Sunday, September 6, 2009

Starter albums for the jazz-curious: introduction

I've heard the same advice from many dance teachers, including some big-name instructors: "If you want to get better at dancing, listen to the music often--not just when you're out dancing." I've found it to be true in my own experience as well. Getting familiar with how swing tunes are put together, how different jazz musicians phrase a solo, how breaks work, etc. will help you be more musical in your dancing. It may also motivate you to get better, since you'll start to hear little things in a song and say to yourself, "hey how can I dance to that bit?"

But where to find some good music? Many swing dancers don't really know much of anything about the music they dance to, though I've met some who are curious to learn more. If you fit that bill, I thought I would try to provide a few recommendations to help you get a toe in the water. Over the next several posts, I will make suggestions based on several different "jumping-off" points. Hopefully one of them will more-or-less describe you. Or if you don't fit into any of them but are looking for a recommendation, post a comment or email me and I'll see what I can dig up for you.

I try to suggest albums that have a lot of tunes that you can dance to (as oppose to just 2 or 3) using whatever style(s) you can do. I also try to suggest music that is close enough to something you may already be familiar with, so it won't sound too strange. I provide links to full albums on Amazon, but practically all of this music is also available as electronic downloads from Amazon, EMusic, or iTunes (see my earlier posts about these different websites), so you can also easily cherry pick a few tracks from these albums.

Here are links to the series of posts (all tagged with "starter albums"). If you're...


  1. I love this starter album series of posts, James. Thank you so very much for posting this, I want to work on my musicality and this totally hits the spot. I must go search this blog and see if you have a note here somewhere for music with kick-ass breaks!

  2. Hey Vikram, here's the post you're looking for: