Here, in the welcoming ambiance of The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City) on July 31, 2022, are two welcoming improvisations by The EarRegulars for that night: Danny Tobias, trumpet; Chris Flory, guitar; Scott Robinson, tenor saxophone and alto clarinet; Pat O’Leary, string bass.
The composers of the lines are, I hope, well-known to those who know: Sidney Bechet and Bud Freeman, but the memorable lines aren’t often played: Bechet’s KANSAS CITY MAN BLUES and Bud’s THAT D MINOR THING.
The jazz lineage from Bechet to Coltrane is seamless: Scott quotes A LOVE SUPREME in his trading phrases with Danny (thanks to Alessandro King for the catch).
And here’s Bud’s riff from his days with the World’s Greatest Jazz Band:
And as for the talkers in the audience: pity them their self-absorption, waste no energy berating a video-recording.
Have you ever visited the Ear Inn on a Sunday night? Talk about life-affirming! And before you write in to say, “It’s so far away and I wish I could,” which I do understand, have you seen some live jazz in 2022? I do hope so.
The summer of 2021 was memorable in many ways for jazz lovers in New York City. A resurrection of sorts, if you will. And one of the most endearing manifestations of that coming-alive impulse was the space outside of The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York, on Sunday afternoons, where The EarRegulars made us all feel joyous and free, once again. (They are back to their regular Sunday-night revival meetings, from about 8 to about 11 PM: superb community and surprises galore.)
October 17, 2021, was one of those surprises, when Bill and John Allred, father and son trombonists, got together to add to The EarRegulars, who were Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Pat O’Leary, heroic warrior [to be explained below] and string bass. What Bill and John do together is part practice, part telepathy, and wholly gratifying. And The EarRegulars are always living examples of thoughtful swing, in solo and ensemble.
Here’s Irving Berlin’s ALWAYS:
and the affirmation of romantic commitment:
and — under the heading IF YOU CAN MAKE IT HERE, YOU’LL MAKE IT ANYWHERE, the heroic battle of Pat O’Leary versus The Siren:
We had a wonderful time, out there in the fresh air and bright sunshine. Memorable hours among friends and the best sounds. And it still is happening Sunday nights, so come visit.
At the end of last summer, one of the great pleasures was the Sunday sessions created by the EarRegulars outside of the Ear Inn on 326 Spring Street. I’ve been sending their wonderful music out slowly, a performance at a time, hoping to come to the end of the 2021 gifts as the 2022 summer sessions begin again. Cue Helen Humes singing I CAN DREAM, CAN’T I?
On October 3, the EarRegulars were Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Harvey Tibbs, trombone; Neal Miner, string bass. And here they are musing their way, collectively and singly, through Jelly Roll Morton’s SWEET SUBSTITUTE, with delicacy and fervor:
Accept no substitutes. Ask for The EarRegulars wherever better music can be found. (They have resumed their Sunday evening sessions indoors, from 8-11, loosely, and those gatherings at 326 Spring Street are also life-changing, in subtle ways.)
My sources tell me that this is the official fight song — composed in 1910 — of Washington and Lee University. It was also the song that Jon-Erik Kellso played with his high school marching band, if my sources are correct. And I believe there were Allen Park alumnae in the audience on this balmy October 17, 2021, afternoon — outdoors at The Ear Out, 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City. The brilliant players are Jon-Erik, trumpet; Bill Allred, trombone; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Pat O’Leary, string bass. Notable highlights here are Jon-Erik’s soliloquy for buzz mute, Bill trading phrases with the rhythm section, Matt’s ringing single notes, Pat’s eloquent swinging comedy:
Two weeks from now, more or less, the calendar says it’s Spring. Can these outdoor rambles be far behind? They made a post-pandemic paradise for us. We live in hope. Always
Thank you, Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields, for one of the most durable swing-songs and love songs (also the harmonic basis of TAKE THE “A” TRAIN), the 1930 EXACTLY LIKE YOU. It became an international hit early — Tom Lord’s online jazz discography lists more than 800 versions, and while I am writing this, some band is playing it and someone’s singing it.
