Saturday, October 3, 2009
Annette Hanshaw - Lovable and Sweet
Available on Amazon, EMusic, and iTunes.
"...Watch your husbands, ladies, 'cuz here's Annette Hanshaw with a complexion like peaches and a voice like smooth honey..." (This is how the announcer introduces Hanshaw's vocal here.)
This track was recommended by Steven in Norway and also (independently) by my friend Jason. The tune is sung by Annette Hanshaw, a very popular female singer from the 1920's. I'd never heard of her before. This isn't exactly the jazz that you're used to--it sits on the borderline between early jazz and the "pop" music of that era--though there are a lot of jazz inflections in it. It's also not exactly what I would call swing dancing music, though it does make me want to dance. Maybe a nice foxtrot with some improvising during the horn, sax, and trombone solos. However you classify it though, I'm basically a sucker for this sort of music. When I heard Annette Hanshaw's voice, I was captivated immediately. Hook, line, and sinker. It's charming, nuanced, and also kind of wily--like a girl who knows a lot more than you about the ways of the world, but doesn't go parading it around.
At least in my scene, I would only play this at a dance if I knew that the crowd was receptive and the mood called for it. But that said, I think that since this style of music was part of the milieu of the jazz era, it's not only appropriate for dancing, it's actually enriching, a good challenge for people, and a pleasant change of mood. Foxtrot and ballroom/"society" dances preceded the swing dances, and they were part of the culture into which lindy hop was born. There's only two leaders in our scene (that I know of at least) who will lead a foxtrot when the music calls for it. I wish there were more.
On a completely different note, there must be something about Annette Hanshaw in the air right now. Jason told me about this very peculiar film called Sita Sings the Blues, which makes use of Annette Hanshaw's music to re-tell an ancient Hindu epic story called the Ramayana and the story of how the film's creator was rejected by her husband. The way the story sets up and uses the musical numbers, and the way those numbers are animated, is pretty amusing. It's an odd little movie. You can watch it all on Youtube (here).