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Good Old New York: Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks (August 30,2010)

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n any Monday or Tuesday night, those who love jazz and pop — to listen and dance to—should make their way to Club Cache, in the basement of the Hotel Edison (221 West 46th Street), to catch Vince Gordano and the Nighthawks, playing from 8-11 PM.

I did just that last Monday.

The Nighthawks were Mike Ponella, trumpet; Harvey Tibbs, trombone; Dan Levinson, Dan Block, Mark Lopeman, reeds; Andy Stein, violin / baritone sax; Pater Yarin, piano; Ken Salvo,banjo / guitar; Vince himself, bass sax, tuba, string bass, vocals . . . with two musicians whom I hadn't seen before with the Nighthawks — players I admire greatly. Filling in for Jon-Erik Kellso on hot trumpet was Gordon Au; holding down Arnie Kinsella's drum chair was Marion Felder.

Here are a few selections from that happy Monday, showing once again the band's range, enthusiasm, and precision—and how they inspire dancers to take the floor.

First, it's not that Vince doesn't know what day it is—but he called SUNDAY early in the evening in tribute to the Jean Goldkette band, the Keller Sisters and Lynch, arranger Bill Challis, and that young fellow Bix Beiderbecke:

Then, something from the same vintage, but with such a different emotional cast: the original theme of Duke Ellington's “jungle band," EAST ST. LOUIS TOODLE-OO:

In honor of that great band, McKinney's Cotton Pickers, and the compositions and arrangements of Don Redman and John Nesbit, MISS HANNAH (I read somewhere that “Miss Hannah" was the great unrequited love of Redman's life: can anyone explain?):

A little jam session on AFTER YOU'VE GONE:

I believe this tune (one of thousands celebrating dance crazes that might have vanished long ago) is by Jimmy McHugh—with several hot jazz versions: FREEZE AND MELT:

One of the most delightful spectacles in an evening with the Nighthawks is that they are all such professionals and such fine sight-readers (they'd have to be in this band, where the little black dots go flying by) that Vince can and does pass out a “new" chart—something the boys have never seen before—and in this case I doubt that anyone had heard this song before—and they read it right down and offer a swinging performance. Here's BROADWAY'S GONE HILLBILLY, which I doubt:

Another tune named for a dance (has any vernacular dance scholar ever seen this one, or “the Freeze and Melt," performed?) is THE BALTIMORE, performed memorably by Adrian Rollini and his New Yorkers, that short-lived but astonishing orchestra:

Finally, a piece of popular culture that had amazing resilience—THE MUSIC GOES 'ROUND AND 'ROUND:

And it came out here!

Support your local Nighthawks is what I say.

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This story appears courtesy of Jazz Lives by Michael Steinman.
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