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News and Views '09/'10 # 13
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Allen Hall
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Joined: 26 May 2004
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 1:47 pm    Post subject: News and Views '09/'10 # 13 Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

News and Views from the Hall LindyJazzMobile
‘09/’10 Installment # 13 (This the unlucky and penultimate ‘09/’10 Installment)

DANCE, DRIVE, REPEAT

Table of contents:

1. Lindy in Dayton and Surrounds
2. Jazz in Dayton and Surrounds
3. This ‘n’ That ‘Bout Jazz
4. Coming Attractions

LINDY IN DAYTON AND SURROUNDS

1. LHing at Kira’s Oasis. We made this, the “Dayton Swingout” sponsored first Saturday DJed gig. The venue, as the name would suggest, is a belly-dancing venue with additional classes offered in Pole Dancing. Yes, they have two poles. No, I did no sinuous salacious pole-moves. K.O. has a large expanse of plastic faux-wood floor with a delightful surface. About 25 dancers showed on this, a slow week during spring school break.
2. We danced to “Dave Greer’s Classic Jazz Stompers”, at Dayton’s only jazz joint, “Gilly’s”. The Stompers are a Dixieland octet; two brass (trombone and cornet) two reeds, a mix and match pair who play clarinet and four saxophones--soprano, alto, tenor and baritone-- plus a four piece rhythm section of piano, bass, drums and the leader, Dave, playing three types of 4 string rhythm instruments (one is a banjo, one is made of aluminum; one looks like a guitar, but, aside from the banjo I got no idea what their names are). The band is tight, the arrangements nifty, and the musicianship is at a high level. This band is poised to breakout into many gigs at major Traditional Jazz Fests, but, unfortunately, it comes at a time when the audience for Dixieland is dying-off and fast. The band recently lost their weekly Wed. nite gig at the Crown Plaza Hotel rooftop lounge across the street from Gilly’s, and has only played Gilly’s twice. However, they sound much better in Gilly’s—better acoustics—and in their second gig at Gilly’s, they drew over 40 people, more than the average crowd at the Crown Plaza. Gilly’s has a much bigger dance floor than the Crown Plaza, but the surface is bad sticky, and it gave me bad sore knees the next day. $5 cover, every other Wednesday with music at 7PM, that’s if you dig Dixieland.
3. The University of Dayton Swing Club held their semi-annual Saturday night dance at Elegance in Dance Studios, and Rudy and I attended. It featured two DJs, one of which provided some pleasant, seldom heard LindyHoppable music for the 40 or so dancers attending. The floor is maple, big, and has a good surface, but most people choose to dance in the middle of the room because that was the only place lighted well enough to see a hand lead. Unfortunately, the light was provided by a turning mirrored Disco Ball. Sigh! So you could only see a hand lead now and then. Rudy and I chose to dance in the surrounding stygian darkness, as we both become discombobulated by strobe lights. P.S. the U of D Swing Club holds a lesson and dance every Monday at the university.
4. We went to Cincinnati to dance at the SwingGallery’s regular Thursday DJed gig. Big old Maple floor in good condition, Big crowd with many more experienced LHer than we have ever seen there before. Good music and Rudy and I got in our obligatory two hours of sweaty almost non-stop dancing before the da Funk and da Hip Hop started up. Friendly crowd, only 5 bucks, free off-street parking around in back.
P.S. On the day when Rudy and I went to the SwingGallery, Sheryl Burke and Chad Ochocinco (partners in the current “Dancing with the Stars” TV show) took a lesson there in Lindy Hop flash moves. They were both gone when we got there, but I suspect Cheryl is following us around, or we are, unwittingly, following her around, as Rudy and I met her and her winning partner, Drew Lachey, in January of 2006 at an L.A. Lindy venue. They had come there for a private in Charleston. Sheryl Burke and Julliane Hough are my favorite lady pros on DWTS, and so, I am so pleased to see Sheryl has been partnered with Chad, who I think can be taught to dance, after she was saddled last season with Tom, The Mechanical Man, DeLay.
It is indeed unexpected the people you meet when wandering around the country going into dance joints. To wit, Rudy and I were in “Ducks”, a storied North Myrtle Beach Carolina Shag venue, in circa middle ‘90s, and I was in Norfleet Jones’ office. He was the owner of “Ducks”, and he had a framed autographed copy on the wall of perhaps the most seen Lindy Hop photograph ever. It was the cover of the August 23, 1943 edition of “Life Magazine”. It showed a young couple in an obvious posed, but beguiling dynamic pose doing what looked to be a push move. I admired the photograph, and Norfleet asked me if I had ever met the man in the photo. When I told him, “No.”, he then asked, “Would you like to; he’s sitting at the bar now.” And so, I met him, and we had a short pleasant conversation, during which I inexplicably failed to ask him, “how come it is that a Lindy Hopper is to be sitting a Carolina Shag joint?” Anyway, his name is Stanley Catron and his partner was Kaye Popp, and they were both cast in a Broadway Musical entitled “Something for the Boys.” For those who haven’t see this photograph, go to http://www.life.com/image/tlp264376
FFI on LH in Dayton Ohio and surrounds, go to www.swingoutdayton.com

