Often at late night jam sessions, when the bartender is about to give last call, the best jazz of the evening is played. Those who stick around get rewarded with some of the hardest swinging, most creative music there is. It was on a night like this, at the end of the Sacramento Jazz Festival, that we captured these energized performances.
In spite of a long weekend of non-stop playing, all the musicians were up for this session at the historic Crest Theater in Sacramento, and unleashed a high-voltage concert of hot jazz, often with as many as ten players on stage. Among the guests that night were some of the leading lights of today's classic jazz scene.
Trombonist and bandleader Bill Allred is based in Central Florida. He was a member of the Wild Bill Davison All-Stars and appeared with Jack Teagarden, Billy Butterfield, Al Hirt, Clark Terry and many others. Floridians remember Bill as the bandleader and entertainment producer at Rosie O'Grady's Emporium at Church Street Station in Orlando. Currently he leads the Bill Allred Classic Jazz Band, a favorite at jazz festivals and parties worldwide. The band is noted for performing rarely-heard masterworks of jazz arranging, especially those of Matty Matlock and the "Paducah Patrol." Bill's powerful trombone style is reminiscent of the great Abram 'Abe' Lincoln.
Trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso hails from Detroit. Early associations included James Dapogny's Chicago Jazz Band and appearances on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion. After a move to New York City in 1989 to join Vince Giordano's Nighthawks, Jon performed and recorded with lions like Ralph Sutton, Howard Alden, Marty Grosz, Milt Hinton and Dick Hyman; and backed vocalists Linda Ronstadt, Maria Muldaur and Leon Redbone. Jazz critic Owen Cordle wrote, "Kellso has a fluent gift of melody and a knack for spicing it up with a Roy Eldridge-like rasp, a Howard McGhee-like excitability, and Rex Stewart-like tonal effects." Currently Jon leads The Ear Regulars every Sunday at the Ear Inn, a Manhattan restaurant.
Bandleader and drummer Hal Smith is based in California. He is a specialist in historically-informed Chicago-style drumming, but also enjoys playing Western Swing and "rockabilly" styles. Hal has appeared with legends including the Lawson-Haggart Jazz Band, Dukes of Dixieland, Turk Murphy's Jazz Band, Doc Cheatham, Wild Bill Davison, Billy Butterfield and many others. These days jazz fans frequently hear Hal with the Butch Thompson Trio, the Carl Sonny Leyland Trio and the Yerba Buena Stompers.
In addition to his record releases on Jazzology, Stomp Off and Arbors, Hal has produced several historical CDs for various labels. And Hal frequently writes about the music he loves and is active in America’s Finest City Dixieland Jazz Society in San Diego.
Many familiar jam session favorites are on the bill for this week's Last Call Late Night Jam, including "Limehouse Blues," "Royal Garden Blues," "That's a Plenty," and "How Come You Do Me Like You Do"—all played without formal arrangement, "off the cuff" and totally "in the moment."
Photo credit for Home Page: Crest Theater marquee, Sacramento. Photo courtesy of The Crest.
Text based on Riverwalk Jazz script by Margaret Pick ©2011