Tag Archives: William H. Tyers

FRIENDS AT PLAY: STEVE PISTORIUS, “LIVING ROOM SESSIONS, VOLUME ONE: NEW ORLEANS TREASURES”

If you detect the aroma of a pie baking in your neighbor’s house, it’s not necessary to analyze its appeal at length.

My enthusiasm for the disc below and the music it contains is strong: I received the disc in the mail yesterday; I am playing it now while writing this post.  And if you like subtle hot jazz that lives at the heart of the music — direct and unaffected — you will want a copy or a download.

That in itself is a cheering sight, and the details are even better.

The musicians: Steve Pistorius, piano / Joe Goldberg, clarinet, soprano saxophone, vocal / James Evans, clarinet, bass clarinet, C-melody saxophone, vocal / Benny Amon, drums, washboard, bock-a-de-bock cymbals / Tyler Thomson, string bass / Maxwell Poulos, tenor banjo, mandolin.

The songs: Sittin’ on the Curb-stone Blues / Candy Lips (I’m Stuck on You)
Where Did You Stay Last Night? / Maori (A Samoan Song) / Tears / I’m Alone Without You / Piggly Wiggly / Love is the Sweetest Thing / Okey Doke / If You Knew (How I Love You) / Every Evening / Too Tight / Quem me Comprende / Cushion Foot Stomp.

The time, the place, the technology: December 5 and 6, 2019; Steve’s living room; recorded by Ryan Baer on vintage equipment: his reel-to-reel recorder and RCA ribbon microphone.

How to hear it / how to purchase it:

Steve Pistorius – Living Room Sessions, Vol. 1

you can hear thirty-second sound samples of five performances and then purchase the disc.  (Notice I do not write, “If you are so moved,” because I am sure most listeners will be.)  Here — in the name of instant gratification — you can purchase a digital download of the music.

A few words from me, if needed.  I’ve been a convert to Steve’s music — solo piano and the brilliantly heartfelt musical ensembles he creates and leads — for some years now.  I warm to their warm, unbuttoned music — loose without being messy, expert without being over-analyzed.  The New Orleans repertoire on this disc isn’t overplayed tourist slosh; these are caressingly melodic pieces that could woo a listener if played straight, and the twining improvisations are memorable from the first hearing on.  Whether the mood is yearning and dreamy or plunging forward, each track is a delightful aural experience on its own terms.

And the band is made up of people who know the joy of ensemble playing, so the result is a vibrant tapestry of musicians playing “for the comfort of the band” as well as creating brilliant solos.  They know the routines and the conventions yet aren’t chained by them.  The songs are “old” but the music feels bright and new, never dusty — no scholarly recreations of old records.

The recording studio, even in the best circumstances, is an unnatural place, even if there is joking, there are sandwiches and good coffee.  Musicians know that what they do here will be scrutinized for — perhaps not “forever,” but for a long time, and that tends to make the room temperature drop.  That so much of our memorable music has been captured in such artificial circumstances speaks to the wisdom and intensity of the musicians.  But this disc benefits immensely from the collective relaxation of Steve’s living room — a friendly gathering rather than a doctoral examination.  You can hear it.  And the “vintage” technology, while never blurring the sound, is also comfortable.  The result is rather like being invited to hear music next door — a rent party where everyone is sweetly attentive and the music soars. The disc goes by far too quickly, which is why I am cheered by the hope of more volumes to come.

I could write more, but why?  This is a lovely, rewarding disc, and I thank everyone involved with it.  You will, too.  But now I want pie for breakfast, damn it.  Oh, well: I’ll just play the LIVING ROOM SESSIONS again.

May your happiness increase!

JAMES DAPOGNY IN RECITAL (Jazz at Chautauqua, September 20, 2013)

James Dapogny at Jazz at Chautauqua, Sept. 2014. Photograph by Michael Steinman.

During the annual jazz weekend that was once Jazz at Chautauqua, Friday afternoon sessions in the lobby of the Athenaeum Hotel were devoted to compact piano (and once, guitar) recitals.

Now that James Dapogny is no longer with us, this two-part serenade from 2013 is infinitely precious.  To be accurate, it was precious then, but our assumption that we would always have the Prof. with us, to entertain and enlighten, may have shaped our judgment.  Now we know.

Perhaps only those people who knew Jim, even slightly, will recognize what a treasure this video-capture is; for the rest, it will be another jazz pianist exploring the world of music in his own terms — which, in its own way, is also irreplaceable.

To the music.  Jim’s “fooling with an old tune” was an improvisation on LINGER AWHILE, that finally got written down as I CAN WAIT in late 2018 (Jim told my dear friend Laura Wyman that it had been percolating for a long time, and he wanted to get it down on paper before he died).  In my mind’s ear I hear I CAN WAIT arranged for Teddy Wilson-style small group — although no orchestra is needed here because Prof. Dapogny’s piano playing is so richly layered.

