Music Invites a Global Journey

Jeff and Anne BarnhartWhen Anne and I first met we could not have been more ill suited for partnership, either personal or professional.  I had learned, and was still plying, my trade as a barroom pianist:  traveling over 1000 miles a week to play my 9 steadies—earning as much back then weekly as on a single well-paying gig now.  During the day, I would lure students at a community music school into the great swamp of jazz.

Anne was teaching a huge parade of classical students at that same school; she remains a gifted pedagogue with a formidable pedigree, having studied with some of the most important flautists on the East Coast, among them Rampal’s most celebrated American protegé, Ransom Wilson.  When we encountered one another it was electrifying “love at first sight” dampened only by the inconvenient presence of her mortician husband (no joke!).  As I chastely waited on the sidelines, Anne’s first marriage ran its course and we became musical and life-partners in 2000.

We immediately set about finding some musical common ground—beginning with ragtime—while expanding each other’s musical abilities; she encouraged me to improve as an accompanist while I bade her dip her toe into the miasma of improvisation.  There are too many influences and experiences to list exhaustively here, so a broad foray into highlights of our musical life will have to suffice.

I Remember Vividly:

  • Our first public performance in the Lodge Dining Room at Sun Valley during the Jamboree; Anne was so scared to have people sitting two feet away from her that she didn’t blink once.
  • Exploring tunes and styles:  Anne has most likely performed more Fats Waller during the last decade then any other flutist in musical history.
  • Our performance of Summertime in Caesarea, Israel in 2008 in front of an audience in lawn chairs 2500 strong; the plethora of frogs in the moat underneath the stage began singing along during the unaccompanied flute introduction to the tune.
  • Traveling to Rwanda in 2010 at the invitation of the Swiss Ambassador to that troubled country to share cultural awareness and appreciation through music.  Here we jammed on everything from Scott Joplin to Jimi Hendrix.

For us, music invites a global journey to teach and learn about one another. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue this adventure.

Jeff & Anne Barnhart
Ivory&Gold®

“I Fell in Love with the Trombone”

Jim FryerGeorge Robinson: My Teacher

As a young boy, living in Tennessee (I was six when we moved to Massachusetts), I loved tooting on a toy saxophone, figuring out simple tunes. A couple years later, my big brother and I became fans of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. We bought each album and played them, relentlessly. The albums also merited intense visual inspection, especially the one with the lady covered in whipped cream.

My ambition was to play the trumpet, like my hero. At eight I was too young; band began in fourth grade, and I was still in second. Perhaps I should have had piano lessons before starting on a horn. My Mom is a good classical pianist, and I grew up listening to her play Beethoven and Brahms on her treasured five-foot grand. She taught me the notes on the piano, but I wanted to play a horn!

Mom found a teacher who would see if I was strong enough to play a real horn. We met Mr. Robinson at his front door; he seemed a nice man. His studio was in the half-finished basement. Anything new to an eight-year-old seems strange, and I’m sure I was shy and uncertain of myself, but Mr. Robinson was friendly and my Mom was there. I was excited by the trumpet, but when given the chance to blow into it, trying to buzz my lips as instructed, I could produce no notes. This was crushing. Mr. Robinson consoled me: “Try the trombone, the mouthpiece is bigger, it’s easier to get your first notes.” I fell in love with the trombone and my weekly lessons.

Later on the lessons took place in an upstairs space he began renting in the center of our small town, where he also stored musical supplies for sale; a few years after, in the studio underneath the new music store, which he and his wife opened when he daringly quit his day job (selling office supplies, I recall). The passing of years and my own attempt to make a living and raise a family have made me appreciate what Mr. and Mrs. Robinson accomplished.

Mr. Robinson was a master teacher: jovial, insistent on doing things correctly, teaching mechanics well, and having fun. He was excited to be there, teaching his music. The process of turning dots on a page into a song fascinated me. He spawned several generations of fine trombonists in that little music store studio.

It was hard for him to keep the lesson to the 30 minutes allotted, and so over the course of the afternoon and evening he would run further and further behind schedule. We forgave him this weakness, coming as it did from his generous heart. It could be a long wait: the student scheduled before me, who ought to have been in the studio, sometimes still sat outside the door. I suppose I had my homework or a book with me, and anyway, time seemed more flexible and in greater abundance in those days. When I began teaching I had the same trouble, and it was in remembering Mr. Robinson that I realized I had to be more strict with time.

