There is a classical beauty in trinity: heaven, earth, ocean; too hot, too cold, just right; even the three phrases of the blues. As for gold, silver, and bronze, however, we ask you to set them aside for the moment, and savor instead a trio of brass, brass, and brass, for 'The Au Brothers Take Off!'
The brothers Au (Gordon, eldest, trumpet; Brandon, middle, trombone; Justin, youngest, trumpet) grew up listening to the traditional jazz recordings of their Uncle Howard and others. It is a particular pleasure for them to now record a debut Au Brothers Jazz Band (ABJB) album together with the trio of Uncle How and honorary Aunt Katie Cavera & Uncle Danny Coots. We hope you find this recording a pleasure as well.
The debut festival performance of the ABJB was Jubilee By the Sea, in October 2011 in Pismo Beach. For that occasion, Gordon composed PISMO BEACH PARADE, which conveys a little of the brothers’ joy at that auspicious band birthday (in 2013, they will open and close their third anniversary/appearance there with this song). When you hear the march give way to swing, imagine an orderly seaside parade breaking into a spontaneous run across the sand.
With his native High Sierra Jazz Band, Howard is well-known for happily zany renditions of 'Yama Yama Man' and others; here, his vehicle for musical mischief is the classic triple-negative I AIN’T GONNA GIVE NOBODY NONE OF MY JELLY ROLL. Gordon supplies an ending tag that hearkens back to Fletcher Henderson.
Sometimes it is the little things, despite their insignificance or even our wishes, that become fixed in memory: the scent of magnolias in the French Quarter; a dust-covered chest with a rusted clasp forgotten in a barn. In the Gordon-penned STINKY FEET BLUES, it is somehow ‘foot funk’ that inadvertently becomes the last memento of a dying sweetheart. The final verse lyrics, with a touch of humor, and perhaps acceptance, come courtesy of Brandon.
The rollicking ride CAPITAL-BOUND was written on a airplane bound for Sacramento, the Au hometown. Perhaps the swanky aeroplanes you see here, created by Brandon and another multitalented musician-cum-artist, Molly Reeves (of the Red Skunk Band, in which Justin plays), are headed that way.
An ode to an old evil, and pitfall of blossoming (or wilting) romances everywhere, is HOW COULD I SAY THAT I LOVE YOU. There’s a double-meaning in this title that we won’t spoil here, but suffice to say that the matter at heart is something like 'I Could Write a Book' vs. 'Three Little Words.' Meanwhile, Justin’s arranging magnum opus, BIG CHIEF DADA’S AXE OF PLENTY STRAIN, as astute listeners will guess, is a Frankenstein mash-up of the three standards 'Big Chief Battle Axe,' 'That Dada Strain,' and 'That’s A-Plenty.' Check out the brothers triple-trading on this track.
Aunt Katie unearths and croons the cute gem WHEN FRANCIS DANCES WITH ME, which revels in dance and reviles the Bowery. (Though Gordon, who resides in New York, reports that it is now OK to visit the Bowery every once in a while.) This number will be especially appreciated by those listeners who are looking for a song in three for waltzing, or vintage fashion styling tips (comb your hair with fat, and look for a gown with twenty-eight slits!).
A stylistic departure of sorts – an exotic sightseeing interlude, is Gordon’s interesting TANGO OF LOST LOVES, a testament to the musical flexibility and prowess of all the bandmembers. Next, Brandon stars in the terribly entertaining vintage number CENTRAL, GIVE ME BACK MY DIME, with vocal cameos from a few ‘operators.’ Listen closely for mouthpiece buzzing, and see if you can follow the musical phone call between Gordon and Brandon.
BROOKLYNBURG RAG is a tribute both to the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn (a frequent musical haunt of Gordon’s), and to classic three-part tunes such as 'Buddy’s Habit' and 'Fidgety Feet.' Featured here are some harmonized horn breaks, and Danny’s impeccable drum work.
The last stop of this maiden flight is a long-time favorite of the brothers – the all-out good-time jam LIMEHOUSE BLUES. Hold on to your hats.
We hope you’ll agree: Good things come in threes. (How many have you noticed here?)
- Gordon Au, May 2013