a proven source of joy.

May your happiness increase.

DAWN LAMBETH SWINGS SWEETLY! (Jazz Bash by the Bay, Monterey 2012)

Dawn Lambeth sings melodically, without strain, floating easily.  She doesn’t attempt to make each song into a deep dramatic statement; she doesn’t turn the lyrics into scat excursions; she honors the tune rather than demolishing it . . . her warm voice is a pleasure, never monochromatic but subtly full of colors and shadings.

She is serious and yearning on I COVER THE WATERFRONT here (resisting the temptation to copy Billie Holiday’s patented gestures), chipper and amused on DON’T FENCE ME IN . . . whatever she sings, she illuminates. Dawn is also a rare bird, someone hardly over-publicized, although she is well-loved in California . . . but she is worth following, as these videos will prove.  I have heard murmurings of a new DVD where she appears with the superb pianist Chris Dawson . . . I will tell you more when I know it.

Both of these performances come from the March 2012 Jazz Bash by the Bay / Dixieland Monterey.

The first, I COVER THE WATERFRONT, finds her with her friends the Reynolds Brothers: Marc Caparone, cornet; John Reynolds, guitar; Ralf Reynolds, washboard; Katie Cavera, string bass:

Delicacy, not melodrama characterizes her approach to that song — a winning naturalness.

And she’s just as comfortable with the broader sound and the broader comedy of the High Sierra Jazz Band accompanying her on DON’T FENCE ME IN.  The High Sierras — for this occasion — are Pieter Meijers, reeds; Bryan Shaw and Marc Caparone, cornets; Howard Miyata, trombone; Stan Huddleston, banjo; Charlie Castro, drums; Earl McKee, sousaphone; Bruce Huddleston, piano:

Sweet swing with expert rhythmic grace, heart, and wit . . .

May your happiness increase.

SHALL WE RAMBLE? (The EarRegulars at The Ear Inn, May 20, 2012)

In the land of Creative Improvised Music — let’s avoid the narrow little definitions for a moment* — all sorts of delightful cross-pollinations take place.  In this wonderful performance of MUSKRAT RAMBLE that you are about to hear and see, of course the guiding spirits are Louis Armstrong and Kid Ory, Chicago, 1926 . . . but I hear a delightful simultaneous current of the Kansas City Six, 1938: Lester Young, Charlie Christian, Buck Clayton, Walter Page.  See if you don’t agree.

The living creators playing MUSKRAT are, of course, Bria Skonberg, trumpet; Scott Robinson, metal clarinet; James Chirillo, guitar; Kelly Friesen, string bass.

Thank you, beloved EarRegulars, for filling the air so beautifully!

May your happiness increase.

*About those “definitions.”  Some listeners like their cozy boxes.  “I only listen to “Trad.” “Mainstream.” “New Orleans.”  What difference does the name make if the music lifts you up?  On my recent trip to the Sacramento Music Festival, I was suggesting to a new friend that she go to see one of my favorite bands, the Reynolds Brothers.  “Oh,” she said, “I don’t know them.  Are they Dixieland?”  I smiled and said the first thing that came to me, “Gee, I don’t use that word.”  I doubt that my reply acted as an effective inducement to hear the band, but I didn’t want to start defining terms . . . not while there was actual music to be heard.

GOT MY BAG, GOT MY RESERVATION: SACRAMENTO MUSIC FESTIVAL: May 25-28, 2012

A musician I know emailed me last night, “Michael, are you going to Sacramento?”

“Try and stop me,” I thought.

I don’t really like travel all that much: a series of small discomforts, even though everyone from the TSA agents to the person sitting next to me on the airplane is pleasant and more.  I have to remember to pack batteries for everything that needs a battery.

But live hot jazz played by my friends is enough to make me strap that seat belt low and tight around my hips (it sounds like a song from Mamie Smith’s 1929 repertoire, doesn’t it) and get ready for takeoff.

So I will be away from JAZZ LIVES for this long holiday weekend . . . but I will be

a) having the time of my life listening to the Reynolds Brothers, Clint Baker, Rebecca Kilgore, Dan Barrett, Rossano Sportiello, High Sierra, Bryan Shaw, Howard Miyata, Hal Smith, Molly Ryan, Sue Kroninger, and two dozen other heroes and heroines;

b) Isn’t a) enough?

This will all happen at the Sacramento Music Festival, which begins on Friday afternoon and goes through until mid-Monday.  I know that there is room for you, too, so if you can get yourself there, it will be worth the trip.  Memorial Day is often degraded in this country: instead of celebrating the lives of those who died for us, we have “sales” at the mall.  But the Sacramento Music Festival — and its cousins — offer us tangible proof, through music created in front of us, that it is good to be alive and in love with living.

I hope I will see some of my friends who don’t play instruments there — as well as the wonderful people making the air ring.

Here is the SMF’s Facebook page.

And here is a link to their schedule on the SMF website.

May your happiness increase.

“WE’RE A HORNY BAND”: A REYNOLDS BROTHERS JAM SESSION at DIXIELAND MONTEREY JAZZ BASH BY THE BAY (March 3, 2012)

Before my title makes anyone flinch, permit to explain the context.  The Reynolds Brothers took the stand at Dixieland Monterey 2012 as the ordinarily brilliant quartet: John (guitar, vocal, whistling); Ralf (washboard); Katie Cavera (string bass, vocal); Marc Caparone (cornet).  That would have been enough sweetly incendiary music for anyone.

