Tag Archives: washboard

SUPER SWING PROJECT: “CAN’T BELIEVE!”

 

SUPER SWING PROJECT

When you hear this new CD, you will, I assure you, repeat some variant of the truncated title to yourself.  Yes, it is just that satisfying, and to know that music at this level is being created is very reassuring.  The SUPER SWING PROJECT lives up to its name.

Music first, then words.  Here’s the SSP performing BLUE LOU live in February 2016:

and THEM THERE EYES, from January 2015:

Who are these heroes?  Jérome Etcheberry, trumpet; Daniel Barda, trombone; Louis Mazetier, piano; Charles Prevost, washboard.  Each one’s a brilliant soloist, but they also combine magnificently as a friendly exalted band, recreating no particular recording but playing soulfully and individualistically in an idiom I hope will never vanish from this planet.

Although I grew up on recordings where the band had a fixed instrumentation — trumpet, trombone, reeds, piano, guitar, bass, drums as the most common — I have a deep fondness for less orthodox arrangements of musicians, the sly and pleased groups of musicians who might assemble onstage to play their hearts out after the regular program had concluded.  Hence, the EarRegulars, the Braff-Barnes Quartet, Soprano Summit, memorable duos, trios, quartets, quintets of the last twelve years, seen and heard and revered live.  To this list of delightful musical entourages I happily add the SUPER SWING PROJECT.

Starting from the back.  The washboard — as a musical instrument — has received a good deal of scorn, some of it well-deserved.  But when well-played (as Charles Prevost shows he can!) it is a lovely alternative to the trap kit, being light, mobile, and less likely to overwhelm a delicate soloist or ensemble.  It stays in the treble register, and offers a delighted commentary to what horns and piano are doing, giving its own slightly more emphatic version of wire brush work.  Charles is subtle without being inaudible, witty without being jokey; he never gets in the way but he adds so much.

Hearing Louis Mazetier at the piano is one of the great experiences for any jazz listener.  At the beginning of any performance, a Mazetier introduction offers the same beguiling comfort as Ralph Sutton’s work did.  The ear hears it, and the body says, “This is going to be good; it is going to be inspired.  You can relax into the comfort of the music.  Welcome to the world of swing!”  Mazetier is a truly orchestral pianist, ever supporting the soloist and the band, but never demanding all of our attention.  He knows the great tradition, but his playing is not a series of learned modules (that Fats run, those James P. octaves); rather it is a beautiful personal synthesis of a very demanding piano tradition.  Here comes the band!

What Daniel Barda creates might look simple; he is never aiming for post-modern pyrotechnics.  But he is a peerless ensemble player, adding just the right touches, and a wonderful soloist, combining lyrical tenderness and propulsive gruffness in every phrase.  The trombone can — in the hands of an unsubtle player — become a clown or a bully, but Barda’s art is masterfully delicate even when he is executing an emphatic smear or growl.  He knows the tradition and embodies it in every phrase, but he is completely himself.

Jérome Etcheberry can play in many contexts, but he is an immensely lyrical hot player, someone who harkens back to Louis, of course, in simple, emotionally-charged phrases, passionate without ever being ostentatious, as well as the majestic players of the Louis-cosmos.  In his subtle, delicate but deep phrasing, I hear delightful echoes of Buck Clayton and early Cootie Williams, but often — a treasure indeed — he evokes Joe Thomas.  (Listen again to THEM THERE EYES and you’ll hear it too.)  I heard him first on CD with Les Swingberries, and was enchanted.

The new CD is a delight.  Although the repertoire is familiar, the band’s approach makes these old tunes gleam and dance: I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH ME / SISTER KATE / WHEN I GROW TOO OLD TO DREAM / FATS WALLER MEDLEY / DOCTOR JAZZ  (with a guest appearance by the fine banjoist Peter Gutzwiller) / BABY, WON’T YOU PLEASE COME HOME? / THEM THERE EYES / SUGAR / I WANT TO BE HAPPY /WHEN IT’S SLEEPY TIME DOWN SOUTH.  Recorded live and beautifully so, the session is relaxed and intense at once, a true delight.

Here’s the enthusiastic review (from February) of this CD in the Bulletin du Hot Club of France, and here you can “ecouter et achetez” the actual CD or a digital version.  One more: the band’s Facebook page — with their schedule, a new video, and more.

“Can’t believe!” indeed.  You, too, can be in that state of delighted incredulity.  Yes, such things are possible in 2016.

May your happiness increase!

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THE JOHNNY DODDS JUBILEE, PART TWO at the WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (Nov. 8, 2014)

This is the final portion of an ecstatic set of music devoted to the clarinet master Johnny Dodds — as created on November 8, 2014, at the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party.  The participants: Thomas Winteler, Matthias Seuffert, Claus Jacobi, reeds; Rico Tomasso, cornet; Emma Fisk, violin; Martin Litton, piano; Malcolm Sked, string bass; Martin Wheatley, Spats Langham, Jacob Ullberger, banjo; Nick Ball, washboard.  The other postings from this set can be found here and here.

