I know he’ll be embarrassed when he reads this, because for Jimmy Mazzy, any praise is overdoing it, but he’s one of my heroes: a man whose passion comes through whatever he does: telling a joke, discussing current politics, playing the banjo, or singing. Or both. So it’s an honor to share an otherwise unseen performance by Jimmy of Lonnie Johnson’s TOMORROW NIGHT.
There’s a story here, of course. My friend Sarah Spencer (UK-born, New Orleans-inspired tenor saxophonist, clarinetist, singer, lifter of spirits) went back home to care for her aging parents in the beginning of 2017. But before she left, she had a few remarkable gigs in Connecticut, where she was then living. One was at Sarah’s (yes) a lovely restaurant that also featured jazz. Our Sarah brought along some of her oldest and best musical friends: Bill Sinclair, piano; Art Hovey, string bass and tuba; the aforementioned Mr. Mazzy. At the rehearsal / soundcheck, Jimmy — entirely at ease with no audience to change the atmosphere — created a moving version of TOMORROW NIGHT that shook everyone in the room.
When the gig actually started (and you can see video from it at the end of this post) Jimmy did TOMORROW NIGHT again, and it was lovely. But it stayed in the JAZZ LIVES vault — the walk-in one — until recently, when I thought, “Do we want to let the slightest bit of Mazzy-alchemy go to waste?” and I shared it with Sarah, who agreed that it was, in Eddie Condon’s words, “too good to ignore.” See for yourself:
Here’s Jimmy in 2019, at his induction into the American Banjo Museum, with his emotionally seismic rendition of the Ink Spots’ MY PRAYER:
and to change the mood back — so that we can proceed with our days and nights without being disabled by weeping — Professor Mazzy discourses on the Egyptian influence (from the August 2016 gig). The anguished reaction, even before he has concluded his peroration, is from Carrie Mazzy, his wife:
May your happiness increase!