Tag Archives: Tom Warner

IT HAPPENS IN MONTEREY (March 7-9, 2014)

These two worthies found love at the Jazz Bash by the Bay:

I am not proposing that everyone who goes to this year’s festival (March 7-9) will come away with the Love of His / Her Life — maybe you are all already spoken for.

But the music will be wonderful. And I write this as someone who’s been there since 2010.

For me, the Jazz Bash by the Bay was a transformative experience.

I had not been to California since having been conceived there . . . . insert your own witticism here. And when I had the notion in March 2010 of going to see and hear the people I so admired in their video appearances, I expected to have a good time in a new jazz setting, perhaps make a few new friends.

It was a life-altering experience: I came back to New York and said to the Beloved, “I’ve never had such a good time in my life. Do you think we could spend the summer in California?”

Fast forward to 2014, where I am writing this from Novato, with serious plans to make the Golden State my retirement home.

So if the Jazz Bash by the Bay can make one couple find love; if it can make a native New Yorker say, “I’ll move to California,” I think its powers are . . . powerful.  But enough personal narratives.  What’s in store for you?

As always, a wide variety of well-played music.

You can visit the site to find out if Your Favorite Band is going to be there, but here are some kinds of music that will be played: blazing stride piano in solo and duo, boogie-woogie, sweet singing in so many forms, rocking small-band swing, New Orleans ensemble polyphony, trad, Dixieland, blues, zydeco, gypsy swing, classic songs from the Great American Songbook, Jazz Age hot dance music, ragtime piano, stomp, swing, music to dance to, San Francisco jazz, washboard rhythm, music to hold hands to.

And the stars?  Well . . . Ray Skjelbred, High Sierra, Carl Sonny Leyland, Bob Draga, Rebecca Kilgore Trio, Dan Barrett, Ivory and Gold, Ellis Island Boys, Marc Caparone, Le Jazz Hot, Jeff Hamilton, Dawn Lambeth, Virginia Tichenor, Marty Eggers, Yve Evans, Katie Cavera, Paul Mehling, Clint Baker, Stephanie Trick, Paolo Alderighi, Frederick Hodges, Jim Buchmann, Eddie Erickson, Jason Wanner, John Cocuzzi, Howard Miyata, Big Mama Sue, Ed Metz, the Au Brothers, Bob Schulz, Pieter Meijers, Brady McKay, Tom Rigney, Royal Society Jazz Orchestra . . . and more, and more.

Important links.

The BAND LINEUP.

The all-important too-Much-Of-A-Good-Thing-Is-Wonderful SCHEDULE, which calls for careful planning (“If I go to see X, then I have to miss part of Y, but it puts me in a good place to be right up front for Z.  Anyone have a Tylenol?”) — with four or five sessions going on at the same time.

And most important — with a Sidney Catlett drum roll or a Vic Berton tympani flourish — the GET TICKETS NOW page.

I try to hold down the didactic tendencies that four decades of standing in front of sleepy (good-natured) young men and women have solidified, but I hope readers will permit me this basic logic exercise.  Festivals where people buy tickets last forever.  Festivals where people don’t vanish.  And then there is a wailing and a gnashing of teeth — very hard on the neighbors and harder on the dental work.  I think of the California festivals that have moved into The Great Memory even in my short acquaintanceship with this state.

(Or, as William Carlos Williams — or was it Philip Larkin? — wrote: “Want it to stay?  Do not delay.”)

So I hope to see throngs of friends and even strangers at the Jazz Bash by the Bay.  Anything that makes live jazz in profusion go on is a good thing.

P.S.  Need more evidence?  Go to YouTube and type in “Dixieland Monterey,” or “Jazz Bash by the Bay,” or the name of your favorite artist.  I, Rae Ann Berry, and Tom Warner, among others, have created many videos — enough to while away the hours in the most energized ways.  Proof!

May your happiness increase!

