September 2023

On the Cover


Music amid Mayhem: Jazz in Tel Aviv, Spring 2023

For the last several months viewers around the world have been treated to TV news showing Tel Aviv streets regularly filled with tens of thousands of protesters. There is no doubt that there are serious political divides. Yet amidst all the turbulence the music never ends. In April, less than

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San Francisco Jazz, Phase Two, 1940-66

WWII Jazz boom, The Fillmore, Oakland Blues, North Beach & Forbidden City Nightclubs San Francisco was the location for dynamic developments in popular entertainment: Traditional, Modern and Bop Jazz and the unique Asian nightclubs of Frisco. Tourism and the 1939 Golden Gate Treasure Island World’s Fair primed the pump for

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The Moaninest Moan: Rediscovering Loren McMurray

While fishing for excuses for being beyond my deadline, I told the publisher this was the most important jazz release we have ever covered. For historical value At the Minstrel Show, which included a double CD and a related book along with extensive album notes, probably has the story of

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Mamie Smith: Always “The First Lady of the Blues”

A beautiful portrait of Mamie Smith graced the entire cover of Leonard Kunstadt’s legendary publication Record Research in January 1964. The portrait by famed Harlem photographer James Van Der Zee shows a smiling Mamie Smith in profile, wearing a necklace of large black stones (or seeds). Not only was there

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Profiles In Jazz

Twenty-Five Jazz Movies to See

Jazz has been used in many Hollywood films through the years, whether on the soundtrack, for cameo appearances by jazz greats, or as part of a film’s plot. However it is fair to say that every one of these movies is at least a bit flawed in how the jazz

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Ain't Cha Got Music?

Focus on Charlie Johnson’s Paradise Orchestra

Jeff Barnhart: Hal, this month we’re exploring Charlie Johnson’s Paradise Orchestra (sometimes Ten or Band), a unit that recorded between Feb 1925 and May 1929 and was the house band for over a decade, starting in November 1925, at Small’s Paradise, a large basement nightclub in Harlem that vied with

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Quarter Notes

All Strings Attached at the All Frets Reunion!

Back in February, my friend Arlene Tomlinson (bs) let me know about the All Frets Reunion taking place here in Tucson in August. This annual event is more often held in the Midwest regions so this was going to be a fun diversion spearheaded by Board Member Rob Wright, leader

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Recording Pioneers

A Deep Dive into Fred Hager’s Papers

Recently, I went back to Medford, Long Island, to revisit the box of papers that once belonged to Fred Hager. While yes, I did go through them six months ago, I wasn’t able to spend sufficient time really studying what I was looking at. After this recent visit, I was

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My Inspirations

Sideman Joys at the Bix

To set the stage for this month’s journey, I’ll quote lyrics from one of my biggest inspirations, pianist, composer, vocalist and lyricist Dave Frishberg: I want to be a sideman Just an ordinary sideman A go along for the ride man Responsibility free And I do, I DO! Only problem

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Jazz Jottings

Jazz Jottings September 2023

The official opening of the Louis Armstrong Visitors Center in early July will provide a deeper dive into the life and art of one of America’s greatest musicians. Located across the street from the Louis Armstrong House Museum on 107th Street in Queens, New York, the $26 million building is

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Jazz Travels

From the 2023 Davenport Bix Fest

In my report of the 2022 Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival In Davenport, Iowa, I opined that it was one of the best edition I’ve attended. It was, but this year’s surpassed it. The 53rd Bix got off to a rousing and auspicious start on Thursday, August 3, with the

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The Professor Is IN

Ain’t No Wrong Notes in Jazz

It is easy to be impressed by jazz musicians… if you are not one yourself. We are, after all, an impressive bunch. And I know what you’re thinking when you see us up on stage: Am I watching mere mortals, or have the very gods themselves descended from Olympus to

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Blowing Off The Dust

Catching up with Flint Long

As I was blowing the dust off some unsorted clippings recently, I found a clipping on the contest held at the first Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival. With the 50th anniversary of that event next year, I’ll feature the winner in the adult keyboard competition, this month. Bob, or “Flint” Long

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Static From My Attic

Leg Up

I enjoyed an unexpected vacation during the month of August—or I should say I enjoyed those aspects of it that were enjoyable. This brief sabbatical caught me quite unawares, since I had already started to lay out the September issue of this paper. While I worked, however, my leg wept—a

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Ragtime Vignettes 

Thompson Falls Rag

A “dark horse” in the first volume of Ragtime Wizardry is the second-to-last selection, Bryan Wright’s Thompson Falls Rag. Arpeggios—many with double notes—abound in this rollicking, tricky-to-play, fun pianistic showpiece. My favorite strain is the minor-key C section, featuring meter changes and extreme dynamic shifts. The piece’s frenetic agitation is

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Jazz Birthday

Ted Weems

Ted Weems was born Wilfred Theodore Wemyes on September 26, 1901, in Pitcairn, Pennsylvania. Weems’ start in music came when he won a violin in a contest (he had hoped to win a pony) and he began music lessons. When his family moved from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, young joined the

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Sun Valley
Festival Roundup

The Festival Roundup September 2023

HOT JAZZ JUBILEE (Sacramento, CA) – Sept. 1-4  Join Us Labor Day Weekend 2023 for Sacramento’s Premier End of Summer Celebration! Hot Jazz Jubilee will return to the DoubleTree Hotel September 1-4, 2023 for the long-awaited 8th annual event. Plans are underway to make this a fantastic event well worth

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It Wasn't Just The Music

Piddler on the Roof

Oriental Odyssey How’s this for a truly international adventure? During a 10-day gig at the Excelsior Hotel in Hong Kong in 1990, the Natural Gas Jazz Band from California was escorted by Australian Ken Bennett (witty and talented leader of the Kowloon Honkers) to the border of China where they

