Eli and The Hot Six
Phil Person trumpet, Ted Casher clarinet, soprano, and tenor sax, Herb Gardner trombone, Bob Winter keyboard, Jim Mazzy banjo, Eli Newberger tuba, Bob Tamagni drums
Eli Newberger integrated a lively group of Berklee Professors into his Hot Six and put them through their paces playing Dixieland Jazz. (Bob Winter, piano, Phil Person, ear training, and Bob Tamagni, percussion.) Their fiery enthusiasm captivated the audience!
They opened with a stunning Sheik of Araby, Jimmy singing with uncontrolled Mazzy passion. Phil Person followed with on trumpet, then Ted on clarinet, then Herb trombone, the soloists playing for each other as much as the people out front. Bobby Tamagni had only one drum, playing Traditional Jazz by tapping the snare drum or hitting drum sticks together. Eli directed them, then just sat back smiling, listening, enjoying every second. Jimmy ended it shouting scat choruses. This was going to be one exciting evening!
None of the musicians knew what they were going to do – they’ve never played together as a band. Eli asked Phil if he knew Do Nothing ‘Till You Hear From Me. Phil answered, “I wrote it!”, took the lead and ran with it!
Phil Person performed all through the session with beautifully simple phrasing, deep understanding of the emotions of the music, and respect for the other players. He’s a true gentleman, who always listens and plays with a light touch.
Bob Winter does amazing things with Traditional Jazz!
Eli looked for a Trad Jazz War Horse and settled on Royal Garden Blues. Jimmy and Tamagni trading fours, then Bobby playing a vast range of dynamics on his one snare drum.
Winter playfully demonstrated his energetic musicality with Tamagni tapping a tambourine on his hip. Eli took a masterful tuba solo. It was never ending with each one taking a solo, sharing their joy in making music.
Henry Red Allen was a New Orleans visionary with a sound all his own. He recorded a tune that Eli gave to Herb Gardner, playing trombone and singing Who Cares. Ira Gershwin went over the top with the lyrics: Who cares if the sun cares to fall in the sea? Who cares what banks failed in Yonkers? As long as you’ve got a kiss that conquers!
Herb Gardner featured on Who Cares? with vocal and trombone
Next was Ted Casher featured on gut-wrenching, smoldering tenor sax with Blue and Sentimental. Pure rapture and euphoria! We can’t hear it often enough! We needed a breather after that one.
Eli said “This is a great country – we’ve got to hold it together” and called for a Patriotic tune, Gershwin’s masterpiece Of Thee I Sing, played solo, by Bob Winter, with great feeling and delight.
Back to The Big Easy, a fine New Orleans anthem with Jimmy taking the intro on Basin St. Blues with banjo and song as only he can. Bob Winter played it light and airy. Eli came up with the tuba hitting high and low, low, low. Jimmy finished it off singing heartfelt blues.
Bob Tamagni rim tapping on drum
The World is Waiting For The Sunrise, an anthem of hope – the banjo player’s national anthem, was introduced by Jimmy rapidly picking banjo, of course, Tamagni taking rim shots on snare drum!
Ted Casher makes up his own vocals on the MTA. Velma Coffey photo.
Ted was featured again with a special vocal all his own, with all of us joining in the chorus, Charlie on The MTA. Ted had some choice words making up new verses about all the problems we’ve been having with the MBTA. Bob Winter was laughing and enjoying the whole scene.
Eli asked Sarah (Gardner) Nova to come up for a vocal. (That’s one very musical family!) She sang a commanding Keep Your Hands Off It. Sarah has an intuitive grasp of musical dynamics. She has created several CDs that teach children the joy of music – especially Jazz.
Sarah Nova sings Keep Your Hands Off It!
Carrie Sings with Jimmy and Eli backing
Carrie Mazzy was called up next, looking lovingly at Jimmy, singing When I Fall In Love. They have been married for close to 30 years. Seems like yesterday!
Carolyn Newberger plays washboard to Miami Rumba (file photo)
Carolyn Newberger put down her scratch pad and picked up an old washboard for one of my favorites, Miami Rumba. Her fervor fascinates the audience!
The whole band joined in, with snare drum in rumba beat.
(Check her sketches below.)
Tough act to follow; Jimmy played and sang a gripping, emotional, Georgia On My Mind.
Eli completely changed the mood with another barn-burning Dixieland tune, At The Jazz Band Ball, with the band going WILD with ultra-tight all star intensity! Ted pushed it on hot soprano sax, drum interacting with tuba. Fantastic!
Everyone needed a break!
Jimmy came up with a breathtaking St. James Infirmary Blues, with lyrics by Josh White. “I want 6 crapshooters to be my pallbearers, three pretty women to sing a song, Stick a jazz band on my hearse wagon, Raise hell as I stroll along.” Bobby Tamagni was enjoying himself beating the snare drum with his hands.
It was already closing time. The band finished with livewire ensemble; outgoing and infectious on a New Orleans tune – wait for it – When The Saints Go Marching In!
Eli and The Hot Six’s videos are now available, from their recent performance celebrating his 75th birthday at Sculler’s Jazz Club: https://www.youtube.com/user/EliNewberger . That rare traditional jazz concert was covered by the Boston Globe:
But here is even more….
Carolyn Newberger never stops. She kept busy as usual with pencil and sketchbook, getting lost in the fabulous Trad and Swing and drawing across both pages! She shared some of her marvelous artwork with us:
This was indeed a fascinating evening. Berklee professors can actually play Traditional Jazz, and play this happy, foot-stomping music with cheerful enthusiasm!
My apologies for the quality of the photos –
I borrowed my son’s camera and didn’t
know how to use it. Many thanks to Sarah
for her help in making it useable!! Marce