Tag Archives: San Francisco

SWING SCENE: MONDAY NIGHT at LE COLONIAL SF with THE IVORY CLUB BOYS (PAUL MEHLING, EVAN PRICE, CLINT BAKER, SAM ROCHA, ISABELLE FONTAINE: April 28, 2014)

A week ago, last Monday night, I was making the scene at Le Colonial SF (20 Cosmo Place, San Francisco) on the site of the famous Trader Vic’s.

Virtuoso guitarist Paul Mehling and friends usually play hot gypsy jazz — homage to Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli — as the Hot Club of San Francisco. But Paul brought a new variation on swinging themes, The Ivory Club Boys, to Le Colonial on April 28, 2014.

The Ivory Club Boys evoke the jazz scene of the late Thirties on New York City’s fabled Swing Street (Fifty-Second Street) with a special emphasis on the hot music of violinist Stuff Smith.

Along with Paul, the ICB are Evan Price, electric violin; Clint Baker, trumpet AND trombone AND vocal; Isabelle Fontaine, guitar, vocal, and non-Boyishness; Sam Rocha, string bass, vocal.

OPENING BLUES (like the old days, and wonderful):

CRAZY RHYTHM:

CARELESS LOVE (a blues Stuff Smith adored):

An assertively quick reinvention of SWEET AND LOVELY:

DESERT SANDS:

DINAH:

Le Colonial is a fine place to be on Mondays — to hear hot music; to dance to it; to watch the exuberantly acrobatic dancers; to eat Vietnamese food and drink all sorts of intriguing liquids.  And now “20 Cosmo Place” is in my GPS, so I feel both secure and excited.

May your happiness increase!

WITH THIS BOOK (AND A FUNCTIONING PEN) THE BAY AREA JAZZ FAN IS ALL READY FOR MEMORABLE EXPERIENCES

Photographer / jazz fan Jessica Levant has been enjoying her twin pleasures for years now — as she says, “idly” taking pictures of her jazz and blues heroes and heroines in the Bay Area (that’s the area in and around San Francisco, California).  She’s now collected those photographs — no posing, all taken in performance — into a charming book, SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA JAZZ & BLUSICIANS.

jabcover

The book is sweet testimony to the wide variety of musical styles and performers working in this area — women and men, youths and veterans, singers and instrumentalists, leaders and side-people. By offering these photographs in pure alphabetical order, Jessica has wisely avoided the question of categorizing or of valuing these musicians. I am pleased to see portraits and biographies of people I know and have heard: Clint Baker, Danny Brown, Waldo Carter, Mike Greensill, Jeff Hamilton, Paul Mehling, Si Perkoff, Rob Reich, Dave Ricketts, Mal Sharpe, John Wiitala . . . as well as people I know by reputation . . . and the larger group of people I look forward to hearing and meeting.  Jessica’s color portraits are informal and lively; no stiff poses against a studio backdrop here, and her biographies combine material provided by the artist and her own perceptions.

It’s an entertaining book, and I predict it could start a social trend. Jazz and blues fans like (we’re all fans at heart) to go home with an autograph from our favorite musician, and I can see Bay Area fans competing with one another to collect ALL the autographs in this book.  Better hurry: I’ve spotted Jessica at jazz clubs, busily photographing — I hear rumors of a second volume to come.

You can learn more about Jessica and her book here. And when you see a quietly enthusiastic woman with a camera (tactfully not getting in anyone’s way) I encourage you to approach her and ask, “Are you Jessica Levant?  May I have your autograph?”  I’m fairly sure she will oblige, graciously.

Thanks to Barb Hauser for making the connection, as she always does!

May your happiness increase!

“ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY!”: CLINT BAKER’S NEW ORLEANS SWING BAND PLAYS FOR DANCERS at METRONOME (August 10, 2013)

Recipe for happiness: a hot swinging band, a room full of expert swing dancers.  Voila!  Experience it in these performances by Clint Baker’s New Orleans Swing Band at Metronome in San Francisco on August 10, 2013.  In the band: Clint (trumpet, clarinet, trombone, vocal); Robert Young (saxophone, clarinet, cornet, vocal); Jeff Hamilton (piano); Sam Rocha (string bass, vocal); Jason Vandeford (guitar, vocal); Steve Apple (drums). Absolutely. Positively!

CRAZY RHYTHM:

ONE HOUR:

SWEET SUE (or HIGH NOONE):

DELTA BOUND (sung to us by Mister Rocha):

I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR YOU:

ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY:

JOE LOUIS STOMP:

AFTER YOU’VE GONE:

LADY BE GOOD:

THE GIRLS GO CRAZY:

IN THE SHADE OF THE OLD APPLE TREE (a serenade by Mister Vandeford):

MAKE ME A PALLET ON THE FLOOR with vocal refrain by Mister Rocha):

SHAKE THAT THING:

Did you shake that thing?  I hope so.  If not, go back to the first video and remember your cultural responsibilities, please.

May your happiness increase!