MELANCHOLY (featuring Martin Litton, piano; Claus Jacobi, reeds, Matthias Seuffert, clarinet; Malcolm Sked, bass; Thomas Winteler, clarinet; Rico Tomasso, cornet; Martin Wheatley, banjo):

MY BABY (add Nick Ball*, washboard; Spats Langham, banjo, replaces Martin Wheatley):

HEN PARTY BLUES (add Emma Fisk, violin):

MEMPHIS SHAKE (as HEN PARTY):

Frank Melrose’s FORTY AND TIGHT (tout ensemble, posted once, but it should be posted evermore):

These hot ecstasies have been a hallmark of the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party for decades; now renamed the Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party in honor of its beloved founder. This year it will be held from November 6-8, and it will be delightful.  (*If you want to know my feelings about being there, you have only to watch Nick’s face — joy and surprise tumbling on one another constantly.)

May your happiness increase!

THE JOHNNY DODDS JUBILEE, PART ONE: WHITLEY BAY CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (November 8, 2014)

This was a truly delightful set, balancing neatly between uproarious riot and precise tribute, where the participants paid tribute to New Orleans / Chicago clarinetist Johnny Dodds by evoking some of his less famous recordings.  Those expert participants were Claus Jacobi, reeds; Matthias Seuffert and Thomas Winteler, clarinet; Rico Tomasso, cornet; Martin Litton, piano; Spats Langham, Jacob Ullberger, Martin Wheatley, banjo; Malcolm Sked, bass; Nicholas Ball, washboard. (That’s the collective personnel: you’ll see / hear who is playing on each number.)

Here’s the first part, as captured at the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party on November 8, 2014.

I note with pleasure how happy the musicians look — and that’s no stage joke. The most accurate emotional barometer on this little stage is the visage of one Nick Ball, percussionist supreme: he looks as if he’s going to explode with rhythmic joy.  You can imagine how happy I was from behind my camera.

IDLE HOUR SPECIAL (with an unexpected cameo by a t-shirted jazz fan at 4:00, who momentarily blocked the view but thankfully not the sound — I knew he was a “jazz fan” because it was written on his shirt, thus saving me the need to speculate):

ORIENTAL MAN:

39TH AND DEARBORN:

CARPET ALLEY BREAKDOWN:

More to come.  And you might want to investigate this year’s Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party.  It’s a place where such things happen — beautifully — throughout a long weekend.

May your happiness increase!

 

 

 

THE BLACK DIAMOND BLUE FIVE: CLINT BAKER, LEON OAKLEY, ROBERT YOUNG, BILL REINHART, MARTY EGGERS, ISABELLE FONTAINE, JUNE 1, 2014 (Part Two)

Jazz flourishes where you wouldn’t expect it, but always amidst its fervent supporters.  What follows was the second half of an afternoon concert for the San Joaquin Dixieland Jazz Society, held at an Elks Lodge in Stockton, California. (I posted the first half some weeks back here.)

It was worth the drive to hear one of the bands most effectively committed to a style, a period, an energized way of playing: the music that Clarence Williams and friends made between the early Twenties and the middle Thirties.

The Black Diamond Blue Five was created almost two decades ago by the banjoist George Knoblauch, sadly no longer with us, and George’s friends carry on the hot, earnest, deeply felt tradition: Clint Baker, banjo, guitar, vocal; Leon Oakley, cornet; Robert Young, soprano / alto saxophone, vocal; Marty Eggers, piano; Bill Reinhart, tuba, and special guest Isabelle Fontaine, washboard, vocal.

Here’s a second helping of hot jazz, dance tunes, blues, serenades to imaginary figures, mildly naughty inventions, and more:

COME BACK SWEET PAPA:

FOUR OR FIVE TIMES:

I’M NOT ROUGH:

DREAMING THE HOURS AWAY:

EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY:

WEST END BLUES:

WAIT ‘TILL YOU SEE MY BABY DO THE CHARLESTON:

Two postscripts.  The BDBF also appeared at the 2014 Cline Wine and Dixieland Festival, so more video performances will be gracing your screens before long. And this particular post was motivated by Andrew Jon Sammut’s offering on his THE POP OF YESTERCENTURY, where he focuses on the original Clarence Williams recordings of several of these songs.

May your happiness increase!

THE BLACK DIAMOND BLUE FIVE: CLINT BAKER, LEON OAKLEY, ROBERT YOUNG, BILL REINHART, MARTY EGGERS, ISABELLE FONTAINE, JUNE 1, 2014 (Part One)

Jazz flourishes where you wouldn’t expect it, but always amidst its fervent supporters.  What follows was one portion of an afternoon concert for the San Joaquin Dixieland Jazz Society, held at an Elks Lodge in Stockton, California.