Notice that ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET came from the same show:
Speaking of “some band,” we are fortunate that The EarRegulars chose to take EXACTLY for a stroll on one of their outdoor revival-meetings at The Ear Out (I am not alone in hoping that they resume this spring) on October 17, 2021. The nimble participants are Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Pat O’Leary, string bass; Bill Allred, trombone:
Since I am now at a point in my life where “I know why I waited / Know why I’ve been blue / Waited, dear, for someone EXACTLY LIKE YOU” has more meaning, I am even more in favor of swinging renditions like this one. Ex-actly. But enough about me. Listen once, listen again.
Life is a banquet of imperfections, as I can tell you from experience.
And I am about to offer you a performance that is sonically restorative while at the same time it is visually flawed. For only the second time in its mechanical-technical life, one of my cameras has proven rebellious: about twenty-five seconds in to this “video,” the image freezes and remains a still photograph.
But the music pulses delightfully on.
It would have pained me (and perhaps the shade of Ferdinand LeMenthe) to have consigned this to the darkness . . . so I present it to you here with the caveats above. It’s lovely rousing music, with daring solos and splendid ensemble interplay by The EarRegulars, people who know how to do the Charleston without leaving their seats: Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet (perhaps his Harry B. Jay model?); Harvey Tibbs, trombone; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Neal Miner, string bass.
All this medicalized joy took place at The Ear Out, 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City, on Sunday, November 3, 2021. Now you know it all, and can savor the healing powers of hot jazz:
As to the rebellious camera, perhaps it will go to an over-55 senior community, where it can tell tales of the many hours of music it recorded for all of us.
This wonderful combination of like-minded creators took place on Sunday, October 17, 2021 — near the end of the magical season created by the EarRegulars at the Ear Out, 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City.
It’s another of the improvisatory wonders that so uplifted our hearts from May – October 2021: in F, the key of love, ROSETTA (credited to Earl Hines but I believe by Henri Woode) from the EarRegulars’ All-Stars Big Band: Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Pat O’Leary, string bass; John Allred, Bill Allred, Harvey Tibbs, Joan Codina, Steve Bleifuss, trombone; Adam Moezinia, guitar.
The roadmap: ensemble with Kellso leading, John Allred, Codina, Bleifuss, Bill Allred, Tibbs, then trades in approximately the same order, Moezinia, Munisteri, then trades, Kellso, a riff from TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT, O’Leary, and a Kellso-led final ensemble.
That this happened, that it happened in a city I could get to, that the musicians don’t mind my little techno-voyeurism and sharing their work with you for free. . . all magnificent gifts of these jazz Magi. Without watch chains or long hair: generously given, received with great joy.
I don’t know the Latin name for this delightful malady, but the lay population calls it this:
You might also know recorded versions by the Wolverine Orchestra, Fletcher Henderson, Eddie Condon, Joe Sullivan, Sidney Bechet, Humphrey Lyttelton, Doc Evans, Panama Francis, Mutt Carey, Johnny Wiggs, Kid Ory, Lu Watters, Turk Murphy, Miff Mole, Willie “the Lion” Smith, Graeme Bell, Jack Teagarden, Red Nichols, Jimmy McPartland, Ken Colyer, Chris Barber, Albert Nicholas, Buck Clayton, Earl Hines, Red Allen, Art Hodes, Dave McKenna, Kevin Dorn, Dick Wellstood, Alex Welsh, Wild Bill Davison, Kenny Davern, or other luminaries. And those recordings are in the last hundred years or so.
As I write this, some band or solo pianist is getting FIDGETY.
And I can now present to you a previously unseen performance from 2017, by the EarRegulars at The Ear Inn on a Sunday night. These luminaries are Danny Tobias, cornet; Scott Robinson, baritone saxophone, taragoto; James Chirillo, guitar; Frank Tate, string bass. Watch them go!
Thank goodness for these players; thank goodness for The Ear Inn.
Maybe that’s hyperbole, but The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City) on Sunday nights — since summer 2007 — has given me and others much joy. Here’s a previously unseen document of that feeling, provided by Danny Tobias, cornet; Scott Robinson, taragoto; James Chirillo, guitar; Frank Tate, string bass. W.C. Handy’s BEALE STREET BLUES taken at a groovy lope.
