Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saturday Jazz Performance - "That's A'Plenty" - The Dixie Demons Jazz Band

There isn't much worse than a demon, but, there isn't too much better than the Dixie Demons playing Trad Jazz! Today let's listen to the Dixie Demons Jazz Band of Toronto, Canada playing That's A'Plenty at the Rex Jazz and Blues Bar, on January 8, 2011!

That's A'Plenty a favorite of Dixieland bands far and wide was composed by Lew Pollack (1895-1946) as a piano rag. It appears that Prince's Band led by Charles Prince (1869-1937) was the first to record the tune in 1917 after which the New Orleans Rhythm Kings recorded it in 1923. Many years later lyrics were written for the tune by Ray Gilbert (1912-1976).

The Dixie Demons have been playing Traditional jazz since 1984 when trombonist Dan Douglas founded. Since that time they have been playing everything from corporate events, clubs and jazz festivals. They are currently selling two CDs on their website Fossil Fuel and Live at the Rex.




The Dixie Demons Jazz Band at the Rex, Toronto, 1-8-2011.


Jack Teagarden playing the tune in 1951.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Saturday Jazz Performance - The Fat Babies in Concert

This Saturday Jazz Performance will be a concert that the Fat Babies gave on November 8, 2013 as part of the 24th annual Chicago Humanities Festival.

Courtesy Fat Babies website "Press Photos"

The Fat Babies was founded by Beau Sample in 2010. The band currently consists of Beau Sample on string bass, Andy Schumm on cornet, John Otto on reeds, Jonathan Doyle on reeds, Dave Bock on trombone, John Donatowicz on banjo and guitar, Paul Asaro on piano, and Alex Hall on the drums.

Not only is 2017 the Centennial of jazz recordings, but it is also the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima which is being celebrated by the Catholic Church. The Fat Babies start off their performance with "Jelly Roll" Morton's Animule Dance also known as Animule Ball. Since, today's date, May 13th is the anniversary of the first appearance of the apparition in Fatima, Portugal and since Morton was a practicing Catholic, who at one point in his life was known to attend Mass daily, I'll pick out Morton's two pieces that were played by the band to comment on.


Born Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe on October 20, 1890 he will forever be known by his professional name of "Jelly Roll" Morton. Morton was a larger than life pianist and composer who was playing piano in the early 1900s. He wrote and recorded many jazz standards. His compositions are still being played. He died on July 10, 1941. He was truly one of the jazz greats and his legend lives on.

Pianist Paul Assaro does a fantastic job recreating the spirit of Morton's narration on the Animule Dance piece. Morton recorded the tune during his legendary Library of Congress recordings during the Summer of 1938 and again in 1939. But he first composed it in about 1906. Speaking about the tune he said, the “Animule Dance” is a number that was ages old. I wrote the number and ten thousand claimed it. I don’t believe it’s ever been published. I don’t guess it ever will be published. Or maybe it will. Since so many claimed it, I thought I wouldn’t try to claim it. But there’s nobody ever been able to do it so far but myself.”

The third tune played is another "Jelly Roll" Morton tune which he composed in 1908 called Frog-I-More Rag and later called Froggie Moore. Beau Sample gives the two stories often cited for the tunes strange name. The preferred story seems to be that it was named after a Vaudevillian contortionist who went by that name, whom Morton accompanied on the piano!  Who knows, it just could be true. Morton didn't actually copyright the tune until 1918, ten years after he was supposed to have composed it. He did record it in 1923 as Frog-I-More Rag.



The players for this 2013 concert are a little different from the current band. Jake Sanders was the banjo player, reed player Jonathan Doyle had not yet joined the group when this concert was filmed and Amanda Wolff sings. 

The Fat Babies most recent album release is "Solid Gassuh" which came out in 2016.

Here is "Jelly Roll" Morton's 1939 version of Animule Dance.