Saturday, December 3, 2011

First Friday at Big City Swing 12/2/2011

Another fun night of dancing and DJing for me--two in one week!--last night, this time at Big City Swing. I had the early set, followed by my friend Bob "DJ Thor." A great, lively crowd of dancers made the job easy for both of us--of course it didn't hurt that quite a few people took advantage of the BYO policy. Here's what I played (plus the usual BPM sparkline and histogram):
  1. I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling - Louis Armstrong - Satch Plays Fats - 3:13 - 160
  2. Moppin' And Boppin' - Fats Waller - 100 Swing & Big Band Classics - 4:27 - 170 (I cut out the first thirty seconds, which is an extended drum solo.)
  3. Sent For You Yesterday - Count Basie - The Complete Decca Recordings - 2:58 - 165
  4. Apollo Jump - Lucky Millinder - Classic Big Band Jazz - 3:26 - 145
  5. Did I Remember - Stephanie Nakasian - Billie Remembered: The Classic Songs Of Billie Holiday - 3:03 - 140
  6. Tuxedo Junction - The Solomon Douglas Swingtet - Ain't No School Like the Old School - 3:14 - 155
  7. All Of Me - Twin Cities Hot Club - Twin Cities Hot Club - 4:10 - 165
  8. Let's Get Together - Duke Ellington - Recollections Of The Big Band Era - 2:37 - 175
  9. Let's Misbehave - The Boilermaker Jazz Band - You Do Something To Me - 2:52 - 188
  10. It's You Who Taught It To Me - Fats Waller - The Unique Mr. Waller - 2:42 - 160
  11. Put A Lid On It - Davina & The Vagabonds - Live @ The Times - 3:13 - 170
  12. Milenberg Joys - Gordon Webster - Live In Philadelphia - 3:45 - 190 (Man this song is fun!)
  13. Georgia Grind - Lillian Boutté - Music Is My Life - 3:32 - 145
  14. Alligator Meat - Joe Swift With The Johnny Otis Band - Swing Time Jive - 2:57 - 120 (By request)
  15. Ooh-Shoo-Be-Doo-Bee - Stacey Kent - The Boy Next Door - 3:06 - 140
  16. Harlem Air Shaft - Duke Ellington - Piano In the Background - 4:03 - 170
  17. Rosetta - The Palmetto Bug Stompers - Ol' New Orleans Home - 3:36 - 205 (People were singing along to this tune!)
  18. You Can Have My Husband - Tuba Skinny - Six Feet Down - 3:48 - 140
  19. I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm - Billie Holiday - Lady Day: The Master Takes And Singles - 2:58 - 140
  20. You’ve Been A Good Ole Wagon - Ann Savoy & Her Sleepless Knights - Black Coffee - 2:45 - 115
  21. Jersey Bounce - Bernard Berkhout - Doctor Bernard and His Swing Orchestra - 3:27 - 135
  22. Yes Indeed - Slam Stewart - Slamboree - 3:35 - 150
  23. Dark Eyes - Fats Waller - Happy Birthday Fats Vol. 1 - 3:22 - 160
  24. The Dipsy Doodle - Chick Webb - Stomping At The Savoy - 3:15 - 184 (By request, for tranky doo)
  25. Fiddle Dee Dee - Lionel Hampton - Lionel Hampton Story 1: Hot Mallets - 2:39 - 195
  26. All of Me - Benoit Viellefon & His Orchestra - Swing à La Mode - 3:21 - 195 (Weird novelty song, in the genre of Muppet jazz--I played it to keep DJ Thor on his toes as he took over.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fizz setlist 11/28/2011

Here you go, plus the BPM histogram* and sparkline**:
  1. Parc On Summit - Glenn Crytzer And His Sycopators - Harlem Mad - 3:11 - 180
  2. Zonky - Crytzer's Blue Rhythm Band - Chasin' the Blues - 3:49 - 215
  3. Route 66 - Gordon Webster - Live In Philadelphia - 4:24 - 150
  4. Piano Boogie - Kansas City All-Stars - KC After Dark - 2:32 - 170
  5. House Hop - Bernard Berkhout - Doctor Bernard and His Swing Orchestra - 3:45 - 205
  6. When You're Smiling - Benny Goodman - Small Group Recordings - 2:37 - 156
  7. What's Your Name? - Echoes of Swing - You've Got To Be Modernistic - 3:18 - 155
  8. I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm - Billie Holiday - Lady Day: The Master Takes And Singles - 2:58 - 140
  9. For Dancers Only - Jimmie Lunceford - Jimmie Lunceford - 2:41 - 150
  10. My Blue Heaven - The Cangelosi Cards - Clinton Street Recordings, I - 4:11 - 145
  11. Baby, What's The Matter With You? - Roy Eldridge Quintet - Little Jazz Giant - 3:20 - 140
  12. I Like Pie, I Like Cake - The Four Clefs - BLUEBIRD 8884 - 2:48 - 155
  13. When You Wore a Tulip - The Baby Soda Jazz Band - Jazz Roots Elixir - 3:30 - 160
  14. I Can't Believe You're in Love With Me - The Boilermaker Jazz Band - Give Me Your Telephone Number - 3:52 - 167
  15. Viper Mad - Sidney Bechet - Sweet And Lowdown - 3:06 - 172
  16. Fortunate Love - Glenn Crytzer And His Sycopators - Harlem Mad - 2:54 - 130
  17. Blue Drag - Earl Hines - Swingin' Down - 2:59 - 140
  18. Yacht Club Swing - Fats Waller - Yacht Club Swing 1938 - 3:51 - 162
  19. Madame Dynamite - Eddie Condon - Let's Swing It - 2:55 - 185
  20. Solid As A Rock - Count Basie - Count Basie Et Son Orchestre 1950-1951 - 3:03 - 135
  21. She Keeps It Up All The Time - Duke Heitger - Duke Heitger's "Krazy Kapers" - 3:11 - 110
  22. Exactly Like You - Cecile Mclorin Salvant and the Jean-Francois Bonnel Paris Quintet - Cecile - 5:10 - 125
  23. Jump Through The Window - Roy Eldridge - Little Jazz Giant - 2:44 - 145
  24. Blues In Disguise - Mezz Mezzrow & his Orch. - Makin' Friends, 1928-37 - 3:16 - 150
  25. Dipsy Doodle - Larry Clinton & His Orchestra - G.I. Jukebox - 3:03 - 175
  26. When You're Smiling - Mona's Hot Four - Live at Mona's - 3:33 - 195
  27. Jersey Bounce - Bernard Berkhout - Doctor Bernard and His Swing Orchestra- 3:27 - 135
  28. Bassology - Slim Gaillard - The Very Best Of - 2:49 - 155
  29. Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen - Gordon Webster - Live In Philadelphia - 5:16 - 150
  30. Black Coffee - Harlem Hot Shots - Complete Brunswick & Vocalion Recordings Of Louis Prima And Wingy Manone (1924-1937) - 3:00 - 200
  31. Let's Get Drunk And Truck - The Harlem Hamfats - Let's Get Drunk And Truck - 3:06 - 175
  32. Moan You Moaners - The Palmetto Bug Stompers - Live @ D.B.A. - 4:46 - 130
  33. Froggy Bottom - Kansas City All-Stars - KC After Dark - 4:04 - 100
  34. Put A Lid On It - Davina & The Vagabonds - Live @ The Times - 3:13 - 170 (This last song was for the Swing I graduation dance.)

* The histogram is clumpy around 130-170 because it was grad night, so there were many beginners plus a bunch of folks who seemed comfortable lindy hopping around that tempo range.

** Wow it looks like I became increasingly volatile with tempos as the night progressed.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Spotify playlist archive

Okay so rather than providing a separate Spotify playlist for every set that I post here, I'm gonna just add songs to one master playlist archive. Subscribe to it and it will be updated whenever I add a new track. Should be simpler for me and y'all too. Link to the Spotify playlist archive here or in the top panel of the sidebar.

CodeBLUE 10/14/2011

Last night I spun the early set at CodeBLUE, which was moving into nice new digs at OuterSpace in Wicker Park. The change of address didn't appear to throw anybody off, since a healthy crowd arrived early on. Unfortunately we hadn't quite gotten the sound straightened out--the organizers had rented a good portable sound system, but the vendor hadn't provided all of the necessary cables, so I had to DJ off of one speaker for most of the evening. (Two frantic trips to the vendor later, and finally both were working, in time for the last 10 songs of my set.)

