Don’t be afraid. It’s only hot jazz of the highest order, 2023 style, performed by the EarRegulars at The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City): Jon-Erik Kellso, Puje trumpet; Scott Robinson, bass saxophone; James Chirillo, guitar; Russell Hall, string bass.
And by the way, hold that tiger!
And if there’s no mail in the mailbox, today is, after all, a national holiday: Scott Robinson’s birthday. We celebrate him as a soaring creator and deeply kind, funny human being. “Thank you for being born!” as someone once said.
I’ve been an irregular visitor to the Sunday-night soirees created by The EarRegulars since they began in 2007, but what follows was special even for them. To use a musicians’ phrase of astonished delight, it “scraped the clouds.”
After a joyous collective improvisation on YARDBIRD SUITE, n audience member requested this song, which created a delightful visit to The Ear Inn by Thelonious Monk, invented and embodied by Scott Robinson, tenor saxophone; James Chirillo, guitar; Pat O’Leary, string bass; Jon-Erik Kellso, Puje trumpet, on Sunday night, November 20, 2022. The Ear Inn is at 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City. And the Sunday sessions continue, blessedly.
But here’s Scott, celestially inspired as always:
That was something else. And although I couldn’t use my tripod, making the image slightly wave-driven, I feel so fortunate to have been there to capture these minutes of splendor for posterity. Bless Thelonious, Scott, James, Pat, Jon-Erik, and the Ear Inn.
THIS JUST IN. The regularly scheduled evening gigs (8-11 PM) and afternoon delights (4-6 PM) will be recorded on both days. It will all be open to the public.
On January 15th, the band will be Jon-Erik Kellso, Matt Munisteri, John Allred, Pat O’Leary and guests Chris Flory and Scott Robinson.
On January 29th, Kellso, Munisteri, Allred, Neal Miner, and guests Jay Rattman, Scott Robinson, and Evan Christopher.
And I am sure there will be many other good surprises.
Great news from JAZZ LIVES’ hero Jon-Erik Kellso:
We’re going to make a “Live at the Ear” CD for Arbors Records on Sundays, January 15th and 29th, and I really hope you can attend!
We’re going to record the regularly scheduled evening gigs, and also mid/late afternoon sessions there on those days, open to the public, and we hope to pack as many of our friends in there to create the best listening atmosphere.
John Allred, trombone; Scott Robinson, reeds and brass; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Pat O’Leary, string bass, will be on the 15th.
John Allred, Matt Munisteri, and Neal Miner, string bass, will be on the 29th.
And we expect a few of our other favorites as special guests.
Here’s why this is exciting news.
BEALE STREET BLUES (2018):
DO YOU EVER THINK OF ME? (2016):
IN A MELLOTONE (2013):
SOMEBODY STOLE MY GAL (2011):
COTTON TAIL (2010):
The Ear Inn, the oldest still-active bar in New York City, is at 326 Spring Street. The EarRegulars, a small mobile shape-changing group of players les by Jon-Erik Kellso, has been in attendance every Sunday night — time off for holidays and pandemics — since July 2007. I was there on the second Sunday (Jon-Erik, Howard Alden, guitar; Frank Tate, string bass) and have been a happy visitor ever since, bringing a video camera along in 2009.
The group — often trumpet, a horn player, guitar, string bass — has usually begun the evening session as a quartet, but has expanded to thirteen players on one memorable occasion.
TIGER RAG (in two parts, 2011):
and the tip of the tiger’s tail as it curled around the building:
The Sunday sessions at the Ear have provided some of the most intimate thoughtful music I’ve ever heard, and some of the most exuberant jamming. So I have been hoping for a formal recording since the start, and Arbors Records has the experience and expertise (thank you, Rachel Domber) to make the result a wonder.
But musicians thrive on an appreciative audience. So I hope you can attend these sessions. Details above! Mark your calendars.
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.
A sweet and hot experience from a world in transition, in parole, as it were. Music beyond compare amidst strollers, chatters, and puppies on leash. Marvelous that it happened, and thrilling that it happened in a time and place that I and the OAO could visit. And we brought back souvenirs for you.
Here’s a rocking Louis performance that continues to inspire: ONCE IN A WHILE, with memories of Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five, performed on June 6, 2021, at The Ear Out — 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York — by the EarRegulars, who were Jon-Erik Kellso, Puje trumpet; Jay Rattman, clarinet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Tal Ronen, string bass, and guest Josh Dunn, guitar (Josh takes the first solo, and in the Louis spirit, note Jay’s WEST END BLUES at the end of his solo (2:31)).
ONCE IN A WHILE, indeed, magic filled the air. Thanks to technology (a completely obsolete Panasonic HD video camera and very solicitous RODE microphone on a reliable tripod) it can be revisited at leisure.
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.
