In jazz, it happens all the time. When Oscar Klein took the stage in this 1995 concert, he did not know who would be joining him. Guitarist Patruno was there; he organized the festival. Klein had been in a group with Jan Jankeje and Gregor Beck; Jankeje knew the trombonist Alexander Katz. They had never played as a group before, and there was no time to rehearse. They started to play, and – everything worked, from sparkling solos to tight ensembles. At the spur of the moment, great music was made. In jazz, it happens all the time.
Bob Barton takes a gentle stride, and we’re into “All of Me”. Engelbert Wrobel starts with sweet licorice, in time getting good and gritty – not quite Pee Wee, but still nice. Barton pushes the beat on his solo, over the firm walkin’ of Jankeje. Katz is soft and burry, short slides and long notes. Jankeje is thoroughly modern as Beck clicks his sticks. With a cheer Klein comes in: soft with slur, high with shouts. The group finish is much stronger than the opening. You’ll think the rehearsed forever, and the crowd doesn’t care – they love it.
“Lazy River” has great clarinet on the top, and Patruno has a gentle turn, chorded and ringing. Klein shows muscle: a ferocious tone with plenty of rasp. The group sends him off, and the final chord drifts away. Someone says “Yes indeed!” “Indiana” comes on like a charm; Katz is brassy and classy, and Patruno dreams a riff like Al Casey. Wrobel takes a soprano and rolls a nice line. Barton boogies, and the band returns to “Indiana”. A nice place, and you want to be there.
Next we get some features. “Stealin’ Apples” is Wrobel’s, and the clarinet rides high. He’s pure at the top, shrill at the end, and nice throughout. Barton quotes “Tea for Two” as the boogie rolls on. Barton wins the exchanges, but Beck varies his bits nicely. Patruno takes his banjo, and muses a moment. The slow notes become “The World is Waiting” (clever!) and then he takes off. He seems to play lead and rhythm at once, with a satisfying chink to the strings. Hear Jankeje’s modern riff – it works well with the ancient sound. The finish is double time, and you won’t think it possible. “When You’re Smiling” has a vocal by Barton – a relaxed voice with all the wrinkles of a wallet. It’s welcome, and so is Klein’s solo. And “Mood Indigo” is Katz’ – he has a wah-wah guitarists would envy. The sleepy backing matches the weary ‘bone. The appreciation is deep, and Barton’s sweet playing only makes him sadder – check out the ending. “Tricky” Katz? You’ll think so, and! so does the crowd.
With great fanfare comes the singer, Dana Gillespie. She acted in Hammer films, sang rock in the ‘Seventies (the David Bowie-produced Weren't Born a Man ), and now specializes in the blues. “Come On (If You’re Coming)” is her composition, a bawdy blues with plenty of sass. It’s a simple thing, but she makes it work. “St. Louis Blues” is slow, with plenty of late-night despair. Patruno strums her a lope, and Katz cries softly in the background. Gillespie gets brassy as it moves on; the funeral band walks behind. And “Royal Garden Blues” ends where the disc started – an up-tempo shouter with great ensembles. Katz is gentle, with more slide than normal – is he hot! Beck goes all out: first on toms, then a fog of cymbals. The band high-steps out; the applause remains. Music like this can’t be planned; it just happens – and here it happens nicely.
Songs:All of Me; Lazy River; Indiana; Stealin’ Apples; The World is Waiting for the Sunrise; When You’re Smiling; Mood Indigo; Come On (If You’re Coming); St. Louis Blues; Organ Grinder Blues; Royal Garden Blues.
Musicians:Oscar Klein (trumpet, clarinet on “Organ Grinder Blues”); Alex Katz (trombone); Engelbert Wrobel (clarinet, soprano sax); Bob Barton (piano, vocal on “When You’re Smiling”); Lino Patruno (guitar, banjo); Jan Jankeje (bass); Gregor Beck (drums); Dana Gillespie (vocals).
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