It's been so long since the last Den that it should perhaps be renamed, "Every Now and Den." But here I am with some of the events that stand out from the past five months or so, not necessarily in chronological order.
I've never missed the annual Satchmo Summerfest in New Orleans, and the August 12 edition was, as always, a delightful experience, climate down yonder notwithstanding. Among the excellent seminar participants from up North were David Ostwald
The absolute highlight of the musical presentations was 101-year-old Lionel Ferbos, starring with Lars Edegran's Ragtime Orchestra. Ferbos played his trumpet as correctly and in-tune as always, and offered two delightful vocals in a strong and clear voice, on "Sister Kate" and the charming "Kiss Me Sweet," by A.J. Piron, who bought "Sister Kate" from young Armstrong for 50 bucks. Delfeayo Marsalis
's classic "Symphony in Riffs." Congrats to Marci Schramm and her staff for an excellent productionand come on down, y'all, for Satchmo Summerfest 13always the first week of August, Thursday through Sunday. Free!
offered a most unusual four consecutive nights at the Jazz Standard, each presenting the clarinetist/saxophonist in a different context. Called her Invitation Series, it began and ended with a duo. First came the wonderful Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo
. They had worked together before, but never in this intimate relationship, and it turned out to be marvelous, in a program featuring jazz standards, Brazilian pieces and originals. On clarinet and tenor, Cohen and Lubambo made beautiful and often moving music, including a swinging "All the Things You Are," a soulful "Darn That Dream," and a delightful chorothe New Orleans jazz of Brazil, with much in common with ragtime, and in which Cohen is at home. It's based on improvisation and, like blues and ragtime, sprang from many world influences. Choro (SHOH-roh) means "to cry" in Portuguese, referring to the weeping qualities of the instrument, usually a flute or clarinet.
The second night paired Cohen with another guitar virtuosoone she has often duetted and recorded withnone other than Howard Alden
's "Shreveport Stomp" in the pocket. With Kellso, there was a peppy "Weary Blues," with appropriately superb ensemble work, and a properly Slavonic "Dark Eyes," with plunger stuff. They wrapped with another fast one, "Limehouse Blues," with Cohen on tenor, with the Flip Phillips
original came to a happy choro-like end and featured special piano moments, while "At the End of the Day," another Hersch original, showcased Cohen's flawless intonation, and "Songs with Words Number 4" evoked a languid duet. The set ended with a Cohen special, "Memories of You," the best I've ever heard her do, abetted by a repeated phrase from Hersch. All told, a wonderful four nights. One hopes that at least some of them will live again on record, though those in attendance (there were many) will not soon forget.