News flash: Laura Beth Wyman, the CEO of Wyman Video and a fellow videographer, has pointed out that in September 2014, Jazz at Chautauqua had morphed into the Allegheny Jazz Party and moved west to Cleveland. Since a lesson of later life is that I have to live with my errors, I do so here: some of the prose details that follow are now in the wrong state, but the music still gleams.
Making the annual trip to the Athenaeum Hotel for the Jazz at Chautauqua weekend was never that easy, so once there I felt relief as well as excitement. But it was heavenly once I could see the people I love whom I saw so rarely, and even more blissful once the music began. Now, through the lens of 2020, Jazz at Chautauqua seems poignant as well as heavenly.
So it’s with those emotions — joy, nostalgia, wistfulness — that I offer you eight minutes of an elixir for the ears and heart: ‘WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS, which used to be a medium-tempo saunter. I present the first recording of this 1922 Creamer and Layton song, with its “Spanish tinge” verse. And note that the Crescent City angels are wearing blue jeans, a garment that goes back to the end of the nineteenth century: see here:
But we can talk about clothing another time. Now, a mighty crew of hot players take this jazz standard for a gentle yet propulsive ride: Marty Grosz, guitar; Andy Schumm, cornet; James Dapogny, our Prof., piano; Bob Havens, trombone; Dan Block, clarinet; Scott Robinson, tenor saxophone; Jon Burr, string bass; Pete Siers, drums. I offer a special bow of gratitude to Nancy Hancock Griffith, who we see briefly at the start: she never sat in on an instrument, but she and her mother, Kathy Hancock, made it all happen.
Such a weekend will probably never come again, but I bless the players and the organizers . . . and I’m grateful for my little camera, that made audio-visual souvenirs like this possible.
May your happiness increase!