VANESSA TAGLIABUE YORKE: “THE RACINE CONNECTION”

What it looked like at the 2012 Bix Fest, thanks to Tom Warner, Phil Pospychala, Andy Schumm, Dalton Ridenhour, Josh Duffee, and the engaging singer Vanessa Tagliabue Yorke:

This performance and ten others are now available on a Rivermont Records CD called “Vanessa Tagliabue Yorke: The Racine Connection,” and it’s a thorough pleasure.

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When most people go to a jam session, club, concert, or festival, if the music is superb, there’s often the regret mixed with the joy: “Wow, that was wonderful. Wish I could hear that again!” The new Rivermont Records CD makes it possible, and a delight.  For one thing, Vanessa isn’t simply a record-copyist (although she does a very effective Annette Hanshaw homage on IF YOU WANT THE RAINBOW).  Rather, she comes to this music with a winning combination of heartfelt emotions and deep understanding.

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She has a rangy, eloquent voice — no squeaky-girl Betty Boopisms for her — and at times she evokes the raw yet controlled passion of Piaf.  And her musical range is equally spacious, as evident in the songs selected: BLUE RIVER / WE JUST COULDN’T SAY GOODBYE / THOU SWELL / BACK WATER BLUES / THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU / IF YOU WANT THE RAINBOW / BLACK BOTTOM / LOVELESS LOVE / PETITE FLEUR / IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS OF THE MORNING / THEM THERE EYES / NEBBIA.  That three or four of those songs go beyond what one might expect at a Bix Festival — and that they are rendered with great feeling and depth — is tribute to Vanessa’s artistic honesty and breadth.

And when this earnest swinging singer is accompanied by great musicians Andy Schumm, Dalton Ridenhour, Yves Francois, John Otto, Dave Bock, Frank Gualtieri, Jason Goldsmith, Leah Bezin, MIke Waldbridge, and Josh Duffee, you know there is fine playing in solo, ensemble, and accompaniment to go along with Vanessa’s voice.  Ten of the twelve selections were recorded “live,” in performance, which is all to the good: I’ll choose that “live” sound, which makes a listener feel as if (s)he is right there, over the pure — and sometimes tense — acoustic environment of a studio any day.

You can find this CD — and many more refreshing ones, present and historical — here.  I predict that Vanessa is at the start of a long and rewarding series of performances and CDs.

May your happiness increase!

STEPHANIE and PAOLO: FOUR HANDS, LIGHT SPIRITS, BEAUTIFUL MUSIC

It’s always gratifying to find people who Play Well Together, who know how to support as well as take the lead — like great graceful dancers.  Two eminent examples are stride / swing pianists Stephanie Trick and Paolo Alderighi, who have created a new CD called TWO FOR ONE, which always sounds like a good bargain.

Many piano duets — especially of stride players — can unintentionally turn assertive, with one musician attempting to outdo his / her partner, Faster, Louder, More, More, More.  The audience stands and cheers for Swing Armageddon, and it is of course technically dazzling . . . but occasionally more belligerent (in a playful way) than musical.

None of that for Stephanie and Paolo, who revel in a gorgeous lightness of being on a beautiful assortment of songs, tempos, and approaches: I NEVER KNEW / THE WORLD IS WAITING FOR THE SUNRISE / ‘DEED I DO / TEMPTATION RAG / ST. LOUIS BLUES / BINK’S WALTZ / EXACTLY LIKE YOU / I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS / AFTER YOU’VE GONE / BEGIN THE BEGUINE / CHARLESTON / TAKING A CHANCE ON LOVE / RUNNIN’ WILD / WE’LL MEET AGAIN.

It’s a wonderful recital, full of delicate subtleties of light and shade.  You can learn more about their duets here.

I can’t play you the CD (you’ll have to take care of that on your own) but here are two videos of this amiable pair in concert, gracious yet never timid, precise but never stiff.

