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For Bix: Andy Schumm at Chautauqua (Sept. 18, 2010)

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To those who haven't yet heard him, the delight I and others take in Andy Schumm's playing might seem a bit excessive.

“Who is this young whipper-snapper? If he were any good—to paraphrase Larkin's Law of Reissues—I'd have all his Orthophonic Victors in green sleeves by now. There are no entries for ANDY SCHUMM AND HIS SHOOTING STARS in any of my discographies!"

Andy has us all waiting for his first—of many—compact disc as a leader. But what he have in the meantime is evidence of his mastery.

He has a serene way of phrasing (although his notes can rush and tumble when the musical context is red hot), a clarion tone, a way of creating melodic lines that stick in the memory after the song is ended. Like another young Midwestern cornet player, he balances energetic propulsion and cool musing consideration, memorably. And although he knows the records by heart (he's quite the scholar of the period he loves—see more on his new website, andyschumm.com—he's no reverent antiquarian content with copying what he's heard on those black-label OKehs. (By the way, he also understands Joe Oliver and Ed Allen, among others, from the inside out.)

Andy got to lead two sets at the 2010 Jazz at Chautauqua (I've posted the first). This one found him among players who understand his vision—swinging, emotionally lively, often witty: Dan Barrett, Dan Block, John Sheridan, Marty Grosz, Vince Giordano, Pete Siers.

The program was called SPOTLIGHT ON BIX, but Andy didn't choose the most famous of the Beiderbecke-associated repetoire. Rather, he and the band peered into less-frequently investigated corners and came up with songs that rewarded us more than another go-round on ROYAL GARDEN or SINGIN' THE BLUES.

TIA JUANA was his opener—reminding us both of the Wolverine Orchestra and of the 1939 records by Bud Freeman (on Decca) that Eddie Condon wanted to call SONS OF BIXES:



LAZY DADDY comes from the same period, and is rarely played:



Jumping forward to the end of Bix's Whiteman period, Andy offered the sad yet hopeful Irving Berlin composition WAITING AT THE END OF THE ROAD, which I always hear in my imagination with a vocal by the youthful Bing Crosby:



When was the last time you heard a band play FLOCK O'BLUES (with or without solos!):



Finally, Andy called for LOVE AFFAIRS—an undistinguished yet bouncy tune (I hear the vocal refrain on this one, too, although with more amusement than affection) that we wouldn't think of if illustrious improvisers hadn't played it. I'm especially fond of the pairings of two horns here (the two Dans) balancing melody and improvised embellishment:



I'm going to see this young fellow in person on Sunday, October 24, and will report back: it may be premature elation, but I'm looking forward to it!

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This story appears courtesy of Jazz Lives by Michael Steinman.
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