Tag Archives: Richard Moten

SWING STORIES FROM NEW ORLEANS: LARRY SCALA BAND

I know that every person’s taste in art is as singular as the viewer or hearer.  But some music immediately feels good and makes us feel deeply comfortable.

This new CD made me feel right at home in its first minutes.  The subtitle on the cover is a quotation from Steve Elmer, “Play the melody, improvise, tell a story and make it swing.”  The Larry Scala Band does those things with style, as natural as breathing.

I didn’t ever find the session imitative, but it reminded me of a 1957 Verve recording — that same easy feel, with touches of Tal Farlow and Herb Ellis guiding a small band of individualists.  The players are mature improvisers — not a comment on their age, but on their deep intuitive awareness.

The band is a New Orleans ensemble (hear the Second Line beat on DREAMBOAT and the rocking FUNGII MAMA) but there is no hackneyed tourist music here. And the very instrumentation is a defense against cliche and formula — a versatile quartet with Fischer’s bright, never shrill clarinet and Moore’s warm tenor forming a front line with Scala’s gleaming, twining single-note lines and pulsing chords.  The two horns don’t fight for dominance, and there are no easy plagiarisms from the Goodman Sextets.

LARRYSCALABAND

It has a very warm momentum: music too vivid to be “smooth jazz” or background murmurings.  Although there are only five players pictured above, listeners get good value.  Larry is not only a superb soloist but someone who understands the need for rhythm, so he has unobtrusively overdubbed a quiet rhythm guitar line. It’s welcome, not a trick, and it works.  (The combined rhythmic pulse pushes TEA FOR TWO along from the first four bars.)

There are slight variations on RICHARD’S  MOTEN SWING and FLAMINGO — the changes made me take notice when I was listening for the first time, the paper sleeve out of reach — but they only add spice and variety.  As I write this, my favorites are a tender ISFAHAN, a rollicking TEA FOR TWO, a trotting MORNING GLORY — but I could easily list all eleven tracks.

Here’s the band’s Facebook page, where you can hear sound samples from the disc.  And Larry has his own page as well.    For online purchases, visit the Louisiana Music Factory page. Best yet: Larry will be a guest artist from October 23-26 at the Pismo, California Jubilee By The Sea, where you can hear him and buy CDs directly.  I found a list of the bands and guest artists — including High Sierra, Gordon Au and his brothers, Carl Sonny Leyland, Jeff and Anne Barnhart, and more here.

But don’t get distracted from SWING STORIES FROM NEW ORLEANS — accurately titled, satisfying music.

May your happiness increase!

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LOOK OUT! STEAMBOAT COMIN’ ROUND THE BEND!

It is May. Yet I am making plans for November 14-16, 2014. That’s the kind of fellow I am, even if it goes against all the good advice about living in the moment.

I learned from Duke Heitger at last weekend’s jubilant Atlanta Jazz Party that the 2014 Steamboat Stomp — a three-day floating jazz festival held on the steamboat Natchez, floating up and down the Mississippi from New Orleans, is going to happen.

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It was a glorious weekend in 2013.

steamboatnatchez-paddle

And Duke has some of the same people lined up — the Yerba Buena Stompers, Banu Gibson, and Topsy Chapman — with hints of other heroes and heroines to come.

Of course, much of my pleasure was in the glorious music. But some of it was deeper and harder to explicate. Maybe it was looking out at the Mississippi River flowing by after all those years of reading and teaching HUCKLEBERRY FINN. Maybe it was being on an actual steamboat listening to jazz — the way one might have heard it in 1921 when Fate Marable’s band swung out. Maybe it was getting to walk down the streets of New Orleans — those fabled streets — and try different varieties of gumbo. I can’t tell you exactly what parts of the experience made the strongest impact. But I will be there! And I hope some of my friends can join me.

Here’s some musical evidence of the New Orleans Joys available to people at the Stomp. I do not overstate, you will see.

Before:

Palm Court Cafe, Part One

Palm Court Cafe, Part Two

Oh, Sheik That Thing!

