Dave Barbour, Duke Dejan, fairy tales, George Van Eps, Howard Alden, J.J. Johnson, Kai Winding, Larry Bunker, listen, Peggy Lee, Preservation Hall Hot 4, Red Mitchell, Roy Hargrove, silver lining, Walt Disney
JazzBabies, I’ll be honest. I was as much at a loss as everybody else in this post-election week. Doesn’t matter who you voted for, the surprises just kept coming. And between the surprises, both personal and political, and the end of daylight savings time, I’ll be glad when Monday rolls around and a new week is on the calendar.
But JazzBabies, remember, when life gets tough, the tough – and the tender-hearted – get going to the music. And here we go.
First I want to mention the great evening of jazz with the Ed Kornhauser Trio at an event a week ago. And yeah – a plug for them – because anybody in the San Diego area or nearby looking for some good jazz would do well to give Ed a call. These cats did a fine job of entertaining a wandering crowd, set a lot of toes tapping and got a few folks on their feet to trip the light fantastic. They have a terrific repertoire and a good time was had by all.
Onward now down to jazz N’Awlins style with the Preservation Hall Hot 4 and Duke Dejan. I’ll cop to it – I chose this one because I needed a little jazz medicine. And what better medicine than a happy tune rendered so well by a happy band of musicians. I’m remembering the Hurricanes at Pat O’Briens, but that’s another story for a time no children are present. For now, JazzBabies, let’s give a listen to “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams” and then dream those troubles, whatever they may be, away. When in doubt, head to the Big Easy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bv4GCT3yv6o
Peggy Lee and Dave Barbour were one of the best-known musical marriages during the 1940s. They met while with Benny Goodman and then went off together to sunny California as performers and songwriters. This next tune is not one they wrote, but it is a jazzy performance together on “Why Don’t You Do Right?” A bit of trivia – the song, from 1936, was originally titled “The Weed Smoker’s Dream” and the lyric was that of a marijuana smoker lamenting lost opportunities. Lyrics were later redone to reflect his partner’s point of view and the song became a classic “woman’s blues.” Lee loved the recording made by blues mama, Lil Green and played it most nights while with Goodman. He finally offered to have an arrangement done for her and the rest is history. That history includes this recording with the Dave Barbour Quartet from 1950. That’s Barbour on the guitar… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uTcw_A80Bo
With talk of people leaving the country now after the election, I think if I did that I might head to Japan. I was reading an article recently about jazz in Japan and realized that I’d find my jazz home there with no trouble. Here’s why – respectful audiences. Quiet audiences. In fact, in some jazz clubs talking is forbidden during the performance. Oh, I would love that! A roomful of people who can quietly sip a cool beverage and just, well, listen. I wasn’t in Japan in 1982, but Kai Winding and J.J. Johnson were and played this terrific take on “It’s All Right With Me” at a live concert the year before Winding died too soon. Two guys who know what they’re doing with two trombones can make heavenly music and here it is for you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxUj2fKFX7A
I met Howard Alden a few years ago at the DjangoFest Jazz Festival on Whidbey Island up near Seattle. We had a few things in common and one of them was Susannah McCorkle. Alden has been on almost every one of her recordings and loved her as much as I do. Of course, I also enjoyed meeting him because he’s a hella jazz guitarist and has teamed up often with the likes of Bucky Pizzarelli and George Van Eps of 7-string fame. If you think you haven’t heard Alden, you could be wrong. He played the guitar soundtrack for Sean Penn in Sweet and Lowdown and also taught Penn how to mime the fingerwork. Here’s Alden with Van Eps on the Ellington/Strayhorn standard, “Satin Doll,” from the 1996 Concord album, Keepin’ Time. Enjoy, JazzBabies…Enjoy.
Finally, JazzBabies, I want to send you off in a happy frame of mind so I’m bringing out Roy Hargrove and his Quintet on “Ev’rybody Wants To Be A Cat.” The tune is from the Disney film, The Aristocats, and is included on the album Disney Jazz, Volume 1. This is a terrific album, by the way, featuring some of the best like Esperanza Spalding, Dave Brubeck, Regina Carter, Dianne Reeves and more with their interpretations of Disney tunes. This is not Disney’s first flirtation with jazz. I’m looking right now at a Disney “children’s” recording I have from 1962 that has long been a favorite even though the kids are all grown up: Best Loved Fairy Tales. But these fairy tales were recorded in the spoken jazz style of the day, told by Rica Moore who’s backed by jazz cats Larry Bunker on bongos and vibraphone and Red Mitchell on bass. Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Rumpelstilskin never sounded so good. But for now it’s Mr. Hargrove with Thaddeus Dixon on drums, Jonathan Batiste on piano, Ameen Saleem on acoustic bass and Justin Robinson on alto saxophone on a happy and swingin’ version of “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat.” Ain’t it the truth?
Have a great week, JazzBabies, and look for the silver lining. It’s out there somewhere. Just listen.