The first video was recorded by Tom Warner in January 2012 in Leawood, Kansas, and the second at a house concert in Palos Verdes, California, in December 2011:

For more details on their very gratifying CD duo recital, be sure to visit Stephanie’s site.  And while you’re discovering more about this young woman’s music, sign up for her email newsletter, with videos and more information to follow.

May your happiness increase.

WINNER OF THE MISC. INSTRUMENTS CATEGORY, 2012: MR. ANDY SCHUMM!

First Andy mesmerized us with his cornet playing, then his pianisms (rollicking or pensive), then his tenor saxophone and clarinet.  Now . . . the pocket comb and a strip of paper — the kazoo’s elegant cousin — in tribute to Red McKenzie.

Marty Grosz told me that Andy uses real newspaper.  That boy’s got the right spirit, even if the WORLD-TELEGRAM and the JOURNAL AMERICAN (the papers of choice for Mr. McKenzie) are no more.

Here Andy leads an all-star band at the 2012 BixFest — thanks to Phil Pospychala.  Thanks to Tom Warner for the video, complete with do it yourself closeups for the folks at home.  Here’s an evocation of the 1933 “Mound City Blue Blowers” recording — unissued at the time — of GIRLS LIKE YOU WERE MEANT FOR BOYS LIKE ME, which featured Fats Waller, Benny Goodman, Bud Freeman, and Coleman Hawkins.

The other notables making such sweet music are John Otto, reeds; Frank Gualtieri, trombone; Jason Goldsmith, reeds; David Boeddinghaus, piano; Leah Bezin, banjo; Dave Bock, tuba; Josh Duffee, drums.

I hope that at the 2012 Jazz at Chautauqua, Andy and Marty get to do a small-group set together: it will be dynamite!  And I predict a run on the dollar stores once this video reaches its widest audience — for jazz combs, of course.

May your happiness increase.

“SWING OUT, YOU CATS!”: The YERBA BUENA STOMPERS SHOW US HOW (October 6, 2011)

That generous fellow Tom Warner took his video camera to the Glacier Jazz Stampede in Kalispell, Montana, just a few days ago, and captured this wonderful performance by John Gill’s hot band, the Yerba Buena Stompers — of SWING THAT MUSIC.

My heart gets a chill when I hear this song (especially when it’s taken at the just-right tempo it is here) not because the room is chilly, but because it summons up the Fountainhead, Louis Armstrong.  And the members of the band feel this too: touched by the glory of Louis!  Watch John Gill’s face break into an even broader grin when Chris Tyle exhorts the band to SWING! in a deep evocative voice.

What joy!

The YBS (in this incarnation) are John Gill, banjo and vocals; Conal Fowkes, piano; Clint Baker, tuba; Kevin Dorn, drums; Tom Bartlett, trombone; Orange Kellin, clarinet; Leon Oakley, cornet; Chris Tyle, cornet and vocal.

I hope that the joy these musicians send out into the world bounces back to them every day: they deserve it and more.  And that wish includes Tom Warner, my hero for moving forward during Kevin’s solo to make sure we could see those sticks in motion.

Swing out, you cats!

P.S.  I’ve never been to Kalispell, Montana . . . this makes me wonder what the early part of October 2012 holds for me and the Beloved?  I’m going to check out http://glacierjazzstampede.com., and I suggest you do likewise.

I do know — not to have jazz festivals compete for your attention — that the Yerba Buena Stompers with a similar personnel will be at the 32nd Annual San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival (http://www.dixielandjazzfestival.org) and I most assuredly am going to be there . . .

DOUBLING IN BRASS: TOM WARNER and FRIENDS (August 5, 2011)

I’ve never met Tom Warner in person, but I feel as if I know him well.  He’s a diligent videographer who generously shares his work on YouTube as “tdub1941,” enabling us to travel and hear without leaving our computers.  But it’s only recently that Tom has picked up his trumpet and joined the band.  Although he stays in the ensemble here, I salute him: he’s living the dream, as the phrase goes . . . and capturing it on video, too.

