Tag Archives: Scandinavian Rhythm Boys

“SWEET LIKE THIS”: The SCANDINAVIAN RHYTHM BOYS “KEEP HOT”

At the end  of last year, a wonderful CD arrived in the mail — by one of my favorite [not sufficiently well-known] small bands, the SCANDINAVIAN RHYTHM BOYS, a fertile crescent of hot jazz supervised beautifully by banjoist / singer Michael Boving.

Here are some necessary details:

CD-sweet-3a

and the front:

SCANDINAVIAN RHYTHM BOYSand the liner notes by Twenties jazz authority Matt Chauvin:

Notes for SWEET LIKE THIS SRB

The SRB has (or have) been making music since 1997, and we are all the richer for their devotion to the art.

They do not seek to reproduce precisely hallowed recordings.  Rather, they take memorable melodies and great spirit and make them their own.  And they are wise as well as swinging: songs are presented with their verses, and at tempos that feel just right.  They respect the music, but their playing isn’t pedantic; rather, one can feel an impudent playfulness bubbling up from beneath.

Some readers might wonder whether the SRB are a quartet trying to sound like a full ensemble.  Heavens, no: a deep listening session with this disc might make you wonder why other bands need those additional musicians, the overall music and musicality is so satisfying.  And the instrument-doubling comes off beautifully, giving the disc (and the band) an ever-changing variety.  In the age of extended performance, others might wonder why the SRB performances are uncharacteristically brief.  The answer is also brief: they can do more in three minutes than some bands can do all week.

Consider, for a moment, WANG WANG BLUES — which runs just over three minutes.  A brief tour, if you will allow me. The sprightly performance starts with the verse, agile clarinet taking the lead over trumpet commentary and stringed rhythm.  Then, some neat riffing by the horns.  When the band shifts into the chorus, the clarinet is still in the lead, with trumpet echoing the melody, the banjo and string bass making themselves heard and felt.  This section (the first third of the performance) is a sweet throwback to the hot dance records of the Twenties and early Thirties: let the dancers hear the melody, neatly harmonized or in unison, to dance to.  No violent improvisations, no hot polyphony.  Not yet.  At this point, many bands would launch into solos or into ensemble jamming.  But the SRB has other things, very happy ones, in mind. The instruments stop, and the four musicians sing the chorus a cappella, Michael leading them, then repeat it, adding rhythm.  It’s utterly charming, and makes me think happily of a vaudeville act where the musicians did everything to entertain.  Vocal interlude over, the horns set a Basie-out-of-Louis harmony riff behind an arco bass statement of the melody (with nice intonation) backed by banjo.  (Incidentally, Michael is a very subtle banjo artist, a model for those who choose that instrument.)  The final forty-five seconds of this performance offer a gentle mix of polyphony, trumpet in the lead, with a few passages where the horns take the famous melody lines together.

When I first heard this performance, I got stuck on it — and it wasn’t a defect in the disc.  I played it five or six times in a row, delighting in its fresh generosity. And its honesty: it continues to feel authentic to me, deep music made by people who have chosen it as their vocation.

Hear for yourself!  Click the top-right speaker icon hereI rest my case.

The SRB is busy making “old” music fresh, lively, and new.  I salute them.  To purchase the CD, please email Michael Bøving at srbjazz@srbjazz.com — or, if you feel like a chat, his phone is 0045 31230292.

And “Keep hot” is how Michael signs his letters and emails.  A good spiritual philosophy.

May your happiness increase! 

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NEW FACES, NEW BABY: THE SCANDINAVIAN RHYTHM BOYS TAKE TO THE WATER

The little band known as the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys has long been one of my favorite hot ensembles.  They have a new front line, with trumpeter Leif Blunck and Hans Jorgen Hansen on bass sax, clarinet and soprano.  Michael Boeving remains on banjo and expressive vocals and Ole Olsen on the string bass.  The video was recorded July 12 on a Copenhagen harbor cruise (as part of the 2012 Copenhagen Jazz Festival) by an Italian fan, Alessandro, whom we all thank!  For more about the SRB, visit here.

And the New Baby remains the same, joyously:

May your happiness increase.

THERE’S LIFE IN (AND BEYOND) THOSE GROOVES: THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF JAZZ RECORD COLLECTORS

I suspect that most people, asked to describe “a jazz record collector,” would create at best a gentle caricature.  It wouldn’t be too far from the general stereotype of someone who assorts, covets, arranges, and studies any kind of ancient artifact.  In the imagined cartoon, the man showing off his prize collection of mint Brunswick 78s by the Boswell Sisters is simply a cousin of the museum curator, happily dusty.

