[Dixielandjazz] OKOM (or at least MKOM) in Elkhart, IN
hvickery at svs.com
Mon Jun 27 10:36:36 PDT 2005
We just spent three great days at the Elkhart Jazz Festival where there was
plenty of OKOM (or as I noted in the subject, at least MKOM). Warning to
musicians: We're fans, and I'm writing from that perspective. If you don't
want to read it, skit it.
They do a lot of mixing and matching of musicians there, so we caught some
Friday Night (7:00-8:00): A group led by Ken Peplowski with Joe Cohn
(guitar), Eddie Higgins (piano), Keter Betts (bass), Charlie Brougham
(drums), Jon-Erik Kellso (trumpet), and Bob Havens (trombone).
Friday Night: (8:30-9:30): The Bob Crosby Bob Cats. I got to meet Ed
Metz, Sr. and found out he received the recording of the Bob Crosby 70th
Anniversary tribute that was on local radio here. Since I had an emergency
last year and had to leave the festival after just one day, this was my
first chance to hear the Bob Cats. They do the old group justice. As I
noted to my son after the set, they swing their tails off.
Friday Night (10:00-11:00): Another mix-and-match band led by Ed Polcer
(cornet) with Joe Ascione (drums), Cohn, Betts, Johnny Varro (piano), Allan
Vache' (clarinet), and rushing in from playing with his dad's band for one
or two tunes and then back out again, John Allred (trombone).
After driving about 3 hours to get there, we were beat, so we missed the
Saturday Afternoon (12:30-1:30): Caught a salsa band: "Orquesta de Jazz y
Salsa Alto Maiz," possibly the only salsa band operating out of Iowa. Ya
gotta love it! And (as we already knew) a pretty darn good band!
Saturday Afternoon (1:30-2:30): Another m&m band with Chuck Hedges
(clarinet), Higgins, Braugham, Murray Wall (bass), Jiggs Whigham (trombone),
Kellso, and Cohn.
We took an hour off to get souvenirs and spent part of that time getting
relief from the 90+ degree heat by getting our backsides soaked while our
front sides remained dry under the tent.
Saturday Afternoon (3:30-4:30): Bill Allred's Classic Jazz Band. Allred
looked very good after his surgery and played better than he looked. Nice
set starting with a tribute to New Orleans music (whorehouse piano, street
We were a little late getting started Saturday night because we had to
change our clothes before going out to dinner.
Saturday Night (7:30-8:45): The festival gave it's annual award for
lifetime achievement or some such thing to Bucky Pizzarelli, whose name was
pronounced PEE-za-relli by the person presenting the award. He then led a
set with a band made up of Varro, Ed Shaughnessy (drums), Duke Heitger
(trumpet), Vache', Jay Leonhart (bass), and Havens. Pizzarelli and
Shaughnessy played a duet of Sing, Sing, Sing, in which Pizzarelli took the
part of the entire Goodman band except the drum. Really a fun set to listen
Saturday Night (9:00-10:00): We hadn't had enough of Pizzarelli so we went
across the street for the next set he played. It also gave us a chance to
hear Kenny Davern, who led the group and whom we had missed up to that
point. Davern led the group (and was introduced as Kenny DAV-ern) by the
MC, who took no end of grief after introducing Bucky Pizza-relli, and then
turned Shaughnessy into a Polish drummer named "Ed "Shaneski." At the
close, Davern re-introduced the band as Kenny Davernski, Bucky
Pizzarelliski, Ed Shaneski, Red Polchek (a tribute to Benny Goodman's)
misidentifying Polcer for six months when Polcer was a member of the band,
Mark Shane-ski, and Murray Wallski.
Saturday Night (10:30-11:30): We stuck around at the same venue for the
next band led by Peplowski, who the same MC forgot to name when she named
the band. We thought it might be more of the same when she introduced
Johnny Vargo, but she got everyone elses name correct, especially
Shaughnessy's after he pronounced it three times for her. The band was
rounded out by Leonhart, Polcer, and Howard Alden (guitar).
Sunday Afternoon (12:00-1:00): It was still hot and humid, so the third day
we still stuck to the air conditioned venues. In this case, we decided to
check out Shelly Berg's trio with Lou Fischer (bass) and Steve Houghton
(drums). Not necessarily OKOM, but certainly MKOM since I'm a frustrated
former amateur pianist who wishes he had 1% of Berg's chops. Sucker can
Saturday Afternoon (1:30-2:30): Crazy Rhythm Hot Society Orchestra. Okay,
I have to admit I have this strange love of '20s-style big bands, and this
is a good one, complete with a singer named Ginger Pauley who does a mean
Helen Kane/Betty Boop imitation. The band plays a pretty wide variety of
music from the period from Mickey Mouse Band stuff like the Betty Boop
numbers and a version of Honolulu Baby from Laurel & Hardy's "Sons of the
Desert" (which had me singing along - as I said, I have this strange love
for that sort of thing) to Jean Goldkette's "Clementine (from New Orleand)"
which featured a nice cornet solo by Ray Williams that was a tribute to Bix
but used only one short phrase from Bix's solo, right after the clarinet
played the bridge. There was also an interesting blending of Betty Boop and
Don Redman with "How'm I Doing? (Twee-Twee-Twa)" (I think).
Saturday Afternoon (3:00-4:30): I wasn't ready to move because I was
comfortable and it was about 90 again outside, so I caught the Bob Cats for
the second time. It was a very loose set. Ed Metz said that they would use
less of the Crosby book and stretch out more, and that's what they did.
They finished the set with South Rampart St. Parade. (Is that one musicians
get tired of playing? As for me, it got me energized for the ride home).
That's who I saw, but this festival runs seven stages continuously over the
three days, so I missed several people I would have loved to catch if only
they had been in air conditioned venues when we didn't want to check out
another band. We missed Dan Barrett's group BED which we caught a couple of
years ago there. Somehow we never caught a band in which John Bany was
playing, and he's one of my favorite bass players. We also missed the Frank
& Joe Show with Joe Ascione and Frank Vignola. We got into a venue just
after they finished, and a reporter/critic was wondering how he was going to
review it because he didn't understand it. Made me wish I'd caught it.
We somehow missed every set in which Jake Hanna played drums, and he's
another favorite of mine. We also missed a pretty fair Dixieland band from
Michigan called the New Reformation band, one we've seen most years since
they've been coming to the festival. We also somehow missed Tommy Saunders,
although my son saw him in a parking lot when he was bringing something to
So many stages, so little time..
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