Tag Archives: the beauty of it hot


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 – – –


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!