Thanks to organizers Tia, Anna, & Heather for inviting me to DJ--I had a lot of fun stretching outside my usual lindy hop box. Here's what I played (along with the usual sparkline and histogram):
  1. Rock Me All Night Long - The Fabulous Treniers - The Hoss Allen Sessions - 2:41 - 155
  2. Tight Like This - Tuba Skinny - Tubaskinny - 4:28 - 125
  3. Shake That Thing - Wynonie Harris - Risque Blues - It Ain't the Meat - 2:17 - 135
  4. Juke - Little Walter - The Best Of Little Walter - 2:45 - 135
  5. Bad Bad Whiskey - Buddy Guy & Junior Wells - Buddy Guy & Junior Wells Play The Blues - 4:14 - 115
  6. Yes Sir, That's My Baby - Earl Hines - A Monday Date - 3:00 - 140
  7. Last Night On The Backporch - The Palmetto Bug Stompers - Ol' New Orleans Home - 4:10 - 150
  8. Love Me or Leave Me - Banu Gibson - Let Yourself Go - 3:07 - 165
  9. If You'se a Viper - John Sinclair - No Money Down - 3:55 - 150
  10. I Don't Care Who Knows - Catherine Russell - Sentimental Streak - 3:18 - 125
  11. Tears Of Joy - Janiva Magness - My Bad Luck Soul - 3:08 - 110
  12. Don't Go No Farther - Muddy Waters - The Chess Box - 2:56 - 105
  13. Blooz ... First Thaingh 'Dis Moanin' - Wycliffe Gordon - Originals Only - 5:23 - 85
  14. Summertime - Gordon Webster - Happy When I'm With You - 4:04 - 120
  15. Bassology - Slim Gaillard - The Very Best Of - 2:49 - 155
  16. Communications - Slim Gaillard - Slim Gaillard: 1947-1951 - 2:29 - 175
  17. The Wild Mab Of The Fish Pond - Charlie Barnet & His Orchestra - 1941-Transcription Performance - 2:20 - 155
  18. Chant Of The Groove - Fats Waller - Fats Waller 1941 - 3:05 - 185
  19. Artillerie Lourde - Twin Cities Hot Club - Twin Cities Hot Club - 5:28 - 140
  20. That Ain't Right - Fats Waller - Last Testament - His Final Recordings 9-23-43 - 2:59 - 80
  21. You Just Usin' Me for a Convenience - Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - A Long Way from Home - 3:45 - 85
  22. Ray's Cookie Dance - Gerry Hundt - Acoustic - 3:09 - 135
  23. Lowdown Baby - Joe Morris - Best Of The Early Years - 2:56 - 70
  24. Hesitation Blues - Dave Van Ronk - The Two Sides Of Dave Van Ronk - 3:32 - 115
  25. When I Get Low - Gordon Webster - Live In Philadelphia - 5:27 - 105
  26. Honeysuckle Rose - Louis Armstrong - Satch Plays Fats - 2:56 - 170
  27. Dark Eyes - Fats Waller - Happy Birthday Fats Vol. 1 - 3:22 - 160
  28. Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen - Adrian Rollini - 1937-1938 - 3:12 - 215
  29. Lumby - Charlie Barnet & His Orchestra - Essential, Vol. 2 - 2:31 - 195
  30. Blue Drag - Earl Hines - Swingin' Down - 2:59 - 140
  31. Song With No Words - Asylum Street Spankers - Strawberry - 5:43 - 102
  32. Little Red Rooster - Sam Cooke - The Rhythm And The Blues - 2:52 - 95
  33. 3 O'Clock In The Morning Blues - Ike & Tina Turner - Mississippi Blues - 2:40 - 60
  34. Sure Hope You Mean It - Raphael Saadiq - The Way I See It - 3:40 - 100
  35. Heart Of Steel - Galactic - Ya-Ka-May - 3:27 - 90

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fizz 10/10/2011

I had the early set last night at Fizz, back in the saddle after nearly 2 months. It was a fun evening, not terribly packed, but the dance floor seemed comfortably full for most of the evening. (The bar area was quite crowded because the Bears were playing.) My friend John had the late set, and around 10:45 we started trading songs back and forth. More on that below.

Once again, I'm going to publish my setlist on Spotify, even though only about half the songs are available. Let me know if it works for you. The usual bpm sparkline and freq. distribution exclude the first five songs since I played them to an empty room. Here's the complete run-down:
  1. Page Mr. Trumpet - Pete Johnson - NSC111 NATIONAL- - 2:52 - 165 (As usual, there was hardly anyone there when I started. Folks trickled in.)
  2. Swing, Brother, Swing - Willie "The Lion" Smith - Willie "The Lion" Smith And His Cubs - 2:51 - 230
  3. Baby Don't You Tear My Clothes - The Harlem Hamfats - Harlem Hamfats Vol. 2 1936-1937 - 2:42 - 160
  4. I Got Rhythm - Django Reinhardt - The Swing Sessions Volume 1 - 2:16 - 280
  5. Sweet Sue - Svend Asmussen - Musical Miracle Vol. 1: 1935-40 - 2:55 - 185
  6. "Murder" He Says - Four Vagabonds - Four Vagabonds Vol. 3 (1943) - 2:31 - 150 (Folks are dancing by this point.)
  7. Gettin' In The Groove - Al Cooper's Savoy Sultans - Al Cooper's Savoy Sultan: 1938-1941 - 2:58 - 140
  8. Swing Low - Adrian Rollini - 1934-1938 - 3:05 - 175
  9. Summit Ridge Drive - Buddy DeFranco - Plays Artie Shaw - 4:35 - 145
  10. He Ain't Got Rhythm - Jimmie Lunceford - Life Is Fine - 2:45 - 174
  11. The Right Idea - Charlie Barnet & His Orchestra - Swing Street Strut - 3:13 - 185
  12. Rosetta - The Baby Soda Jazz Band - Cures Everything But The Blues - 4:34 - 165
  13. Savoy Blues - The Wolverines Jazz Band Of Bern - Wolverines Of Bern At 35 - 3:56 - 140
  14. Comes Love - Duke Heitger - Duke Heitger's "Krazy Kapers" - 4:34 - 150
  15. All Of Me - Twin Cities Hot Club - Twin Cities Hot Club - 4:10 - 165
  16. Look-A There - Slim Gaillard - The Very Best Of - 2:17 - 180
  17. Cement Mixer (Put-Ti-Put-Ti) - Jimmie Lunceford - Jukebox Hits 1935-1947 - 2:45 - 155
  18. Afternoon Of A Moax - Charlie Barnet & His Orchestra - Swing Street Strut - 3:24 - 130
  19. Shout 'Em, Aunt Tillie - Duke Ellington - That Lindy Hop - 3:03 - 150 (This one didn't really take. Not right for the crowd.)
  20. Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho - Sidney Bechet - Sidney Bechet: 1949 - 3:20 - 175 (So play a sure-fire winner to recover and climb the energy.)
  21. Scram! - Echoes of Swing - Harlem Joys - 3:20 - 195
  22. As Long As I Live - Catherine Russell - Inside This Heart of Mine - 3:33 - 120
  23. Don't Get Around Much Anymore - Barbara Morrison - Live at the 9:20 Special - 4:16 - 140 (Since she was just in town, singing at WCLX)
  24. It Takes Two To Tango - Lester Young - Lester Young : 1951-1952 - 3:14 - 100 (Because I'm no longer allowed to play this one at home.)
  25. Sing On (Odessa Sing On) - Gaucho - Pearl - 5:07 - 135
  26. Ballin' The Jack - Kid Ory - This Kid's The Greatest! - 3:15 - 145
  27. It's You're Last Chance To Dance - Preservation Hall Jazz Band - The Hurricane Sessions - 4:30 - 180
  28. Yam Brown - Bob Hunt's Duke Ellington Orchestra - What A Life! - 2:43 - 225 (This one really didn't take. Too 20's charleston, too different I guess.)
  29. I Like Pie, I Like Cake - The Four Clefs - BLUEBIRD 8884 - 2:48 - 155 (Again recover with a familiar floor-filler.)
  30. Let's Get Drunk And Truck - The Harlem Hamfats - Let's Get Drunk And Truck - 3:06 - 175 (Because nobody was there to dance to the first Hamfats song I played.)
  31. I'm Crazy 'Bout My Baby - Louis Armstrong - Satch Plays Fats - 4:28 - 162 (This one was John's pick.)
  32. Jump Through The Window - Roy Eldridge - Little Jazz Giant - 2:44 - 145 (I counter with another trumpet feature.)
  33. Wham! (Re-Bop-Boom-Bam) - Jimmie Lunceford - Lunceford Special - 2:51 - 175 (John's pick: "One good Skye & Frida routine deserves another.")
  34. Swingtime in the Rockies - Bernard Berkhout's Swing Orchestra - nieuw album_41 - 3:15 - 220 (I wanted to peak here.)
  35. Lucky Number - Artie Shaw - Greatest Big Band Classics - 2:42 - 190 (John's pick.)
  36. Ain't Misbehavin' - Sidney Bechet - Perdido Street Blues - 2:52 - 145 (Birthday jam for Bob "DJ Thor" B, who is a big Bechet fan.)
  37. Exactly Like You - Cecile Mclorin Salvant and the Jean-Francois Bonnel Paris Quintet - Cecile - 5:10 - 125 (I got a complaint and a request for something "smoother" so I played this.)
  38. Mr. Rhythm - Glenn Crytzer And His Sycopators - Harlem Mad - 4:08 - 130 (John's pick.)
  39. Broken Hearted Blues - Tuba Skinny - Garbage Man - 3:45 - 120 (from Meschiya Lake to Erika Lewis.)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

First Friday playlist on Spotify

I've been playing with Spotify for a couple of weeks now, but pretty casually, and I'm sure that I'm not taking advantage of most of the features. I think I've succeeded in publishing my playlist from last Friday's dance at Big City Swing. If you have Spotify, check it out:
From what I can tell, only about 2/3 of the songs that I played will be available for you to hear, but still that's better than nothing.