I missed out on the Reno Club, and Fifty-Second Street transformed downwards years before my birth, but there are serious compensations. I did and do have The Ear Inn (and so do you) where The EarRegulars have been playing every Sunday night from 8-11 PM since the summer of 2007. 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City.
This is one of the earliest videos I shot there . . . at a time when YouTube allowed posters to take dark-hued video and change it into black-and-white. So we have my version of film noir, bowing to Ida Lupino, to the Reno Club, to wartime Greenwich Village jazz, to building intensity through backgrounds and riffs. All priceless.
Fault-finders are encouraged to floss with a cactus needle, then take Nipper out for a constitutional.
The song? Handy’s BEALE STREET BLUES. The performers? Jon-Erik Kellso, Puje; Duke Heitger, trumpet; Harvey Tibbs, trombone; Dan Block, clarinet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Neal Miner, string bass. Heroes all. They know what to do — no one needs a GPS — and they do it beautifully, individually and collectively. And they know how to sustain and build a mood, gently but dramatically, for twelve minutes.
And, yes, such things are still possible. But you do have to get out of your chair and find them where they are happening . . . real players, too substantial for any lit screen. Bless them when you see and hear them, too.
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.
When Louis Armstrong was going to play ‘WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS with his All-Stars, he might say, “Now, ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to take you down to my home town, to jump a good old good one . . . ” and after Billy Kyle or Marty Napoleon had played a piano introduction, the band would play it at a fairly fast tempo. But it wasn’t always so: the 1922 recording by the “Dixie Daisies” is quite moderate, and the 1927 Bix-and-Tram excursion even more so, although bands took the song faster as the decades went by.
Here, for context, lyrics, verse, and more — and it’s a delightful recording! — is the first recording of the song:
I find that version perfectly charming. Perhaps fifteen years later, Lester Young (who remembered NOLA fondly) performed the song at a faster tempo, but Lester being Lester, there was a good deal of elasticity in his approach to the song as it rollicked by, stretching out over the beat like a cat waking from a nap.
The EarRegulars, that phenomenal jazz-repertory-company of lower Manhattan and environs, took up ‘WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS at their holy gathering of August 29, 2021. Taking it very easy, but with a purpose, they glide through the “good old good one,” a hymn in praise of the Crescent City, in a very Lester-Buck-Durham-Page-and-then-Rollini mood (you could look it up).
They are Jon-Erik Kellso, Puje trumpet; Scott Robinson, tenor and bass saxophone; Chris Flory, guitar; Pat O’Leary, string bass, at The Ear Out — that’s on the sidewalk outside The Ear Inn, 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York:
Transformative and lovely. The EarRegulars, since Halloween, have gone indoors — Sunday nights from 8-11 (approximately) and I hope to bring myself and my camera there and money for our friend Phillup the Bucket. Maybe we’ll get to say HELLO! (in our Fats-voices or not).
When NOLA funk comes to NYC Soho, it’s a wonderful connection of forces.
If you think I’m being melodramatic in my title, wait for the group vocal on THE BUCKET’S GOT A HOLE IN IT, from Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet and post-Guinness glass mute; Jay Rattman, alto saxophone and clarinet; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Tal Ronen, string bass. It’s a sad tale of a plumbing problem that could lead to life-threatening dehydration:
I believe that on or before October 31, the EarRegulars, seen above as Out, will go In — reverting to their more familiar Sunday-night performances inside The Ear Inn. Know that these uplifting jazz picnics will become nocturnal soirees as the temperature drops and the days shorten.
And take good care of your bucket. Check it regularly for leaks.
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!
But we’re in 2021, in the land of blessed live performance, not simply staring rapt at the blue Decca label, and the expression on Albanie Falletta’s face says it all:
A daring little band — the EarRegulars — performing on June 6, 2021, at The Ear Out, 326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City. The core group for this Louis Armstrong classic (written by Terry Shand and Jimmy Eaton) is Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Jay Rattman, clarinet and alto saxophone; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Tal Ronen, string bass. Eminent guests: Josh Dunn, guitar; Albanie Falletta, resonator guitar. Please note the groovy tempo — not too fast — for this playful inducement to public and private displays of affection.
Another musical marvel, I think. Have you been? These Sunday-afternoon sessions will not happen when the frost is on the pumpkin. So get your musical blessings while you may.
We all may have reasons for thinking the spring of 2021 particularly memorable — I know I do.
But I will also think of it as the season of The Ear Out, a frankly miraculous series of Sunday-afternoon soirees (or revival meetings?) with the EarRegulars preaching the mellow sermon whose text, “Isn’t it glorious to be alive and breathing?”
Do I overstate? I think not. Here’s some secular-sacred evidence from Sunday, May 16, 2021, laid down by Jon-Erik Kellso, Puje trumpet; John Allred, trombone; Joe Cohn, guitar; Neal Miner, string bass — the venerable chapter being SOME OF THESE DAYS:
That feels good. Bless this foursome, and thank them, too — and all the other memorable EarRegulars.