JAZZ IN DAYTON AND SURROUNDS

1. Eddie Brookshire Quintet at Gilly’s
I caught one set, and one was enough, of the Eddie Brookshire Quintet at Gilly’s. This two horns (tenor/soprano and trumpet/flugelhorn). plus standard three piece rhythm section played vintage Bebop*. The musicianship was outstanding as was their elan. There was no doubt about their emotional dedication to the music. The outstanding part of the music came when the two horns, playing in harmony or on the same melody line, threaded their almost flawlessly way, through intricate Bebop lines gefult mitt 16th notes. This was amazing. What was not amazing, and rather disappointing were the tunes played. They were, except for one very nice Monk ballad, all played at an iso-tempo (about 220 bpm), and all were original music, and the none of names of the 5 originals was announced. Where they ashamed? Further, solos by the pianists and horn players were way too note-rich busy, repetitive to a fault, and apparently primarily constructed from their individual collections of licks. They were all dressed in coats and ties, and the trumpet player had “lead” chops. On balance, this is not a good review.
*Bebop is a unique type of jazz which originated in New York City during the first half of the 1940s. In its pure form, it did not last long, but the musical language of Bebop has persisted to this day, and may be collectively heard today in protean manifestations. Except for bands like this one, the jagged phrasing and accenting of Bebop has largely subsided, but, the advanced and adventurous harmonies developed in Bebop are found now in the improvisations of musicians who play almost all forms of jazz, old and new. Spoken Language and musical language are both organic and subject to change, and there is little anyone can do to stop the change, and let us give thanks for that, for “Variety is the spice of life” if not in all human endeavor. Consider for a moment, how it would be for all jazz fans to be listening today to Ragtime and only Ragtime?

2. Joey D. at the Blue Wisp
I caught one set of jazz organist, hemi-monster, Joey DeFrancesco at Cincinnati’s Blue Wisp Jazz Club. He has an astounding right hand, quicksilver fast and sure. but he is half an organ monster because he primarily uses his right hand. Agreed, he jabs in an accessional chord with his left, and kicks a few bass pedals but only on the left side as Joey is to organ players as a C-5As is to cargo airplanes—he is a wide-body and can’t begin to reach across and kick the right side pedals. How wide? Well I think he is an honest 400 pounder, and he seems to get bigger every time I see him. In Phoenix I saw him stand up on the organ bench and play—that was a scary sight, but he didn’t do it in Cincy. The drummer sideman was fine, as was the electric guitarist, but the set tunes were mostly not fine. They were originals or never-heards, and used as a boring platform to display the virtuosity of all three players—I was impressed with the virtuosity, but not with the melody-barren tunes, and one drum solo lasted so long, Joey nodded off. They did play two tunes I have heard, the gorgeous “Be My Love” during which Joey, shyly, mouthed some of the lyrics. You may wonder why he chose this seldom-heard-in-jazz tune, unless you remember that Mario Lanza put that tune on the charts as his top recording earner, and also remember that Mario died of gluttony, ergo the connection, at least in my mind. They ended the one hour and 20 minute set of 6 tunes with the only swinger, “Satin Doll” which the audience much appreciated. What I think they didn’t appreciate was that no blues were played, but then, the sacrilege issue was never in lay, as Joey doesn’t play a B-3, he plays some other kind of electronic organ without a leslie, and while Joey was using the organ’s jazz stops, his ax does not have the rich gutsy complex sound of the Hammond B-3/Leslie combo instrument.
P.S. The group—The B-?ist, Joey, drummer Byron Landrum, guitarist Paul Bollenback, chick singer Colleen McNabb, who was advertised but didn’t show, and roady/driver all travel in a huge RV on a Greyhound Bus chassis. How come? Well, I assume Joey has a problem with airline seats and some hotel beds, and, besides, his disassembled organ has to travel with him, and while it’s not as big nor as heavy as a Hammond B-3, it’s still one hellovalotta furniture to move around the country. Joey averages 200 night on the road every a year, so it was probably Indy on Monday, Cincy on Tuesday, and in the men’s room the guitarist told me it will be Cleveland on Thursday. I didn’t pony up 10 bucks for the second set, but the first set drew well. I would dearly love to know if Joey got a guarantee or dickered for a cut of the gate. Why? Because, when it comes to jazz, I want to know everything. Joey is 39 years old, and smokes cigarettes. It’s a shame that he may not make it to 50, and he really should be on that TV program “The Biggest Loser”. Or, how ‘bout this for a new TV program? Joey, Oprah et al. in, “Shedding Pounds with the Stars”?