ROCKIN’ IN RHYTHM and DANCING FOR JOY with LE JAZZ HOT: CLINT BAKER, EVAN PRICE, ROBERT YOUNG, SAM ROCHA (Le Colonial, July 8, 2013)

The Beloved and I made the scene at Le Colonial (20 Cosmo Place, San Francisco) on July 8 to hear some hot music.  As an extra bonus, we saw much expert, energetic dancing.

The music was provided by a compact, inventive band — Le Jazz Hot for four (leader Paul Mehling was stuck in France for a spell): Clint Baker, guitar, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, vocal; Evan Price, violin, guitar; Robert Young, saxophones, vocal; Sam Rocha, string bass.  They romped — musicians and dancers in sweet reciprocity!  Here are a few songs from the first set.

Incidentally, the Hopperesque lighting of the scene is very unjust to violinist Evan Price, who is seated at one side of the group.  But please don’t forget to pay attention to him — his playing, never sticky-sweet, always swinging — is delightful.

Before viewers embark on this jazz voyage, I should note that I was videoing from across the room, and the dancers — properly — were in motion.  So the visual aspect of what follows may strike some as more surreal than usual, but I think these videos are lovely in a moving-sculpture way (the famous 1954 short film JAZZ DANCE came to mind).

Someone who is willing to get in the groove with us can delight in the interplay between the expertly moving dancers and the hot band.  Viewing this at home, in the right frame of mind, one can sit back and be transported, as we were.

HONEYSUCKLE ROSE:

THREE LITTLE WORDS:

I’M CONFESSIN’:

WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE?:

ONE HOUR:

MY BLUE HEAVEN:

HESITATING BLUES:

LIMEHOUSE BLUES:

What a delicious scene!  Every Monday night this happens at Le Colonial, I hear tell — but Clint, Evan, Robert, Sam, and Paul bring the best vibrations with them wherever they play.

May your happiness increase!

SVETLANA, SWINGER ON A MISSION!

The very engaging singer Svetlana Shmulyian has come West — joined by the heroic swingers of the JC Hopkins Biggish Band for an appearance this Friday, July 12, at the enticingly-named MAKE OUT ROOM in the Mission District of San Francisco.

I’ve heard Svetlana at the Back Room Speakeasy in New York City, and I am very much looking forward to this appearance.  She swings easily; she knows what the lyrics mean; her voice is a pleasure.

Photo by Nina Galicheva

Photo by Nina Galicheva

For tickets and more information, click here.

May your happiness increase!

FREE AND JOYOUS: TAMAR KORN AND FRIENDS at THE LOST CHURCH (June 8, 2013): GORDON AU, DENNIS LICHTMAN, CRAIG VENTRESCO, JARED ENGEL (Part One)

Tamar Korn was a remarkable singer, musician, and presence when I first heard her some six years ago.

She has continued to blossom, to explore, to experiment in the most joyously rewarding ways.  She wants to embody each song, getting to the heart of its emotions, in words, notes, and gesture.  In the words of my friend Davide Brillante, she is “an illuminated person.”  And the musicians around her are clearly inspired by her perfectly pitched extravagances.

The Beloved and I were happily in the audience at a San Francisco venue we’d not encountered before — The Lost Church, 65 Capp Street — when Tamar and Friends took the stage on June 8, 2013.  (It’s a fascinating place for music and theatre and more.)

The Friends (they deserve the capital letter) were Gordon Au, trumpet; Dennis Lichtman, clarinet; Craig Ventresco, guitar; Jared Engel, string bass — with a guest appearance from guitarist Dave Ricketts of GAUCHO later in the evening.

Here are the first four performances of a glorious dozen:

THE WORLD IS WAITING FOR THE SUNRISE:

SHINE ON, HARVEST MOON:

LONESOME AND SORRY:

THE SONG IS ENDED:

Deliciously memorable, playful music — performances both simple and deeply textured.

Thanks to Tamar and her / our Friends, to Brett Cline, Erma Kyriakos, Confetta and Anatol and Scott for their kindnesses and for increasing our joys.

May your happiness increase!

SWEETLY INTIMATE SWING: MICHAEL GROH and NED BOYNTON at AMNESIA (June 2, 2013)

One of the pleasures of this 2013 California summer has been discovering this intimate, swinging duo — Michael Groh (whom I knew and admired from GAUCHO) on guitar and vocal, and Ned Boynton (new to me) on guitar.  Learn more about Ned here. They played a lovely varied set at Amnesia in San Francisco on Sunday, June 2, offering the kind of relaxed, creative music that we always imagine musicians play when there’s a small audience of people on the same wavelength.

Here are three highlights:

BUDDY BOLDEN’S BLUES (or I THOUGHT I HEARD BUDDY BOLDEN SAY), containing useful information for dancers and lovers of fresh breezes:

A sweetly mobile reading of FOR ALL WE KNOW:

W.C. Handy’s ever-relevant lament about duplicity on all levels, LOVELESS LOVE:

Michael somewhat whimsically called this duo — a compact, intimate band — THE NEW EXCELSIOR RHYTHM BABIES, a spinoff from a larger unit.  To get the full story, ask him on a set break.

May your happiness increase!