Please leave a comment if it works for you--or if it doesn't, tell me what happened. Depending on how well it works, I may start publishing more playlists.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

First Friday at Big City Swing 10/7/2011

Last night at Big City Swing was buckets of fun. Actually, they probably should have had some buckets on hand--it got so sweaty in there, condensation started forming on the ventilation near the ceiling, then dripping down on me and my laptop. I didn't really mind, I was having such a good time. Highlights of the night included out-of-town friends showing up (all of whom have become straight up Rock Stars when it comes to lindy hop), dancing with several awesome followers who have just moved to town, and a phenomenal tap performance by Bril Barrett of MaddRhythms.

Bril danced to an Oscar Peterson track and left everyone speechless. His dancing is amazingly confident and controlled, yet loose and relaxed. And his rhythms, in addition to being totally mind-blowing, had a very strong continuity to them. Sometimes when I watch tap-dancers--even very very talented ones--showing off their fancy steps, I find it hard to follow their variations because they seem to deviate from whatever pulse they had going. Not with Bril--every beat he made was clear, in the pocket, and you could hear how all his fancy rhythms were connected to each other. (Bril offers several levels of tap classes at Big City Swing. When he finished dancing, his comment was "You too can learn to do that in only four easy lessons.....of twenty years a piece.")

At the start of the evening, Jenna and I taught the taster lesson, and decided to use music that was a bit faster than usual. (For intro. lessons, we usually use music 150-160 bpm--last night we ranged up to 180.) That allowed me to play fast stuff for the first couple songs in my set, which put me in a really good position for the rest of the night. As you can see in the sparkline, I was able to ride the tempo up and down nicely, though looking at it now, I think I could have pushed the boundaries out more in both directions. More on this in the running commentary.

Here's the setlist (sparkline and freq. distribution):
  1. Put A Lid On It - Davina & The Vagabonds - Live @ The Times - 3:13 - 170 (This was the transition from lesson to dance. My Swing 1 students from last month really dug this tune.)
  2. Bring It On Down - The Baby Soda Jazz Band - Cures Everything But The Blues - 2:34 - 175
  3. When I Grow Too Old To Dream - The Palmetto Bug Stompers - Live @ D.B.A. - 2:55 - 190
  4. My Blue Heaven - Preservation Hall Jazz Band - Songs of New Orleans - 5:21 - 150
  5. Meet Me in Uptown - The Mighty Blue Kings - Meet Me In Uptown - 2:59 - 145
  6. Sure, Had A Wonderful Time - Louis Jordan - Louis Jordan And His Tympani Five, Volume 1 - 3:00 - 135
  7. Route 66 - Gordon Webster - Live In Philadelphia - 4:24 - 150 (First of two songs off this album that I played. Then Bob played at least one more during his set.)
  8. Come On-A My House - Rosemary Clooney - The Essential Rosemary Clooney - 1:56 - 180
  9. The Wild Mab Of The Fish Pond - Charlie Barnet & His Orchestra - 1941-Transcription Performance - 2:20 - 155
  10. Georgia Grind - Lillian Boutté - Music Is My Life - 3:32 - 145
  11. Big Fat Mama - Lucky Millinder - Apollo Jump - 3:08 - 135
  12. A Viper's Moan - Willie Bryant And His Orchestra - 1935-1936 - 3:25 - 150 (Stoner swing interlude.)
  13. Peckin' - Duke Ellington - The Duke's Men: The Small Groups, Vol. 1 - 3:09 - 160
  14. Evenin' - Count Basie - Count Basie at Newport - 3:32 - 165
  15. Everybody Rock - Ella Fitzgerald - Live At The Savoy - 1939-40 - 3:18 - 185
  16. Milenberg Joys - Gordon Webster - Live In Philadelphia - 3:45 - 190
  17. Down south camp meeting - Svend Asmussen - Still Fiddling - 3:41 - 145
  18. No Regrets - Stephanie Nakasian - Billie Remembered: The Classic Songs Of Billie Holiday - 2:52 - 130
  19. Southern sunset - Swing Parade South - Hommage a Sidney Bechet - 3:32 - 105 (Slowest song that I played all evening. Didn't seem to phase anyone. I probably could have played more stuff in this range.)
  20. Six Appeal - Jonathan Stout & His Campus Five - Crazy Rhythm - 3:29 - 135
  21. Skin 'Em Back - Skeets Tolbert - Skeets Tolbert 1931-1940 - 2:43 - 150
  22. Wham (Re-Bop-Boom-Bam) - Glenn Miller - Perfect Swing - 3:36 - 165
  23. 8, 9 And 10 - Slim Gaillard - The Very Best Of - 2:43 - 175
  24. I Can't Dance I Got Ants In My Pants - The Smoking Time Jazz Club - Quarter Note Vol. 1 - 4:13 - 210 (Fastest song of the set. Seemed to get people excited, leading in to a jam circle on the next song....)
  25. Black Coffee - The Careless Lovers - Black Coffee - Single - 2:39 - 195
  26. If You're A Viper - Kermit Ruffins - The Big Butter & Egg Man - 3:08 - 170
  27. Everybody Loves My Baby - Sippie Wallace - Sippie - 3:11 - 145
  28. Ochi Chornya - Wingy Manone - Wingy Manone: 1940-1944 - 2:54 - 165
  29. Dear Old Southland - Sidney Bechet - Classic Sides 1931-1937 (CD A) - 3:03 - 140
  30. Grabtown Grapple - Artie Shaw - 1944-45 - 3:00 - 190
  31. Tain't What You Do - Jimmie Lunceford - Jimmie Lunceford - 3:06 - 160 (Shim-sham, timed to lead in to the tap performance.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Vince Giordano & "Ragged Jazz"

Check out this interview with Vince Giordano, leader of the Nighthawks 1920's jazz & dance orchestra, promoting the soundtrack to HBO's prohibition drama Boardwalk Empire. The Nighthawks are featured prominently in the series and on the soundtrack. It's a bit on the fluffy side, but there's one interesting bit where Vince explains the term "ragged jazz." He uses it for music that was on the cusp between ragtime and jazz. It's a great label, and now it makes me consider relabeling some of the genres in my iTunes database now....

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Great Day in Harlem

You may already know about the famous 1958 photograph titled "A Great Day in Harlem" and featuring many of the greatest jazz musicians of the time. But did you know about the 1994 documentary of the same name? It's about how the photo came to be, and includes lots of behind-the-scenes photos shot by the musicians' wives and a good deal of archival interview footage from the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Hinton, Marian McPartland, and Buck Clayton. My wife and I watched it a while back when we still had a Netflix subscription (it's still available there, on whatever they are calling it now). Definitely worth wasting an hour on.

I use the photo for my laptop wallpaper, so I spend a fair amount of time staring at it. My favorite parts are:
  • Dizzy Gillespie and Roy Eldridge (lower right hand corner), cracking each other up.
  • Count Basie sitting on the curb.
  • Stuff Smith, looking like he probably hasn't changed clothes since finishing last night's gig, smoking (who knows what?) with Coleman Hawkins
  • Drummers Jo Jones, Gene Krupa, and Sonny Greer all hangin' out. Jones was the drummer for the Count Basie Orchestra, Krupa for Benny Goodman (before leading his own band), and Greer for Duke Ellington.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Side effects may include geekiness

Based on a couple recent conversations I've had about encouraging more people to take an interest in DJing, I'm wondering whether some folks out there may have a mis-impression about swing DJing. Being a good swing DJ does not require that you know a lot (or really almost anything) about music theory or jazz history. These are common side effects of DJing, not pre-requisites to getting into the club. Really, all you need to start is 1) some good music--maybe enough to get you through 2 hours without playing anything really shoddy--and 2) the means and the nerve to play that music in public. It's possible to start out really modestly--to just get a toe in the water--without even having a ton of music, decide whether you like it, and then gradually wade deeper and deeper in (the water, children....).

If and when you do get more into it, many DJs tend to start to get interested in jazz history, to read books like Good Morning, Blues and Pops, to start combing through the archives of SwingDJs.com, quoting early episodes of Hey, Mr. Jesse, wondering whether the correct spelling is janky or djanky, and fretting about copyright infringement while scouring Jazz-On-Line.com. But none of this is at all required.

