Some Of These Days...
Zeke Zarchy with the Bohém Ragtime Jazzband
The start of the Fifth Dreher Bohém Ragtime & Jazz Festival (in the central Hungarian town of Kecskemét) started out somewhat unlucky, despite being a double anniversary, as the Bohém Ragtime Jazzband just entered the tenth year of its existence. Partly due to the festival they host, they have become a key element of the international old-timer merry-go-round. For the Fifth they have invited trumpet player Doc Cheatham, doyen even among the legends of his age, who they have met at a festival in Switzerland. Unfortunately, recovering from an operation, Cheatham's doctor barred him from travelling and playing in Kecskemét when the fest was already rolling, leaving it without a headliner. Another featured artist from overseas, Canadian pianist extraordinaire Andy Fielding, when learning about the situation, told festival director Tamás Ittzés, that his father is a trumpet player, too, and is still active. A phone-call or two, and 81-year-old Zeke Zarchy in Los Angeles packed his suit and his trumpet, boarded a plane, and got to Hungary just in time to make it for the main act at the Bohém Festival after a rather brief rehearsal.
The Band was electrified by the arrival of Mr. Zarchy. Through his person they could meet a crown witness and front-line player of the swing era. Zeke Zarchy first joined the Benny Goodman Band at the age of 21, mainly touring across the States. Later he was a member of the Bob Crosby, Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey orchestras. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that he reached the peak of his career as the first trumpet player of the Glenn Miller Air Force Band. They were stationed in Europe for 14 months, and during this period Zarchy decided to start to settle down after discharging. He met his old pal from the early days of the Tommy Dorsey orchestra, Frank Sinatra at a recording date in New York, who insisted on hiring him for his L.A. band. Zarchy settled in California, and in the post-war year he worked with the best studio bands, re-joined Benny Goodman for a period, but can also be heard on recordings of Sarah Vaughn and Ray Anthony. Just for fun, to stay in shape, he jammed with players like Bill Holman, Bobby Shew and Don Menza, sometime in club gigs, too.
Zarchy's routine and the chops he preserved despite his advanced age can be enjoyed on the second part of the current CD, on the recordings made in Kecskemét. Since day one the atmosphere of the Ragtime Festival is incomparable, also transported to the tours when the fest conquers other Hungarian cities. Zarchy and the Bohém Band have also appeared in Sopron, deepening their musical collaboration at their second concert. Nevertheless the record preserves the charm of their first meeting, very enjoyable despite some smaller hick-ups, such as the minor miking problem on the penultimate track, one which could not be left out because of the beauties of the Zarchy-solo.
The well-polished and thought-over concept of the Bohém sound is the main attraction of the first ten tracks, recorded at the tenth anniversary concert and jam of the Bohém gang. All former members have appeared there, but the recording showcases the present, the current line-up only. Bohém Ragtime Jazzband gives a semi-dry flavour to the unhurried ragtimes and swings full-bloodedly making your hands and feet tap. If needed, they give a youthful twist to the worn-out phrases of however charming lyrics from the thirties, and are also able to add the ingredient of irony, which only those stage performers are able to, who have fully mastered their music, and have worked over their technique. The first ten years past, can't wait for the second.
(Gramofon - Jazz Columnist)
Cover text to the CD Zeke Zarchy with the Bohém Ragtime Jazzband: Some of These Days. Live in Kecskemét. Pannon Jazz PJ 1020