One of the great pleasures of this summer stay in California has been the opportunity to hear / enjoy / talk with / delight in the remarkable Mal Sharpe, larger than life and I don’t mean in height or girth. His music, his wildly improvised deadpan comedies, his stage presence . . . a remarkable fellow indeed.
Once a month, on a Thursday, Mal brings his Big Money in Jazz Band to Armando’s in Martinez — a very pleasant place (more a social club than a nightspot) run by the amiable Roy Jeans. August 23 was Mal’s “Dixieland” immersion — for our benefit.
He played trombone and sang; Dwayne Rambey played clarinet, tenor saxophone, and soprano, and also sang; Clint Baker sat in the back and directed jazz traffic while playing the banjo or the guitar; youngblood / swing star Sam Rocha gave his all on tuba; fiery Jim Gammon poured his heart into his trumpet; swinging Roy Blumenfeld, drums. (Notice that a few performances begin with an impromptu Gammon – Baker duet, reminding me of 1928 Louis and Johnny St. Cyr, very happily).
Here are four musical treats and one avian interlude. For your dining and dancing pleasure, of course.
HINDUSTAN (where there are still a few parking spaces for caravans and no meters):
A magnificent piece of musical architecture — FOUR OR FIVE TIMES — our delight, doin’ things right:
THE SHEIK OF ARABY, clothed or not:
An ancient folktale about a member of the avian family. Caution! It contains a naughty word:
And a beautifully earnest reading of JUST A CLOSER WALK WITH THEE:
Wasn’t that nice?
May your happiness increase.