It periodically occurs to me that Chicago could really use more low-pressure opportunities for people to DJ. Right now there's....Java Jive, maybe? Maybe something up at Northwestern? But nothing in terms of city venues.* In my mind, the ideal opportunity would be hour-long (or even less maybe) slots at venues that have a dependable core of dancers. Maybe the organizers could give the DJs a small tip or let them in for free, but beyond that, no compensation--just some experience, status if you can really win the crowd, and satisfaction from sharing your favorite music. I could see some venues including one or two of these slots every week/month, with the rest of the evening covered by a more experienced house DJ (swing DJ, not house).

Readers, what do you think? Would you give something like that a try if the opportunity was there? Organizers, what say you?



* Of the regular swing and blues events:
  • Fizz (Mon., weekly) has a group of decrepit old dudes who've been DJing there for ever.
  • Black Rock (Tues., weekly), I think Nicolle usually spins on non-band nights, though I'm not totally sure. She invited me to DJ there once--a Mardi Gras set--and I had a fun time.
  • Java Jive (Fri., weekly), I have no idea, never having been there.
  • First Friday at Big City Swing (monthly) I almost always DJ, along with Bob or Chris.
  • Lucky's Savoy Stomp (First Saturday, monthly) is a new venue, not sure who will be DJing.
  • CodeBlue (second Fri., monthly), the organizers cover some of the DJing but have also asked others to step up.
  • Saturday Swings (usually third Sat., monthly) usually hosts live bands, with the organizers DJing the band breaks.
  • Alhambra Palace (last Wed., monthly), always has a live band and somebody I don't know plays music during the set breaks.
  • Bluetopia (last Fri., monthly), not sure how they work.
  • Willowbrook (occasionally), I think it's probably mostly Riley.
Looking at this list now....man is this everything Chicago has going right now?!?! How many million people live in this city?

[Updated to revise the venue list.]

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tempo changes - more tunes

Continuing on the theme of tunes that change tempo mid-song...

I associate tempo-changing tunes with older styles of music, from the early days of jazz when the tunes had crazy structures to them instead of just just straight 32 bar phrasing, and all of the New Orleans musicians still played in marching bands in addition to night clubs. Taking a slow tune out with a piping hot chorus must have be a standard Dixie trick.

As far DJing goes, tempo changers are almost always strictly novelties. I play them sparingly for fear of getting a reputation as a jerk who likes to mess with the dancers. But I do enjoy them myself, especially when you can feel the change coming on and dance through it. Here's my list of tunes with fun tempo changes, starting with the ones that all the DJs probably know:
  • All the Cats Join In - Jessica Molaskey - A Good Day - 4:15 - 125/250/125. Slinky, groovy, then all of a sudden really flipping fast, then back to groovy. Jessica Molaskey is really a Broadway singer, but she dabbles with jazzy stuff and is married to the guitarist John Pizzarelli.
  • Bei Mir Bist Du Shane - Janis Siegel - Swing Kids soundtrack - 4:11 - 150/90/180. There was a time when I watched this video over and over and over again. If you've been dancing for more than 8 years, admit it, you were watching it too.
  • Darktown Strutter's Ball - Alberta Hunter - Amtrak Blues - 5:24 - 90/150. More evidence that these sort of tempo changes come from old-time show music, since Alberta Hunter was there at the beginning. I know of one other version of this tune that mimics the tempo changes in this one: Jeff Healey - It's Tight Like That - 4:51 - 115/215. It's fun and peppy, though I don't care for the electric guitar in this (it's there because Healey was originally a rock guitarist, who turned to jazz only later) or the fiddle solo.
Tunes that I have DJed to good effect:
  • Honeysuckle Rose - Louis Armstrong - Satch Plays Fats - 2:56 - 85/170. The slow intro, featuring a seldom-heard verse of this tune, will fool people into thinking it's a blues. Then it doubles, forcing them to swing out. Hahaha gotcha. (You could also fade in after the slow intro.)
  • Yesterdays - Carmen McRae - Carmen McRae Sings Lover Man - 4:54 - 60/120. Starts as a very slow ballad, truly spell-binding. I could listen to nothing but Carmen McRae for days on end. Midway through, the tempo doubles to a very comfortable, groovy 120 bpm. Great song for transitioning and notching up the energy.
Old school jazz with crazy bits:
  • Honeysuckle Rose - Adrian Rollini - 1934-1938 - 3:13 - 105/185. A live recording that starts as a deceptively mellow vibraphone solo before jumping into a surprising, swinging jam session.
  • Swing It Way Down Low - Louis Prima - Complete Brunswick & Vocalion Recordings - 2:43 - 130/260/130/260. Danceable small combo jazz with one of Prima's distinctive vocals, plus extremely fast interludes.
  • Tin Roof Blues - Louis Prima -Complete Brunswick & Vocalion Recordings - 2:59 - 90/205. Classic Dixie blues number, with a peppy out-chorus.
  • Dear Old Southland - Sidney Bechet - Perdido Street Blues - 4:01 -90/215. Almost dirge-like blues, taking on a much more up-beat mood for the fast finish. (Note that Bechet recorded this tune many times, at different tempos. Another good version can be found on Classic Sides, 1931-1937, at about 140 bpm throughout.)
  • Ain't Misbehavin' - Fast Waller - The Very Best of Fats Waller - 4:00 - 100/260/100. Starts as a genteel, delicate piano feature, then adding Waller's vocal to one of his best known songs. A long, building drum-solo takes things into an exciting up-tempo chorus, then everything slows down again for the last little tag.
  • That's A Plenty - Ella Fitzgerald & Bing Crosby - Bing Crosby with Ella Fitzgerald & Peggy Lee - 2:24 - 185/230. Snobs will object to Bing Crosby being put on the same footing as Ella Fitgerald. Whatever. Before discovering this track, I didn't realize that there were lyrics to the tune. Ella & Bing do a nice duet, then there's a fast instrumental interlude, pure dixieland, and then a fast vocal verse for good measure.
Tunes that are too theatrical or showy to use for DJing:
  • Prince Nez - Squirrel Nut Zippers - Hot - 253 - 175/300+. I have a soft spot for this one (again, showing my age here). This starts as a duet, then has a minute-long outro that sounds like the finale of a Vaudeville show.
  • St. Louis Blues - The Deep River Boys - London Harmony - 2:50 - 120/300. This is like something out of a Vegas rat-pack show, complete with big brass arrangement and (I can imagine) flashy choreography for the Deep River Boys. And of course, since it's St. Louis Blues, you have the rhythm changes in addition to the tempo changes. A train wreck of a tune.
  • Bill Bailey - Patsy Cline - The Last Sessions - 2:48 - 70/140. Yeah, sure, Patsy is pure country. But the arrangement here is so jazzy, that I could almost play it at a dance. If only Patsy could have ditched her male backup singers.
So these are just a few that I had marked in my iTunes library. I know I must be missing many more, especially big band numbers (Chick Webb? Jimmie Lunceford?). Some commenters on the previous post have already added to the list. Let me know if you have a favorite tempo-changing swing tune by leaving a comment.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tempo changes - After You've Gone

For whatever reason, my latest obsession is songs that have tempo changes (purposeful...not just because the drummer can't keep steady time for three minutes). I remember years ago, my (future) wife and I were at the late night of an exchange in Portland, Maine, and the DJ played a slow, slinky version of "All the Cat's Join In" and everybody was getting into the groove of it when all of a sudden it doubled in tempo and basically the whole crowd went "WTF?!?!?" as the DJ cackled. I went up to him afterwards to ask what the song was (it was Jessica Molaskey, off the album A Good Day) and tell him that he was a jerk for taking everyone off guard.

When I think of tempo changes, the other thing that always comes to mind is the routine that Zach Richard & Carla Heiney did a few years ago, to the Titan Hot Seven's version of After You've Gone. They had to heavily edit the recording, since the original is way too long, but they did it quite seamlessly so all of the umpteen tempo changes sound natural. It's a great routine, made all the more engaging by the way they capture the different character of the slower and faster sections of the song.

