26 August 2016
It's yonks since I've listened much to early jazz, the stride and ragtime styles of the bordellos that started it all. It's familiar, but also considered old and fusty and is somewhat denigrated by the modern types, but this was rollicking music, fun as, very danceable (if little danced to on the night) and by essence heavily swinging. Robbie led the band from his piano stool, playing a piano that was suitably out of tune to fit the style (was it detuned for the occasion? Probably not) taking the chordal and bass roles. There was no bass player, only Robbie's striding left hand. And he gave us some percussion, too, with a firm leather heel on timber tap for a good deal of the time. The pianist can actually do it all, being an orchestral in a box, but this was a band, so there was more. More driving and complex rhythms from drums. The horns, too, expanded on the pianist's palette. The trom took some bass-like role at times, and the three horns - clarinet, trumpet and trom - often defined the changes or one of the other stated the melody or went ecstatic with collective improv which is a core sound of this period. And the rhythm, too, was shared with drums. There plenty of solos passed around, mostly short and sweet, but the interplay, the collective soloing, the arrangements of heads were most interesting to me. They played a string of obvious and less obvious tunes. Congrats to Bob and Keith for naming most of them: no surprise there. Maple leaf rag, Bohemian rag, The entertainer; Scott Joplin and Fats Waller and Joseph Lamb and the Old Dixieland Jazz Band; Fidgety feet, Clarinet marmalade; After you've gone; Britney Spears, Chopin ... yes! period takes on One more time and Nocturne Op.9 no.2 (and yes, they both worked). Congrats to Robbie and the band. Much fun and a well-deserved visit to jazz history.
Parlour Social played at Smiths. PS was led by Robbie Mann (piano) with Tim Bensen (trumpet), Thomas Manly (clarinet), Josh Hart (trombone) and Jamal Salem (drums).