[Dixielandjazz] Hot jazz in the US NOW

david richoux domitype at gmail.com
Sat Aug 3 05:55:42 PDT 2013

Nice article! I had not heard much about The Hot Sardines - they have
plenty of interesting youtubes: http://tinyurl.com/lnckuuw

Dave Richoux

On Sat, Aug 3, 2013 at 1:10 AM, Marek Boym <marekboym at gmail.com> wrote:

> Following is a "Vanity Fair" article on hot jazz in New York:
> How a Swath of 20-Somethings Have Tuned In to 1920s Pop
>  By Will Friedwald <http://www.vanityfair.com/contributors/will-friedwald>
> By Harry Fellows.
> Hot Sardines.
> It has been called New Orleans jazz, Dixieland (a term that most of the
> musicians playing it despise), and most recently, “trad” (short for
> “traditional”) jazz. Ever since Benny Goodman exploded onto the pop-music
> scene in 1935 and ignited the swing era, the earlier jazz of the 1920s has
> been relegated to music’s margins.
> *But a funny thing happened on the way to the modern bandstand.*
> *Gradually, over the past few years, more and more young jazz
> musicians—mainly in their 20s and even younger—have begun to play this
> music and, in the process, started again to refer to it by the name it was
> known by when it was new: Hot Jazz*. Ninety years ago, dancers employed
> designations of temperature to distinguish between “hot” bands, like King
> Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band or Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers and the
> “sweet” bands of the era, like Guy Lombardo’s.
> *All of a sudden, Hot Jazz bands are all over New York (and, by various
> indications, other cities as well)—most of them made up of musicians
> roughly the age of trumpeter Mike Davis and Joshua Holcomb (who plays
> trombone, tuba, and bass), both 21.* The two are recent graduates of the
> Manhattan School of Music, where they jointly led a Hot Jazz
> student-ensemble band, and are now part of the city’s workforce of
> professional musicians. Such bands are heard in an increasing number of
> clubs, including several devoted to Hot Jazz, such as Mona’s in the
> Alphabet City neighborhood, and Radegast Hall & Biergaretn in Williamsburg,
> Brooklyn.
> *Nearly every week (particularly in the summer), these musicians also play
> in bands at dance-oriented “retro nouveau” events, like Shanghai Mermaid,
> the Jazz Age Lawn Party, and the Salon—a combination of dance, concert, and
> costume party. Young dancers typically come in 1920s drag, and one can see
> flappers and sheikhs texting and tweeting on the margins of the dance
> floor.
> *
> *The Lawn Party, the biggest of these events, usually attracts 3,000-plus
> people (most in vintage attire, almost all under 30) for two weekends a
> summer on Governors Island.* Movie director Baz Luhrman is a regular
> attendee, and although his film adaptation of *The Great Gatsby*—based on
> the definitive novel of what author F. Scott Fitzgerald called “the Jazz
> Age”—featured little authentic jazz from the period, the movie’s box-office
> success reveals again how the culture of the Roaring 20s seems to resonate
> with contemporary audiences.
> Hot Jazz is so prevalent now that New York has almost become like New
> Orleans in the *fin de siècle* period: in covering the city’s jazz scene
> for *The Wall Street Journal,* I find that I can go hear a 20s-style band,
> almost inevitably made up of musicians born well after 1980, playing
> somewhere in the city virtually every night of the week. For these young
> players, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is Vince Giordano and
> the Nighthawks, the 11-piece ensemble that’s kept the torch burning for
> pre-swing music for almost 40 years. Most of Giordano’s regular musicians
> are in their 40s and 50s, but he occasionally hires up-and-coming artists,
> such as 26-year-old twins Peter and Will Anderson, two reed players
> (clarinet and saxophone) who have been working with Giordano since 2007,
> their sophomore year at Juilliard.
>  From left to right: Gordon Webster (piano), Dennis Lichtman (clarinet),
> Nick Russo (banjo), and Jared Engel (bass).
> By Bruce Gast.
> Mona's Hot Four.
> Will Anderson feels that an understanding of early jazz is essential to
> being able to play the music of *any* period. “I enjoy playing all styles
> of jazz, because it is all rooted in the music of the 1920s—harmonically,
> rhythmically, and melodically.” He adds, *“Twenties jazz has a clarity and
> beauty that anyone can identify with; it expresses the most bitter sadness
