This post is a follow-on from At The Chase 2018: Competition DJing Pt 1 (Mix & Match) – where I started to chronicle my decisions behind choosing music for the Chase Festival competitions. The Strictly Lindy prelims had the same format as the Mix & Match – which is to say three heats, each with three songs, each song for 60 – 70 seconds, two medium and one fast. Nice and simple.
As before, my key criteria were to have songs that were fun, swung hard, and that maintained a good energy for the time I’d be playing them. If I were playing the whole song it’d be a different matter – but a one phrase section of quiet can eat a large chunk out of a sixty second running time, and I wanted people to really have a chance to go to town.
So here we go…
Heat 1 Songs
- Tommy Dorsey – Make me Know It – Quite a quirky track – lots of room for play. It’s normally one of those tracks I use when building energy in a room, as from a gentle start, it really kicks into gear as it progresses. Even in the first sixty seconds, there’s a good amount to play with, and I thought it would serve well as an initial first song / half warm up.
- Bob Crosby – Rag Mop – Bob Crosby’s band at their best had such a wonderful, exuberant energy that this song was a cinch for inclusion. This one always goes down well, and you can see it in the way the dancers respond.
- Cab Calloway – Three Swings and Out – I suppose Cab Calloway is chiefly known for Minnie the Moocher – but he was a superb musician, and had one of the hardest-swinging bands of its time. Three Swings and Out is a great high-energy track, with some wonderful interplay and beautiful driving syncopations between melody lines.
Heat 2 Songs
- Sammy Price’s Bluesicians (with Sidney Bechet) – Back Home – found this one quite recently, and edited it for length, and to remove a couple of low-energy, less fun sections. It has a heavy driving rhythm section basis, and the interplay between Bechet’s clarinet and the other horns gives a lot of fun texture to the song.
- Andy Kirk & His Orchestra with Mary Lou Williams – A Mellow Bit of Rhythm – This track is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. So many fun rhythmic changes. So much fun to play around to.
- Roy Eldridge – Swingin’ on that Famous Door – Another great one – driving rhythm section, a wonderful catch tune, and some lovely rhythmic interplay between the different instruments.
Heat 3 Songs
- Ben Webster – One O’Clock Jump – An unusually slow version of this number. It kicks off with some fun, but not very dancer friendly twiddly vibraphone playing – but there’s always that heavy underlying beat to latch on to – and when the main refrain kicks in after the introduction, the dancers can go to town with it.
- Hudson Delange Orchestra – Mr Ghost Goes to Town – I doubt the track needs any introduction to people – always a lot of fun to dance to, but this particular version is my firm favourite. Very joyful and playful.
- Count Basie & his Orchestra – Rock a bye Basie – What can I say but Basie? A rhythm section that can’t be beaten – and that wonderful Basie sound.
Chase Strictly semis are in the battle format – so two couples going head-to-head for a portion of a song, and the three judges vote on the spot as to who wins – which is a wonderfully time-efficient way of judging. I first saw this in action at a B Boy competition a few years back. The semi-finals finish with all the losing couples dancing an all-skate for the one last spot.
- Ella Fitzgerald & her Famous Orchestra – Harlem Stride – An absolute high energy classic. This is the Chick Webb orchestra shortly after his death in 1939 – when Ella had inherited the band – and this album (Live at the Savoy 1939-1940) is a must-have for any swing DJs.
- Cab Calloway & his Orchestra – Shout Shout Shout -with the relentless driving swing once it gets started.
- Fletcher Henderson & his Orchestra – Big John Special – Fletcher Henderson was one of the finest arrangers going, and Big John Special is one of his seminal tracks. It’s just a fantastic track.
- Jimmie Lunceford – It’s Time to Jump and Shout – I nearly didn’t use this because of the confusingly long intro – but I think it makes up for that once it gets started with the lovely driving call-and-response sections.
- Lionel Hampton – Whoa Babe – Another classic – with so much texture from the beautiful instrumental syncopations at the start – all the rhythm from the vocals… and a star-studded cast of musicians behind it.
- Harry James – Sugarfoot Stomp – The only hard part about including Sugarfoot stomp is … which version to choose? I have a soft spot for Harry James. Enough said.
As with the Mix & Match – the amazing music in the finals was from Professor Cunningham and his Old School. It’d be wrong of me not to include a link to that, so here’s the full video for your enjoyment.