Then, an extended improvisation on William H. Tyers’ MAORI (which only Ellington and Soprano Summit ever performed: Tyers is famous as the composer of PANAMA).  This performance is hypnotic in the way some of Morton’s Library of Congress work is — subtly building layer upon layer:

Part Two is a beautiful omnibus tribute to Fats Waller, including meditations on HONEYSUCKLE ROSE, MY HEART’S AT EASE, I’VE GOT A FEELING I’M FALLIN’, I’M NOT WORRYIN’, AIN’T CHA GLAD?, then a song whose title eludes me, Stephen Taylor, Mike Lipskin, and Louis Mazetier — but Laura Wyman pointed out that it was a Dapogny favorite, BABY, THOSE THINGS DON’T MATTER TO ME, by J. Lawrence Cook (not Waller), and then IF IT AIN’T LOVE:

This isn’t the usual Waller presentation — a pianist mingling MISBEHAVIN’, YOUR FEETS TOO BIG, and HANDFUL OF KEYS — it honors Fats as a composer of melodies, that once heard, stay.  Notice the rapt attention of the audience, broken only now and again by the creaking of our wicker chairs.

Jim could enthrall us, and he continues to do just that.  And I tell myself he isn’t dead as long as we can hear him.

May your happiness increase!

SOME ENCHANTED EVENING (Part One): JON-ERIK KELLSO, EVAN ARNTZEN, EHUD ASHERIE, MARION FELDER at LUCA’S JAZZ CORNER (March 23, 2017)

Something quietly miraculous took place on the Upper East Side of Manhattan (Cavatappo Grill, 1712 First Avenue) the evening of March 23, 2017.  In several decades of listening intently to live creative improvised music, I’ve noticed that performances ebb and flow over the course of an evening.  It’s perfectly natural, and it is one of the ways we know we’re not listening to robots.  The first performance might be the best, or the band might hit its peak in the closing numbers. I can’t predict, and I suspect the musicians can’t either.  

But when Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Evan Arntzen, clarinet and tenor saxophone; Ehud Asherie, piano; Marion Felder, drums, began to play at Luca’s Jazz Corner — an evening’s concert of ten leisurely extended selections — I could not have known that this would be one of those magical nights that started at a high level of creativity, expertise, and joy . . . and stayed there.  Here are the first four performances, in the order that they were created, and the rest will follow.

Burton Lane and Frank Loesser’s 1939 THE LADY’S IN LOVE WITH YOU, much beloved by Eddie Condon, friends, and descendants:

Ellington’s BLACK BEAUTY:

William H. Tyers’ PANAMA:

Lillian Hardin Armstrong’s TWO DEUCES, dedicated to and played by Louis and Earl Hines:

Let the congregation say WOW!  And there’s more to come.

May your happiness increase!

ELOQUENT, THEN RIOTOUS: MENNO DAAMS, MATTHIAS SEUFFERT, KEITH NICHOLS, MARTIN WHEATLEY, HENRY LEMAIRE, RICHARD PITE at the MIKE DURHAM CLASSIC JAZZ PARTY (November 7, 2015)

Menno Daams

Menno Daams

Here are two glorious performances from the 2015 Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party, held in the Village Hotel Newcastle (Whitley Bay) — on November 7 of that year.  The creators are Menno Daams, trumpet; Matthias Seuffert, clarinet / tenor saxophone; Keith Nichols, piano; Martin Wheatley, guitar / banjo; Henry Lemaire, string bass; Richard Pite, drums.

Matthias Seuffert

Matthias Seuffert

First, the Benny Carter classic — so evocative of Louis — ONCE UPON A TIME:

Then, an incendiary romp through Tyers’ PANAMA:

panama

Want more?  Be sure to join us at the 2016 Party (November 4-6) with an opening concert / jam session featuring the Union Rhythm Kings, and enjoy an overflowing weekend of music and pleasures. Details http://www.whitleybayjazzfest.org/ as always.

May your happiness increase!

“IS IT WARM IN HERE OR IS IT JUST THE BAND?” CLINT BAKER’S NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND IN PISMO BEACH, JANUARY 26, 2014 (Part Two)

Loosening our collars and wiping our brows — all in the name of hot music.

Clint Baker’s New Orleans Jazz Band swung out on Sunday, January 26, 2014, at the Central Coast Hot Jazz Society’s concert held in Pismo Beach.  Clint himself played trombone and euphonium and sang.  With him were Marc Caparone, cornet; Mike Baird, reeds; Carl Sonny Leyland, piano, vocal; Bill Reinhart, banjo; Katie Cavera, string bass and vocals; Jeff Hamilton, drums. The wonderful Dawn Lambeth sang a few songs, which you can hear and see here.

If you didn’t make it down to Pismo, here’s the first instrumental set.

And a second helping of delightful music:

William H. Tyers’ PANAMA (with a parasol parade, no extra charge):

Katie Cavera asks, respectfully, WON’T YOU COME HOME, BILL BAILEY?:

Headgear or other clothing optional, but PUT ON YOUR OLD GREY BONNET:

J.C. Higginbotham asks, politely, GIVE ME YOUR TELEPHONE NUMBER:

After the number is received, the proper response might be I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR YOU (thanks to Alex Hill and Claude Hopkins):

Clint and his bands are active at a variety of gigs and festivals and swing dances.  If you want to experience this hot music for yourself, click  here to plan your next swing outing.

