Friday, December 18, 2015

Going with a bang (and the Gibsons' party)

It's been seven months since my last post, far too much, even for what is, in the end, a vanity project. I'm afraid I cannot promise a more consistent rate of delivery: there are three or four overdue items I must do, and when that is done, we'll see where this goes. To keep with the foggy discourse, and even if it looks like a contradiction, next year I'll start a new blog, based purely on research, most of it fresh. I'm fairly sure it will be enjoyed by regular visitors to these pages, where the launch will be duly announced.

Now, in the spirit of the season, I wish you the very best for the coming celebrations, whatever you celebrate, and don't forget you're part of the elite of this planet, with a roof over your head, access to the internet, and the ability to read. That, and an impeccable taste for music.

End of the formalities.

Clark Terry and Ruby Braff

A couple of weeks ago, I came across the video down below at the bottom, a unique opportunity to see quite a few heroes in motion, not only playing, but chatting, socializing, and laughing a lot. For veteran fans, especially stateside, this may not mean much, but there are a host of younger fans for whom these people are only names and pictures on records. Whatever value you give to watching a grumpy Billy Butterfield getting up from bed, I personally love it. Or the triumphant entrance by Ruby Braff and the impromptu duo with Clark Terry on "Struttin' with Some Barbecue" right before the screenshot above. You can see Joe Venuti tell a joke, and a lot of fooling around, with Venuti on soprano sax, Clark Terry on bass, and Zoot Sims on drums. You can also see Joe Wilder playing "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" in an empty church, Kenny Davern and Benny Carter discussing circular breathing, or Panama Francis telling Phil Woods and Cliff Leeman that Charlie Barnet's was the only white orchestra which could cut it at the Savoy (Leeman was Barnet's drummer). Or how about Clark Terry and Frank Rosolino playing fast bebop over rhythm changes (Terry quotes "Shaw 'Nuff", "Wee", and they close with "That's Right")... with just their mouthpieces? Or Pee Wee Erwin playing "Hello Dolly" to Lucille Armstrong? The almost two hours of footage are just a joy to watch.

In alphabetical order, you get to see Lucille Armstrong, Eubie Blake, Ruby Braff, Ray Brown, Billy Butterfield, Benny Carter, Al Cohn, Kenny Davern, Buddy DeFranco, Vic Dickenson, George Duvivier, Herb Ellis, Pee Wee Erwin, Jon Faddis, Tommy Flanagan, Carl Fontana, Panama Francis, Jerry Fuller, Ira Gitler, Al Grey, Jake Hanna, Roland Hanna, Roy Haynes, Milt Hinton, Major “Mule” Holley, Peanuts Hucko, Dick Hyman, Budd Johnson, Gus Johnson, Roger Kellaway, Cliff Leeman, George Masso, Joe Newman, Flip Phillips, Bucky Pizzarelli, Larry Ridley, Bob Rosengarden, Frank Rosolino, Zoot Sims, Ralph Sutton, Buddy Tate, Clark Terry, Ross Tompkins, Joe Venuti, Bill Watrous, Bob Wilber, Joe Wilder, Ernie Wilkins, Phil Woods, and Trummy Young.

The occasion was an annual jazz party given in Denver and Aspen, Colorado, by Dick and Maddie Gibson. This edition in the video is, I think, from 1977. As Maddie herself explains, "the party is for the musicians, the guests are only necessary to pay for it."

Since it's not in our style here to just link a YouTube video, first, our thanks to the uploader, who got the footage from the late and much missed Phil Woods. Second, I've taken a few screenshots and tagged as many people as I was able to recognize. If a more acute observer finds there are any names missing or mistaken, please do let me know in the message section below.

These are most of the protagonists (click on the images to enlarge them):


And without further ado, do enjoy the party at the Gibsons'!

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