After You've Gone is the quintessential tempo-changing tune. Of the 22 versions of the tune in my iTunes library, 6 have tempo changes:
  • Tuba Skinny - Tubaskinny - My current favorite. Starts off around 100 bpm, then doubles without feeling at all frantic.
  • Sidney Bechet - Blues in the Air - Great soloing from Bechet, at 90 bpm but with a lot of momentum. Then a short drum solo and it is suddenly TRIPLE time. Yes, a blazing 270 bpm. Don't mess with Bechet.
  • Fats Waller - Yacht Club Swing 1938 - This is only a snippet, barely 2 minutes long, just a glimpse of Waller & his Rhythm at their perfectly laid back, swinging best. The thing that kills me here is how Waller handles the ritards. At 0:58 he stretches out his break, then rolls into his solo at full time. Then at 1:12 he plays the same stretched out break, but this time it is a signal to move to half time. If only this were a full recording with a vocal! Two other recordings of his (both off the Definitive Fats Waller, Vol 1.) do have the full vocal treatment, but the tempo changes aren't handled as artfully.
  • Cecile Mclorin Savant - Cecile. I love this woman's voice. Great modern treatment of the tune, which I would totally play at a dance if it weren't for the extended drum solo that starts the fast section.
  • Katherine Whalen - Jazz Squad. This version goes from 75 to a relaxed 210 bpm, then back to 75 at the very end, handling the transitions nicely. The ensemble is an odd hybrid of a modern combo with Dixie leanings. Very danceable throughout.
  • LaVern Baker - LaVern Sings Bessie Smith. This version starts out really slow (under 65 bpm), acts as if it is wrapping up, and then finishes out at about 230 bpm (that's quadruple time!). The transition is a bit corny though, and the fast section has a stagey feel.
As you've probably guessed, I'm completely smitten with this tune at the moment, and have been driving my (present) wife nuts by playing all 22 versions on repeat all day long. Please leave a comment and let me know if you have a favorite version, so that I can continue obsessing.

Also, in a future post: other tunes with tempo changes.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

First Friday at Big City Swing 9/2/2011

Between the heat and the holiday weekend and other events going on, it ended up being a lighter night than usual for the First Friday dance. I didn't mind that, as it meant there was more space to dance and it didn't get as sweaty & stinky as it would have if it were packed. The crowd seemed to be an even mix of 6-count and lindy hoppers, and really seemed happiest in the 150-170 bpm range--I had a bit of a hard time dipping under or pushing it above that range, though I tried. I also tried to avoid playing much New Orleans style stuff, since my friend Chris was DJing after me. He's got an enviable collection of music from New Orleans bands, and I figured he would top whatever I tried to play, so why bother pushing my luck. Instead, I stuck to a lot of classic big band and small combo music, which was hardly a chore. Here's what I played (plus BPM sparkline and freq. distribution):
  1. Nice Work if You Can Get It - The Boilermaker Jazz Band - Nice Work If You Can Get It - 3:19 - 170 (Last song of the lesson)
  2. Now Or Never - Katharine Whalen - Jazz Squad - 2:13 - 165
  3. Dunkin' A Doughnut - Andy Kirk & His Clouds of Joy - An Anthology Of Big Band Swing 1930-1955 - 2:51 - 170
  4. Rose Room - Artie Shaw - Artie Shaw, King Of The Clarinet - 2:43 - 155
  5. I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling - Louis Armstrong - Satch Plays Fats - 3:13 - 160
  6. South - The Solomon Douglas Swingtet - Live at the Legion - 3:17 - 180
  7. Hey, Ba-Ba-Re-Bop - Lionel Hampton - Lionel Hampton Story 3: Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop - 3:21 - 140
  8. Georgia Grind - Lillian Boutté - Music Is My Life - 3:32 - 145
  9. I'm Alone Because I Love You - The Palmetto Bug Stompers - Live @ D.B.A. - 3:29 - 150
  10. Yacht Club Swing - Fats Waller - Yacht Club Swing 1938 - 3:51 - 162
  11. Rhythm Itch - Jonathan Stout & His Campus Five - Moppin' and Boppin' - 3:11 - 170
  12. Bennie's Bugle - 4Beat6 - The band that plays the music of Benny Goodman - 3:01 - 195 (This song kills me.)
  13. Miss Brown To You - Stephanie Nakasian - Billie Remembered: The Classic Songs Of Billie Holiday - 3:15 - 145
  14. Route 66 - Gordon Webster - Live In Philadelphia - 4:24 - 150
  15. Splanky - George Gee - Swingin' Live! - 3:18 - 135 (Oh splanky.)
  16. Little Jazz - Roy Eldridge - Little Jazz Giant - 3:06 - 140
  17. Bassology - Slim Gaillard - The Very Best Of - 2:49 - 155 (This really isn't the greatest dance tune, but I love Slam's bowed bass work so much that I had to play it.)
  18. Baby, Won't You Please Come Home - Jimmie Lunceford - Jimmie Lunceford - 2:54 - 165
  19. Honeysuckle Rose - Adrian Rollini - 1934-1938 - 2:38 - 160
  20. Dipsy Doodle - Larry Clinton & His Orchestra - G.I. Jukebox - 3:03 - 175
  21. Back Bay Shuffle - Artie Shaw - His First Three Bands: 1936-1940 - 3:15 - 190
  22. Too Darn Hot - Ella Fitzgerald - Mack The Knife: The Complete Ella In Berlin (Live) - 3:16 - 160 (This song has a longish intro where Ella sings "It's tooooo darnnnn hot. It's tooo-ooo-ooo darnnnn hot." The floor completely cleared during this, and for a second I was scared that people heard her singing and thought "You know, she's right. I should really go get a drink of water and then maybe go home and take a shower. )
  23. Easy Does It - Paul Tillotson the Love Trio - Lindy Hop Blues - 2:57 - 130
  24. Melancholy Blues - Milano Jazz Gang - To Satchmo with Respect - 2:51 - 115 (Nice new version of a very old tune.)
  25. Perdido Street Blues - Southside Aces - A Big Fine Thing - 3:54 - 135
  26. It's You're Last Chance To Dance - Preservation Hall Jazz Band - The Hurricane Sessions - 4:30 - 180
  27. Tain't What You Do - Sy Oliver - Sy Oliver et son orchestre: 1949-1952 - 3:07 - 155 (Shim-sham.)
  28. I Can’t Dance (I Got Ants In My Pants) - Chick Webb - Stomping At The Savoy (Disc 1) - 3:00 - 205 (Slightly awkward Balboa demo.)
  29. Tuxedo Junction - The Solomon Douglas Swingtet - Ain't No School Like the Old School - 3:14 - 155
  30. Summit Ridge Drive - Buddy DeFranco - Plays Artie Shaw - 4:35 - 145
  31. Black Coffee - The Careless Lovers - Black Coffee - Single - 2:39 - 195

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fizz setlist 8/15/2011

Last night was my first time DJing at Fizz, and only my second time attending, since de baby. So, lots of unfamiliar faces mixed in with those of some friends I hadn't seen in a while. It was a fun night, not too crowded but certainly energetic, and I felt good about how my set came out. I thought it was a good balance between familiar & fresh. Here's what I played (plus the usual BPM sparkline and freq. distribution):
  1. Jam Session - Benny Goodman - The Birth Of Swing - 2:56 - 215 (The first few were to an empty room.)
  2. Business in F - Gene Kardos & his Orchestra - VICTOR 22899 - 2:59 - 230
  3. Ain't She Sweet - Pearl Bailey - 16 Most requested Songs - 2:59 - 170 (One couple on the floor, practicing their moves.)
  4. 8, 9 And 10 - Slim Gaillard - The Very Best Of - 2:43 - 175
  5. Jazz O' Jazz - Adrian Rollini - 1934-1938 - 3:04 - 170
  6. Dig That Crazy Chick - Sam Butera & The Witnesses - Ultra-Lounge, Vol. 5: Wild Cool & Swingin - 2:27 - 165 (Still one couple, and I thought they might like this one.)
  7. Hit That Jive, Jack - Four Vagabonds - Four Vagabonds Vol. 3 (1943) - 2:26 - 190
  8. I've Found A Brand New Baby - Nat King Cole - The Magic of Nat King Cole - 2:39 - 140
  9. That's Right! - Eddie Cole & The Three Peppers - That's Right! - 2:24 - 140 (More people come in and put their shoes on.)
  10. Sad Sap Sucker Am I - Fats Waller - The Unique Mr. Waller - 3:06 - 140
  11. Four or Five Times - Joe Williams - For Dancers Only! (A Lindy Hop Compilation) - 4:48 - 135
  12. I'm Alone Because I Love You - The Palmetto Bug Stompers - Live @ D.B.A. - 3:29 - 150
  13. Cabaret - Louis Armstrong - Louis Armstrong - 3:59 - 155
  14. Baby, Won't You Please Come Home - Jimmie Lunceford - Jimmie Lunceford - 2:54 - 165
  15. Swingin' at the Sugar Bowl - Bob Crosby and His Orchestra - South Rampart Street Parade - 3:05 - 185
  16. For Dancers Only - The Solomon Douglas Swingtet - Swingmatism - 2:34 - 160 (Moving into hi-fi big band territory.)
  17. Alright, Okay, You Win - John Dokes - John Dokes Sings, George Gee Swings - 2:56 - 140
  18. Splanky - George Gee - Swingin' Live! - 3:18 - 130
  19. Duke's Place - Ella Fitzgerald - Something To Live For (Disc 2) - 4:13 - 140 (And out, into a New Orleans sound.)
  20. Perdido Street Blues - Louis Armstrong - The Complete Decca Studio Master Takes 1940-1949 - 3:08 - 145
  21. Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen - Gordon Webster - Live In Philadelphia - 5:16 - 150
  22. Short Dressed Gal - Preservation Hall Jazz Band - New Orleans Preservation, Vol. 1 - 2:38 - 160
  23. Bring It On Down - The Baby Soda Jazz Band - Cures Everything But The Blues - 2:34 - 175
  24. Black Coffee - The Careless Lovers - Black Coffee - Single - 2:39 - 195
  25. Ballin' The Jack - Kid Ory - This Kid's The Greatest! - 3:15 - 145
  26. Georgia Grind - Lillian Boutté - Music Is My Life - 3:32 - 145 (From New Orleans to blues/boogie.)
  27. Home To Mississippi - Otis Spann - Otis Spann: Best Of The Vanguard Years - 3:29 - 130
  28. Good Rockin' Tonight - Jack McDuff & Jimmy Witherspoon - The Blues Is Now - 2:17 - 140
  29. As Long As I'm Moving - Ruth Brown - The Essentials: Ruth Brown - 2:43 - 165
  30. Killin' Jive - Cats & The Fiddle - We Cats Will Swing For You - 2:50 - 180 (And then back to more jazz.)
  31. Bassology - Slim Gaillard - The Very Best Of - 2:49 - 155 (I love this track.)
  32. Who Walks In When I Walk Out? - Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald - The Wonderful Duets - 2:21 - 135
  33. Shiny Stockings - Count Basie - April In Paris - 5:17 - 120 (The composer of this tune, Frank Foster, just passed away last month.)
  34. Little Jazz - Roy Eldridge - Little Jazz Giant - 3:06 - 140
  35. Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea - Django Reinhardt - The Swing Sessions Volume 1 - 2:58 - 185
  36. Jump Session - Slim Gaillard - 1938-1939 - 2:35 - 160
  37. Hey, Ba-Ba-Re-Bop - Lionel Hampton - Lionel Hampton Story 3: Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop - 3:21 - 140 (Birthday jam.)
  38. Gimme A Pigfoot - Lavern Baker - Precious Memories / LaVern Sings Bessie Smith - 3:09 - 120 (Going away jam. Adeoye we'll miss you!)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