> and complete joy, simultaneously.”*
> Along with the Nighthawks, a newer, smaller band that’s serving as the
> focal point of the Hot Jazz movement is Mona’s Hot Four, which plays all
> night long every Tuesday, to a capacity crowd of regulars and musicians who
> come to sit in and jam. Here, alas, there’s no room for dancing and, in
> fact, barely any room even for listening. “I believe musicians of my
> generation and younger are attracted to the roots, blues aspect of the
> music; the collective polyphony of the ensemble; the partner-danceability
> of the rhythm [that has] revitalized excitement of the audiences,” says
> Mona’s Hot Four’s guitar-and-banjo player, Nick Russo. Gradually, the mania
> surrounding the music has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Mr. Russo
> notes that the more musicians play Hot Jazz, the more crowds are attracted,
> which, in turn, he says, generates “more gigs.”
> *What’s also interesting is that this new wave of traditional jazz relies
> on nontraditional venues:* formal jazz clubs, mostly in midtown, generally
> ignore it, and so far Jazz at Lincoln Center has not yet gotten hip—a
> further irony, in that 30 years ago J.A.L.C. founder Wynton Marsalis was
> one of the first major musicians to encourage younger players to study
> Louis Armstrong as much as Miles Davis. (An exception is the Louis
> Armstrong tribute band, led by David Ostwald, which has been playing weekly
> in Birdland for over a decade.) Hot Jazz turns up in all manner of venues
> that are far from exclusively jazz clubs, the most high profile of which is
> probably Joe’s Pub. The Hot Sardines, the name reflecting singer and
> co-leader Elizabeth Bougerol’s Parisian origins, currently enjoy a monthly
> residency at Joe’s, and this summer the club is also presenting another
> young French group, the Avalon Jazz Band.
>  By Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images.
> Cecile McLorin Salvant.
> Of all the Hot Jazz groups, the Sardines have probably come the furthest.
> They’ve been together almost 10 years, during which time they’ve assembled
> a unique repertoire, and a sound and a style that are distinctly their own.
> At the opposite end of the spectrum is the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys
> Traditional “Jass” Band, a brand new combo that, within a few months of
> being formed in the Crescent City at the start of 2013, was already drawing
> crowds in New Orleans as well as in the New York area. The Donkeys even
> boast a celebrity offspring: tubaist Wessell Anderson Jr. is the son of
> saxophonist Wes “Warmdaddy” Anderson, the longtime Marsalis sideman. (Full
> disclosure: the father of the band’s banjo-guitarist-vocalist, Sam Friend,
> is an editor at *Vanity Fair*.) Unlike the Sardines, the Donkeys don’t have
> an identifiable band “book” of their own yet, and most of their tunes are
> familiar Dixieland warhorses (many sung by trumpeter James Williams,
> channeling Louis Armstrong), but that will surely come in time, the longer
> they continue to work together. (Right now their most intriguing number is
> a mash-up of two jazz standards based on the same chord changes, the 1920
> song “Whispering” and Dizzy Gillespie’s 1945 “Groovin’ High.”)
> The Sardines, contrastingly, have not only their own identifiable tunes but
> a fast-paced act that combines jazz and old-fashioned showbiz, spotlighting
> Ms. Bougerol’s singing (and spieling*).* Which points up another aspect of
> the current Hot Jazz scene: virtually all of these players have grown up in
> the contemporary, post-CD era, and to them the notion of bands scuffling
> around trying to get “signed” by major record labels is an archaic idea
> from a bygone age. None of these bands has been on a top label, although
> some sell their own self-produced CDs. Yet audio-only representations, in
> general, are almost entirely beside the point. To these groups, it’s much
> more important to be well represented on the social networks, to have a
> compelling Facebook presence, and to get noticed on YouTube.
>  By Kaitlin Hanrahan.
> The New Orleans Swamp Donkeys.
> Modern jazz has grown increasingly into concert music, over the last 50
> years especially, with musicians more or less looking like a string
> quartet—just sitting and playing, sometimes reading music from stands.
> *Conversely,
> Hot Jazz bands do everything they can to keep the audience engaged, making
