Tag Archives: Rhythm Boys

DUCHESS IS TWO (AND WE ARE GLAD)

Happy Birthday, Duchess! That's Amy, Hilary, and Melissa.

Happy Birthday, Duchess! That’s Amy, Hilary, and Melissa.

DUCHESS is two.  If you know them, that is cause for celebration: they are a witty, swinging, tender, hilarious vocal trio: Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardner, Melissa Stylianou.  Their repertoire is inspired by the Sisters Boswell and Andrews, but they are far from a repertory company of old-records-brought-to-life, and they have singular energy and snap.  If DUCHESS is new to you, prepare to be cheered and elated.

At their October 16 concert at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City (a most congenial place to wander in as well as a comfortable venue for music) they were supported by Jeff Lederer, reeds; Michael Cabe, piano; Elias Bailey, string bass;  Jesse Lewis, guitar.  The show was billed as DUCHESS UNPLUGGED, so (with regrets) they left their percussionist at home and performed with very little electrical or electronic assistance.  I was thrilled to be invited to the Rubin concert and brought back for the JAZZ LIVES audience four new videos of DUCHESS doing what they do best — enthusiastic, expert harmony and solo singing, beautifully and warmly accomplished.

Remembering the Rhythm Boys, Bix and  Bing, THERE AIN’T NO SWEET MAN (THAT’S WORTH THE SALT OF MY TEARS):

For those three Greek women who went before, THREE LITTLE SISTERS:

And those harmony masters from New Orleans, EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY:

Finally, by special request (mine) the very tender P.S., I LOVE YOU:

And since you’ll now want to learn more about DUCHESS, follow them to other gigs, and buy their wonderful CD, some cyber-data.

Here is their YouTube channel; here is their website; here is their Facebook page; here is my enthusiastic review of their debut CD.

Two other thoughts.  I am always moderately proud of my videos as one kind of representation of an experience, but DUCHESS is a more vivid experience than even the best cameras could capture.  They do that rare thing — sometimes lost in this century — of providing inventive music while entertaining us.  And I don’t think “entertainment” is a negative word.  So you could take someone to hear DUCHESS even if that person steadfastly says, “I don’t like jazz.  I don’t understand it,” and there would be a sweet (subversive) conversion experience before the night was through.  If this sounds like a not-terribly subtle encouragement to see DUCHESS live, it is.  We wish them many more birthdays.

May your happiness increase!

THREE VARIETIES OF JAZZ EXPERIENCE at the 2012 WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (October 26, 2012)

Three delights, previously unseen, from the 2012 Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party:

MY HONEY’S LOVIN’ ARMS, by Keith Nichols, piano / vocal; Norman Field, clarinet / vocal; Emma Fisk, violin, Frans Sjostrom, bass saxophone; Spats Langham, guitar:

STOMP YOUR STUFF (with a Louis Hot Chorus at 3:24) by Bent Persson, cornet; Jean-Francois Bonnel, Rene Hagmann, Thomas Winteler, reeds; Jens Lindgren, trombone; Frans Sjostrom, bass saxophone; Martin Seck, piano; Josh Duffee, drums; Martin Wheatley, banjo / guitar; Phil Rutherford, brass bass:

LOUISE (where are Bing and the Rhythm Boys?) with Andy Schumm, cornet; Spats Langham, banjo; Keith Nichols, piano; Michael McQuaid, C-melody saxophone; Norman Field, clarinet; Alistair Allan, trombone; Frans Sjostrom, bass saxophone; Phil Rutherford, brass bass; Richard Pite, drums:

See you at the Village Newcastle in November 2014. Details here.

And I just learned about the pre-Party opening jam session, featuring the Union Rhythm Kings on Thursday, November 6: that’s Bent Persson (trumpet), Lars Frank (clarinet and saxophone), Kristoffer Kompen (trombone); Jacob Ullberger (banjo & guitar); Frans Sjostrom (bass saxophone); Morten Gunnar Larsen (piano).  They are a wonderful band.

May your happiness increase!

ANDY SCHUMM and his BIXOLOGISTS at WHITLEY BAY (July 10, 2010)

Andy Schumm is a generous person and musician, and when given a block of time, congenial musical friends, and a receptive audience, he doesn’t spare himself. 

What follows is the first set of a Bix Beiderbecke-themed morning concert at the 2010 Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival, recorded on July 10, 2010. 

Andy played cornet and piano; his colleagues were Paul Munnery, trombone; Norman Field, reeds and persiflage; Paul Asaro, piano; Jacob Ullberger, banjo and guitar; Frans Sjostrom, bass saxophone; Josh Duffee, drums. 

They began with MARGIE — we’re always thinking of her, too:

Then a romantic version of I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH ME (one of those songs that Andy — and I — would have loved to hear Bix play and record):

BIRMINGHAM BERTHA was a pop-jazz hit of 1929 or so, with recorded performances by Ethel Waters and Miff Mole, among others (with Josh Duffee bringing Stan King back):

JAZZ ME BLUES remains a Hot classic:

LOUISE (my request to Andy) is so pretty — whether done by Bix, Bing and the Rhythm Boys, or Lester Young and Teddy Wilson:

MY PET comes close to being a “naughty” song . . . all that heavy petting meant something then:

BLUE RIVER retains its essential melancholy:

KING PORTER STOMP takes us out of the Bix-and-Tram orbit to a parallel universe in 1924, the world where Joe Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton could find themselves playing this in duet — thankfully, in front of a microphone:

Finally, a jubliant exultation of good luck (or is it Horticultural Optimism?) — I’M LOOKING OVER A FOUR-LEAF CLOVER:

There’s a Second Set and a Third Set to come!