I had to choose: if I’d called this post A WANDERING RODENT, that would have given the wrong idea. And this photograph might not have helped, except as an advertisement for better dental hygiene:
But it’s only my comedic way of introducing a glorious performance of MUSKRAT RAMBLE by the EarRegulars at the end of their 2021 summer season at The Ear Out. The naturalists whose music charms us so are Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Harvey Tibbs, trombone; Neal Miner, string bass — taking this venerable composition at the proper rambling tempo:
Goodness, how they swing. What a gift to us. And to Louis, too.
It was below forty degrees this morning — good-bye, t-shirts and sandals; hello, scarves and bowls of soup. But the chill can’t spoil our joys as long as we have enlivening music: the kind that the EarRegulars make (they’re now back inside The Ear Inn on Sunday nights, 8-11). A heartening sample follows.
The composition is called BEAN SOUP, and it’s based on the harmonies of TEA FOR TWO. Coleman Hawkins, referred to as “Bean” for decades — the late Phil Schaap told us whenever he could that the monicker began as “The Best and Only” and was then shortened — has composer credit.
The creators here are our friends: Jon-Erik Kellso, Puje trumpet; Scott Robinson, tenor and bass saxophone, mellophone, cornet; Chris Flory, guitar; Pat O’Leary, string bass. I’ve included a few more photographs than usual because this summer scene is now a memory, and I for one will not forget it.
Photographs taken with the lowly iPhone 10:
and now, the music:
Tasty, homemade, good to the last drop. Or spoonful. Or swinging note.
Puccini, Jolson, Rose, Goodman, and innumerable jazz groups — one of the reliable get-off-the-stand numbers, here performed by the EarRegulars at the Ear Out (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City) on Sunday, May 23, 2021. They are, from left, Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Pat O’Leary, string bass; Scott Robinson, C-melody saxophone and trumpet; Chris Flory, guitar (who played this song with Benny, himself).
And about this performance? All I can say is Yes.
Here’s hoping you find your love in Avalon, or someplace even closer, and you bring that person to the Ear Out on a Sunday afternoon before winter comes, as we know it will.
Do you dread the start of the workweek? Or does Monday remind you of homework undone, bills unpaid, responsibilities that weigh? Take heart: JAZZ LIVES is here to help.
(Cue rousing music): the EarRegulars to the rescue! And they’re locally sourced and cage-free. Investigating all the corners of Earl Hines’ 1928 classic, they are Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Jay Rattman, clarinet (in a Bechet mood for a few seconds, sparking joy); Matt Munisteri, guitar; Tal Ronen, string bass. All of this took place at the Ear Out — 326 Spring Street — on June 6, 2021:
And just think, with Monday done and done, the rest of the week will soar (or totter) by. Wishing you safe passage — with the help of these joyous sounds.
I have it on good authority that the Sunday-afternoon revival-meetings will continue through October, with guests Don Mopsick, Evan Christopher, Dennis Lichtman, Bill and John Allred . . . don’t miss out!
I’m so glad and relieved that no one has written in to ask, “How come you post so much of The EarRegulars?” because then I might have to question their aesthetic. These summer revival meetings at The Ear Out have proven, performance after performance, that this band — in all its permutations — has no peer in The Groove, in swinging inventiveness. Here’s another example, Walter Donaldson’s binary ultimatum, LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME, a festival of daring sounds and inspired conversations:
I love them, and I hope they never have to leave us. Class dismissed.
There are certain songs I have a limited tolerance for, and BLUES MY NAUGHTY SWEETIE GIVES TO ME is one. I revere the Jimmie Noone and Eddie Condon versions, but too many times when this song is performed by a “traditional” band someone steps forth to speak-sing it, chorus and patter. Perhaps I have NAUGHTY SWEETIE PTSD.
But not in this case. For one thing, no one in this edition of The EarRegulars burst into song. They are Jon-Erik Kellso, Puje trumpet; Scott Robinson, tenor saxophone; Chris Flory, guitar; Pat O’Leary, bass.
No, the ambiance here is entirely lacking in striped-vest-and-plastic-boater-counterfeited-glee. In fact, even though none of these musicians was born in either Kansas City, there is a distinct Pres-Reno Club flavor to this, and I am sure Milt Gabler and Harry Lim approve:
Nothing particularly naughty about this — innovative, rocking, and delightful, though. Characteristically EarRegular.
There’s an immense Groove to whatever the EarRegulars play: think Louis and Basie having a good time together.