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Rudiments of Ragtime

Rudiments of Ragtime Installment 9: Eubie Blake (1887-1983)

Eubie Blake (born James Hubert Blake in Baltimore) learned to play the piano as a child of four or five. He became a living link between the Age of Ragtime after 1900, and the Ragtime Revival of the 1970s and 1980s. In a way, Eubie had two careers, the first

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News and More

You are the 1% — keeping CDs alive

My personal Instagram account celebrates “Lost Formats”. I have shared photos of wire recorders, cylinder records, Betamax videos, and stereoscopes. I once shared a picture of my CD collection calling those shiny discs a “Lost Format”, and I was only half joking. Having moved almost a billion units domestically in

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Evergreen Jazz Festival

20th Evergreen Festival Hits a Rocky Mountain High Note

The 20th Evergreen Jazz Festival, held July 28-30 in Evergreen, Colorado, continued the event’s reputation for presenting big talent in intimate venues with a scenic mountain setting. The weekend was highlighted by special guest James Dapogny’s Chicago Jazz Band, directed by Jon-Erik Kellso. The band appeared in the very first

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Tom Brier Receives Outstanding Achievement Award from SJIRF

Tom Brier received the 2023 Ragtime Outstanding Achievement Award from the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Foundation. He is an extremely popular California pianist, composer, collector, and historian who has appeared at many ragtime festivals. During his impressive career going back 40 years he has written over one hundred compositions, issued

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Album Reviews

The Moaninest Moan: Rediscovering Loren McMurray

While fishing for excuses for being beyond my deadline, I told the publisher this was the most important jazz release we have ever covered. For historical value At the Minstrel Show, which included a double CD and a related book along with extensive album notes, probably has the story of

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Southside Aces • Minneapolis Bump

It’s easy to prejudge an album, based on a band’s blurb and the first track or two. The latest release by Southside Aces promises “original compositions inspired by the Jazz Age” and, when the album opened with minor-key stomp reminiscent of “Why Don’t You Do Right,” I’d already decided that

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Tatiana Eva-Marie & Jeremy Corren • Two At The Most

Tatiana Eva-Marie, who was born in Switzerland and is based in Brooklyn, is best-known for her spirited renditions of Gypsy jazz and swing standards, inspired by her French and Romanian background and a love for New Orleans jazz. However Two At The Most is a very different recording than one

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Loren McMurray • The Moaninest Moan Of Them All

Before Coleman Hawkins, Sidney Bechet, Frank Trumbauer, Jimmy Dorsey, and Adrian Rollini made their first recordings, there was Loren McMurray (1897-1922). A technically skilled alto-saxophonist and clarinetist who occasionally played tenor, baritone, and soprano and was practicing to also master the bass clarinet, McMurray made a strong impression for a

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Greg Ruby and Steve Rice • Corner Café

We Brits like to think of ourselves as European—or 55 percent of us do, judging by a 2023 YouGov survey on Brexit “Bregret” (well, quelle surprise). But even before my beloved EU passport was prised from my baguette-baking hands in 2016, it’s fair to say that the UK was never

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The Hot Toddies Jazz Band

The Hot Toddies Jazz Band, a popular attraction in the swing scene of New York, performs vintage standards with impressive musicianship and abundant spirit. It is co-led by violinist Gabe Terracciano (a member of the prestigious Turtle Island String Quartet) and drummer Patrick Sohiri. The Hot Toddies are generally a

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Ethel Waters • Stormy Weather

She was the most versatile singer to emerge from the classic blues movement of the early 1920s. Ethel Waters (1896-1977), who had a very rough childhood and was first married when she was 13, debuted on records in 1921 and was originally thought of as primarily a blues singer. However

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Jazz In Britain 1919-1950 (4 CD Box Set)

When the Original Dixieland Jazz Band settled in London for an extended stay in 1919, they were essentially introducing jazz to the United Kingdom. While it took some time for jazz to catch on with the British public, many of the local musicians were listening closely. England developed some excellent

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The Final Chorus

New Orleans Drummer Barry “Kid” Martyn has died 

British born drummer Barry “Kid” Martyn died on July 17th, he was 82. He first heard New Orleans jazz on Alistair Cooke’s Letter from America radio program when he was twelve years old. By 15, in 1956, he had started his first band, Kid Martyn’s Ragtime Band, recording with the

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Tonny Bennett

Tony Bennett (August 3rd, 1926 – July 21st, 2023) was the last of the original crooners. Younger than Frank Sinatra and others with whom he is associated he was discovered by Pearl Bailey in 1949 and remained in the spotlight through a final concert in 2021. He found new audiences

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Tom Artin has died at 84

Trombonist Tom Artin died on July 27th, he was 84. He began playing in junior high school under the direction of composer John Harbison, in a group known as the “Harbison Heptet.” Over a long career, he played with the Louis Armstrong Alumni All-Stars, the World of Jelly Roll Morton,

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Ryoichi Kawai

Clarinetist Ryoichi Kawai (1940 – August 2023) founded The New Orleans Rascals in 1961 as an extension of the Original Dixieland Jazz Club of Osaka Japan. He established a legacy for traditional jazz in Japan that survives to this day, with the Rascals remaining the most well known of the

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Remembering Earl Scheelar (1929-2023)

Bay Area bandleader, clarinetist and cornet player, Earl Scheelar (1929-2023) died peacefully on July 28, 2023. Few have shown greater leadership keeping Classic Jazz alive, though never receiving the full recognition he deserved for decades of leadership. Earl was resourceful, helpful and intelligent, following his own muses, crafting his life

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