But soon they were joined by Howard Miyata (double-bell euphonium) and Bryan Shaw (cornet).  Knowing a good thing when they heard it, Flip Oakes (trumpet); Jerry Krahn (guitar) joined in.  If you count up the brass players, they certainly outnumbered the rhythm section.  At one point, Ralf looked around and said (approximately), “We’re a horny band!”  The crowd approved the sentiments and the evidence was visible.  After the session was over, I went over to the original RB, who were relaxing . . . and asked, most politely, “Would you mind if I used WAHB as the blog title?” surveying all four faces.  Major grinning resulted, and a unanimous Yes.

So there you have it.  With all that brass tubing and valve oil . . . I think my title is mild in comparison to more expansive ones that could have been.

Here’s the extravagant music!

The HB band began with the Claude Hopkins – Alex Hill anthem of love, I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR YOU.  Even a moribund sound system can’t stop this band:

Ready to launch, everyone?  Here’s the 1928 DIGA DIGA DOO.  Or KRAZY KAPERS if you like:

Now for some moralizing in swing — if you do naughty things, there will be divine retribution.  Or THERE’S GONNA BE THE DEVIL TO PAY (whose opening phrase looks forward two or three years to I HOPE GABRIEL LIKES MY MUSIC, doesn’t it?):

Attentive viewers will have noticed that trumpeter Flip Oakes [bearing his Wild Thing horn] and guitarist Jerry Krahn were indeed ready to launch at the end of that number (did they hear the sermon and decide to join in?) — Flip is seen adjusting his horn (understandably) but Jerry is heroically strumming away on ground level — a man with a mission!  Ralf directs the assembled masses into another kind of moral injunction — MAMA, DON’T GIVE ALL THE LARD AWAY — where the precious stuff is more than slightly metaphorical:

It was indeed a logical leap to Fats Waller’s FAT AND GREASY — which swings along because of or in spite of its rather revolting lyrics.  “I’m going in!” assures Ralf.  And Jerry Krahn slides home:

After all that jocular abuse of the imaginary plus-sized character, it’s a relief to have our Katie warble this pretty late-Twenties tune about the restorative benefits of astronomy and romance, GET OUT AND GET UNDER THE MOON, which begins with her vocal and then Bryan takes a very pretty solo (neither fat nor greasy):

And finally — HIGH SOCIETY (although it’s just the trio) which seems like a delirious meeting of Alphonse Picou and Rafael Mendez:

What a band, what a band!

May your happiness increase.

YOU WON’T NEED A SPREADSHEET TO HAVE FUN AT THE SACRAMENTO MUSIC FESTIVAL (May 25-28, 2012)

My friend Nancy Doran Giffin just sent me this early-birthday gift — the schedule for the 2012 Sacramento Music Festival.  I’ll be there.  Will you?  I can see myself racing around from sets:  the Reynolds Brothers, Rebecca Kilgore Trio, Bob Draga, Ray Templin, Clint Baker, Tofu Cavera, Uptown Lowdown, Dave Bennett, Allan Vache, Russ Phillips, John Cocuzzi, Uptown Lowdown, Stephanie Trick, Dan Barrett, Rossano Sportiello, Jennifer Leitham, Big Mama Sue, the Red Skunk Jipzee Swing Band, the New Black Eagles, Eddie Erickson, Molly Ryan, Bob Ringwald, Ray Templin, Vince Bartels . . . and that’s only about twenty percent of what’s on the program.

Since I am an old-fashioned type (I remember life before the computer), I will eventually give myself the sumptuous pleasure of printing out these pages and marking out my musical peregrinations with a yellow highlighter so that I don’t miss an exalted note.  But I’ve looked at this cornucopia for a long time, basking in anticipation of the wonders we will hear . . .

The festival schedule is posted and arranged by day.  Anyone can go to each day and do a “Find” for a particular name, then keep clicking “Next” to see all the places they are listed on that page.

Try it here.  Go ahead, knock yourselves out!

May your happiness increase.

“FAMILY-FRIENDLY”: THE REYNOLDS BROTHERS, FAMILY, AND FRIENDS at DIXIELAND MONTEREY (March 3, 2012)

“Family-friendly” often means that there will be a Children’s Menu, mac and cheese, crayons, and a paper tablecloth . . . or that the master of ceremonies will avoid anatomical jokes in favor of balloon animals.

But when it comes to hot jazz, the Reynolds Brothers are always family-friendly, since Ralf (washboard and commentary) and John (vocals, guitar, banjo, whistling, and commentary) are brothers.  Apparently they are friendly as well!  Katie Cavera (string bass, vocals) and Marc Caparone (cornet, vocals) are related only in their love of deep swing and an awareness of absurdities.

But this session — recorded on March 3, 2012, at the Dixieland Monterey Jazz Bash by the Bay — was seriously family-friendly in the most elevating way because Dave Caparone — Marc’s father — a superb swing trombonist, came along for the ride.  Dave never studied Benny Morton, but he has a good deal of the Master’s warm, burry sound in solo and his neat, unhackneyed ensemble playing.

The cosmic syncopations the Brothers and family created acted as jazz pheronomes, so other players joined in, as you will see.

Swing, you cats!

LADY BE GOOD:

SOME OF THESE DAYS:

Allan Vache brought himself and his clarinet for LOVE IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER:

Mark Allen Jones couldn’t wait to hear Katie’s Second Avenue turn on BEI MIR BIS DU SCHOEN:

I GOT RHYTHM:

WRAP YOUR TROUBLES IN DREAMS:

MY HONEY’S LOVIN’ ARMS:

HAPPY FEET:

May your happiness increase.

Incidentally, I have it on good authority that Ralf is going to be forming a Southern California chapter of the Anti-Defamation League exclusively for the aid and comfort of washboard players.  I’ve asked to be an honorary member, and remind the anti-washboardians that any instrument can swing when played with expertise and feeling.  And yes, I would be happy if my sister married a washboard player — if he swung like Ralf.  But she’s taken, so it might be a moot point.