But stereotypes are meant to be exploded by reality, and many jazz record collectors have seen the daylight and know that there is life beyond the shelves, beyond their notebooks of sought-after discs.  One sign of life is the refreshing friskiness of the Journal of the International Association of Jazz Record Collectors.  I would have written this blogpost a few weeks ago but I kept on finding new things to read in the March 2012 Journal . . . so I apologize for my tardiness but it is another sign of life.

I was entranced immediately by the cover — a comic portrait of trombonist Miff Mole, taken in Chicago in the early Fifties (courtesy of the jazz scholar Derek Coller): boys and girls, don’t try this at home without adult supervision.

Inside I found Bert Whyatt’s discography of the rough-and-tumble West Coast pianist Burt Bales (including recordings with Bunk Johnson and Frank Goudie), a chapter in Don Manning’s novel SWING HIGH! — its subject being an insider’s look at life on the road with a big band in the Forties.  I read an extensive affectionate report by Perry Huntoon on Jazz Ascona, and made my way through many CD reviews.

And that’s not all.  In an initial offering of jazz research done by Dr. Ian Crosbie — who sent questionnaires to many musicians and got remarkably candid answers, we learn from the Paul Whiteman reedman Charles Strickfadden that (in his opinion) Bill Challis’ arrangements for the Whiteman band were “melodic, uncomplicated, non-swinging . . . No affect on trend.”

In another section of the Journal I read a fascinating long letter by the scholar and current IAJRC President Geoffrey Wheeler — its focus on Charlie Parker’s RELAXIN’ AT CAMARILLO.  To give this its proper context, the previous issue of the Journal (December 2011) had an intriguing study of Parker’s actual stay at  the mental hospital located in Camarillo — written by William A. Pryor.  Wheeler adds this, which surprised me: “During a stay at Bellevue Hospital in New York City in the early 1950s, Parker was interviewed by a resident psychiatrist regarding his use of drugs.  At one point, the psychiatrist asked Parker if he wanted to give up drugs.  Parker’s response was an emphatic ‘no’!  . . . . This was related to me by a personal friend who was later on the staff at Bellevue and was told this by the attending psychiatrist.”

There’s more.  The IAJRC will be holding its annual convention in New Orleans (Sept. 6-8, 2012) and in addition to scholarly presentations and the opportunity to buy records, chat with fellow jazz enthusiasts, and tour the city, there will be live music, video presentations by Tom Hustad, Ruby Braff expert and author of the new book BORN TO PLAY, film scholar Mark Cantor, and jazz researcher Sonny McGown (the last one having as its subject the eccentric clarinetist Irving Fazola).  The banjoist and singer Michael Boving (of the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys) will speak about Eva Taylor touring Scandinavia in the Seventies — with filmclips, photos, recordings never heard — and he will be joined by Clarence Williams’ grandson, Spencer.   

To join the IAJRC and get in on the fun, click here.  To learn more about the convention, click here.

May your happiness increase.

“ISTEN VELED, KEDVES BARÁTUNK!” or “GOODBYE, DEAR FRIEND”: FOR JOE MURANYI

Michael Cogswell of the Louis Armstrong House Museum has just told us that the memorial service for Joe Muranyi will take place on Tuesday, May 29, 2012, from 7-10 PM.  It will be held at St. Peter’s Church, 619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street, in New York City.  I will provide more details when I know them.

I will have just come back from the Sacramento Music Festival, but I am sure that some JAZZ LIVES readers will be at the memorial service — to honor Joe, to hear good music, and to enjoy his presence through anecdotes and more.

Thanks to the fine swinging Tamas Itzes for the Hungarian farewell-from-the-heart.  And here’s a musical embrace — from Joe, for Joe:

This sweet, sad rendition of NEW ORLEANS features Joe with one of my favorite bands, the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys: Robert Hansson, trumpet; Frans Sjostrom, bass sax; Ole Olsen, string bass; Michael Boving, banjo / vocal.  It was recorded in 2009 by one of my generous-spirited video comrades, Flemming Thorbye.

Goodbye, Joe!  We celebrate you.

May your happiness increase.

HELLO, CENTRAL, GIVE ME JOE MURANYI, PLEASE

Our subject is the fellow on the right.  The fellow on the right you know.

The sterling clarinetist / soprano saxophonist / singer / composer Joe Muranyi has had some health issues of late, and has moved house — as the British say — from the Veterans’ Hospital.

He’s now at the  Dewitt Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Room 1110, 211 East 79th Street, New York, New York 10075.  The phone is Joe’s room is  212-671-6026, and Dewitt’s web site: http://www.dewittnh.com

Michael Cogswell, Joe’s friend, says that he knows Joe would love to have visitors, and I just got off the phone with Joe — to check whether phone calls were OK, and he said they were.