Yes, those two deities are posing for a photographer, but I imagine them grinning at the music made by the EarRegulars one Sunday afternoon, July 25, 2021 (although any EarRegulars gathering would produce the same response).
That Sunday, the EarRegulars were Jon-Erik Kellso, Puje trumpet; John Allred, trombone; James Chirillo, guitar; Neal Caine, string bass — lovingly playing Louis’ 1947 composition, SOMEDAY YOU’LL BE SORRY, which I think of as the sweetest song of reproach and revenge possible:
The EarRegulars have been appearing all summer at The Ear Out, details specified above, from 1-3:30 on Sundays. Have you been?
Yesterday I shared a gliding performance of a Shelton Brooks classic, DARKTOWN STRUTTERS BALL, by Jon-Erik Kellso, Puje trumpet; John Allred, trombone; James Chirillo, guitar; Neal Caine, string bass:
It was met with delightful enthusiasm: around 1800 views on YouTube in 24 hours. I don’t know how to explain this explosion of good taste, but it cheers me immensely. So, while we in the Northeast US wait to see what Hurricane Henri has in store for us, I’ve been playing the video of another Shelton Brooks hit loudly — to compete with the rain. The song is SOME OF THESE DAYS, which Sophie Tucker wisely made her theme song, and jazz musicians from the ODJB to Lee Konitz played it with pleasure — not to mention irreplaceable recordings by Louis, Bing, and Ethel Waters. Must be those minor chords!
This version positively romps: not just the solos, but the engaging interplay — how these masters listen to each other and conduct witty conversations in swing. Watch out for the humor in Jon-Erik’s solo (which starts low in the best 1929 Louis manner), John’s slippery epigrams, a magnificently surrealistic chord from James . . . and since the bass player is often taken as a supporting player, I urge you to replay this video to pay attention to Neal — walking the chords, improvising subversive melody lines while keeping the time right there, and his eloquent solo. Rare and uplifting sounds on Spring Street:
Thank you, Mister Brooks.
There’s more, but I didn’t want to overload anyone with spiritual exaltation. Except when there are hurricanes, The EarRegulars have been holding joy-meetings every Sunday afternoon outside the Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City, from 1-3:30. I hear tell that when the days get shorter and cooler, they will return to playing indoors on Sunday evenings, but I have no exact date for this transformation. Until then, get yourself there if you can.
Doing that easy glide! Yes, it’s the EarRegulars, spreading joy once again — in front of The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York — on one of their Sunday afternoon spiritual- refreshment gatherings.
They are Jon-Erik Kellso, Puje trumpet; John Allred, trombone; James Chirillo, guitar; Neal Caine, string bass. And this was the very first song of their July 25, 2021 performance.
Incidentally, the song was written in 1915 and published in 1917 by Shelton Brooks, the African-American (born in Ontario) composer who we also know for SOME OF THESE DAYS.
I have a sentimental attachment to this song: it was one of those my father taught me to sing when I was about 4, even though I doubt I knew what most of the words meant. Thanks, Dad, for a life where music is always restorative.
Our culture celebrates victory, but sometimes giving in is the only way: this song dramatizes the surrender to love.
I SURRENDER, DEAR has an ache in its heart. (If you don’t know the classic versions by Bing and Louis, you owe it to yourself to visit them.) But sadness, whole-heartedly dramatized, is joy.
Thank the EarRegulars for this sustained burst of emotions, coming from The Ear Out (that’s located on Sunday afternoons from 1 to 3:30 in front of The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City). On July 25, 2021, they were Jon-Erik Kellso, Puje trumpet; John Allred, trombone; James Chirillo, guitar; Neal Caine, string bass, with NOLA guest Shaye Cohn, cornet, joining them, adding to the collective lyricism.
If you can, and you haven’t participated in these Sunday-afternoon musicales, you are seriously missing out. And you wouldn’t want to tell the grandchildren that you were too busy with the Times puzzle, would you?
Who could resist such a request? Thank you, Sigmund Romberg, of course.
And thank the EarRegulars for this sustained joy from The Ear Out (that’s located on Sunday afternoons from 1 to 3:30 in front of The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City).