What follows is an informal, unbuttoned delight — it could have taken place anywhere in time and space in the history of hot jazz, although it sounds like Chicago, circa 1933, to me.  I want to hear more of Miss Vanessa Tagliabue Yorke — that girl’s got soul! — and the young fellow on the saxophone looks much like my hero Andy Schumm, doesn’t he?

Tom recorded this at the Doo Dah Lounge in Davenport, Iowa, and the DOO DAH Players are Vanessa Tagliabue Yorke, vocal; Andy Schumm, saxophone; John Otto, clarinet; Frank Gualtieri, trombone; Tom Warner; trumpet; Jason Schreiber, banjo; Dave Bock, tuba.

I hope there’s more from this session!  Thanks to the players, the singer, and the videographer, for a few uplifting moments in jazz.

THIS FATS IS GOOD FOR YOU: JEFF BARNHART’S “WALLER’ING AROUND”

Everybody knows about fats:  margarine (toxic), avocado (much better), Thomas Waller (salvation on the darkest days).

But since Fats Waller has been gone since December 1943, and all his recordings have been collected and issued on some six CD boxes (JSP Records), it falls to living pianists and singers to carry on and extend his joyous tradition.

One of the finest examples is a WALLER’ING AROUND, new compact disc by the hilariously gifted stride master / singer / entertainer Jeff Barnhart, recorded in February 2010.

The cover picture should give you an inkling that the mood of the CD is not somber, apropos for Fats and his world.

Jeff would have been a wonderfully funny entertainer even if Fats have never existed — any man who can write and sing a new couplet (approximately), “I want you to put your feets between my satin sheets,” is my hero.

These days, much of what is passed off as “stride piano” these days is either crisp but formal transcriptions of the records (you know who you are!) or uneven and bumpy, loud and fast — not the way the masters did it.

Jeff’s time is steady, his touch and dynamics are splendid, and he can improvise with great ingenuity and delicacy at top speed.  And he improvises throughout.  This isn’t a devoutly repressed repertory project, FATS IN HI-FI.

There’s a good deal of sly humor and rent party fun on this disc, but Jeff also recognizes Fats as another romantic, so the disc is full of tenderness.  And Jeff understands Fats’ serious side as well.  One of the high points of the delightfully varied disc is a seven-minute instrumental rendition of BLACK AND BLUE that begins with Jeff explaining this lovely mournful protest song.

Jeff is also a truly agile singer — his tenor captures much of Fats’ voice — not the shouting of asides over the band, but the yearning romanticism mixed with satire.  It’s a particularly insinuating sound, and it never feels forced or mannered — perhaps because it is so close to Jeff’s speaking voice: expressive, amused.

All the Waller favorites are here — sometimes with the surprise of a verse I’d never heard (as in BLUE TURNING GRAY OVER YOU) — but the less-played numbers lift this disc up to the first rank.

There’s VALENTINE STOMP, dedicated to a Harlem house of pleasure, which Jeff both plays respectfully and improvises on; there’s the early composition (recorded by another newcomer named Bechet), WILD CAT BLUES, Jeff’s orchestral version of the 1927 ST. LOUIS SHUFFLE (first recorded by the Fletcher Henderson band), the joyous MIDNIGHT STOMP (with the lyrics!) and HOLD MY HAND (which Fats performed on the radio as a duet with his teacher James P. Johnson).

But best of all — a striding bit of wondrous Hot archaeology — is the premiere performance of a swinging Waller tune (again with hilarious lyrics) whose premise is that every time I get a new girlfriend, someone steals her away: EV’RY SWEETIE THAT I GET.  I had to play it over several times before allowing myself to proceed to the next track.