> the music visually appealing. The Sardines feature tap dancer “Fast Eddy”
> Francisco, who functions as a second percussionist; they not only play for
> dancers in the crowd but include a dancer as part of the music itself. Jon
> Ramm, the 27-year-old trombonist with the Swamp Donkeys, makes a specialty
> of maneuvering his instrument’s slide with his bare foot. It’s pure
> vaudeville, to be sure. Mr. Ramm says, “A lot of people write off this kind
> of jazz as antiquated, but the truth of the matter is it’s still pop music.
> Twenties music has those qualities . . . a connection with basic human
> emotion.* All the music we play is basic, structure-wise,
> chord-change-wise. And it gives us an ability to reach all people.”
> As the names of these groups imply, this music is about the bands, many of
> whom have colorful and unforgettable appellations like the Hot Sardines,
> the Swamp Donkeys, Baby Soda, the Grand Street Stompers, Emily Ahser’s
> Garden Party, Dan Levinson’s Roof Garden Jass Band, Jesse Carolina and the
> Hot Mess—whereas modern jazz is often mainly about star soloists. There are
> several outstanding individual players, nonetheless, who attract attention
> no matter what groups they’re working in. Bria Skonberg, 29, is a Canadian
> trumpeter and vocalist who moved to New York in 2010; she looks like a
> Scandinavian beauty-pageant winner (or, as I wrote in the *Journal, *like
> “Thor’s kid sister”), and when she puts the horn to her lips, it becomes
> clear that she can compete with virtually any brassman playing jazz today.
> Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, 24, is African American, visually impaired, and
> an Orthodox Jew who won’t appear in public without a proper head covering.
> He sings and plays passionately (banjo, guitar, piano, and many other
> instruments), working with folk, blues, and country bands as well as jazz.
> They both know a million songs from the period, and their music is rife
> with soul and personality. They both possess what jazz players of all
> genres and generations strive for: a distinctive sound and approach to
> their instruments.
> The new movement is experiencing breakthroughs even as we speak: in June,
> veteran clarinetist *Dan Levinson, age 48, hosted a jam session on the
> stage of New York’s Symphony Space, featuring musicians who were 20 years
> younger than him (including all of Mona’s Hot Four). Produced by the Sidney
> Bechet Society, this was the first formal concert focusing on the current
> generation of trad-jazz standouts.* At press time, the first full-scale New
> York Hot Jazz Festival has been announced for August 2013; the gathering is
> being planned as a free, one-day concert (August 25) at Mehanata, on the
> Lower East Side, that producer Michael Katsobashvili hopes will grow into
> an expanded annual event.
> At 23, Cécile McLorin Salvant is a highly acclaimed jazz singer who does an
> especially inspired job with songs from the 1920s, 30s, and beyond. She
> compares the young musicians who specialize in this music to “a *Star
> Trek*–convention
> kind of thing. *We love the music from this time period, and we even have a
> kind of nostalgia for something that we have never lived through in our own
> lifetimes—or even our grandparents’! There’s just something special about
> music that seems so far away; there’s a certain sense of mystery to it—and
> then [someone is] able to bring it to you. Plus, let’s not forget: this all
> started as party music for teenagers.”*
>  By Mick Gold/Redferns.
> Blind Boy Paxton.
> In many ways, the new Hot Jazz players seem to be deliberately undoing the
> accomplishments of Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and then the modernists,
> who spent generations trying to get the world to take jazz seriously.
> *These
> musicians, instead, are working conspicuously to prove that jazz can be a
> popular music all over again. It seems to be working.** *
> *Will Friedwald writes about jazz and nightlife for *The Wall Street
> Journal.* His last story for *Vanity Fair* focused on Michael Feinstein.
> Friedwald is the author of eight books on music and popular culture,
> including *A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers, Stardust
> Melodies, Tony Bennett: The Good Life, Jazz Singing,* and the award-winning
> *Sinatra: The Song Is You. *He has written more than 600 liner notes for
> compact discs and has received eight Grammy nominations.*
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