My mother still claims that I never needed to be reminded to practice; maybe that was generally true. But I was a boy like any other. I remember one particular summer lesson. Mom dropped my horn at the store while running morning errands, and I biked the couple of miles into town later. (I pretty well lived on my bicycle that summer.) After the lesson I set the trombone in the corner of the studio to pick up later. Summer vacation was a miracle: baseball, friends, cookouts, fireflies, and always the bike. The week passed and lesson day came round. I looked for my trombone in its usual places, but it was nowhere to be found. Suddenly I remembered: it was still at Mr. Robinson’s store. All he said when he saw me was, “I kept looking at your horn, wondering when you were coming to get it.” No chastising: he understood.

As a high school senior, I interned at the store, which then became a paid job. I worked in the store for about a year, before going away, first briefly to one school, then another. I know now that the Robinsons might have thought I would keep an interest in the store and my hometown. It was expected that I would attend a fine conservatory for my full training. That didn’t happen. I went in other directions, and drifted away, into a different life.

I last saw Mr. Robinson years later when he was terminally ill. He was quite upset that he wasn’t going to be able to play the horn he had just sent off to be newly lacquered.

In my own teaching I use his techniques, and tell stories about him. The Daily Practice Routine, sound and logical. Important instructions scribbled in large letters on a small lesson notepad: DON’T PUFF CHEEKS! Strength and flexibility exercises, always. For students becoming advanced in the high register, I produce Mr. Robinson’s original handwritten version of “Getting Sentimental Over You,” in Tommy Dorsey’s key, with startling high notes and my own penciled position numbers from when I first figured it out, so long ago. Mr. Robinson said to me, “If you are gonna be a real trombonist, you HAVE to play this.”

I love that the trombone links us to the long trail of history, from mine to Mr. Robinson’s, to Johannes Rochut and his wonderful Melodious Etudes (19th-century Italian arias — Mr. Robinson taught these superbly), Bach Two-Part Inventions and Cello Suites, and all the way back to Orlando di Lasso, more than half a millennium ago. I say to my students as they are going out the door: “You’ve traveled 500 years in the last 45 minutes, bet none of your friends can say that!” Mr. Robinson was my portal to those stories.

George Robinson was born and educated in Worcester, Massachusetts. He graduated from Holy Cross College and went on the road after World War II, the Big Bands still holding sway. He was a consummate lead trombonist with a silky tone and absolute command of his high register: a child of Dorsey, as so many of us are. For several years he was a full-time musician, before settling in the small town of Westboro, where he raised his family and started his music business.

He can be heard on Vaughn Monroe’s 1945 hit, “There, I’ve Said It Again.” After Monroe sings the song so beautifully, the band returns to the bridge, and George’s lovely playing leads the trombone section for four bars. Here’s a link to the recording.

Visit the Robinson Music Store, still spreading George’s joy.

Thanks, George!

Jim Fryer (February 2014)

An Important Slice Of My Musical Life

Bill Allred

After years of wanting to be a professional musician, I finally found myself deeply rooted in the full-time music business. The year was 1972. I was 36 years old. After getting discharged from the Navy in 1958 and the playing part time in my home town of Rock Island, Illinois for quite a few years, I had finally realized my wish of becoming a full-time musician. I was among the 2500 who had auditioned for the Disney Company in Orlando and was one of the 250 who got the job. I was a full-time staff Disney musician. I did it!

I moved to Orlando and joined Disney in 1971, played in the big band, the Marching World Band, the Dixieland group, and did quite an assortment of music jobs around the new Disney property. To me all this was musical heaven. When the incoming act at the Top Of the World dinner show required multiple trombones, I got to sub in the band there. The Hotel band was full of former pros from the big band era, Ray McKinley, then Don Lamond, Gene Traxler, Sam Marowitz and a special guy that was to make a major impact on my musical career, Deane Kincade. Deane had an incredible career with Ray Noble, Tommy Dorsey, Bob Crosby and was staff Orchestrator for the Jackie Gleason Shows.

Dean was great reed player, he played baritone sax in the show band there. He also used his fantastic arranging talents to help Disney with some of their shows. One night after work he said to me: “Man, I sure like the way you play. Have you ever done a jazz festival?” I told him no. I hadn’t. He then said that he had been doing the Manassas Jazz Festival near Washington DC and was sure he could get me on it. I was quite excited and was more excited when I got the call that fall to be on the bill at Manassas. Oh My god, I was thrilled but scared at the same time. I was able to get some time off from my regular Disney job and headed for Manassas. A then huge festival organized by an eccentric CPA and amateur jazz vocalist, Fat Cat McCree.

