I knew something of young Philadelphia reedman Jack Saint Clair before I heard him — on a Danny Tobias gig last Saturday — by implication, because Danny has excellent taste. And Jack has been part of the Marty Grosz Repertory Company that appears at the Mermaid Inn in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. Later, I saw Jack get the coveted Larry McKenna Seal of Approval . . . if there is a higher honor I don’t know it. But I was delighted and moved by his playing at that concert (with Silas Irvine, piano, and Sam Harris, string bass) so I think you should meet him too, doing what he does beautifully: making melody come alive, airborne, quietly compelling.
The song is SPRING CAN REALLY HANG YOU UP THE MOST, lyrics by Fran Landesman, music by Tommy Wolf — their 1955 variation on Eliot’s “April is the cruelest month.” Or close enough. Only 33 years separate Eliot and Landesman, proof of how quickly language moves and changes.
But there’s nothing cruel in Jack’s lovely consideration of this pastoral lament:
Anyone who has sung or played an instrument will know just how difficult it is to make melody come that alive. For those of you, and you know who you are, who leap to Compare, whisper the comparisons to your coffee and don’t send them here . . . . Jack sounds exactly like himself, and we are glad of it.
May your happiness increase!
Posted in "Thanks A Million", Bliss!, Generosities, Ideal Places, It's All True, Jazz Titans, Pay Attention!, Swing You Cats!, That Was Fun!, The Heroes Among Us, The Real Thing, The Things We Love, Wow!
Tagged Danny Tobias, Fran Landesman, Jack Saint Clair, Jazz Lives, Larry McKenna, Marty Grosz, Michael Steinman, Sam Harris, Silas Irvine, SPRING CAN REALLY HANG YOU UP THE MOST, T.S. Eliot, Tommy Wolf
In an earlier post, FEED THE KITTY, I proposed that rather than lament the grim phenomena that surround the music we love, listeners could be active in their support.
A musician friend sent the photograph below, which will serve as the objective correlative (to bring T.S. Eliot into the conversation) — the living representation and reminder of what we might be doing to keep the art form lively and healthy. I think there should be far more twenty-dollar bills than ones, but JAZZ LIVES readers will get the idea.
It’s an old Southern custom!
Posted in "Thanks A Million", Generosities, Jazz Worth Reading, Pay Attention!, The Real Thing, The Things We Love
Tagged FEED THE KITTY, generosity, Jazz Lives, Michael Steinman, T.S. Eliot, tip jar
This isn’t a legal notice — more a rumination. My readers will know that I am transfixed by the possibilities of capturing not only sound but sight and motion when the band is playing. So I have been bringing video recording equipment to gigs, concerts, and parties.
The informal nature of this enterprise means that I have to take my camera angles as I find them, accept that people are drawn by unfathomable forces to stand in front of my lens, and that the result is sometimes rough-and-ready. But I can’t ask musicians to pose for me, nor would I wish to. And I am grateful for the opportunities and forbearance already offered me. “You get the beauty of it hot,” as a line in The Waste Land goes.
In the ideal world, I would ask everyone’s permission, provide releases for them to sign, and (not incidentally) offer generous payments for the privilege of holding my little camera in the air until my arm turns numb.
But . . . .
All I can do is to say that my intentions are good — I want to share glorious music; I want to make notable players even more widely known so that audiences will travel to see them live, will fill the tip jar, will buy shelves of compact discs. I choose the best performances, lasting work that would gladden the heart. And JAZZ LIVES is, to put it mildly, a not-for-profit endeavor.
But if any musician finds him or herself represented on this blog by something he or she dislikes, please email me and I will remove the clip. I hope this doesn’t happen! But I understand that it might.
Your humble servant (and a servant of the Jazz Muse as well), I remain – – –
Posted in "Thanks A Million", Pay Attention!, The Real Thing, The Things We Love
Tagged jazz blog, Jazz Lives, legal language, Michael Steinman, rumination, T.S. Eliot, the beauty of it hot, THE WASTE LAND, video camera, videotaping
I had heard the British jazz drummer Nick Ward on several compact discs before visiting the most recent Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival, and looked forward to seeing him play. (He has the Kevin Dorn Seal of Approval, which counts a great deal.)
My drumming idols all were and are masterful sound-creators, varying timbres and emphases as they move from one part of their drum kit to another. It isn’t a restless, impatient varying of sound — Jo Jones could stay on his hi-hat for choruses if it felt right to him and to the band — but these drummers are great listeners, commenting on and participating in the collective musical improvisation that flows from them and around them.
Nick Ward embodies what’s best in jazz drumming, empathic, swinging, never overbearing. He’s not afraid to vary what he’s doing as the situation demands, but will explore the possibilities of one sound for a period of time, getting the beauty of it hot, as someone in a T.S. Eliot poem says. His rimshots are perfect punctuations; his snare-drum roll is smoother than the law allows; he is visually as well as aurally gratifying.
Here Nick is driving and encouraging a whole raft of clarinet players — some whose names have eluded me! — in a session, CLARINET CRESCENDO, led by the brilliant reedman Matthias Seuffert. On the bandstand are Aurelie Tropez and Stephane Gillot, of the Red Hot Reedwarmers, Janet Shaw from Canada, and a rhythm section of Brian Chester, piano; Rachel Hayward, banjo and guitar, and Henry Lemaire, bass. They romp through a nearly ten-minute heated tribute to Jimmie Noone and James P. Johnson, jamming happily on the latter’s A PORTER’S LOVE SONG TO A CHAMBERMAID. And all this musical bliss took place on July 11, 2009. Not 1930, but now!
I read somewhere that the British monarchy awards knighthoods for “services rendered to society.” Jelly Roll Morton wrote a song in which the King made Jelly a Lord for his hot piano. I hope that the Queen sees this clip: arise, Sir Nick Ward!
Posted in "Thanks A Million", Ideal Places, Jazz Titans, Mmmmmmmmmmmmm!, Pay Attention!, Swing You Cats!, The Heroes Among Us, The Real Thing, The Things We Love
Tagged A PORTER'S LOVE SONG TO A CHAMBERMAID, Aurelie Tropez, Brian Chester, British knighthood, Clarinet Crescendo, drumming, Henry Lemaire, James P. Johnson, Janet Shaw, jazz blog, Jazz Lives, jazz video, Jelly Roll Morton, Jimmie Noone, Jo Jones, Kevin Dorn, Matthias Seuffert, Michael Steinman, MR. JELLY LORD, Nick Ward, percussion, Rachel Hayward, Stephane Gillot, T.S. Eliot, the beauty of it hot, Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival