I think my title can be applied many ways, but right now we are talking about music. One of my particular obsessions — and musicians I’ve talked to about this don’t always agree with me — is that tempos gradually increase, and most bands play music far too fast. I hear I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH ME as a ballad or a rhythm ballad; LOUISIANA as a sultry drag; MEAN TO ME as a lament rather than a romp. (In this, I have noble precedent: think of Louis majestically proceeding through THAT’S FOR ME. And I heard Ruby Braff play I GOT RHYTHM at ballad tempo with unforgettable results.)
Perhaps because of Henry “Red” Allen, many bands play ROSETTA (officially by Earl Hines but the real story is that it was written by Henri Woode) as an uptempo tune. But there are two delightful exceptions to this. One took place during a 1971 concert in upstate New York — led by Eddie Condon, a superb band featuring Bernie Privin, Lou McGarity, Kenny Davern, Dill Jones, Jack Lesberg, and Cliff Leeman. (It’s been issued on Arbors Records under Davern’s name, as A Night With Eddie Condon, so you can hear it yourself.) The band leaps in to the first tune, AT THE JAZZ BAND BALL, and does it with speed and energy. Condon, I think, calls ROSETTA to follow, and Dill Jones, used to playing the song as an uptempo number, starts it off quickly — and Condon stops him, correcting the tempo with a “boom . . . . boom” to a slow, groovy sway. Instructive indeed.
The other example I can offer is more readily accessible, and it started with everyone in a delicious groove from the first notes. I was there to witness, delight, and record it — on November 28, 2014, at the San Diego Jazz Fest. The creators are Ray Skjelbred, piano (who set this fine tempo), Marc Caparone, cornet; Beau Sample, string bass; Hal Smith, drums:
And you might want to know that there is going to be a 2015 San Diego Jazz Fest, Thanksgiving weekend, November 25-29, 2015. I know Thanksgiving seems so far away, but time rushes on.
Find out more here and here. I know that Ray Skjelbred, Marc Caparone, Katie Cavera, Dawn Lambeth, Clint Baker, the Yerba Buena Stompers, Carl Sonny Leyland, Nicki Parrott, Rossano Sportiello, Stephanie Trick, Paolo Alderighi, Miss Ida Blue, Molly Ryan, Dan Levinson, Jonathan Stout, Bob Schulz, Chloe Feoranzo, and many others will be making music there.
May your happiness increase!