Playing the Manassas festival was the step that really put me in the jazz business. Without a doubt, I met everyone in the early trad and Swing business and got to play with them. Deane, of course and Wild Bill Davison, Pee Wee Erwin, Bud Freeman, Kenny Davern, Wallace Davenport (whom I later recorded with) Max Kaminski, Bob Wilber, Eddie Condon, Cliff Leeman, Bob Haggart, Yank Lawson…I could go on and on. These were jazz stars I had only read about. And after my first appearance there, I returned to Manassas for quite a few successive years, got a lot of recording work and was invited to more and more festivals. All of this happened because of a recommendation from the great Deane Kincade. As a matter of fact, when wild Bill Davision later hired me to go on my first European tour with his band in 1979, it was a direct result of my playing a set with him at Manassas that got me the job. I was with Wild Bill for over 10 years.

Years later when Deane’s Kincade’s health took a tragic turn and he was in the hospital, I spent quite a bit of time with him and I always reminded him that it was his recommendation that got me introduced to the real jazz business. He always said that I would have done the same on my own. Believe me, I wouldn’t have. Deane died in 1992. But to this day, I owe him my Jazz career.

by Bill Allred
Bill Allred’s Classic Jazz Band

The First Time –
“It just completely floored me!”

Michael Gray

I still remember the first time I heard Stephane Grappelli on record. I was living in Alaska and having a beer at the University Pub in Fairbanks. The tune was on a Paul Simon record of all places, a simple duo with Paul Simon on acoustic guitar and Stephane on violin. It was called “Hobo’s Blues” and it just completely floored me. The smooth effortless technique, the beautiful tone, that elegant swing…..I could go on and on with ever increasing accolades. Suffice it to say, it was one of those revelatory moments that happen only all too infrequently. My thoughts then are the same as now…WOW!

After leaving home in Philadelphia in 1971 and hitchhiking to Alaska, I had fallen in love with the musical culture of rural Alaska, in particular the string music of the Appalachians that was one of the hallmarks of the social network of a bunch of young kids loosely involved in the Alaskan Back- to- the- Land movement of the early 1970’s. I had just started playing the fiddle and had taught myself some traditional dance tunes and learned as much as I could through osmosis; listening on my battery operated cassette deck to as much “old timey” music as I could get my hands on, going to square dances and watching other fiddlers and just groping and stumbling my way into playing the violin. I learned everything by ear initially as reading music wasn’t really an option…I had no printed music available.

Hearing “Hobo’s Blues” certainly changed that approach. Not immediately though….. that duo recording was so beyond my capabilities that I didn’t know where to start. To begin, Stephane was playing in F, definitely not one of the usual old time fiddle keys of G, D or A. Yikes! That became Question #1, how did he do that? Question #2, that vibrato thing he was doing, it wasn’t classical sounding, it wasn’t non-existent as in an old timey fiddle tune…..how did he do that? It sounded to me then, and still does, like a jazz singer at the end of a vocal phrase, imbuing those phrases with his own personality.

And, as luck would have it, those questions are still there. Forty years later, I still am a perennial student of great soloist’s like Stephane, Joe Venuti and Didier Lockwood and still manage to transcribe a solo of Stephane’s every now and then. So, whenever you get a chance, go have a beer and listen to some music. You never know what might happen.

All the best and see you all in Sun Valley,

Michael Gray

Carrying the torch of the acoustic archtop guitar!

Jerry Krahn, Jazz Artist

Jerry Krahn, of the Titan Hot Seven and Jerry Krahn Band is known for playing with a lot of heart. Audiences have said that when Jerry plays they can see his soul. Jerry’s journey began at a young age with an appreciation for many types of music and a passion for jazz.

In his own words, Jerry shares with us his journey:

Born 1953, in the state of Wisconsin, I enjoyed the ethnic and robust sounds of polka music. This deeply rooted style tugged at my heart more than milk and cheese from the dairy barn. At ten the road quickly led to becoming a fixture on that scene, eventually working with greats Verne Meisner and Frankie Yankovich.

As my listening skills and musical styles broadened, I found inspiration and knowledge in Milwaukee jazz legend guitarist Don Momblow, and later contemporary jazz artist Jack Grassel. Including studies at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and concentrated lessons in a variety of styles. These pursuits led to stints in 1970s show bands, USO tours, and country and pop bands, one of which was Capitol/ABC Nashville recording artist Duane Dee. Later I was a founding member, electric-synth guitarist and front man to the very popular Four Wheel Drive band, performing Top 40 Country and Classic Rock at every major fair, festival and club in Southeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois.

Jerry Krahn - Carrying the torch of the acoustic archtop guitars.A 1990 move to Nashville landed a gig at the Opryland Theme Park where I honed the Dixieland and Trad skills on the plectrum banjo and archtop guitar. That exposure to jazz players in Music City transpired into a hookup with the Titan Hot Seven jazz band.

