San Antonio's Paseo del Rio is a riverside haven a few steps below the bustle of the city's busy street-level downtown area. Stone walkways, bright flowers and ancient Crepe Myrtle trees line the river banks. Families of Mallard ducks splash in the water. And there’s live jazz almost every night of the year at Jim Cullum's Landing on the River Walk. The historic jazz club was one of the first places to open on the San Antonio River over 40 years ago. On the patio of The Landing small ensembles play for lunch and cocktails, and the seven-piece classic jazz band is on the main stage inside the club six nights a week.
This week on Riverwalk Jazz The Jim Cullum Jazz Band hosts a jam session at The Landing with an encore performance by clarinet legend Kenny Davern. Davern's early days in the music world found him as a big band sideman in various sax sections, on to the classic jazz combos of Greenwich Village and New York's uptown clubs as a clarinetist, and then on to his soprano sax adventures in the Soprano Summit. He then returned to the clarinet and solidly established himself as one of the world's finest players. In this 2004 performance, captured live on stage at The Landing in San Antonio, Kenny sits in with Jim and the Band on three stunning performances.
"I Ain't Got Nobody" was a hit song in 1915 for New Orleans composer Spencer Williams and was recorded many times over the years by Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Rosemary Clooney, Bob Crosby, Fats Waller and Sammy Davis, Jr. There was a famous shuffle-beat coupling with “Just a Gigolo” by Louis Prima and Keely Smith which was later reprised on MTV in the 1980s by rocker David Lee Roth. In our version Ron Hockett picks up the tenor saxophone and Kenny Davern is on clarinet.
In this performance the main melody of "If I Had You" is played as a clarinet duet between Kenny Davern and Ron Hockett. Composed in 1928 it was the biggest hit song for songwriter Ted Shapiro. It has been recorded by a long roster of jazz artists including Benny Carter, Bob Crosby, Roy Eldridge, Stephane Grappelli, Earl Hines, Artie Shaw and more recently by Diana Krall. The song has had numerous appearances on movie soundtracks including What Women Want (2000), Eyes Wide Shut (1999), and two Woody Allen movies, Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and Everyone Says I Love You (1996).
"Sugar" is a favorite jam session tune composed in 1926 by Maceo Pinkard who also gave us “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Them There Eyes." The piece has been recorded by Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, the Benny Goodman Quartet and Billie Holiday, and in the 1955 Jack Webb movie Pete Kelly's Blues, Peggy Lee is backed up by Matty Matlock's Dixielanders. More recently it has been recorded by the Manhattan Transfer.
The Jim Cullum Jazz Band rounds out the jam session with favorites including "June Night," "All My life" and "Nobody's Sweetheart."
Photo credit for home page teaser image: The Jim Cullum Jazz Band at The Landing, San Antonio Photo courtesy Bravo Magazine
Text based on Riverwalk Jazz script by Margaret Moos Pick ©2009