It was worth the drive to hear one of the bands most effectively committed to a style, a period, an energized way of playing: the music that Clarence Williams and friends made between the early Twenties and the middle Thirties.

The Black Diamond Blue Five was created almost two decades ago by the banjoist George Knoblauch, sadly no longer with us, and George’s friends carry on the hot, earnest, deeply felt tradition: Clint Baker, banjo, guitar, vocal; Leon Oakley, cornet; Robert Young, soprano / alto saxophone, vocal; Marty Eggers, piano; Bill Reinhart, tuba, and special guest Isabelle Fontaine, washboard, vocal.

Here’s a theraputic offering of hot jazz, dance tunes, blues, serenades to imaginary figures, mildly naughty inventions, and a song about obsessions.  Just the right mixture:

BALTIMORE:

PAPA DE-DA-DA (“He’s the ladies’ man!”):

DOCTOR JAZZ:

ORGAN GRINDER:

I’VE GOT HORSES AND NUMBERS ON MY MIND:

JACKASS BLUES:

JELLY ROLL:

Thanks also to the ladies — not seen on the stand — who make good things happen in hot jazz: Brenda and Jean.

The Black Diamond Blue Five will be making another appearance — and they aren’t as frequent as we’d like — at the Cline Cellars jazz extravaganza that will take place in a week at the Cline vineyards in Sonoma, California.  Details here. I’ll be there.

May your happiness increase!

SEISMIC SWING FOR WASHBOARD SAM: CARL SONNY LEYLAND, MARTY EGGERS, JEFF HAMILTON, and PATRICK SKIFFINGTON at MONTEREY (March 8,, 2014)

The life story of “Washboard Sam,” born Robert Brown (singer / songwriter / washboardist) is melancholy and seems all too familiar: early fame, influential recordings, a short life — 1910-1966 — and burial in an unmarked grave.

WASHBOARD-SAM-1931

But his music lives on.  Here is a brief but successful musical tribute performed at the 2014 Monterey Jazz Bash by the Bay. At the head of this compact swinging band is the inimitable Carl Sonny Leyland, piano / vocal, with Marty Eggers, string bass; Jeff Hamilton, drums.

For this trio of selections, Carl invited the young washboardist Patrick Skiffington to join in, to give the music its proper shaking and rattling quality.

The washboard often has been looked down on in jazz but when it’s played well, it can drive a band (think of the hot records by the Washboard Rhythm Kings circa 1931-33).

Young Mister Skeffington knows his craft: as an ensemble player, he listens; he varies his dynamic range, and he’s a true addition to the band, his sounds and rhythms steady and varied. He’s been on the scene a bit, but JAZZ LIVES takes pleasure in welcoming him officially.

I wonder if I might see a quartet set by this band at a California festival?  An idea whose time might well have come.  For the moment, enjoy these three performances.

I apologize to those viewers who wanted to see Patrick in all his glory. It didn’t happen during this set — he is mostly hidden — but hearing is believing.  Next time, perhaps I will choose a better vantage point.

And thanks as always to Carl, Marty, and Jeff, who always create solid vibrations of the finest kind.

MY BUCKET’S GOT A HOLE IN IT:

SHE BELONGS TO THE DEVIL:

THE LEVEE CAMP BLUES:

May your happiness increase!

HOW FAR IS IT TO NÎMES?

I need Google Maps, or maybe Mapquest, to figure out the distance. Because on the evidence of this and an earlier video clip, that French city is the place to be for Hot!

Here’s what the descriptive summary says beneath the latest YouTube video by washboardist Jeff Guyot and noble pals:

AU PUB O’FLAHERTY’S A NÎMES LE 8 JANVIER 2014 AVEC

Michel BASTIDE(ct) DANIEL HUCK (sax & vocal)Jean-François BONNEL (sax tenor,tp,cl)Bernard ANTHERIEU (Cl)Philippe GUIGNIER (Bj) Patrice AVIET(B) Jeff GUYOT (Wb)

Vidéo: Armand YEPES

Which I translate (!) as Armand Yepes, my French brother, went to O’Flaherty’s Pub on January 8, 2014, and recorded a band with some allegiance to the Hot Antic Jazz Band and the Anachronic Jazz Band romping through AVALON: Michel Bastide, cornet; Daniel Huck, saxophone and ecstatic vocal; Jean-Francois Bonnel, my hero, on tenor saxophone; Bernard Antherieu, clarinet; Philippe Guignier, banjo; Partrice Aviet, string bass; Jeff Guyot, washboard.  Not only are the solos delightful, but the riffs (listen, for instance, behind Antherieu) and the general ebullience . . . priceless.  And my Facebook pals were having a serious debate the other day about their favorite male vocalist — may I ask that the name of DANIEL HUCK be inscribed in anyone’s list in capital letters?

How do you say WOW! in French?

May your happiness increase!