Some Preamble… Here’s the long awaited (by me, anyway) part two for my last post: Finding those Perfect Swing Tunes (Part 1, honest) with the extra things that I plain forgot about…
Swing and Blues Corner Posts
Oh – the dream of the perfect swing tune. Those gold-dust tracks – those beautiful, amazing tracks which everyone is going to fall in love with, and which cannot fail to set the dance floor ablaze every time they’re used. All you need is a collection filled with nothing but those, and you have it made as a DJ.
It’s nice to dream. Sadly, there’s no such thing – sure there are plenty of amazing tracks out there, but no single track can possibly fit every mood, every moment that you’re going to have to fill as a DJ. The best tracks in your collection can fall completely flat if you play them at the wrong moment. On the flipside, some of the most unlikely ones can work really well if you play them at just the right moment…
Remember – not every song is Lindy Hopper’s Delight. And even Lindy Hopper’s Delight can become Lindy Hopper’s Oh Dear God Not Again if you’re not careful.
Listen to the whole track before ever DJing it. That may seem self-evident, but given the time pressures of modern living, and the urgency need we can feel to build up a great collection of music as quickly as possible, it’s easy to get half-way through a track, go: “This is a great version! Next!” and add it for later DJing.
On of Bing Crosby’s brothers, Bob Crosby was singer for the big band, the Bob Crosby Orchestra, and the smaller trad version – Bob Crosby’s Bob-Cats, whose lineups at various times included Yank Lawson, Billy Butterfield, Charlie Spivak, Muggsy Spanier, Irving Fazola, Nappy Lamare, Ward Silloway, Warren Smith, Joe Sullivan, Bob Zurke, Jess Stacy, Bob Haggart, Walt Yoder, Jack Sperling and Ray Bauduc. These bands were founded as a cooperative, but Bob Crosby was chosen as front-man for his movie-star looks, his personality, and, of course, his name.
Their music was, in a word, spectacular.
Here’s the clip which started it all for me.
It’s an eight-year old social demo from Dax Hock and Jo Hoffberg (Emily Hoffberg back then), and when I first saw it as a relatively new dancer and DJ, it blew my mind. I loved the track, was mesmerised by the constantly changing rhythms that they were picking out of the music, and just played around with. I absolutely had to find the song, which turned out to be a relatively modern version of King Porter Stomp. It took me a while, I’m ashamed to say, but eventually I tracked it down to an album called KC After Dark, by the Kansas City Band.
I’m not a fan of Bebop – it’s not that I think it’s bad, per se – I just don’t understand it. Post-Swing Era jazz generally just leaves me cold,…
Swing Summit this year was, for me, the best Swing Summit yet. Given that Swing Summit is never anything less than inspirational, that’s a pretty big thing. If you’re focussed on learning and improving your dance, this is the one to go to – if could spend all summer there, I probably would.
Anyway – I promised I’d publish a setlist from the Sunday night, so here it is.
I’ve been talking a lot for a while now about the role of swing music in Lindy hop and the other swing dances. For that matter, for the last three years, I’ve been giving an ever-evolving talk about swing music, what it is, what it so irresistible for dancers – what makes it swing, in other words. What I haven’t really done is to distill that talk down and start putting my thoughts on it online – I’ve touched on it in a couple of posts, but no more than that.
So I want to talk about what makes the music what it is – and I want to do this with a dancers’ focus. Not all swing is great for Lindy, so my focus inevitably turns to the music that I like to play for dancers.
What better place to start than with the rhythm section? For most swing bands the rhythm section is the cornerstone of the band – a driving force, as it were, to provide basic timing and energy for the rest of the musicians, which the band can use to build on.