What a lovely afternoon of 'classic' jazz, from the 1910s to the 1940s.
The moment the Danzon Duo started up with Chicken a la Swing, you knew this was going to be a real feelgood gig, and so it proved. Jonny and Ramon champion the music of Carl Kress, Dick McDonough and (in their own words) the peerless ‘Father of Jazz Guitar’, Eddie Lang. Much of it they have transcribed themselves from the old 78 recordings. There was some great virtuoso playing - notably in the appropriately named Hot Fingers by Eddie Lang and Lonnie Johnson - but also gentle ballads like their 'title tune' Danzon. It was of course another Eddie Lang track that gave the name to this concert, but Carl Kress and Dick McDonough's number Stage Fright that brought it to an end.
We'd paired Danzon up with a piano and clarinet duo, to explore other corners of the early jazz repertoire. Huge thanks to Martin Litton for stepping in with David Horniblow when our original plans fell through at the last minute. Martin is a real expert in the ragtime and stomp styles of those early years, and David produces a truly authentic sound, with loads of vibrato and lip-bends, that is immediately evocative of classic jazz. Again, there was plenty of virtuoso playing to admire, and plenty of variety too. Martin's solo Boogie-Woogie Stomp did pretty much what it said on the tin, while his exploration of Jelly Roll Morton's latin-influenced pieces (Mama Nita, The Crave) was new territory to me and a real discovery.
The audience lapped it all up and showed every sign of wanting more! It's not a style of jazz that we hear too much of, more's the pity, so it was great to be able to feature both of these fine duos at Christ Church.
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