Adolfo Carabelli Jazz Band, Beth Ross-Buckley, books, Celeste, cole porter, Coleman Hawkins, football, Jack Teagarden, Jazz on a Summer's Day, John Coltrane, Lady Gaga, libraries, Louis Armstrong, Mal Waldron, Marilyn Monroe, Newport Jazz Festival, Peter and the Wolf, Peter Sprague, Super Bowl, Tony Bennett, Tubby the Tuba
I often tell people I was raised by librarians. This is not far from the truth although neither of my parents worked in a library. My dad had a job that meant frequent transfers and one of the first things my mother always did was truck me off to the local library for my library card. It was something of a ritual for us.
Libraries and music have always been connected in my mind. My first memory of a public library was in Portland, Oregon, where I went at age 5 to get my library card and listen to a recording of “Peter and the Wolf.” In the next few years, in different places, I listened to recordings like “Tubby the Tuba,” and “The Story of Celeste.” Later still I haunted the music sections of various libraries for rock and classical and jazz albums I could listen to happily among the stacks. For me, books and music go together like ham and swiss, gin and tonic, Astaire and Rogers.
And on Wednesday evening this past week, jazz guitarist Peter Sprague with flautist Beth Ross-Buckley made beautiful music for a happy audience at the Mission Hills Library. It’s a neighborhood library in San Diego, and these were local folks, some who came just for the music and others who might have stopped to return a book or pick up something new and there it was – music! As I sat and listened to these terrific jazz musicians next to the children’s books and a big poster of the Cat in the Hat, I could only think to myself, We are still okay. All is not lost.
Now to get this week’s show on the road, I bring you a hip combination of Cole Porter, Mal Waldron and John Coltrane from Waldron’s second album, eponomously titled Mal/2. Waldron came to jazz through swing (his parents disapproved of jazz) but then joined the hard bop crowd and played with them all. He was Billie Holiday’s accompanist the last couple of years of her life and eventually segued to free jazz. In this early recording, 1957, he’s all bop. Give a listen to “From This Moment On,” with Waldron, Coltrane, Idrees Sulieman on trumpet, Sahib Shihab on alto and baritone sax, Julian Euell on bass and Ed Thigpen on drums.
Jazz on a Summer’s Day is a concert film of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. The list of performers is long and impressive, and the film was directed by photographer Bert Stern, who also did the last, devastating photo shoot of Marilyn Monroe. The stars were out that summer’s day and included Dinah Washington, Gerry Mulligan, Sonny Stitt, Anita O’Day, Thelonius Monk and Jimmy Guiffre. They also included Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden who teamed up for a happy vocal and instrumental duet on “Old Rockin’ Chair’s Got Me,” dedicated now to all the couch spuds tuned in to the Super Bowl from sofas, recliners, bar stools, and/or rockin’ chairs. This one’s on me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jh9mereIx1o
Continuing the Super Bowl thread, here’s a swingy little jazz novelty from south of the border, down Argentina way. I have no idea how this one happened to come into being, but it gets me tapping my north of the border toes! This is the Adolfo Carabelli Jazz Band on the oh-so-lively “Football Mania,” from 1933. The original Victor recording information is apparently lost so I can only say, JazzBabies, have fun with this one.
Next up, a palate-cleansing tune with Mr. Coleman Hawkins in the lead. This one’s from 1962, a time when bossa nova was taking hold in the United States, and many jazz cats were giving it a try. Hawkins joined the ranks with his Desafinado album that year, but Hawkins and crew were a cut above the rest, and Harvey Pekar wrote for “Down Beat” magazine that, “There have been some gimmicky bossa nova albums issued recently, but this one features music of high and enduring quality.” This is not a bossa nova tune, JazzBabies; it’s Johnny Mercer’s “I Remember You,” but you can definitely get your samba groove going with it. Hawkins is here with Tommy Flanagan on piano, Howard Collins on guitar, Willie Rodrigues on percussion and half a dozen other fine fellows who know their way around a tune. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1njrNwA02k
In a couple of hours, as I write this, the famous/infamous Lady Gaga is going to be (a) delighting or (b) outraging the Super Bowl crowd. I’ll check the news later. She’s not often my cup of tea, but I gotta give her credit for the work she did with Tony Bennett, and today’s the day. Bennett named her “a real jazz lady.” That’s good enough for me. Here’s the original video of the two on a Rodgers and Hart classic from their Duets II album, “The Lady Is a Tramp.” Go, team!
So we roll along, JazzBabies, into chilly February though we know Spring is on the way. As for the Super Bowl, it doesn’t matter who won or lost but who brought the best 7-layer dip!
Cheers and ciao!