Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
288

Roy Nathanson: Fire At Keaton's Bar & Grill

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count Views
Roy Nathanson: Fire At Keaton's Bar & Grill Roy Nathanson has always been a storyteller. In the late 1980s, his band with Curtis Fowlkes, called the Jazz Passengers, echoed the voices he heard from his New York streets. Deranged and Decomposed and Broken Night/Red Light, both nearly impossible to find recordings, spoke of multi-ethnic ramblings, preachers, and strange drugs. Nathanson also wrote music for performance artist David Cale, accenting his tales. Later work with the Lounge Lizards and the nineties reincarnation of the Jazz Passengers with vocalist Debbie Harry of Blondie fame, further broadened Nathanson's musical palate. He is a showman with an inclination for burlesque, a joke and a good time.



Fire is the full realization of his storytelling. He constructs an imaginary tavern, with an assemblage of patrons and odd characters that include Deborah Harry as Cups, the bartender everyone lusts for, Elvis Costello the narrator, Richard Butler of the Psychedelic Furs as the would be arsonist, and various patrons that include a micro and a macro physicist. Not since The Who's Tommy or, well...The Van Trapp families exploits has musical theatre captured my imagination. Nathanson's theater is all about the bar's characters. Scored with tangos, a saxophone quartet, funk, organ grease, and Jazz Passengers circus music, the musical vignettes shed light on the tragic night of the fire, hint at relationships and turmoil, before disappearing into the smoke.



Nancy King and Kenny Washington sing/scat "Bar Stool Paradise" ala' "Moody's Mood For Love" at true lush life where a few drinks create eternal love, at least for tonight.



Nathanson casts his musical theatre with top musicians and eclectic styles. Where else can a B3, as if in a make believe jazz night, play opposite a cello and Dobro "kid song" next to a love song between two gay particle physicists? Somehow Elvis Costello's voice has become the narration of our times and Harry's graduation from Blondie signals a collective call for all of us to grow up already. Nathanson has given us the postmodern-Cheers, then burned it to the ground. See, jazz can be fun music, it can be theatre, and it can tell stories.


Track Listing: Fire Suite 1; Fire Suite 2; Fire Suite 3; Bar Stool Paradise; Last Call; Jazz Night At Keaton's; A Bend In The Night; Carol Ann; Toast Quartet; Loss; Cups; Fire Suite Reprise.

Personnel: Roy Nathanson

| Record Label: Six Degrees Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


CD/LP/Track Review
Book Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Nearness And You, Duets and Improvisations
Nearness And You,...
Clean Feed Records
2016
buy
Complicated Day
Complicated Day
ENJA - Yellowbird
2014
buy
Subway Moon
Subway Moon
Enja Records
2009
buy
Sotto Voce
Sotto Voce
AUM Fidelity
2006
buy
Fire At Keaton's Bar & Grill
Fire At Keaton's Bar...
Six Degrees Records
2000
buy
[no cover]
I Could've Been A Drum
Verve Records
1997
buy
William Parker William Parker
bass, acoustic
Brad Shepik Brad Shepik
guitar
Charlie Hunter Charlie Hunter
guitar, 8-string
Lenny White Lenny White
drums
Julius Hemphill Julius Hemphill
sax, alto
Mark Dresser Mark Dresser
bass, acoustic

More Articles

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.