The Steamboat Stomp itself:

Ms. Gibson’s Singular Cardiological Rhythms

Mr. Thompson’s Indigos

Doctor Pistorius and the Worlds of Love

Rocking the River

Stomping for Joy

Joe Oliver  Is Pleased

If that doesn’t convince the hesitant, I don’t know what will.  For myself, the thought of it suddenly becoming November is terrifying. But as far as the 2014 Steamboat Stomp is concerned, I’m ready.

May your happiness increase!

LEAVE YOUR TENT FLAP OPEN: THE SHEIK APPROACHES (October 10, 2013)

“At night, when you’re asleep, into your tent I’ll creep.”

Not me personally, but THE SHEIK OF ARABY.

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The SHEIK, a very vigorous fellow from 1921, made his appearance thanks to Duke Heitger and his Crescent City Joymakers, on October 10, 2013 at The Palm Court Jazz Cafe — 1204 Decatur Street — the night before the 2013 Steamboat Stomp began.

The beautiful hot band was and is Duke, trumpet; Otis Bazoon, reeds; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Richard Moten, string bass; Jeff Hamilton, drums, joined by Ray Heitger (Duke’s father), clarinet; Jon-Erik Kellso (Duke’s friend, comrade, and inspiration — in town from New York for a PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION show):

And how they played!  Admire, please, the sweetly intertwining horn lines of two soloists who are also great ensemble players, then consider the rest of the Gentlemen of the Ensemble.  I don’t know if they would (singly or collectively) creep into anyone’s tent, but you will have to negotiate such arrangements on your own.

And . . . live music is one of the many things I am thankful for this and every other day and night.  And the company of loving friends. And much more.  I wish that all of you have 365 1/4 days of Thanksgiving this year and every year.

May your happiness increase!

BEFORE THE STOMP, THERE WAS GREAT MUSIC (Part Two): DUKE HEITGER and the CRESCENT CITY JOYMAKERS at THE PALM COURT JAZZ CAFE: OTIS BAZOON, DAVID BOEDDINGHAUS, RICHARD MOTEN, JEFF HAMILTON, RAY HEITGER (October 10, 2013)

Duke Heitger’s wonderful Steamboat Stomp in New Orleans — a jazz festival on the steamboat Natchez — started unofficially the night before, Thursday, October 10, 2013, with a sweetly evocative session at The Palm Court Jazz Cafe (1204 Decatur Street).  Duke’s colleagues were clarinetist / saxophonist Otis Bazoon, pianist David Boeddinghaus, string bassist Richard Moten, and drummer Jeff Hamilton.  Later, some friends and family arrived to have fun on the bandstand, too.  Here’s a second substantial portion of heartfelt jazz — good old good ones that will never grow old.  We like it, we like it:

I COVER THE WATERFRONT:

PANAMA:

STARDUST:

MAMA INEZ (add Ray Heitger, clarinet):

ST. JAMES INFIRMARY:

May your happiness increase!

BEFORE THE STOMP, THERE WAS GREAT MUSIC (Part One): DUKE HEITGER and the CRESCENT CITY JOYMAKERS at THE PALM COURT JAZZ CAFE: OTIS BAZOON, DAVID BOEDDINGHAUS, RICHARD MOTEN, JEFF HAMILTON (October 10, 2013)

Duke Heitger’s wonderful Steamboat Stomp in New Orleans — a jazz festival on the steamboat Natchez — started unofficially the night before, Thursday, October 10, 2013, with a sweetly evocative session at The Palm Court Jazz Cafe (1204 Decatur Street).  Duke’s colleagues were clarinetist / saxophonist Otis Bazoon, pianist David Boeddinghaus, string bassist Richard Moten, and drummer Jeff Hamilton.  Later, some friends and family arrived to have fun on the bandstand, too.

Here’s a substantial portion of spicy music.

MUSKRAT RAMBLE:

AUNT HAGAR’S BLUES:

KING PORTER STOMP:

HINDUSTAN:

May your happiness increase!