May your happiness increase!

AT THE HOP (Part Two): CLINT BAKER’S NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND (Aug. 20, 2011)

One set by Clint Baker’s New Orleans Jazz Band wouldn’t have been enough for anyone — either the audience at the Wednesday Night Hop at Mountain View, California, or for the wider audience of JAZZ LIVES.  So here’s the second collection of exuberances: six songs, four of them explicitly New Orleans-rooted, the other two jazz classics.

And a surprise.  When the band took to the stage for the first set, it was Clint (trumpet, leader, vocals); Jim Klippert (trombone, vocal); Robert Banics (clarinet), Jason Vanderford (banjo, vocal); Sam Rocha (bass, tuba); J. Hansen (drums), Carl Sonny Leyland (piano).  But a very nimble pianist — masquerading as the brilliant drummer Jeff Hamilton — was prevailed upon to sit in, and Jeff played the first four tunes of the set, having a good time himself.

And you’ll notice the absence of microphones.  Who needs them when you’ve got swing this hot?

Those tunes?  Well, why not start off with a Debussyian dream, full of watercolor shadings and sweet pastels?  On second thought, let the impressionists be dreamy elsewhere.  Here’s TIGER RAG:

Clint (who’s not a whiner) likes the Jelly Roll Morton tune, a thinly-veiled advertisement of erotic prowess, WININ’ BOY BLUES.  Don’t deny his name:

William H. Tyers’ classic PANAMA followed, its multiple strains in place:

And one of the most-often played and most durable songs in the common language of small-band-swing, HONEYSUCKLE ROSE:

Carl came back to play his part in an energetic SOME OF THESE DAYS:

And the set closed with a funky blues — somewhere between Bill Haley and the Comets and MOP MOP — which I know as JOE AVERY’S PIECE (although it might also be JOE AVERY’S BLUES):

Oh, play those things!

CLINT BAKER’S NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND: DIXIELAND MONTEREY, March 4, 2011

Clint Baker is an inspiring multi-instrumentalist (everything from brass to reeds to strings to drums to vocals) and here at Dixieland Monterey 2011, he contented himself with leading a small hot group from his drum set — he is a master of percussive sounds and propulsions.  With him were hot cornetist Marc Caparone, pianist / singer Dawn Lambeth (united in connubial bliss), trombonist and euphonist Howard Miyata (that’s Uncle Howie to Gordon, Brandon, and Justin Au), reedman Mike Baird, bassist Paul Mehling, and guitarist / banjoist Katie Cavera.

Oh, they did rock!

Their first selection was a request — from Dottie Baird, Mike’s wife, who always asks for WHEN MY DREAMBOAT COMES HOME, on which Mike has to play saxophone.  A wonderful idea:

One law of performance is “Get the crowd involved: engage the audience!”  So here’s a bit of audience participation — feel free to join in at home in the HOLLER BLUES with shrieks or howls:

Dawn Lambeth (who is moderately pregnant — we wish her the world’s easiest delivery!) is also a spectacularly gifted singer.  Here she introduces IT HAPPENED IN MONTEREY, written by Mabel Wayne, as a song with a great deal of sentimental depth for Marc and herself — the sad lyrics notwithstanding.  Even with a terrible cold, Dawn sounds so fine:

A good old good one — what could be better than PANAMA by William H. Tyers, king of the Exotic Landscape (he also wrote MAORI):

And a tribute to Papa Joe Oliver, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong’s spiritual father, SNAG IT (An idle thought: where did the inspiration for that slang phrase come from?  I take it to mean “Oh, get it!”  From fishing?  From baseball?):

Finally, something personally pleasing.  SWEETHEARTS ON PARADE is one of my favorite songs — even though it’s not exactly harmonically taxing — perhaps because I heard Louis’s recording of it early in my life.  And I felt very much embraced at and by Dixieland Monterey (a weekend of many hugs, all given and received happily), no more so than when Marc asked me if I had any requests and then played this one.  You know you’ve arrived!  Two by two, they go marching through:

This band is the absolute equivalent of a big plate of down-home red beans and rice: spicy, colorful, hot, satisfying for a long time afterwards.  And look how happy they look!

A footnote: JAZZ LIVES readers who energetically watch “SFRaeAnn”‘s channel will see her videos of these performances.  She is Rae Ann Berry, a wonderful archivist and deep friend to me and to many musicians . . . and we were often sitting at the same concert in Monterey and videotaping.  Why, then, you might ask, why post my versions as well as hers?  I have this fantasy that someone more technically gifted than myself will find a way to screen both her video and mine on a particular song – – – synchronized, to provide something like Dixieland Cinerama, or Hot Technicolor.  Just imagine!

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