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This Week On Riverwalk Jazz: NYC All-Stars & A New Year's Jam

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This week The Jim Cullum Jazz Band swings in the New Year with featured artists—Dan Barrett on trombone, piano legend Dick Hyman, Broadway’s Carol Woods, jazz singer Stephanie Nakasian and Marty Grosz on vocals and guitar. Also on the bill—trumpeter Doc Cheatham, who was then 88 years old.

The program is distributed in the US by Public Radio International, on Sirius/XM satellite radio and can be streamed on-demand from the Riverwalk Jazz website. You can also drop in on a continuous stream of shows at the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound.

In 1993, the Riverwalk Jazz broadcast crew descended upon the Red Blazer Too, a Manhattan night club on West 46th Street. Their mission was to capture a New Year’s Eve jam to be broadcast six months later. A hot and humid afternoon turned into a muggy evening as the crowd snaked around the corner and into the club. Dressed in short sleeve shirts and summer dresses, the audience didn’t take long to get into the mood—making believe it was New Year’s Eve instead of mid-July.

Trombonist and bandleader Dan Barrett calls California home and leads the popular festival circuit band BED with singer Rebecca Kilgore and guitarist/singer Eddie Erickson. On our New Year’s jam, Dan tackles the well-known Eddie Condon original “Wherever There’s Love.”

Regular listeners of Riverwalk Jazz are familiar with pianist Dick Hyman, who has the distinction of racking up the most guest appearances of any artist on our show. This week Dick shows his mastery of the style of Jelly Roll Morton with two classics, “Frog-I-More Rag” and “Black Bottom Stomp.”

Doc Cheatham was called “the greatest 90-year-old trumpet player who ever lived.” Before his passing in 1997, Doc’s musical career spanned virtually the entire history of jazz. He worked in bands led by Benny Carter, Teddy Wilson, Fletcher Henderson and Benny Goodman, among many others. At the Red Blazer Too, Doc joined Jim and the Band on “I’ve Got the World on a String.”

Singer and actress Carol Woods was appearing on Broadway in Neil Simon’s The Goodbye Girl when she joined us at the Red Blazer Too in 1993. Lately, she’s been making waves in the recently released hit movie Across the Universe featuring the music of the Beatles. On our broadcast Carol welcomes the New Year with three Johnny Mercer classics from the golden age of songwriting: “Too Marvelous for Words,” “I Remember You” and “Blues in the Night.”

Stephanie Nakasian is a leading light of jazz singing. Besides her prolific concertizing and recording, Stef teaches jazz voice at the University of Virginia and is the author of instructional books and CDs. Apropos of the season, Stef favors us with her authentic, swinging versions of “What are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” and “Seems Like Old Times.”

Known for his acerbic wit, Mary Grosz has long been a champion of the unamplified, or “unplugged” style of jazz guitar playing made famous in the 1930s by studio giants Carl Kress and Dick McDonough.

Marty says, “This makes me either the last remaining proponent of the acoustic guitar tradition in jazz or the lone harbinger of a new non-electric movement.” The evidence suggests the latter to be the case, as legions of younger players today discover the joy and swing of playing “amp-less."

It’s back to the future with a night on the town in Manhattan and an all-star cast swinging in the New Year as Riverwalk Jazz kicks off another season of weekly radio broadcasts.

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