Tuesday, September 15, 2009

If you're crazy about Charleston...

(See my introduction to this series of posts.)

...and find yourself dancing on subway platforms, in elevators, or while preparing dinner...
  • Be cautious if listening to the Cats and the Fiddle's album We Cats Will Swing for You. The Cats are a guitar-driven group featuring male vocal harmonies and lots of janky, catchy tunes. If you put them on your iPod, you may end up embarrassing yourself in public, or chopping off your finger at the knuckle if you're not careful.
  • Even though I mentioned this one in an earlier post, I still recommend Firecracker Jazz Band: Firecracker Jazz Band Explodes. High-energy, off-the-wall music from a group that includes some former Squirrel Nut Zippers. Lots of hot tempos. You won't be able to sit still.
  • I also already mentioned the Boilermakers, but not their albums Give Me Your Telephone Number or You Do Something To Me. Both have a number of tunes that are Charleston friendly. I think it's something about the banjo in the rhythm section.

...and really wish it were the Roaring 20's again
  • Start with some early Louis Armstrong, like The Best of The Hot 5 & Hot 7 Recordings. These are some of the most influential recordings in the history of Jazz, and are endlessly fascinating to listen to.
  • For more hot 20's trumpet blowin', there's also Jabbo Smith: 1929 - The Complete Set. The recording of "Jazz Battle" is awesome.
  • The compilation album Harlem Big Bands features recordings from 1925 through 1931, and provides a great sampling of dance bands from that era. I particularly like Cecil Scott & his Bright Boys.
  • Or for modern recordings of tunes from the late 1920's, try Celebrating Bix! from the Bix Centennial All Stars. The group includes Randy Sandke, Dan Barrett, and Vince Giordano, top-flight musicians who all share a love for playing jazz styles from the 1920's, 30's, and 40's. Giordano leads a group called the Nighthawks, who specialize in the music of the 1920'. To get a taste of what they can do, check out this track: Shake That Thing. Unfortunately their albums are not widely available, but you can order them by mail or get them in person at their concerts. (I did the latter, picking up a copy of their album "Quality Shout" and got Vince's autograph to boot.) Details on the Nighthawks MySpace site.
  • Another modern group, hailing from Britain and called simply Harlem, plays a lot of music from Duke Ellington's earliest groups. Check out their album Harlemania.

Note: Dancers, DJs, and folks searching for music, let me know what you think of these recommendations, and please don't be shy about posting a comment to suggest some of your favorites too.

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