In 1997 I was playing a New Orleans style jazz brunch here in Nashville. The clarinet, trombone and guitar trio really needed the distinctive “chunk” of an acoustic archtop guitar. As I grabbed a 1946 Epiphone Broadway off the wall at Gruhn guitars, strummed a few chords, I knew instantly I had found a new musical soul mate and sound, in the styles of Eddie Lang, Carl Kress and Freddie Green. Those archtop guitar sounds now find its way into the contemporary styles I use as a soloist and with my group.

My wife Pam and I reside in Hermitage, Tennessee, twenty miles east of “Music Row” in downtown Nashville. My son Robert is associate band director at West Orange High School in Orlando. Daughter Whitney is pursuing her Ph.D. at NYU in French Studies. Mother LaVerne Krahn still lives in Mayville. Both Sisters Joyce and Gloria now own the homestead there.

Other interests include buying and selling vintage musical, hi-fi and stereo gear, along with an occasional antique collectible. For a number of years Jerry utilized his eye for detail and hand skills in the graphic arts trade as a printing pre-press four-color stripper and quality control specialist, while still pursuing his musical career. Jerry now enjoys that pursuit on a successful full-time basis.

Read more about Jerry on his website at www.JerryKrahn.com “Like” him on Facebook.

The Winner of the Jarry Krahn CD is Ronald Wade!

Congratulations!

We have a Winner!

Congratulations to Mitzi Aden winner of a pair of tickets to a private jazz party the evening of May 1st, 2013 in Boise, Idaho.  Her entry was was selected in a random drawing  of those who entered through our Facebook page.

Scheduled Artists

Eli Yamin

Eli Yamin Jazz Pianist

The Gonzalo Bergara Quartet

The Gonzalo Bergara Quartet

Midiri Brothers Quintet – “Let it Shine”

Midiri Brothers Quintet – “Let it Shine”

The 2012 Sun Valley Jazz Jubilee featured 40 bands that played at 9 different venues. However, on Sunday there was a special gospel set at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church and at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood where this song was recorded. The musicians in the Midiri Brothers quintet were: Jim Lawler, Bob Leary, Joe Midiri, Paul Midiri, and Ed Wise

Sun Valley Jazz Jamboree 2012 Video

The setting, The Venues and the Bands

Scenic beauty of the Sun Valley area is featured in this video along with some terrific music artistry and a showcase of the nine venues.  The Sun Valley Inn offers The Limelight Room & The Continental Room. The Sun Valley Lodge has the Sun Room, the Lodge Dining Room, and the Duchin Room. There is the famous Opera House and Satchmo’s. The River Run Lodge. The Indoor Ice Rink. Video from the 2012 Sun Valley Jazz Jamboree provided by Franklin Clay Films.

Appearances by:

  • The Midiri Brothers – “I’m Going Up to Sun Valley” Benny Goodman Style.
  • Big Bang Jazz Band
  • Pear Django
  • Tom Hook
  • Tom Rigney – “The Milk Cow Blues.
  • Bill & Shelley
  • Bill Allred’s Classic Jazz Band
  • Bruce Innes Trio
  • Cornet Chop Suey
  • We Three
  • Meschiya Lake & dem Lil’ Big Horns
  • Glen Crytzer and his Syncopators
  • Blue Street Jazz Band
  • Steve Lucky & the Rhumba Bums
  • Pietr Meijers Quartet with Brady McKay
  • Jerry Krahn Quartet
  • Titan Hot Seven
  • Yve Evans & Danny Coots
  • Night Blooming Jazzmen
  • The Whiffenpoofs from Yale
  • Dance Lessons & Competitions

“It Happens in Sun Valley” Get tickets now for the next one!

Midiri Brothers Quintet “How Great Thou Art”

Midiri Brothers Quintet “How Great Thou Art”

The Sun Valley Jazz Jubilee featured 40 bands that played at 9 different venues. However, on Sunday there was a special gospel set at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church and at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood where this song was recorded. The musicians in the Midiri Brothers quintet were: Jim Lawler, Bob Leary, Joe Midiri, Paul Midiri, and Ed Wise.

Cornet Chop Suey “Amazing Grace” – Bagpipe Version

Cornet Chop Suey “Amazing Grace” – Bagpipe Version

During the 23rd Sun Valley Jazz Jamboree the Cornet Chop Suey band from St. Louis, MO, performed in packed venues. This video was taken on Friday, October 19, in the Sun Valley Inn’s Limelight room. The tune was introduced as both a tribute to the bagpipes and also American jazz. The band members were Tom Tucker, Brian Casserly, Brett Stamps, Jerry Epperson, Paul Reed, John Gillick and Jay Hungerford.