First Friday at Big City Swing 7/8/2011

Crazy night at Big City last night. Jenna & John's taster lesson was crowded and quite boisterous, which always makes my job easier. I thought I was all set to roll through a bunch of energetic, beginner-friendly tunes, but then my stupid netbook decided to give me trouble again. JRiver just crashed on me outright, so I had to switch over to iTunes and preview separately through my iPod. That threw me a bit, and I ended up with not-the-greatest set I've ever played. The room was packed pretty much the whole night through, lots of beginners and also a bunch of lindy-hoppers who danced to just about everything. A jam broke out on its own, and lots of folks went in--not just your usuals--which was cool.

As far as I the music, I stuck in a (mostly modern) small group swing groove for most of the evening, because the crowd seemed to be responding to it and because I was concerned about playing hi fidelity tracks with clear rhythm sections so that the newer folks would stay engaged. Upon reflection, I think I could have branched out more in terms of the styles I played and the range of tempos (note the longish stretch in the middle my set that was pretty much all 140-165 bpm). If you were there, let me know what you think. Here's the setlist (BPM sparkline and freq. distribution):
  1. Shotgun Boogie - Paul Tillotson the Love Trio - Lindy Hop Blues - 2:55 - 165 (Last song of the lesson. Tried and true.)
  2. My Blue Heaven - Preservation Hall Jazz Band - Songs of New Orleans - 5:21 - 150 (Another trusty old favorite)
  3. Deed I Do - Katharine Whalen - Jazz Squad - 2:42 - 170 (My media player died here.)
  4. Baby's Boogie Woogie - Stompy Jones - The Swing Session - 3:05 - 165
  5. Jump Jive An' Wail - The Brian Setzer Orchestra - The Dirty Boogie - 2:53 - 200 (Obligatory.)
  6. That Chick's Too Young To Fry - Louis Jordan - Jukebox Hits Volume 1 1942-1947 - 2:26 - 190 (This was too lo-fi for the crowd, esp. after JJ&W.)
  7. Shake That Thing - Wynonie Harris - Risque Blues – It Ain't the Meat - 2:17 - 135
  8. Route 66 - Gordon Webster - Live In Philadelphia - 4:24 - 150
  9. When I Take My Sugar to Tea - The Boilermaker Jazz Band - Jump for Joy - 4:00 - 165
  10. Someday You'll Want Me To Want You - Catherine Russell - Cat - 3:13 - 145
  11. They Raided The Joint - Roy Eldridge Sextet - Little Jazz Giant - 3:18 - 145 (Mellowed out here, which worked okay, but I should have picked a different Roy Eldridge tune.)
  12. Oh I'm Evil - Una Mae Carlisle - Una Mae Carlisle: 1938-1941 - 2:25 - 150
  13. Wailing Interval - Duke Ellington - The Private Collection: Volume Six, Dance Dates, California, - 3:39 - 160 (Wrong call. I love this tune, but it's not good for newer dancers.)
  14. Savoy Blues - The Wolverines Jazz Band Of Bern - Wolverines Of Bern At 35 - 3:56 - 140
  15. Potato Chips - Slim Gaillard - Laughing In Rhythm: The Best Of The Verve Years - 3:05 - 145 (This one takes me back.)
  16. All Of Me - Twin Cities Hot Club - Twin Cities Hot Club - 4:10 - 165 (Announcement about ticket give-away to BBVD's upcoming Chicago concert, followed by obligatory BBVD tune...)
  17. Calloway Boogie - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - How Big Can You Get?: The Music of Cab Calloway - 4:02 - 175
  18. Bennie's Bugle - 4Beat6 - The band that plays the music of Benny Goodman - 3:01 - 195 (This is really a great track.)
  19. For Dancers Only - Duke Ellington - Recollections Of The Big Band Era - 3:04 - 145 (Starting around here I think I started to hit my stride. I like how the rest of the set went.)
  20. Four Or Five Times - Jimmie Lunceford - Jimmie Lunceford - 3:12 - 135
  21. Six-appeal - Charlie Christian - Six-appeal - 3:20 - 145
  22. She Keeps It Up All The Time - Duke Heitger - Duke Heitger's "Krazy Kapers" - 3:11 - 110 (I liked how this slower tune went over.)
  23. Perdido Street Blues - Southside Aces - A Big Fine Thing - 3:54 - 135 (Off their latest album, just released.)
  24. Chant Of The Groove - Fats Waller - Fats Waller 1941 - 3:05 - 185 (A jam broke out at the beginning of this track.)
  25. Lindyhopper's Delight - Chick Webb - Strictly Jive - 2:45 - 195 (It felt like people wanted more, and this was the first tune at hand.)
  26. Tain't What You Do - Jimmie Lunceford - Jimmie Lunceford - 3:06 - 160 (Shim-sham to broaden the focus.)
  27. Come On Over To My House - Jay McShann - Jumpin' The Blues - 2:52 - 145 (And then get everyone back on the floor.)
  28. Baby Won't You Please Come Home? - Crytzer's Blue Rhythm Band - Chasin' the Blues - 3:38 - 125
  29. South - The Solomon Douglas Swingtet - Live at the Legion - 3:17 - 180
  30. Toast My Bread - Wycliffe Gordon - This Rhythm On My Mind - 4:17 - 100 (Hehe.)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

setlist from Saturday Swing

Last night I spun at ARTTango studios for the Saturday Swing dance organized by my friend and fellow Stuff Smith enthusiast Thea. It's a very nice, inviting venue with plenty of space to dance and also to socialize. I was happy with my set in terms of the music, but I encountered a big technical problem with JRiver Media Center in the middle of the evening, which definitely detracted from my set as a whole. I still haven't managed to isolate the problem, but it seems to have to do with the gap-skipping functionality in JRMC. Normally, the program will automatically trim out leading and trailing silence from a track, but last night instead of trimming it, it would sometimes insert loud static in place of the silence. Then at the end of the evening, two songs before the end of my set, the program crashed all together, and I had to switch to iTunes as quick as I could. Lame, all around. I'll report back when I've figured out what is going on.