Here are the songs:  THE JOINT IS JUMPIN’ / HONEYSUCKLE ROSE / BLUE TURNING GRAY OVER YOU / VALENTINE STOMP / KEEPIN’ OUT OF MISCHIEF NOW / WILD CAT BLUES / EV’RY SWEETIE THAT I GET / SQUEEZE ME / ST. LOUIS SHUFFLE / LONESOME ME / CLOTHESLINE BALLET / AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ / BLACK AND BLUE / MIDNIGHT STOMP / HOLD MY HAND. 

This one’s a keeper.  Lovely sound; you won’t miss horns or a rhythm section; there are articulate, funny notes by Jeff, and it will make you laugh and feel even better than usual.  It’s that fine Arabian stuff that your dreams are made of!

You can order this CD (it’s $20) directly from Jeff at his website: http://www.jeffbarnhart.com/cdsandorderform.html.

Pretend it’s your birthday.

AND, WHILE YOU’RE UP, GIVE A THOUGHT TO THE MUSICIANS WHO BRING US SO MUCH PLEASURE.  CLICK HERE: ALL MONEY COLLECTED GOES TO THEM:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VBURVAWDMWQAS

P.S.  Let’s assume you’re out there saying, “Well, Michael, usually I trust your opinion, but I have never heard this Barnhart fellow.  Why should I spring for yet another compact disc?”  It’s a valid question — here’s Jeff playing VALENTINE STOMP in 2009, captured for us by the tireless Tom Warner:

Proof positive.  And (slightly afield) search out “A BEAUTIFUL LADY IN BLUE” with drummer Danny Coots — nephew of J. Fred, who wrote the song, where Jeff swings out like nobody’s business.  You’ll be hooked.  I am.

“A BEAUTIFUL LADY IN BLUE”: JEFF BARNHART / DANNY COOTS 2010

There was a time — let’s say 1936 — where the pop hits of the day were getting recorded regularly in small-band jazz versions. 

The songs were often paper-thin and sounded as if they’d been written in half an hour in the pastoral fields of the Brill Building, but it didn’t matter. 

Who recorded them?  Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, Tempo King, Red Allen, Red McKenzie, Bob Howard, Putney Dandridge, Bob Howard come to mind.  The records were made for the jukebox market and jazz collectors treasure them for their good-time atmosphere and the hot playing. 

I haven’t ever seen a jukebox stocked with new Vocalion and Decca 78s, and don’t expect to in this century.  But I did find this YouTube video of pianist-singer Jeff Barnhart and drummer Danny Coots performing A BEAUTIFUL LADY IN BLUE at the 2010 West Coast Ragtime Festival (it’s nicely recorded by my yet-unmet pal Tom Warner) and it absolutely made my day, suggesting Fats and Slick Jones and a whole era that I thought I’d only hear on records.  Good for stompin’, as Lips Page would say:

Did you get up this morning feeling gloomy?  Growly?  Overwhelmed by things to do?  Might I suggest a consult with Doctors Barnhart and Coots: this will cure many of those ills that affect modern men and women . . . or your co-pay will be refunded.  Cheerfully!

AN OSCAR FOR HOWARD!

I nominate Howard Miyata for an Academy Award: BEST ACTOR IN A PERFORMANCE BY A JAZZ BAND.  Here’s why:  

Rambling around YouTube, I saw a clip posted by Tom Warner (his channel is “tdub1941”) of the High Sierra Jazz Band performing at the 17th Annual Glacier Bay Jazz Stampede in Kalispell, Montata, earlier this month.  The band is led by reedman Pieter Meijers.  Its other members in this clip are Bruce Huddleston, piano; my man Marc Caparone, trumpet; Howard Miyata, trombone / vocal; Charlie Castro, drums; Stan Huddleston, banjo; Earl McKee, sousaphone.

This would have been enticement enough. 

But then I saw the clip was of THE YAMA YAMA MAN with Howard Miyata singing.  I am very fond of that song for purely sentimental reasons: when I was young, perhaps still in the single digits, Ray Nolan, a friend of my father’s used to sing it (in part) and I was enraptured.*  Both my father and Ray are gone now, and the sound of this song is one of the many comforting memories of my childhood. 

