Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Email Special - Brasov, Romania and all other other gigs back to 1996 ...

I missed the jazz session in Tel Aviv, Israel, in August 2014.  Some of our regulars - Hans, Sue, Tony  and our Russian colleague Vasily (shown signing in the photo to the right) - were there and they were joined by players from a local group in Tel Aviv.  Next year we meet in Porto, Portugal the end of July, and I plan on being there.

In Brasov, Romania, 1 August 2014, our most recent traditional Jazz Night took place at Beraria Ciucas, just behind the stylish Coroana Hotel. With support from local musicians, the group made a big splash! Jazz Night at Beraria Ciucas, Brasov, Romania. James Williams didn't make it this year, but Tony Stranges on vibes anchored the group. Hans played trumpet, Panu Nykanen joined us for the second time on saxophone, Alexia Sofia Papazafeiropoulou from Greece took James's place on the keyboard and shared it with a local player, and a local drummer filled in rhythm. Local Brasov jazz singer Anca Parlea also entertained.

In Manchester, UK, 26 July 2013, we met in at the Jabez Clegg pub on the University of Manchester campus for our jazz night.  As usual, Hans was on trumpet, Tony on vibes, Friedrich Naumann was there on bass, Sue did vocals and I was on the keyboard (the poster identified me as James Alizee, the last name actually being the name of my sailboat). We had  a very good local drummer sit in with us.
    The video appearing here has photos from Manchester as well as from other earlier gigs.  The music is from the recording made at the 2007 SHOT meeting in Washington, D.C.&nbsp.

  In 2012, The
  Email Special
  gathered for its
  18th gig at Casa
  Orlandai, Jaume
  Piquet, 23,
  Spain. This was a
  great, intimate spot, despite the
  fact that the piano couldn't be hoisted on to the
  stage.  Almost all the usual suspects appeared:
  Tony on vibes, John and Outi switching off on
  guitar, Hans on trumpet, Jeremy Kinney on bass,
  Sue on vocals and a welcomed newcomer from Finland, Panu Nykanen on saxophone.  A local Spanish musician filled in on drums, and as is becoming routine, Vassily Borisov stepped in for a couple of vocals.  All around great fun!
2011 found The Email Special in Glasgow, Scotland, playing its 17th international gig at the Queen Margaret Union on the campus of the University of Glasgow.  We had a fine turn-out, with Tony Stranges on vibes, his brother John Stranges on guitar, Hans-Jochim Braun on trumpet, Friedrich Naumann and Jeremy Kinney taking turns on the bass, Sue Horning on vocals, Chris Whitehouse from Glasgow filling in on drums and James Williams on piano. As an extra treat, Vassily Borisov from Russia joined the group to sing a couple of songs.  Our next gig will be in July 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.  (More photos)

In 2010 Tampere, Finland was the site of our 16th international appearance.  We were a bit shorthanded, as our Friedrich Naumann (bass) and Michael Farrenkopf (drums) couldn't make it, nor could our vocalist, Sue Horning.  So we were down to the core group: Tony Stranges on vibes, Hans-Joachim Braun on trumpet, James Williams at the piano.  We were also joined by ICOHTEC member Outi Ampuja on guitar.  Outi has played during our breaks before, doing her signature rock and roll and blues, but this time she played our regular sets, and it was lovely to have her steady rhythm guitar!  And we were joined by two local musicians who filled in: Petri Makiharju on bass and Tyko Haapala on drums. The video clip below is courtesy of Tony Stranges and the Tampere organizers.

The Email Special returned to Budapest, Hungary, in August 2009.  The Jazz Cafe, a tiny little cellar jazz club, was the site of our first gig in 1996.  This year we stepped up a bit to the Budapest Jazz Club, and played a solid evening of standard jazz tunes.  Hans-Joachim Braun on trumpet, Friedrich Naumann on bass, Tony Stranges on vibes, and Michael Farrenkopf on drums.  It was a wonderful treat to return to our starting place, but we really missed Sue Horning, who was with us in '96.  (More photos)

  In 2008, we met in
  Victoria, B.C. the first
  week of August 2008
  to play the Thursday
  night jazz party at the
  ICOHTEC meeting.
  According to all who
  heard us, it was a fine
  gig, everybody playing
  tight. Dik Daso joined
  us for a second time on
  drums, Jeremy Kinney
  played bass, and Friedrich Naumann picked up the
 guitar. Tony, fully recovered from an illness during the past year, was hot on the vibes, Hans played a solid trumpet, and Sue sang brilliantly as always. Paul Ceruzzi sat in for a tune or two on harmonica! (More photos)

In 2007, we played two gigs. One in October was in Washington, D.C. for the Society for the History of Technology. We were short a couple of our regular members. Our European-based drummer and bass players couldn't make it, but Dik Daso sat in on drums and Jeremy Kinney took over on bass. Tony Stranges was scheduled to play vibes, but had to withdraw because of illness at the last moment. Vibe players are hard to come by, but we did find Robert Muncy, a brilliant local D.C. sax player to join us.

