|TWO GREAT SINGERS APPEAR IN LEIMART PARK
The Regency West in Leimert Park played host to memorable performances by Barbara Morrison and Kevin Mahogany, who tragically passed
away 30 days later from a stroke. The always remarkable Ms. Morrison paid tribute to Ella Fitzgerald during much of her set. Highlights
included “This Time the Dream’s On Me,” “Lullaby Of Birdland,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” “I Was Doing Alright” (during
which she imitated Louis Armstrong), and “I Loves You Porgy.” Barbara Morrison told humorous stories between songs, took consistently joyful
vocals, and joined the audience in having a great time.
Kevin Mahogany, one of the major male jazz singers, had not visited Los Angeles in some time. With fine backup by a trio that included pianist
Karen Hammack and drummer Cecil Brooks III, Mahogany displayed a warm voice on “I Want To Talk About You,” scatted up a storm on
“Centerpiece,” combined together “Route 66” and “Red Top,” and came up with fresh ideas on “The Girl From Ipanema.” He also dueted with
the bassist on “All Blues” (which became “East Coast Blues” for a bit), paid tribute to Joe Williams on “In the Evening When The Sun Goes
Down” and “Everyday I Have The Blues,” sang Charlie Parker’s lyrics to “Yardbird Suite”(“What Price Love”) and introduced his colorful
original “It’s Too Late.” It is hard to believe that he is no longer with us for his singing found him very much at the peak of his powers.
He will be greatly missed.
DAN LEVINSON PLAYS A HOUSE PARTY
Judy and Ed Hirsch opened up their home to a colorful house party that featured some of the greatest in classic jazz today.
Clarinetist and tenor-saxophonist Dan Levinson, who was a regular at the late lamented Sweet and Hot Music Festival, put together an all-star
group to perform at their attractive house. In addition to his wife Molly Ryan on vocals, he hired Dan Barrett on trombone and trumpet,
pianist Chris Dawson, guitarist John Reynolds, bassist Katie Cavera, and drummer Gareth Price. When it comes to playing songs from the
1920s through the ‘40s, it would be difficult to improve upon this group.
One of the joys of hearing a band with this lineup is that they only play a few standards and instead revive superior obscurities. How often does
one get to see such songs as “Without My Gal,” “Moonlight” (heard in a very rare vocal version), “Let A Smile Be Your Umbrella,” and “There’s
Nothing Too Good For My Baby” performed live? It becomes immediately obvious that these musicians have an infinite amount of knowledge
about early jazz
With Ms. Ryan, Reynolds and Cavera contributing occasional vocals (Levinson even joined in), there was plenty of variety. Among the
performances that stuck out were Ryan and Dawson sounding a bit like Peggy Lee (or Maxine Sullivan) and Teddy Wilson on “The Folks Who
Live On The Hill,” Barrett’s trombone feature on “If You Were The Only Girl In The World,” Katie Cavera singing “My Mother’s Son-In-Law,”
Chris Dawson hinting at Art Tatum on “If I Had You,” Barrett quoting “Moonlight Serenade” at the end of “Moonlight,” the trombonist’s
expertise with the plunger mute on “The Glory Of Love,” and a rousing rendition of “I’m Sorry I Made You Cry.” Reynolds’ whistling was an
added plus. No wonder Levinson (who was in excellent form) was smiling throughout the afternoon.
Suffice it to say that everything worked well.
One of the top clarinetists in jazz (and also very good on tenor), Anat Cohen led a tentet at the Valley Performing Arts Center. The group,
consisting of four horns, four rhythm, cello and vibes, mostly performed music from their new CD Happy Song. Other than a closing piece and
an encore, the set consisted of a nonstop suite of tunes from their recording that lasted for over an hour. The music ranged from romps to
ballads, a partial recreation of Benny Goodman’s version of “Oh Baby,” funky numbers, melodies and rhythms that were influenced by the
folk music of other countries, klezmer, blues/rock and unclassifiable music. Musical director Oded Lev-ari and Cohen provided the
arrangements and among the key soloists in addition to the leader (who stuck exclusively to the clarinet) were guitarist Sheryl Bailey,
trombonist Nick Finzer, cellist Rubin Kodheli, vibraphonist James Shipp and Vitor Goncalves on piano and accordion.
The music, which was consistently spirited and covered a wide range of moods and grooves, kept one guessing throughout the evening. Anat
Cohen played quite brilliantly and she clearly inspired her musicians.
One of the top trumpeters in jazz today, Jeremy Pelt led an excellent quintet at a concert held at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood that was
presented by Ruth Price and the Jazz Bakery. Pelt was joined by pianist Victor Gould, bassist Richie Goods, drummer Jonathan Barber, and
percussionist Jacqueline Acevedo.