In the mean time, here's what I played (plus the usual BPM sparkline and frequency distribution):
  1. Viper's Dream - Django Reinhardt - Django Reinhardt 3: Minor Swing - 3:17 - 170
  2. Satin Doll - Anita O'Day - My Ship - 2:19 - 135
  3. King Porter Stomp - Wynton Marsalis - Mr. Jelly Lord - Standard Time Vol. 6 - 3:09 - 180
  4. My Blue Heaven - The Rosenberg Trio - Roots - 2:54 - 210
  5. What's Your Name? - Echoes of Swing - You've Got To Be Modernistic - 3:18 - 155
  6. Two O'Clock Jump - Harry James And His Orchestra - Trumpet Blues - 3:00 - 155
  7. Gotta Be This Or That - Benny Goodman - Benny Goodman '45 & '47 - 3:10 - 140
  8. I Cried For You - Billie Holiday - Lady Day: The Master Takes And Singles - 3:14 - 155
  9. I'm Beginning To See The Light - Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington - The Great Summit - 3:37 - 150
  10. Splanky - Benny Goodman - The Yale University Music Library, Volume 7: Florida Session - 5:12 - 130
  11. They Raided The Joint - Roy Eldridge Sextet - Little Jazz Giant - 3:18 - 145
  12. Walk It to Me - Hot Lips Page - 67099 DECCA-7757 - 3:17 - 140
  13. Someday You'll Want Me To Want You - Catherine Russell - Cat - 3:13 - 145
  14. Jump Session - Slim Gaillard - 1938-1939 - 2:35 - 160
  15. Bring It On Down - The Baby Soda Jazz Band - Cures Everything But The Blues - 2:34 - 175
  16. My Blue Heaven - The Cangelosi Cards - Clinton Street Recordings, I - 4:11 - 145
  17. Love Me or Leave Me - Banu Gibson - Let Yourself Go - 3:07 - 165
  18. Everybody Rock - Ella Fitzgerald - Live At The Savoy - 1939-40 - 3:18 - 185
  19. C Jam Blues - Gordon Webster - Live In Philadelphia - 4:12 - 170
  20. Are You All Reet? - Chu Berry - Classic Chu Berry Columbia And Victor Sessions - 3:09 - 155
  21. Baby Won't You Please Come Home? - Crytzer's Blue Rhythm Band - Chasin' the Blues - 3:38 - 125
  22. Perdido Street Blues - Southside Aces - A Big Fine Thing - 3:54 - 135
  23. Last Night On The Backporch - The Palmetto Bug Stompers - Ol' New Orleans Home - 4:10 - 150
  24. Goin' To Chicago Blues - Ernestine Anderson - When the Sun Goes Down - 4:54 - 135
  25. Bill Bailey - Ella Fitzgerald - Something To Live For - 3:26 - 130
  26. Corner Pocket - Count Basie - April In Paris - 5:07 - 140
  27. I'm Coming Virginia - Benny Goodman - The Yale University Archives, Volume 3: Big Band In Europe - 2:09 - 170
  28. Route 66 - Linda Hopkins - Wild Women Blues - 3:05 - 160
  29. Daddy - Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers - Miss Smith To You! - 4:39 - 125
  30. Exactly Like You - Carmen McRae - - 2:11 - 135
  31. Smack Dab In The Middle - George Gee - Swingin - 3:00 - 140
  32. Wailing Interval - Duke Ellington - The Private Collection: Volume Six, Dance Dates, California, - 3:39 - 160
  33. Streamliner - The Bill Elliott Swing Orchestra - Swing Masters: Calling All Jitterbugs - 3:50 - 150
  34. Savoy - Lucky Millinder - An Anthology Of Big Band Swing 1930-1955 - 3:05 - 165
  35. Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby - Louis Jordan - Louis Jordan And His Tympani Five, Volume 1 - 2:45 - 135
  36. St. Louis Blues - Benny Goodman - Benny Goodman: Very Best of Benny Goodman - 3:24 - 135
  37. Fine Brown Frame - Lou Rawls - At Last - 3:05 - 125
  38. It's Love Baby (24 Hours a Day) - Erbie Bowser, T.D. Bell, and the Blues Specialists - Down Home Saturday Night - 4:13 - 125
  39. My Bad Luck Soul - Janiva Magness - My Bad Luck Soul - 2:10 - 160
  40. Georgia Grind - Louis Armstrong - Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography Disc 1 - 3:19 - 115
  41. Shake That Thing - The Smoking Time Jazz Club - Quarter Note Vol. 1 - 4:25 - 125
  42. Savoy Blues - Kenny Ball And His Jazzmen - Trad Jazz Masters - 3:53 - 135
  43. Minor Swing - Django Reinhardt - Django Reinhardt 3: Minor Swing - 3:16 - 200
  44. South - Hot Lips Page - Kansas City: Swing, Blues, Jive & Boogie - 2:48 - 200
  45. Yes Indeed - Slam Stewart - Slamboree - 3:35 - 150
  46. Fibre de verre - Paris Combo - Attraction - 3:39 - 135
  47. Dat Dere - Oscar Brown Jr. - Sin & Soul ...And Then Some - 2:52 - 111
  48. Keepin' Out A Mishif Now - Carling Family - 20th Jubilee - 3:32 - 120
  49. My Bucket's Got A Hole In It - Papa Bues Viking Jazzband - Live In Copenhagen - 3:36 - 135
  50. Duke & Dukie - The Rosenberg Trio - Roots - 3:28 - 200
  51. A Smo-o-oth One - Benny Goodman - Benny Goodman - 3:16 - 130

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Story about Lionel Hampton

My friend Bob (aka DJ Thor), writes in to share a story, and a tip on streaming great jazz over the internet:
When I can on Saturday mornings, I listen to riverwalk jazz (10am) and the swing shift (11am-1) on 90.9 or wdcb.org (You can stream it online). I thought you'd appreciate this:

The told a cool story on "riverwalk" this morning about Lionel Hampton's father serving in WWI. A few weeks into leaving for the war, Lionel's father was m.i.a. Lionel's mother attempted to write letters and find where he was, but there was no luck. Lionel went on to become a famous musician down the road and was talking to someone who said there's someone in the hospital claiming to be the father of the famous musician Lionel Hampton (this was 50 years after he had left for the war). The next day, Lionel went to visit this 70 year old man, who turns out to be his father. His father had lost part of his memory in the war, but as things came back when he returned to the US, he found that Lionel's mother had re-married, etc. and didn't want to bother the family. Lionel ended up taking him to New York with him where he spent the rest of his life with him.

Cool little jazz history story.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ellington on EMusic

Unfortunately I am out of credits for the month, so I haven't actually purchased this two-disc Ellington set yet, but that needn't stop you. 100 tracks for $4.40--including Peckin', which is a favorite around our house--means you should probably snag it before somebody at EMusic notices the typo.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Joshua

A while back my friend Bob (aka DJ Thor, because he brings the thunder) and I were talking about the tune Joshua fit de Battle of Jericho. Pretty much everyone knows the version by Sidney Bechet--it's been overplayed for years and years. As I understand it, it's true pretty much all over the country, which is impressive as overplay often tends to be a scene-specific phenomenon. Like all perennial favorite tunes, it is overplayed for a reason--it's a really killer track. The tune itself is a big part of it, I think. It's a great, moving spiritual, the lyrics and music in combination are quite dramatic, and it has an almost hypnotic rhythmic patter.

For fun, I thought I'd go through all of the versions of the tune in my collection, and add some commentary of my own. Next time you're thinking of hitting play on the Bechet version, perhaps you could consider one of the others I list here instead. From least to most favorite (for the moment):
  • Joshua Fit De Battle Of Jericho - Thelma Carpenter - Seems Like Old Times - 2:30 - 155. This version is pretty straight--Thelma's enunciation is impressive but maybe detracts from the performance. Together with the male back-up vocals and instrumentation, the recording sounds a bit too stagey to me. Borderline for playing at a dance.
  • Joshua Fight The Battle Of Jericho - Gérard Messonnier And The Hot Kings - The Best Of New-Orleans Vol. 1 - 3:15 - 165. This sounds to me like a Bechet rip-off. Or to be charitable, the group is very inspired by Bechet. A little plodding.
  • Joshua (1940) - Stuff Smith - Time And Again - 3:22 - 200. Typical Stuff Smith nonsense. He diverges from (forgets?) the original tune after about 8 bars, but man does this group swing like the dickens.
  • Joshua Fit De Battle Of Jericho - Delta Rhythm Boys - The Best Of 1940-50 - 2:32 - 215. Nice male vocal harmony version. It's just the Boys and a piano, so too mellow for dancing.
  • Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho - Kid Ory - In the Forties - 2:58 - 155. This version has a very folk-gospel feel to the vocals, but the instrumentals are chunky and driving like the rest of Kid Ory. Quite danceable.
  • Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho - Mahalia Jackson - I Wonder If I Will Ever Rest - 2:02 - 175. Bob played this version at a dance a while back, which is what got me thinking about the tune. Mahalia has an amazing voice (to make the understatement of the year), and sings this tune like she's leading the charge, or at least Joshua's second-in-command. Accompanied only by piano and snare drum.
  • Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho - Josh White - Josh White Vol. 5 (1944) - 2:32 - 105. Solo male vocal, self-accompanied on guitar. Very nice voice, intimate recording. This recording has some less well-known verses in it. It gets faster as it goes on, which adds to the drama.
  • Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho - Milt Hinton - Bassically With Blue - 3:19 - 215. This is a super groovy, deconstructed instrumental version, featuring amazing slap-bass from Hinton. He also has a virtuosic recording called simply "Joshua" for solo bass, on the album The Judge at his Best.
  • Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho - Sidney Bechet - Sidney Bechet: 1949 - 3:20 - 175. The version that everyone knows. Driving riff, great solos, great group improvisation. The moment that always gets me is right around 1:20, where everybody really starts to wail.
  • Joshua Fit the Battle - Gordon Webster - Live In Philadelphia - 3:57 - 180. Current favorite. The tune is familiar enough to catch people's attention, but it has lots of interesting twists, a wide variety of voices, and a TON of energy (it's a live recording). The clarinet solo is sweet sounding (not quite so grating as Bechet's soprano sax). I love the moment around 1:45 that has a sort of second-line feel, and then around 2:20 when the rhythm section drops out.
And, as an homage to Hey Mr. Jesse, I'll even throw in a BONUS! Check out this video of a bunch of kids singing the tune with multi-part harmonies, on a subway somewhere.

