Be THERE Now (cd liner notes, 2022) 

This cd is the answer to the question presented by my last cd, What Now? in which I was left wondering what to do after getting rudely dismissed from my trio gig at Cafe Claude in San Franisco. The original album, which we recorded at concerts in 2015 and 2016, had some very good trio and quartet tracks, some borderline ones, and a cover/concept that struggled. In 2017 I printed 75 copies, put it on for digital sales only, and gave away more copies than I sold. But I always liked parts of it and wanted to see it continue to evolve. 

The next chapter: Bill Moody sufffered a fatal heart attack in 2018, the trio gigs all disappeared, and the Covid pandemic was coming. By 2020 I was firmly entrenched in playing weekly solo piano at Marin Joe's in Marin County. But I had recently met Jimmy Hobson, a fine drummer playing with bassist Steve Webber in Larry Moss's trio at Joe's, so we put together a couple of concert gigs as a trio. Jimmy also ran a small recording studio in San Anselmo, which would ultimately facilitate this cd. When the pandemic hit I withdrew to an online Facebook piano bar from home, then moved on to this recording project. I selected my best tracks from the What Now? album, recorded a batch of new tunes with Jimmy and Steve, re-mastered the combined results, and moved forward to honor the past. 

The tracks with Bill Moody are from the JB Piano concerts, accompanied sometimes by Piro Patton on vibes. The remaining tracks were recorded with Jimmy on drums in 2021. Ultimately the cd hopes to honor the traditions of great jazz recordings and jazz firmly rooted in 

acoustic sounds, classic harmonies, sophisticated rhythms, and lyrical melody lines. Significant inspiration came from memories of San Francisco's long defunct Jazz Workshop and Blackhawk clubs and the sounds of Miles Davis' classic 1961 Kind of Blue album. 

In the process of getting there we might have given a passing nod to the "Be Here Now" mantra from the late 1960's, but the answer we claearly settled on was "Be THERE Now!" 

Dick Fregulia, CEO Blue Koala Records, 2022 

Be THERE Now! Dick Fregulia Trio BKCD27

Review of "Jazz on a Summer's Day" for EatDrinkFilms

August, 2020 

by Dick Fregulia 

I'm feeling like there's not much to look forward to these days, so I am enjoying re- discovering the past much more. One of the better experiences I've had with that lately is viewing the new video print of the 1958 Newport Jazz Frestival documentary, "Jazz on a Summer's Day". 

The Newport Jazz Festival was in its fourth year and had established itself as a true ambassador for the jazz world. Each year it was recorded by Voice of America radio and released in several best-selling jazz record albums, which only spread the relevance of jazz in the late 1950's even further. Although the festival itself had a rocky history through the 1960's, moving to variety of venues and even out of town in the 1970's, it did create the template for the founding in 1958 of the Monterey Jazz Festival, which flourished for years and is still going strong. It was also the forgotten prototype for the emergence of outdoor rock concerts that started in the mid-1960's. 

Produced and directed by Bert Stern, this award winning documentary captures an inspiring array of images of musicians inventing and inter-acting, audience flowing with the vibes, and sailboats dancing the waves of Newport Bay. The digitalized restoration brings to it an impressive new life of color images and complex sounds. 

The film begins with seductive abstracts of flowing water in the bay, several references to the sailboats gathered for the America's Cup Race in the same area, and then cuts to close-up facial expressions of Jimmy Giuffre on saxophone and Bobby Brookmeyer on valve trombone playing a set on stage. The audience is entranced, responding in a vareity of ways with body, miond, and soul. 

The cameras wander through space and time, giving glimpses of sound checks, wandering dogs, dancers, candid moments, parties, lovers young and old. But it is always the music that holds us to the photograhic details of the scene. 

Classic performances abound. The most remembered performance for me (lasting 60 years and still going) is Anita O'Day brilliantly reworking Sweet Georgia Brown and Tea for Two. The segment , lasting about 10 minutes, truly captures an inspired jazz vocal improvisation and the personal, uninhibited audience response. 

Preceding that is the trio performance by Thelonius Monk, introduced by Voice of America jazz broadcaster Willis Connover. "Next is a man who is a complete original - who lives in music, thinks in music, and lives and thinks of little else." The cameras focus on the opening tune of Blue Monk, move to a fascinating variety of audience close-ups, then scan out of the arena to a long montage of sailboats in the rolling waves. 

A few sets later we get Louis Armstrong, looking young and energetic in spite of the lyrics of Ol' Rockin' Chair's Got Me, which he sings with Jack Teagarden. The dynamics of the two singing together brought variation to the instrumental interaction of Giuffre and Brookmeyer in the opening set. 

Among my many other lasting memories are Dinah Washington singing All of Me, then jamming on vibes with Terry Gibbs, George Shearing rocking with his Latin rhythm section, Chico Hamilton rehearsing his group in a studio, then performing on stage. 

The film also covers sets by Henry Grimes, Sonny Stitt, Sal Salvadore, Gerry Mulligan, Big Maybelle, Chuck Berry, and shots of street Dixieland musicians at various locations around town. The concluding set, starting at midnight, features gosspel singer Mahalia Jackson . She begins her set with a mid-tempo, grooving blues, then concludes an hour later with a musical treatment of the Lord's Prayer, which brings the crowd to a dramatic and respectful silence through the entire song. Amen. 

Although the water images nicely frame the fluid sounds of the jazz, they also provide a constant reminder of the privileged white culture that surrounds the festival. Historical perspective doesn't allow the viewer to overlook that, and some will dismiss the film for that. This was, however, a period of important transition in changing racial attitudes, and it was the jazz world that was leading the way to the dramatic changes of the 1960's. The concept of "black lives matter" is clearly at the heart of the music, the musicians, and the audience, although perhaps not yet reaching the sailboats. 

The film is not highly structured, but actually going to a festival like this is only a loosely structued experience anyway. The charm of this film is in the many bits and pieces, like the row of girls in the audience snapping their fingers on the off-beat. Nobody does that any more, and nobody feels syncopation, but nothing apparently swung like the Newport jazz festival on that summer day.