And anything that features Howard Miyata is, as they used to say, just my dish.  We’ve never met, but he has a special place in my heart as “Uncle Howie” to Gordon, Justin, and Brandon Au — one of the true up-and-coming dynasties of jazz.  I first saw Howard as part of a High Sierra brass trio playing POTATO HEAD BLUES on cornets with unforgettable accuracy and power.

So be brave and watch this performance:

Even though the Yama Yama Man might be hiding behind the armoire, just tell him that you’re a friend of Uncle Howie’s and everything will be fine. 

P.S.  An easy question: just which irreplaceable vocalist and trumpet player, initials L. A., does Howard remind you of?  Hilariously from the heart!  

*Off the track of jazz: Ray also sang something which was presumably a Civil War song (!) although he must have heard it from his grandfather or father.  The singer is presumably a young man going off to fight, and what I remember of the lyrics are, “Good-bye, Ma / Good-bye, Pa / Good-bye, mule with the old hee-haw / I may not know what this war’s about / But you bet by gosh that I’ll sure find out.”  Can any reader identify this?

FEATURING CRAIG VENTRESCO (June 2010)

Here are three wonderful performances recorded on June 6, 2010, by Tom Warner at the Blind Boone Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival, held in Columbia, Missouri.  The players are the brilliant guitarist Craig Ventresco (hear his notes ring!) supported and encouraged by guitarist Johnnie Harper and bassist Svein Aarbostad. 

They begin with a song I first took seriously when I heard Mildred Bailey sing it (backed by Roy Eldridge, Teddy Wilson, and a small band that drew on the voicings and subtlety of the Alec Wilder Octet) — I’M NOBODY’S BABY:

Craig’s dark blues with an even darker title: BLACK MOULD BLUES:

To close the set, this inspiring trio offered an early and somewhat obscure Jelly Roll Morton compositon, BIG FAT HAM:

These performances reminded me of what Jelly Roll said was essential to jazz: it should be “sweet, soft, plenty rhythm.”

“POTATO HEAD BLUES” (March 2010)

Here’s the High Sierra Jazz Band — recorded by Tom Warner at the March 2010 Monterey Dixieland Festival — performing their dazzling version of Louis Armstrong’s POTATO HEAD BLUES.  The band is made up of Pieter Meijers, reeds, co-leader; Howard Miyata, trombone; Bryan Shaw, cornet; Bruce Huddleston, piano; Stan Huddleston, banjo, guitar; Charlie Castro, drums; Earl McKee, sousaphone.  On this dazzling homage to Louis, the front line turns into a trumpet / cornet section.  What I need to know (and will probably never find out at this late date) is which of Louis’s Chicago or New Orleans pals apparently had a head that resembled a potato and was thus immortalized?  Whose physiognomy inspired this hot tune?

I wish I could have this performance on my clock radio — music to wake anyone up in the best way!

P.S.  Tom Warner’s YouTube channel is “tdub1941,” a cornucopia of good things.

MR. LEYLAND CONSENTS!

Thanks to Tom Warner, generous videographer, you and I can revel in the solo piano of Carl Sonny Leyland.  Here he is here levitating ‘DEED I DO at the 2009 West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento, California. 

Mr. Leyland would not be insulted, I am sure, if I mention the now-departed pianists his rollicking playing reminded me of: how about Earl Hines, Fats Waller, Joe Sullivan, Cassino Simpson, Pete Johnson, Bob Zurke — listen to him and he provides a ticket to a wondrous piano party.  Hooray!  And I’ve added his website — www.carlsonnyleyland.com. — to my blogroll.  Visit early and often.

SWING with NEVILLE, HAL, and TOM!

NEVILLE is the splendid stride and swing pianist Neville Dickie.

HAL is the swinging drummer Hal Smith.

