Lionel Hampton was chiefly known for his vibraphone playing and his drumming skills, which were phenomenal. What’s a little less known is that he was a a very impressive pianist… but what’s a little bizarre is that he generally played with a two-finger style – a little akin to his vibes playing. And it was still amazing.

… champagne without bubbles.

Louis Armstrong

Swing that Music

Time to return to this particular fray. I’ve been DJing swing a while now, and like many swing DJs, my ideas on what is, and isn’t acceptable to play for swing dancers have taken something of a journey.

Like many swing DJs, I’ve slowly become more and more of an advocate of old-school swing for swing dancing. Many would brand me a purist. Many do, and perhaps I am – but I know others who’d say I’m not (yet?) enough of a purist. We all have different tastes and ideas, and your mileage may vary.

In the past, when I’ve talked about this issue, I’ve been a little more laissez faire – a little more inclined to say: “Well – what I do is this, but what you do is up to you.” Right now, I’m feeling a little more forthright – in fact I’ve feeling like ranting on this subject for quite some time now – so hang on to your hats – this could get ugly.

In light of this I’ll start with a confession – I don’t mean that at all. The camp I really belong to is very simple: Lindy Hop without swing music does not exist in this dojo. It might, to many, look like Lindy Hop… but Lindy Hop it isn’t, and the more you take swing music out of the equation, the further from Lindy it will go. So… time for my slightly more … forthright take on things.

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… was looking through a list of upcoming gigs at the Sage – and seeing that Steven Seagal would be playing there with his blues band in July. Yes – THAT Steven Seagal. Not some random musician of the same name. Supported by the excellent Earl Thomas.

So … of course, I looked him up on Spotify… and it turns out he’s pretty damn’ good. In fact – I’ve bought a number of his songs. Although I suspect that without his acting career, he might be supporting Earl Thomas, not the other way around. I only wish we could make the gig…

Chick Webb 1939Chick Webb is one of my favourite swing musicians. Battling through health problems and spinal deformities caused by childhood tuberculosis of the spine, Considered by many to be the best swing drummer that ever lived (he was idolised by Gene Krupa, while Buddy Rich referred to him as “the daddy of them all”), Chick’s orchestra was the main house band at the Savoy Ballroom from 1931 – so in essence, he was playing for dancers in the most legendary Lindy venue of them all.

This particular CD is only recently back in circulation, having been out of print for a while, and features two radio broadcast shows recorded shortly before his death from TB (the second was only a month before he died) While much of his recorded work in the last two years of his life were lacking the energy and excitement of his best music, there’s evidence that his live performances still had it – and this CD goes a long way to demonstrate that.

So – for a taste of Chick Webb live, and some great dance music to boot, I’d highly recommend this one. Gave a listen here on Spotify, or grab it from Amazon, iTunes or eMusic!

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