3. The Blue Wisp Big Band at (where else?) Cincinnati’s Blue Wisp Jazz Club.
It’s 55 miles down I-75, but I catch this band’s gig at least once every time we are in Dayton Ohio, because the band is led by big band drummer extraordinaire, John Von Olhen. However, I hasten to add that there are no clunks in this modern swinging Big Band, their book is about as good as it gets, and after 25 plus years with much the same personnel, they really know how to cook on all the charts.
Last night, they played fifteen charts in two and quarter sets, and the band members got to pick the charts—democracy working in a big band, but not too well, as too many solo bones were thrown to one tenor saxophonist.
The take away message is this, John Von Ohlen is the best big band drummer I have ever seen. He is un-pretentious; careful but firm with his role in the band; unerring in providing appropriate accents and fills, and some of his fills are absolute gems of swing drumming. If you want to see a sterling big band drummer at the height of his power, reticence and delicacy, be at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati any Wednesday at 8:30PM for ten bucks—come early, so you can sit close enough to the band to smell their breath.
The piano player got there one tune late, but then, he is often late, and when John asked, “Is there a piano player in the house?” I asked back, “What does the gig pay?” A band member responded wryly “If you have to ask, you’re not a piano player.”
And, John always announces both the composer of every tune and the arranger for the chart. Each bit of information may not be important for appreciation of the music, but the composite announcements creates preferences for composers and arrangers. This is important.

THIS ‘N’ THAT ‘BOUT JAZZ

Jazz pianist, John Bunch, dead at 88. He rated 10 column inches in the NYT, but the obituary missed the story. Yes, he was an accomplished jazz pianist who made the transition from Swing to Bebop. Yes, he played in the Woody Herman and Bennie Goodman Bands. Yes, he played with Maynard Fergus, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, and was Tony Bennett’s accompanist and musical director for 6 years. Yes he was a bombardier in the 8th Air Force during WW-II. Yes, his bomber was shot down and he become a POW.
All of that was in the NYT obit., but it failed to remind us that anyone who flew in the 8th Air Force during WW-II was, de facto, a hero. The highest casualty rate for any military organization during WW-II was the 8th AF. For every 10 bombers sent on a mission over the European mainland, on average, four did not return, and the airmen who continued to fly those missions knew, all too well, what the odds were of coming back. And, the casualties for bomber personnel was primarily deaths, with few surviving wounded. When John Bunch was asked about being shot down and surviving, he said, “It was a miracle”. While a POW he was on a forced march in the dead of winter near the end of WW-II, one in which starving POWs who were unable to keep up were summarily shot and left by the road. The POWs had to dig up what potatoes they could find in frozen farm fields during rest stops in order to keep from starving to death. At one point, John was so weak he could go no further, but a POW friend gave him a potato, and thus fortified with one potato, he got up and continued, and survived, to later become one of my favorite jazz pianists. Many years ago, as a member of the Scott Hamilton Quartet, he was on a week-long jazz cruise, and I was on that ship with him, and I had seven wonder-filled days listening to the musical subtlety and sensitivity of John Bunch at the piano. You never forget memories like that.

Billie Holiday’s birthday is April 7th. She was the mistress of “time”. Like Louis Armstrong, who blurred the bar lines by floating above the rhythm and the chord changes with his lyrical improvisations, so too did Billie Holiday as she sang lyrics. Both of them were firmly embedded within and a part of the music, yet, somehow, they were also floating in a plane above it.

What is it with all these jazz musicians writing, and playing their original tunes—can they think they are, each one, George Gershwin reincarnate? Do they think they can jot off some ditties which will somehow magically gain sufficient popularity and acclaim to afford them a fine retirement, and support their heirs, off ASCAP and BMI royalties? Do they think being in the same business as Duke Ellington cuts any ice with the purchasers of jazz recordings? To me, it is rather like thousands of would-be composers flinging many thousands of original compositions at our ears, hoping that a few will become ear worms , and make us forget about the annoyance all that other puzzling unpleasant music. Good luck. I’ll stick with “I got Rhythm” in all of its protean ik.

A couple of tidbit ideas found in “Living the Jazz Life” by W. Royal Stokes
1. About jazz musician’s influences, by Jazz Pianist, Paul Bley, “…it’s necessary to avoid the work of almost all of your peers on your instrument because the audience is sitting there almost with a laugh meter, judging whether you sound like (someone else more famous than you)” “I must admit to taking a very hard stance on influences on myself and everyone else. I think we’ve all had enough of Coltrane saxophonists. There’s a case of somebody ruining a generation of saxophonists, as Louis Armstrong may have ruined a generation or two of trumpet players.”
2. About composing music: by Steve Allen. “If you’re going to compose, and if you have the gift. I would advise being born in the 1920s and ‘30s, because I don’t know what the hell today’s composers are listening to that’s going to encourage their ability to create melodies.”

COMING ATTRACTIONS
1. Short Stop in Chicago
2. MidWest Lindy Fest
3. Something else, maybe

Allen Hall, indiscriminate Lindy Hopper and discriminating Jazz Fan
April 26, 2010, under sunny skies at Great Lakes Naval Training Center in North Chicago.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:59 am    Post subject: Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

You have *no* idea how excited I am that you'll be at MWLF!

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