Here are three video clips taken by an audience member.

On August 17th at Munkek├Želderen (Le Cannibal), the old faculty cellar restaurant and sometimes jazz club at the University of Copenhagen in central Copenhagen, Denmark. It was a great hit, with our core group all present - trumpet, vibes, piano, drums, bass, and vocalist - plus John Stranges on jazz guitar. And, as an added plus, friends Outi Ampuja and Jeremy Kinney played some fine rock-blues during our breaks.

Our international group of musicians, all historians of technology, have played for the past eleven years at an annual international symposium. Playing jazz, we got our name, The Email Special, for two reasons: because we largely decide what to play and rehearse via email, and as a variation of "Air Mail Special," a tune made famous by Benny Goodman.

The roots of this reach back to the annual symposium in Dresden (then East Germany) in the summer 1986, when I sat in with Roberts Jazz Gesellschaft, a dixieland group from Karl Marx Stadt (today Chemnitz) as they entertained our conferees on a steamboat excursion on the Elbe River. The banjo player of that group, Frieder Naumann (see photo left), eventually joined The Email Special in 1998 playing bass and sometimes guitar and has missed only a couple of gigs since then.

Six years later, at the first European meeting of another history of technology group in Upsalla, Sweden in 1992, I played with a pick-up group of folks in a pub that the conference took over as its "hospitality suite," and there played for the first time with Hans-Joachim Braun from Hamburg, Germany.

Hans suggested a couple of years later that we organize a jazz group, a task which he took on with great success. We debuted in 1996 in Budapest, in a jazz club that Hans had arranged to take over for the evening. I still have the recording that one of our friends made on a little portable tape recorder.

Thus far, we've played eighteen cities in sixteen countries in seventeen years - in Summer 2014 we plan to play at the ICOHTEC meeting in Brasov, Romania.

1996 Budapest, Hungary
1997 Pasadena, California, USA
1998 Lisbon, Portugal

                                                                      1999 Belfort, France

2000 Prague, The Czech Republic

2001 Mexico City, Mexico

  2002 Granada, Spain

                                      2003 Moscow, Russia
                                            (no photos)


                                                                    2004 Bochum, Germany

  2005 Beijing, China

2006 Cow and Plough, Leicester, England

2007 Copenhagen, Denmark (photos)

                                                2007 Washington, D.C., USA (photos)

2008 Victoria, British Columbia, Canada (photos)

                                                    2009 Budapest, Hungary (photos)

2010 Tampere, Finland 
    2012 Glasgow, Scotland
        2013 Manchester, England
            2014 Brasov, Romania

The core members of The Email Special are Hans-Joachim Braun (Germany - trumpet), Tony Stranges (Texas - vibes), Friedrich Naumann (Germany - bass & guitar), Sue Horning (Ohio - vocals & guitar), and myself (California - piano). Michael Farrenkopf (Germany) has joined us on drums for three of our sessions (for many of our sessions we have had a pick-up drummer from whatever country we are in). John Stranges (Niagara, New York) played jazz guitar with us in Beijing and again in Copenhagen and Scotland, and Jeremy Kinney (Washington D.C.) joined us in Leicester and Denmark on bass and again in Victoria, Washington D.C. and Scotland.  Jim Kraft (Hawaii - guitar) played an early gig with us, and Outi Ampuja (Finland - guitar) has played with us as well as provided blues/rock break interludes at a couple of sessions. Others sitting in include Paul Cerruzi (Washington D.C. - guitar and harmonica), John Crosmun (South Carolina - violin), Alfonso Sanchez (Mexico - sax), Bjorn Alterhaug (Norway - bass), Dik Daso (Washington, D.C. - drums), Robert Muncy (Washington, D.C. - sax), Panu Nykanen (Finland - saxophone), Vassily Borisov (Russia - vocals), Petri Makiharju (Tampere, Finland - bass), Tyko Haapala (Tampere, Finland - drums), Chris Whitehouse (Scotland - drums), and Alexia Sofia Papazafeiropoulou (piano).  In Washington, D.C., we got some pretty good recorded music tracks, which, with the exception of the Copenhagen video, is heard in all the videos embedded here .

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The All that Jazz Quartet ...

