One of the deep pleasures of being a temporary / intermittent California resident for large chunks of the past few years was being able to savor the beautiful music created by Ray Skjelbred and his Cubs: Ray, piano, vocal; Kim Cusack, clarinet, vocal; Katie Cavera, guitar, vocal; Clint Baker, string bass, vocal; Jeff Hamilton, drums.
It’s nice to know that through the miracle of technology, I don’t have to miss out on much: Rae Ann Berry took her camera and tripod to Walnut Creek, California, just the other day (July 9, 2015) and captured an evening of Ray and the Cubs at Rossmoor, thanks to the “Rossmoor Jazz Club,” the generous invention of Bob and Vonne Anne Burch.
Here is my absolute favorite from that evening:
SWEETHEARTS ON PARADE:
Everything this band does cheers me — I want a CD devoted to Kim’s vocals! — but this performance has out-in-the-open spectacular drumming, ensemble and solo, from one of the finest on the planet, Jeff Hamilton. The whole band rocks and soars, but Hamilton elevates it all several stories in the air. And bring the children into the room to let them hear what a rhythm section sounds like. It’s not too early to teach them right.
And I have a special fondness for this song because of this fellow. I think I first heard this recording before I had a driver’s license: I can summon up the picture of the cover of the German Odeon lp which contained it:
I love everything about this 1930 recording, including Lionel Hampton’s drum accents behind Louis’ muted melody statement, the guitar obbligato by Bill Perkins behind the vocal (that vocal!) . . . . and that trumpet solo, which I would stand up against Joyce, Stravinsky, or Kandinsky. Yeah, man.
Now, I urge you, enjoy the Cubs once again. Yes, they can follow Louis!
Send this post to your Sweetheart. And if (s)he says, “What is this?” you can have a good time explaining the mystery of it all, can’t you?
May your happiness increase!