And in case the name “Joe Muranyi” is new to you, all I can say is “Hey.  Where you been?”  His associates?  Louis Armstrong — who called him “Joe Ma-Rainey” and “Josephus,” Roy Eldridge, who depended on him . . . my friends the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys, the Classic Jazz Quartet (with Dick Wellstood, Marty Grosz, and Dick Wellstood), and recordings dating back to the late Forties.  He’s the clarinetist on WASHINGTON SQUARE with the Village Stompers.

And if that doesn’t do it for you, this might — Joe with the SRB performing SOME OF THESE DAYS:

And a very moving performance of SONNY BOY with the Benko Dixieland Band in Budapest — which shows Joe’s great heart and his deep knowledge of what Louis had to teach us:

I know that love — sent in person, by mail, or through the telephone — speeds healing.  Be sure to check the time zone if you’re out of New York, and remember that someone who is under medical supervision no longer keeps jazzman’s hours . . . but you can still do your part!

GO, LITTLE BAND! — THE SCANDINAVIAN RHYTHM BOYS

Some governments know how to support the arts.

In Denmark, “Nyboder” (which means “new houses”) refers to a historic district of yellow row houses in Copenhagen — houses that were once a naval barracks, built in the early seventeenth century during the reign of King Christian IV.  In 2011, the Danish Ministry of Defense created a documentary film about Nyboder.

One of my favorite hot bands — the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys — were invited to play the theme song.  IN PRAISE OF NYBODER (“Nyboders Pris”) sounds like a traditional air, but it was written in 1930.

The Boys are Robert Hansson, trumpet; Frans Sjostrom, soprano sax; Ole Olsen, bass; Michael Boving, banjo/vocal.  And the fine cinematography is courtesy of Flemming Thorbye, a good friend of JAZZ LIVES:

That song sticks in the memory . . . and here’s one more familiar, the ROYAL GARDEN BLUES (offered at the leisurely Bixish Twenties tempo that Basie and Goodman recalled in the early Forties):

ROYAL GARDEN is also appropriate here because Nyboder is a part of the complex of Rosenborg Castle and the Royal Garden, in the historic part of Copenhagen.  A far cry from South Side Chicago, but Joe Oliver would have admired both performances.  (Incidentally, a vocal chorus on this song is now a rarity, but in its heyday the lyrics were part of the performance: think of the 1931 Ted Lewis recording on which Fats Waller sings.)

For more from the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys, visit them here

— they obviously know how to create beautiful rhythms and melodies!

SOUL MUSIC: THE SCANDINAVIAN RHYTHM BOYS (April 2011)

The four gentlemen who make up the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys make more music than a full orchestra — simple yet deep, propulsive yet full of feeling, with arching melodies, deep roots, and more.  They are Robert Hansson, trumpet; Frans Sjostrom, bass and soprano saxophones; Michael Boving, banjo, guitar, and vocal; Ole Olsen, bass and clarinet.  The excellent videos were created by Flemming Thorbye, my Scandinavian comrade.

Here’s a lovely, poignant version of I’M COMIN’ VIRGINA, with Bix in mind:

MAKE ME A PALLET ON THE FLOOR was “written” by W.C. Handy as the ATLANTA BLUES.  Here, this achingly slow version features Frans on soprano saxophone and Michael on one of his irreplaceable deep-inside vocals.  Robert dares the brass Fates and Ole lays down a foundation you could build a cathedral on:

The Boys ask the unanswerable existential question, HAVE YOU EVER FELT THAT WAY?

Michael continues in the same searching vein, “How long will I have to wait?” enclosed in this rendition of HESITATING BLUES.  (For passion without artifice, he touches the heart every time!):

JUST A CLOSER WALK WITH ME is perfect for a jazz lecture in a church (a very hip church that has both the SRB and a menorah):

Moving again towards secular matters, the Boys explore BUDDY’S HABIT.  We don’t know what his habit was — but I suspect he couldn’t get enough hot, lyrical jazz of the kind the SRB lays down here:

And finally — the most endearing version of “Mind your own business!” you’ll ever hear — AIN’T NOBODY’S BUSINESS IF I DO:

For those who can’t get enough of proper documentation, the first performance was recorded at the Hotel Christiansminde, Svendborg, Denmark, on April 16, 2011.  The remainder were captured at a jazz lecture given by the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys on April 30, 2011, at Broenshoej Kirke — the oldest church in Copenhagen (from 1180) titled GOSPEL, JAZZ, AND THE SONGS OF THE OPPRESSED. 

To hear more, find the SRB’s latest CD — CHARLESTON MAD — a wonderful effort.    

Thank you, Michael, Frans, Robert, Ole, and Flemming!

P.S.  Flemming Thorbye has excellent taste in hot jazz: visit his YouTube channel, thorbye, for much more enjoyment.