About three months ago, I asked the drummer John "Dak" MacDonad, and guitar/bass player Don Bauer in the Coast Connection Band if they'd be interested in playing a little jazz.  They said "yes" and we met at my house in Punta Gorda to see if we might get something that worked.  After a good session and a few beers, we agreed to meet a week later and that I would see about finding a sax player.  To my surprise, almost immediately I got several responses from a Craig's list posting about a sax player.  We connected with soprano sax man Bob Miner for a Saturday afternoon rehearsal, and agreed to once-a-week rehearsals.

Meantime, I've been playing solo piano for Friday evening happy hours at my yacht club in Port Charlotte, and I persuaded the club GM to give us an "audition" gig from 5-7 PM on a Wednesday evening.  With a little advertising among club members, we got a great turn out and the GM and entertainment committee managed to find us two full nights, one in March and one in April (with more to come, we hope).

Unfortunately, the bass and drummer are snowbirds, so Bob and I had to find another bass and drummer for the two full gigs.  So, joining us at our Friday night dinner/dance gig last week were jazz players John DeWitt (bass) and Dominik Keyte (drums), both from Sarasota.

We managed to get some of the gig recorded and set up a separate blog so folks can see us before signing us up for a gig.  Now we have to hit the pavement, particularly since gigs for the next snowbird season are already being booked.  Meanwhile, here's Well You Needn't (Thelonious Monk) ...

An update: we've gotten more gigs, which you can follow on the All That Jazz Quartet site.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Scotty's Coast Connection Band ...

We regularly play Monday afternoons at the Old Fish House and Restaurant in Matlacha, Florida, and the bottom of Charlotte Harbor.  Matlacha is a historic fishing village that dates back to the nineteenth century, and is on the east side of Pine Island, connected to the mainland by a drawbridge.

The Coast Connection Band was formed by Scotty, who I first met three years ago when I sat in with my friend Joe Higgins at Scotty's restaurant at Bokelia on the north end of Pine Island.  Now that I'm here permanently, I joined up with the band: Don on lead guitar, Al on rhythm guitar, Joe on guitar (all do vocals), Doug on bass, Dack on drums and Scotty on the washboard and bottles.  Of course, I'm on the keyboards.  It is great fun, and since it's blues, country, bluegrass and rock, it's a long way from my normal jazz piano ... but I'm learning the genres.

Here we are playing a private party at Pioneer Village in North Fort Myers ... thanks to Doug for the video...

And, a short iPhone video from the Old Fish House ...

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Playing at Le Beliere Welcome in Paris...

On my birthday, I got to play at Le Beliere Welcome in Montparnasse, playing a couple of breaks with the Courdacher trio.  A fun chance, and the bass player and drummer asked to play with me on a couple of tunes.  My friend Tony Kay took a couple of hazy photos while his wife Lin and my sweetheart Penelope enjoyed.

Good food, plenty of drink and great music.  What could be better?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Silicon Gulch Jazz Band gig ...

In early July, I went out to Stanford to participate in the Triple Helix Conference and got two chances to play with the Silicon Gulch Jazz Band.  First, I sat in on their regular Tuesday night gig at the Swinging Door Pub in San Mateo, and then they arranged for me to play at the banquet of the Triple Helix Conference ... actually, I got them the gig, so I suppose it was only fitting.  It is such a treat to play with these first rate musicians, and their leader Dave Kawamoto, whom I've known and played gigs with for several years, has extended me a standing invitation to sit in whenever I'm in the Bay Area. 

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Night at the Swinging Door...

I got to play a night with Dave Kawamoto and the Silicon Gulch Jazz Band at their regular gig at the Swinging Door Pub in San Mateo while visiting California the end of June.  Always great fun, and it was nice to have Penelope along with me.

Also had another chance to play with my buddy Tony Oliver and a couple of other fellows at the Encinal Yacht Club over the July 4th holiday.  That was great fun as well! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hvide Lam Jazz in Copenhagen

I got the change to sit in with "Happy Hansen," a traditional jazz group at Hvide Lam, a small jazz club in the center of Copenhagen. My friend Jan Tapdrup and another Dane suggested we drop by after dinner.

When the "Happy Hansen" took a break I got into a conversation with the bass player, Paul. Originally from Australia, he'd been in Copenhagen for thirteen years or so, playing three or four nights a week. He played a solid double bass, and his slap style (on some tunes) reminded me a lot of Paul Matulich, with whom I played for some 15 years from the late-70s to the early-90s.

After I mentioned I played piano, Paul invited me to sit in, which took a bit of doing since we had to uncover the piano hidden up against the wall. It was a great set, and they had me singing Bill Bailey and Honeysuckle Rose before the night was over. It's really a thrill to play with other groups like this!