Happy jazz until they die
On a scorching Sunday afternoon –– when residents and tourists alike had flocked to the beach seeking some reprieve –– pianist Mike Krimholtz would lead a septet of musicians, turning up the heat another notch.
On stage, at beachside restaurant Lobster Alive in Bay Street, The City, Doctors On Call And The Crustaceans belted out tune after tune of happy jazz.
Yes, you heard it; jazz, and more particularly hits of Dixieland.
“We don’t play anything that’s younger than our trombone player; and he’s 83,” Krimholtz laughingly said, pointing out he was the youngest of the group
The 83-year-old he was referring to was Stuart Jenkins, who sat at the right of the restaurant’s stage belting out sweet music from his well-used equipment –– on par with or even better than some fellow musicians half his age.
And one could see and feel the love and passion for the music from the group last Sunday, as they smiled, laughed, and even danced throughout their performance for the diners.
“We play happy music, and it creates a good atmosphere in the place that you are in. It’s not the sort of music for intense partying, but it’s a good thing for eating and having a night out. It’s not background music really,” said Doug Duckhouse, the man on trumpet
With Frank Glenn on drums, Cecil Bascombe on bass, Ronnie Crebbin on the banjo, Ervyn Trotman on steel pan and washboard, Bob Bowen on congo drums, the band had seabathers trickling into Lobster Alive to soak up the atmosphere and have a dance; or had those of us who had come for the sole purpose of dining subconsciously tapping our feet away.
“We try and play a lot of unusual tunes that you would not hear normally. A lot of the tunes that we play probably nobody in the world is actually playing them right now,” Duckhouse said, with Krimholtz adding: “Certainly nobody is playing them like we play them!”
“We were playing a few Dixieland tunes; a lot of them are maybe 100 years old or more, like the Saints Are
Marching In, like Indiana. And then we have a few swing tunes we throw in as well, just for fun. We don’t really play anything after about 1942,” said Duckhouse, who is a veterinarian by profession –– hence the name Doctors On Call.
“And The Crustaceans because we play at a lobster restaurant,” Krimholtz, who is a physician at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, further explained.
But how do doctors get to play in a jazz band?
“We didn’t have anything better to do one day,” Krimholtz said with a laugh, adding jokingly: “It’s not how you get into music; it’s how you get out of medicine.
“No, why? Because this is the best job in the world. You get to meet your friends; they even give you a free drink; and sometimes they even pay you,” the jazz pianist continued.
For Duckhouse it’s just “a pleasure and a privilege to perform and to play really, and probably if I lived anywhere else I would never play again, I think. There are some good venues here and we enjoy playing the music we are playing, that’s the main thing”.
The two would burst into laughter with: “We have been moderately successful; people do come back!”
And this passion for happy jazz will not be winding up any time soon for the two, who have been playing at the Lobster Alive restaurant for the past eight years.
“We plan on doing it as long as we can . . . . Basically we play in a band until somebody dies . . . . We have a pact –– we are all going to play at each other’s funeral; so we just keep playing. That’s what we are going to do,” Krimholtz says.