On July 25, 2021, they were Jon-Erik Kellso, Puje trumpet; John Allred, trombone; James Chirillo, guitar; Neal Caine, string bass, with NOLA guest Shaye Cohn, cornet, joining them. And here’s a masterpiece of chamber jazz, no exaggeration: solos, swing, ensemble telepathy, lyricism:
I’ve posted several other luminous performances from this session, with guests Jen Hodge, Josh Dunn, Rafael Castillo-Halvorssen, and Tamar Korn: THEM THERE EYES, IF I COULD BE WITH YOU ONE HOUR TONIGHT, and ONCE IN A WHILE. They don’t need explication, although they (and this burst of pleasures) remind me of someone from the UK — obviously deep into her own preferred variety of jazz — who used to comment on my postings, “Too swingy.”
She meant it as a criticism: I take it as the highest compliment.
The EarRegulars and friends deserve our most reverent thanks. And our physical presence: every Sunday afternoon from 1 to 3:30, at 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City.
And a self-referential postscript: in some unimagined context, should someone ask me, “Michael, what have you done with your life? I understand you were a college professor for decades . . .” I would point them to videos like this as the achievements I’m most proud of.
By the time I began to attend live jazz happenings in New York City, 1970, the block of Fifty-Second Street once known as “Swing Street” had lost its marvelous coloration: banks and stores now stood where for, about a decade, there had been a line of jazz clubs where one could hear the most magnificent music, with musicians playing not only their own gigs but visiting others’. Ben, Bird, Billie, Big Sid, Bechet, Big T — among a hundred others. All that remained was a few dozen photographs and some record dates that tried to simulate the energies that bubbled up every night.
But in 2007, when Jon-Erik Kellso started a Sunday-night residency at The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, often with guitarist Matt Munisteri — the group was not yet called The EarRegulars — those sessions were the closest thing to Swing Street glories that I had ever seen, as the original quartet would delightfully grow with friends coming to add their voices to the swinging choir.
Since May of this year, Jon-Erik has been holding sessions outside The Ear Inn, and they provide the same emotional and aesthetic uplift. The music says in every note: We are not dead. We can still create joy. And we are happy to offer our wise feeling joy to you.
This happened again — most gloriously — on the afternoon of July 25 . . . a fairly quiet time in Soho, with many people having found some way to get out of the city. But those who remained in front of 326 Spring Street will, I propose, never forget what they saw and heard.
And the musicians were similarly transported: watching the performance that follows, please note the facial expressions of the musicians: Jen Hodge’s smile, James Chirillo’s approval, so evident, even behind the double mask. I’ve posted an exuberant sample from that day — the closing performance, THEM THERE EYES, featuring Tamar Korn — and here’s another wonder, James P. Johnson’s IF I COULD BE WITH YOU ONE HOUR TONIGHT:
They make it look and sound so easy, which is one of the marks of great art — what Castiglione called “sprezzatura,” or an inspired nonchalance. An extraordinarily lovely interlude by the EarRegulars plus guests, performed for all and sundry (did the passers-by feel the love as they trotted by?). The creators — bless them in long meter — are Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; John Allred, trombone; James Chirillo, guitar; with Rafael Castillo-Halvorssen, trumpet; Shaye Cohn, cornet, Josh Dunn, guitar; Jen Hodge, sitting in for Neal Caine, string bass. Wondrous lyricism, a great feast of sounds for our ears and hearts.
I feel so much gratitude to them and their peers: I hope you feel it also.
The magic continues — situated outdoors at 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City, on Sunday afternoons 1-3:30.
I would guess that many jazz listeners know the Isham Jones – Gus Kahn ON THE ALAMO from recordings by Benny Goodman and Kenny Davern, but how many of us know that it was originally a song of deep love that didn’t flourish? Here’s a marvelous version by Red Nichols, with a vocal chorus by Scrappy Lambert:
That’s Red Nichols, Leo McConville, Manny Klein; Glenn Miller, Jack Teagarden, Bill Trone or Herb Taylor; Benny Goodman, Babe Russin; Arthur Schutt or Jack Russin or Bobby Van Eps; Carl Kress, Art Miller, Gene Krupa; Scrappy Lambert; Bobby Van Eps (arranger): New York, April 18, 1929. No one burst into song as the EarRegulars explored Isham Jones’ melody, but there is luminous music:
And, as Jon-Erik says to the woman who has enriched The Bucket, “Thank you very much!”