The opener, “Make Noise,” found Pelt sounding a bit like Freddie Hubbard while Acevedo (mostly heard on congas and timbales) showed that
she is an important part of the group’s musical personality. Pelt excelled on his ballad “Prince” and the fairly free “Black Love Story,” and
played beautifully on the night’s lone standard “I Will Wait For You.” While some of the other originals were not all that memorable by
themselves, the solos of Pelt and Gould along with the stimulating support offered by Goods, Barber and Acevedo resulted in a high-quality
night of post-bop jazz.
THE SAVORY COLLECTION – PARTS THREE AND FOUR
During 1935-41, engineer Bill Savory, who worked by day for a transcription service, spent his nights recording over 100 hours of swing
music from the radio. The priceless music was very well recorded and kept hidden by Savory for quite a few decades. In 2010, the National
Jazz Museum in Harlem acquired the archive from Savory’s heirs. Thus far four volumes have been released although unfortunately only
digitally; hopefully these classic performances will come out on CD someday. Since I previously reviewed the first two sets, this piece covers the
Vol 3 is subtitled Fats Waller & Friends although seven different groups are featured, only one of which features Waller. The great boogie-
woogie pianist Albert Ammons starts the program with a fresh version of his famous “Boogie Woogie Stomp.” Trumpeter Roy Eldridge is heard
early in his career on “Body And Soul,” overcoming a metronomic rhythm section to take both a warm ballad solo and a hot double-time
section. From the same broadcast, drummer Chick Webb joins Eldridge on “Liza,” creating one of his best solos to be documented. This is the
only performance on Vol. 3 that was out previously, on a Jazz Archives collectors Lp.
Definitely not previously available are five numbers featuring pianist Fats Waller (who sings on his “Honeysuckle Rose”) heading an all-star
group that includes trumpeter Charlie Teagarden, trombonist Jack Teagarden, clarinetist Pee Wee Russell, tenor-saxophonist Bud Freeman
and rhythm guitarist Eddie Condon. “China Boy” and “I’m Coming Virginia” (the latter has quotes from Bix Beiderbecke’s famous cornet solo)
are highpoints. Next are ten songs that showcase the unique John Kirby Sextet, all from 1940 except for a very brief version of “Honeysuckle
Rose” from 1938 that has the eccentric scat-singer Leo Watson helping out. Oddly enough, there is a brief narration from an actor before some
of the 1940 performances in which he tells a story as if he were Kirby, but that does not detract from the superb music which holds its own
with the sextet’s studio recordings. The advanced cool-toned ensemble features trumpeter Charlie Shavers, clarinetist Buster Bailey and altoist
Russell Procope. Vol. 3 concludes with two numbers from the Benny Carter big band (with some fine trumpet by Carter on “More Than You
Know”) and a rousing version of “China Boy” by pianist Joe Sullivan’s sextet.
Vol. 4 is titled Bobby Hackett & Friends – Embraceable You. Hackett had a soft sound on the cornet and a medium-register style that appealed
to Miles Davis although he spent much of his life playing in Dixieland and swing settings. Hackett is a sideman on the four numbers led by
clarinetist Joe Marsala which are very much a hot jam session. Actually they sound like they are from a session headed by Eddie Condon
although Condon was not involved on this date. Hackett and Marsala team up with such Condon regulars as baritonist Ernie Caceres, pianist
Joe Bushkin and drummer George Wettling for four extended numbers. “California Here I Come” (which like the Condon studio version does
not reveal its melody until way into the performance) and a surprisingly hot version of “When Did You Leave Heaven” are nearly seven
minutes long and quite exciting.
Two appearances on radio shows by Hackett resulted in a pair of excellent interpretations of ballads (“Embraceable You” and “Body And Soul”)
and a hot version of “Muskrat Ramble” that also features clarinetist Pee Wee Russell. Pianist Teddy Wilson led a big band in 1939 that
unfortunately did not go anywhere before breaking up. A broadcast from late in the year adds to the group’s slim recorded legacy. Wilson is
featured throughout and there is a spot for tenor-saxophonist Ben Webster on “Jitterbug Jump,” performed shortly before he joined Duke
Ellington. Trombonist Jack Teagarden leads a jam session group also featuring the young Charlie Shavers on “Honeysuckle Rose” and “Jeepers
Creepers.” The latter has a chorus apiece sung by its composer Johnny Mercer, Teagarden and Leo Watson. Wrapping up Vol. 4 are three
numbers by the Glenn Miller Orchestra including a version of “In The Mood” that differs a bit from Miller’s famous recording.
If your mouth is watering after reading this review, be sure to get all four volumes of the Savory Collection which is available from www.