Do you have a favorite version that I haven't listed? Leave a comment.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Clever

A very clever idea from head Balboa DJ Kyle Smith: he ran an NCAA-style tournament to pick the top song for dancing balboa. Check out his bracket for 64 great tune recommendations, and to see which tracks made the final four.

Friday, June 3, 2011

First Friday at Big City Swing 6/3/2011

Thanks to friends of ours who stepped up to babysit, my wife and I BOTH got to go out dancing on Friday! At the same time! Crazy. I also spun the early set (at the First Friday dance at Big City Swing). Going in, I knew it was going to be hot & crowded (it is Big Sweaty Swing, after all), and so I was anticipating riding the tempo wave up and down a bit faster than I might otherwise. I've noticed (through very unsystematic observation) that hot nights often tend to be more conducive to both fast & slow tunes, and that's how it seemed to work out. An extremely lively beginner lesson (Bigs, what did you feed those folks?!?) led into a fairly high-energy early part of the evening. When our friends from Madison showed up, that added another burst of energy--it seemed like they were on the floor dancing their faces off non-stop all night.

Here's what I played (plus the BPM sparkline and frequency distribution):
  1. Rosetta - The Boilermaker Jazz Band - Nice Work If You Can Get It - 3:08 - 170 (Off their new album)
  2. Love Me or Leave Me - Banu Gibson - Let Yourself Go - 3:07 - 165
  3. Shine On Harvest Moon - Pete Fountain - Dixieland's Kings - 2:50 - 160
  4. In the Mood - Glenn Miller - Best of the Lost Recordings & The Secret Broadcasts - 3:15 - 180 (Pandering to the newbies)
  5. I Sent For You Yesterday And Here You Come Today - Benny Goodman - Benny Goodman - 3:09 - 160
  6. Rose Room - The Solomon Douglas Swingtet - Ain't No School Like the Old School - 3:09 - 150
  7. Lumby - Charlie Barnet & His Orchestra - 1941-Transcription Performance - 2:43 - 180 (for Puppy)
  8. Baby, What's The Matter With You? - Roy Eldridge Quintet - Little Jazz Giant - 3:20 - 140
  9. Spoon Calls Hootie - Jimmy Witherspoon - Jimmy Witherspoon - 2:45 - 140
  10. Dark Eyes - Fats Waller - Happy Birthday Fats Vol. 1 - 3:22 - 160
  11. Back Bay Shuffle - Ella Fitzgerald - Live At The Savoy - 1939-40 - 4:14 - 185 (For Jon)
  12. Six-appeal - Charlie Christian - Six-appeal - 3:20 - 145
  13. Easy Does It - Paul Tillotson the Love Trio - Lindy Hop Blues - 2:57 - 130
  14. Exactly Like You - Carmen McRae - 135 - 2:11 - 135
  15. Sing On (Odessa Sing On) - Gaucho - Pearl - 5:07 - 135
  16. If You'se a Viper - John Sinclair - No Money Down - 3:55 - 150
  17. All Night Long - The Blue Vipers of Brooklyn - Permanent Magic - 2:48 - 170
  18. Sister Kate - Earl Hines & His Orchestra - Roots Of Jazz Scat Vocals - 3:05 - 99 (Trying to impress DJ Thor with this one)
  19. Solid As A Rock - Count Basie - Count Basie Et Son Orchestre 1950-1951 - 3:03 - 135
  20. Joshua Fit the Battle - Gordon Webster - Live In Philadelphia - 3:57 - 180 (Holy Moly does this track drive. Seemed like the room felt it too.)
  21. Big Apple Contest - The Solomon Douglas Swingtet - Swingmatism - 2:57 - 210 (I'd got it into my head that I wanted a Big Apple. We made it through the first half, through London Bridge, before people's memories petered out and it turned into more of a jam.)
  22. Tain't What You Do - Sy Oliver - Sy Oliver et son orchestre: 1949-1952 - 3:07 - 155 (Right into a shim-sham, to incorporate more dancers into the spectacle)
  23. I'm Alone Because I Love You - The Palmetto Bug Stompers - Live @ D.B.A. - 3:29 - 150 (and then try to get everyone in the room dancing)
  24. Knock Me a Kiss - Davina & The Vagabonds - Live @ the Times - 3:25 - 120
  25. St. James Infirmary - Hot Lips Page - CO38291 HARMONY-Ha1069 - 4:34 - 95
  26. Savoy Blues - Kenny Ball And His Jazzmen - Trad Jazz Masters - 3:53 - 135 (For the black bottomers)
  27. Shake That Thing - Willie Mabon - The Comeback - 3:33 - 120
  28. Rock Me All Night Long - The Fabulous Treniers - The Hoss Allen Sessions - 2:41 - 155
  29. Shortin' Bread - Fats Waller - The Unique Mr. Waller - 2:41 - 190 >(For Dan, who suggested a good note to end on)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Frankie

Happy birthday to Frankie Manning, who would have been 97 today.



H/t Swifty for the link to this new documentary about Frankie.

Friday, May 20, 2011

fodder for a charleston choreography

Jennifer writes:
Thank you so much for your great blog! I'm wanting to choreograph a girls solo Charleston routine, but I've kind of hit a wall in terms of finding a song. I like Yam Brown by Bob Hunt's Duke Elington Orchestra, but I'm just not sure. Do you have any recommendations for a 2-3 min. charleston-ish song?
That recording of Yam Brown is really good--great janky feel from the banjo, great Bubber Miley-style trumpet solo at the start. The thing that makes this track really good for a choreography is all of the changes--it shifts mood several times, as if different characters were talking to each other.
A while back, my friend & sometime co-conspirator Jenna choreographed a fantastic routine to a recording of Shake That Thing by Vince Giordano's Nighthawks (check it out). What makes it so engaging is how she used the different voices in the piece as inspiration to create different characters in the dance--she and her troupe even have names for some of the characters. Without that sort of texture in the music, I think it is much harder to hold an audience's attention for 3 minutes. 2 minutes maybe, but 3 no. So Yam Brown is really good in this respect.
You might check out other Duke Ellington tunes like Demi-Tasse and Downtown Uproar, both off The Duke's Men: Small Group Recordings, Vol. 1. You might not be interested, but I would really like to see someone do a routine (partnered or solo) to the version of Caravan on the same album. One of my favorite Ellington compositions.
Here are some other suggestions:
  • South Rampart Street Parade - Bob Crosby and his Orchestra - South Rampart Street Parade - 3:34 - 225 bpm. It does sound like a street parade--a bit march-like for your taste, maybe--but it has lots of character.
  • Jitter Bug - Cab Calloway - The Early Years 1930-1934 - 3:12 - 230 bpm. More of a swing feel than charleston, but it's very driving and energetic. Actually, this would probably make a better partnered group routine than girls solo charleston.
  • Lawd, Lawd - Cecil Scott and his Bright Boys - Harlem Big Bands - 3:13 - 215 bpm. Great rhythm, though certainly a novelty tune.
In terms of contemporary bands, you might check out these:
  • Six Feet Down - Tuba Skinny - Six Feet Down - 3:25 - 235 bpm
  • I Can't Dance - The Smoking Time Jazz Club - Quarter Note, Vol. 1 - 4:14 - 210 bpm
  • Jada - The Palmetto Bug Stompers - Live @ DBA - 4:34 - 210 bpm
Picking a song for a choreo is a little bit like picking someone to go with on a two week long camping trip in the back country. The most important thing is definitely finding a tune that you find fun & interesting, because you'll be listening to it a LOT. In fact, you'll probably be sick of it by the time you've got it choreographed and taught to your girls. Don't worry about that though--even if you're sick of it for a while, you'll come back sooner or later and make friends again, and be glad that you took the trip together. Whatever you pick, let me know how it goes, and send video once you've performed it. Good luck!
P.S. If you're having trouble finding a song that's the right length (or just slightly too fast), you can always trim it down. If you're not familiar with sound editing, have a look at Audacity, a software program for editing digital sound. It's free, easy to use, and has lots of fancy features.