THE INTERNATIONAL “HOT” CONSPIRACY

There are always rumors of dark international conspiracies and cartels . . . but what of the jazz underground, a secret force for good? 

Eighty years ago, this generous conspiracy meant that someone would play you a record you hadn’t heard or even heard of — treasured OKeh of SINGIN’ THE BLUES or ORIENTAL STRUT — and change your life forever.  Or someone would tell you about this tenor player in Minneapolis you have to hear. 

Technology has changed the speed and the scope of these epiphanies, but the intent is the same. 

This morning I awoke to an email from the jazz enthusiast and scholar Andre G. Growald (of Sao Paulo, Brazil) telling me about a band I would like to hear — the Original Prague Syncopated Orchestra.  The clips are posted on YouTube by “indyhoppers,” who lives in Italy.  I watched the clips in Maui. 

I rest my case. 

It gets better.  In the first clip, four Czech musicians do their own version of the Rhythm Boys’ THAT’S MY WEAKNESS NOW, in Czech, of course:

Here the full orchestra takes off on PLEASURE MAD, a Sidney Bechet composition from 1924 which he updated in 1938 to VIPER MAD:

In both cases, they tend to speed up a bit, but that’s what weakness and pleasure-madness will do to you, I guess.  And this conspiracy is one that inspires me: may it keep flourishing!  And deep thanks to Andre and every other conspirator in the name of HOT.

DARK RAPTURE (AT THE EAR INN)

My title comes from a 1939 Count Basie Decca record featuring sweet Helen Humes, wondrous Lester Young, odd lyrics, and a difficult arrangement that Jo Jones said that gave the band trouble.  But this post is about the DARK RAPTURE found Sunday nights at the Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, 8-11 PM) when Jon-Erik Kellso and Matt Munisteri (or their friends) co-lead The EarRegulars.  Last night was an extra-special quartet: Jon-Erik and Matt, tenor saxophonist Harry Allen, bassist Neal Miner.  And the Ear is very dark, the jazz often rapturous.  Here are three performances by this intimate, intuitive group. each player visibly and audibly inspiring the others.   

After a trotting Buck Clayton blues, SWINGIN’ AT THE COPPER RAIL, Jon-Erik suggested a song by another trumpet player named Louis, SOMEDAY YOU’LL BE SORRY, at a bouncing tempo:

One of the great virtue of the EarRegulars is their broad and deep repertoire: they know many songs that aren’t SATIN DOLL.  Matt loves to play TISHOMINGO BLUES, and Jon-Erik likes LOUISIANA, AIN’T CHA GLAD? and HAPPY FEET — the latter associated with Bing Crosby and the Rhythm Boys, but recorded most memorably by the 1933 Fletcher Henderson band (the magical group with Henry “Red” Allen, Dicky Wells, Coleman Hawkins, Hilton Jefferson, and Walter Johnson).  It’s one of those songs that, played properly, rocks by itself.  (Incidentally, must I point out that it has nothing to do with a recent animated film about penguins?):

And the last few days in New York (or perhaps the Northeast) have been atypically warm and balmy — so Jon-Erik said, “We really have to play INDIAN SUMMER,” and they did, beautifully:

(I stopped recording at ten minutes — attempting to placate YouTube — so that viewers must imagine a few more notes of the coda.)

Such music makes the darkness shine!

ANDY SCHUMM SHINES!

I didn’t stumble upon the title for its alliterative possibilities, for that’s just what Andy did, side by side with his Noble Friends — Bob Havens, Scott Robinson, Andy Stein, James Dapogny, Marty Grosz, Vince Giordano, and Arnie Kinsella (a peerless rhythm section there) — recorded at Jazz at Chautauqua, Saturday, September 19, 2009.  Here are four performances, three of which hark back to Andy’s hero, Bix Beiderbecke.

We begin with LOUISE (which, for me, brings together Bing Crosby and Lester Young) and a lovely rocking performance notable, among other things, for one of Scott Robinson’s heartfelt, floating solos:

Again summoning up Bing (and the Rhythm Boys) as well as Bix, Andy turned to RHYTHM KING:

Then, taking a slight detour into Red Nichols territory — both a 1927 recording featuring Pee Wee Russell and Adrian Rollini and the 1929 Vitaphone short film . . . to perform Eddie Cantor’s theme, IDA, with Andy making a joke at his own expense about his considerable jazz erudition:

Finally, a mysterious homage to Bix and his Rhythm Jugglers, with a song that they tried to record and never got on wax, NO-ONE KNOWS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT.  Hardly a memorable composition but Scott Robinson romps.  (I told Andy after this session that he was allowed to say that RHYTHM KING was his theme song, but not this . . . We’ll see!)

A young man who holds his own among the Jazz Masters, as the evidence here proves . . . .