And TOM is Tom Warner — dedicated videographer who caught them at the 2009 West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento, California.  These clips originated on YouTube, where Tom’s channel is “Tdub1941,” a jazz and ragtime cornucopia.   

The marvels of technology — and the marvels of Hot. 

This duo’s interplay reminds me of James P. and Sidney Catlett, of Tut Soper and Baby Dodds, of Joe Sullivan and Zutty Singleton, of Jess Stacy and George Wettling, of Willie the Lion Smith and Jo Jones.  In the ideal world, I’d want all the young pianists to study Neville’s left hand and the rollicking interplay between his treble and bass lines.  I’d want all the young drummers who think that surrounding themselves with mountains of cymbals and tom-toms is the answer to observe the marvelously varied sounds Hal gets out of his snare, wire brushes, sticks, and cymbal.  Less is indeed more!

Here’s STRUT MISS LIZZIE, a song I associate with late Bix and early Commodores:

IF I HAD YOU (with verse) becomes a gliding rhythm ballad with hints of eight-to-the-bar:

CANDY LIPS (whose subtitle is “I’m Stuck On You”) is from the Clarence Williams repertoire.  Here, Hal switches to sticks:

Finally, here’s STREAMLINE TRAIN — an answer to our mass transit problems!

Thanks so much to the players — generous in their creativity and swing — and to Tom, for sharing these treasures with us.  Rock that thing!

THE EYES HAVE IT

It’s deeply foggy here in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  And although my thoughts might turn to myriad possibilities for indoor edification and soul-solace, today they turn to YouTube. 

Tom Warner, ever diligent, has just posted a number of video clips from the most recent  Bix Beiderbecke Festival held each year in Davenport, Iowa.  The one that caught my attention was “Clarinet Marmalade,” a set-closing performance by Randy Sandke’s New York All-Stars: Randy on cornet, Dan Barrett on trombone, Dan Block on clarinet, Scott Robinson on C-melody and bass saxophones, Mark Shane on piano, Nicki Parrott on bass, Howard Alden on guitar, and the Invisible Man — I presume it’s Rob Garcia, by the sound of his cymbals — on drums. 

It’s a very satisfying performance, both evoking the original recording (itself a cut-down version of the famous arrangement Bill Challis did for the Jean Goldkette Orchestra) and building upon it in lively ways.  “Clarinet Mamalade,” one of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band records Bix so loved, is also a refreshingly old-fashioned piece of music.  Harking back to ragtime and brass bands, it has several strains, which might make it a minefield for players who know it only slightly, but it also has more substance than the usual thirty-two bar AABA tune.  I particularly like the strain that comes after Mark Shane’s piano solo: it always makes me think of silent film music, the soundtrack for something particularly ominous (the demure heroine tied to the track, the approaching train, the storm at sea, perhaps?) while the band is swinging.   

Here, for your dining and dancing pleasure, are Randy’s All-Stars:

Musically, it’s greatly rewarding.  But there’s something delightful about watching musicians at work, feeling the spirit without showing off, when they are not constrained by the knowledge of someone with a video recorder getting it all down for posterity.  It’s a treat to hear Mark Shane’s Wilson-inspired stride playing, light yet forceful, but my pleasure is intensified by the sight of Nicki, rockin’ in rhythm, during his solo.  And watch her, hard at lip-biting work, during hers!  It adds to the pleasure of hearing Dan Barrett’s fearless Miff Mole-staccato leaps to see his slide moving, to see the rest of the musicians acting out their notes and phrases in the language of their whole bodies, to see Dan Block express his enthusiasm by moving in time while Barrett plays.

Sometimes the visual aspect detracts from what we’re trying to hear.  Musicians have a casual way of chatting and guffawing while someone else is soloing.  But even though Warner’s cinematography is functional, seeing adds to hearing in this instance, and the ovation this band gets is well-deserved.  I don’t know if you will leave your chair in front of the computer monitor, but you will understand why the Bix Fest audience did.