Category Archives: Hot Club Of San Francisco

Classic Albums on in 2014


Happy New Year to all visitors, new and old. Here’s my 100th post on downwithit.

I still have an unfinished task from 2014 which is to look back at all the classic sets that I reviewed here in 2014. By classic I mean anything other than a new release so there are one or two sets from the present millennium included here. A quick count indicates that I wrote about 26 of these albums in 2014, so I think I can conclude that I wasn’t idle, especially given that I also wrote about a number of contemporary sets and offered up some live reviews.

What follows may be a bit of a trudge through a list, but I have linked to all the reviews and if any catch your interest, please click and take a look.

On NYD 2014 I started with a bang by taking a look at John Coltrane’s Blue Train, one of my all-time favorites that I urged everyone to obtain and listen to if they hadn’t done so already.

This was followed up by Lee Morgan’s The Sidewinder and a track that inspired numerous imitations.

My January postings dipped into dinner jazz in the form of Grover Washington Jr’s All The King’s Horses and British hard bop from the 1980’s UK jazz revival via Tommy Chase and Groove Merchant.

Thoughts of Tommy Chase led into fresh territory and I decided to devote some time to exploring the current scene, which was something that I really enjoyed during the course of 2014. If you want a recap of the newly released albums that I reviewed last year, they can be found here and my trawl of live performances is referred to here. I’m not sure if my ramblings have encouraged the purchase of a single album or attendance at any gigs but if they have, please leave a comment and let me know.

I wrote five reviews in February 2014 opening with Horace Parlan’s piano trio set Movin’ And Groovin’. I followed this up with Johnny Griffin’s Big Soul Band. I wavered about posting on that one because I thought that it was something of a departure from the classic small band context and that it would not fit- but it seemed to be OK and remains a popular review according to my stats.

Fred Jackson’s great Hootin”N Tootin’ was next up. At the time, I checked Wikipedia which did not give a date of death. Hopefully Fred still is with us and is enjoying a peaceful retirement at the grand age of 85 years old. If anybody knows more, please tell us.

A further less well-known Blue Note set, John Jenkins With Kenny Burrell was placed in the spotlight, before I took a look at Thembi by my favourite living saxophonist, Pharoah Sanders.

March 2014 saw me take an overdue look at Yusef Lateef (more to come in 2015) and Jazz Mood, his first set as a leader from 1957. The Cats, a fine session featuring John Coltrane followed and I made my first visit to a Grant Green recording on these pages with Grant’s First Stand.

In April, I brought news a a real gem: Heavy Sounds by Elvin Jones and Richard Davis, another set to listen to even if you have to beg steal or borrow. A slow journey north up the motorway system led me to grapple with Bobby Hutcherson’s Happenings. The same trip north gave me time to take a look at The Hot Club Of San Francisco’s Veronica and I got hold of a copy of Jimmy Smith’s lacklustre a less then incredible Softly As A Summer Breeze.

In May Sonny Clark’s Sonny Clark Trio was followed by another Sonny in the form of Sonny Rollins On Impulse, which sounds like a compilation album but isn’t. Later in the month, my local second-hand record store yielded up a copy of John Coltrane’s Ole.

I took another look at Grant Green with his lesser known Iron City, featuring a strong version of Hi-Heeled Sneakers, before returning to Blue Note and Harold Vick’s Steppin’ Out and later in September with Joe Henderson and Inner Urge.

I took the view that Archie Shepp and Dollar Brand’s Duet was slightly spoiled by Shepp’s poor sax technique on a couple of tracks, but I enjoyed Hank Mobley’s great Roll Call, Grant Green’s Green Street and Freddie Hubbard’s Ready For Freddie.

2014 was the year in which a bit of research yielded some more answers about Freddie Roach’s later years and I shelled out for a first pressing of All That’s Good which turned out to be much better than a shocking review suggested it would be.

I’ve already got a the first few reviews for 2015 in mind, so please come back soon and see what I’ve been listening to and remember that comments are most welcome.

One New Year’s Resolution– the quality of the photography at downwithit must improve. No excuses!


Veronica: The Hot Club of San Francisco


After a brush with the avant-garde sounds and stylings to be found on Bobby Hutcherson’s Happenings, downwithit has decided to have a short excursion to one of my favourite cities, San Francisco.

Actually, I was planning to write about The Hot Club of San Francisco’s Veronica over the Christmas period. There was a long and convoluted reason for this, which involved a short story that I will write one day and the need for a jazz recording containing a reference to a Panda. I couldn’t find much- perhaps, had he lived, John Coltrane may have followed Giant Steps with a set entitled Giant Panda. Sadly we will never know. Anyway, to trim a tall tale, Veronica is released on the Panda Digital label, it’s cover features the Golden Gate Bridge and a painting of a West Coast belle. I parted with my £14.99 and soon the CD arrived.

Hot Club style Gypsy Swing is a bit of a departure at downwithit. I remain focused on Modern Jazz- but sometimes the saying: ‘a change is as good as a rest’ is appropriate. Actually, this music takes me back to my early explorations into jazz at the end of the 1970’s, when I bought and listened avidly to a double Vogue LP featuring Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli and their recordings from The Hot Club of Paris. Very fine music indeed! There’s a fascinating scholarly article from History Today about Django, jazz and the resistance to the Nazi occupation of Paris here.

Veronica is a chip from that block and a product of a Gypsy Jazz scene that has flourished on the West Coast of the USA. The title track displays the exuberant optimism that typifies this style. It strikes me as something of a hybrid with a bit of a Spanish flamenco feel in the mix, perhaps?

I’m Not Impressed is another track to get your blood moving and forget your cares to. If there was a fox in my garden it would definitely be trotting a grand old trot to this. Ersatz Samba is as described, another joyful sound. A Little Waltz For Misha is charming, deft and light, while Swing This swings.

Don’t Panic ups the tempo. With well over 20 Grant Green recordings in my collection, I’m fairly confident that he never played in this style, but I’m sure he would have enjoyed the challenge. Equally,I’m unsure if the great Kenny Burrell has ventured into this territory? Yerba Buena Bounce keeps the party going. Swing ’53 is an extended piece led by violinist, Evan Price. Giselle is a subtle guitar-centred waltz composition which conjures images of sunny summers days. Finally, DKSF closes matters.

While I don’t think I will be buying many more Hot Club style recordings, Veronica and my Hot Club of Paris sets will continue to be revisited from time to time. I’m sure this type of music is great live and I will try to check some out over the coming months.

There’s some footage of a slightly later incarnation of the band from 2004′ courtesy of Youtube below:-

Information about Hot Club of San Francisco band can be found here.

This will tell you that:-
EVERY MONDAY : Le Jazz Hot (the Quartet of the HCSF) plays for dancing, drinking and dining at Le Colonial in San Francisco 7-10pm FREE

Sounds great! If you are passing, pop in- I certainly would!

The band etc: Paul Mehling (guitar); Evan Price (violin); Joe Kyle (string bass); Davey Rickettsia (rhythm guitar); Michael Groh (rhythm guitar). Recorded: 2002. Coast Recorders, San Francisco. Produced by: Andrew A. Melter. Cover design: Dan Gatto (Veronica character created by Claudette Barjoud). Label: Panda Digital PDCD0211.