Tha Syncopaytah!

23 07 2008

On Monday I went to see Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks play the finest in early jazz, and as I was describing it to Jon yesterday I was reminded that one day, while working on this crazy little thing we like to call the “New York Music Index and Archive” (or NYMIA for short), he and I (well, Jon really) came up with a bunch of deejay names for 1920s and 1930s artists.  “MC Oh You, Kid!” and “DJ Hot Cha Cha” are a couple of examples.  So I ask Jon, I ask him, what he thought Vince Giordano’s 1920s DJ name would be.  His reply?

Tha Syncopaytah!

If you think you’ve never seen Vince or heard his music, you’re probably wrong. He’s played big band leaders in Scorsese’s The Aviator, Woody Allen’s The Curse of the Jade Scorpion and in Gus Van Sant’s You’re the Man Now Dog Finding Forrester.  Oh, and he was a bass player in Woody’s Sweet and Lowdown.  And did music for the Mighty Aphrodite, The Purple Rose of Cairo and Zelig. He ALSO worked with Coppola on the Cotton Club. AND his music was on the soundtrack both for Robert DeNiro’s The Good Shepherd and Terry Zwigoff’s Ghost World.  Quite a list!

Sure, it’s nice to see him in a movie or hear him on record but you have no idea just how amazing his band or the music it plays is until you’ve experienced them both live.  Un.  Believable .  Besides a passionate player of the music, he’s a collector and historian as well.  The man’s got 32,000 original band arrangements (virtually all collected from musicians active in the 1920s and 1930s) to play from. Think about that for a second. That’s thirty-two thousand band arrangments.  32,000 78 rpm records would be a gigantic record collection for most, but having that much sheet music–and keeping it fresh by playing it–is a whole other level of commitment and musical expertise.

It’s this kind of commitment that brings those in the know to see the group perform.  For example, it’s probably no surprise that Rich Conaty of WFUV’s The Big Broadcast was there on Monday.  That era of music is his “thing” and he’s local.  But then there was Jean Bach.  Bach directed that most amazing of jazz documentaries, A Great Day in Harlem.  He had a 85-going-on-20 year old clarinet player come up named “Saul” (didn’t catch his last name) who played beautifully for a couple of numbers.  Speaking of musicians, seated at the table just to my right was John Heneghan and Eden Brower of the delightful East River String Band.  Yeah, and THEY happened to be there with R. Crumb, who, when pointed out, was suitably suppliant to the band.   And to think–my wife and I thought we were special because we were with Earle Hitchner (music critic for the Wall Street Journal and Irish Echo newspapers) and Mick Moloney (winner of a 1999 National Heritage Fellowship and Irish banjo leg-end).

Giordano and the Nighthawks currently play every Monday night at Sofia’s Restaurant in New York’s Hotel Edison, which is on 46th st, right around the theaters in Times Square. If you live in the City, go see them.  If you’re coming in from out of town on business or as a tourist, will be in the Times Square area and want a sure bet for some great live music, go see them.  Tha Syncopaytah will not disappoint.


Summertime + the music stories are adequate

8 07 2008

• We recently found four Elvis bracelets at a flea market. While the packaging looked right, the bracelets themselves seemed a little iffy. What did these rocks have to do with Elvis? The date is 1956. So maybe “Jailhouse Rocks?” Our pal the internet turned up pics of the backing card and a reason for the diecut. Seems these were originally ‘Dog Tag Bracelets” and those were the cut out words. So someone just attached available bracelets. I hope they are Bakelite and worth much more than any Elvii souvenir. Jon thinks they’re melted bits of old telephones. Regardless, it’s a reminder of how your career can be on the rocks even if you’re tombstoned; this April both Madonna and Mariah buried the King’s record (36) for the most number one singles on the Billboard charts.

• EMI announced today that they have a NEW CEO. Elio Leoni-Sceti comes direct from handling the Woolite and Lysol accounts at Reckitt Benckiser. Qualifications? He’s gonna clean up the music business

Leoni-Sceti says that if the Melvins can make an album called “Lysol,” HE could run a record company!

By the way Reckitt Benckiser refused to give permission for Melvins to use the name, “Lysol” and our copy has black tape over the title. Yep, the right guy for the job.

• Q : Reporters asked A-Rod how he kept so fit, and commented that his unbelievable condition must have a lot to do with diet. Then they asked what was the most harmful thing he’s ever eaten?

8th Grader’s A : Wedding Cake.

Staff A : Madonna

• Speaking of musical snacks (and consumer goods), boxes of dal and curry from Kitchens of India all contain a Classic Indian music CD. I’ve gotten two of the four different titles so far, and, well, they’re tasty. They call the series “Indian Classical Maestros,” and artists include Ustad Bismillah Khan (Shehnai), Ustad Amjad Ali Khan (Sarod), Pt. Tarun Bhattacharya (Santoor), and Dr. Chitti Babu (Veena).

• As you may know we are putting together the NYMIA (launch in the fall) a webthing that will host info on all musical artists and music related businesses in New York. PROOF that it’s worth doing, and the wealth of talent lurking in the concrete underbelly of the Empire State, is the band, Tragedy, who do a metal tribute to the Bee Gees. Recently, Jon and Dan came across their MySpace page. Turns out, they’re taking the soft summer hits of the 1970s and making them very, very metal. Few remember, and this tribute does not help, that the B Boys (ARC has 72 of their releases from around the world) were an experimental band at launch – B. would play them right along Pearls before Swine and the Fugs. Rehear “Bee Gees’ 1st” and see why.

• Rell talk: Dan and Jon have taken John Hodgman’s course on hobo names twice now, and can be properly considered experts in the field. If you’re looking to find names for unidentified hobos mentioned in recordings by the likes of Whale, Jimmy Smith, Gene Autry, Karen & Cubby and John Lee Hooker, Jon and Dan are your guys. Yeeeeah! So, now what? Standby…

• We’ve been doing a lot of scans for the new Grammy Hall of Fame going up in LA. Well, after a while it gets kinda boring. But we did zoom in on a Cream LP to pull this exciting screen saver. Your’s for the taking

And finally, if you are one of the few who have not taken the time to hava look at the “Dancing” video on U-tub [sic] please do so. It is an an example of the good that companies do, in this case a chewing gum concern, oft lives after them. An simple idea taken to the heights.

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