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News and Views '10/'11 #4
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Allen Hall
MN Prince of Snark Darkness


Joined: 26 May 2004
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:20 pm    Post subject: News and Views '10/'11 #4 Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

News and Views from the Hall LindyJazzMobile
‘10/’11 Installment # 4

DANCE, DRIVE, REPEAT (OR) DRIVE, DANCE, REPEAT

Table of Contents:
1. One Dance in Ft. Lauderdale
2. Mo’ Dancin’ in the Tampa Bay Area
3. Some mo’ dancing in Orlando and the Tampa Bay Area
4 “Jump” Music
5. Tips for Jazz Musicians
6 Coming Attractions

ONE DANCE IN FT. LAUDERDALE

I dropped off Rudy and son, Allen, at the cruise boat in Miami so they could be on short rations while being physically tortured by Jillian Michaels* for 4 days for half a K-note each, while I got a posh room at what is now left of post-hurricane Homestead AFB, and then moseyed 68 miles up the coast to Ft. Lauderdale to dance with LHers.
*Jillian is that cute little fitness Nazi on the TV program “The Biggest Loser”
The venue was a nice dance studio with a gorgeous faux-wood floor, good lighting, a good sound system, a smallish cadre of good LHers, and two DJs who, in my opinion, where both ACES. I had a great time, but no need for relating the location of this venue, as it is soon going belly-up, which will force the LHers to move. This Thursday gig is the only regular weekly LH gig in southeast Florida.
The scene in southeast Florida is, in my impression, mature and probably shrinking. By that I mean, all the regulars are experienced, but there is no visible interest by new-comers or beginners. Indeed, the LH group had a meeting before the dance to address this very problem. I have seen elsewhere this same slow-death by attrition of mature LH scenes where the principals have all grown comfortable with their small but critical mass of good dancers, and don’t want to deal with rank beginners, but then, they begin to notice that, little by little, fewer and fewer of their scenesters are showing up. I hope all of the SEFL LHers get behind a steady promotion to sell the dance. Relentless promotion is the answer to many dance scene ills. I know they can promote and organize well, because Rudy and I have been to one SOFLEX, and it was tops.

MO’ DANCIN’ IN THE TAMPA BAY AREA

My, Oh! my, We are scheduled for 5 dances in 6 days (Celebrex, please kick-in, and hurry) :
Saturday, we went to Largo and danced to a musically sound quartet “Lounge Cat”(tenor, guitar, piano, bass and drums). They played mostly swing music, but, otherwise, enough variety to please the Cha-chaers, Boppers, Ballroomers and Rockabillies in attendance. However, I suspect they had a thin “book” as they played l o n g numbers. There was a Halloween costume contest and the costumes were as varied as the preferred types of dance. The turnout was large, but swallowed-up in a huge venue with a tile floor with an acceptable dance surface. This regular Saturday event is soon to move to another temporary venue, and then, move to another which will be permanent and have 5,600 sq ft of floating wood dance floor—are you impressed?
Sunday we danced at the regular Tampa event in the Zendah Grotto, but this Halloween dance feature a sextet “Kickin’ Again” (trumpet, tenor, organ with a leslie, guitar, bass and drums**). The “Again” in the name referred to the previous life of this band, which was during the Soul Era of popular American music. The tempos were tightly bunched around 128 bpm, the drum rhythms were as varied and byzantine as I remember in my more sober moments during that era. Rudy and I got in some great dancing during the DJed music before the band started. The Halloween contest was huge with some repeat costumes from Saturday night. The large crowd did lots of energetic dancing to music which can best be describes as pure loud high-energy with rhythms best described as intricate and complicated. Note: I simply don’t know what to do with all those extra accents.
**When we walked in, I saw, with some dismay, that the drum kit was designed for modern rock drumming, replete with many superfluous side toms, and TNTC cymbals (too numerous to count). Then, during the first 15 minutes when the band was supposed to be playing, the drummer did a sound check for his kit in order to assure that he, above all others, could be heard at all times. It wasn’t deafening, but close, and highly predictive of the music…..sigh. I am more than happy to add that this is not representative of Sunday nights at the Grotto, where the floor is wooden and large, the music is often excellent and DJed, and some of the best Tampa Bay LHers show up.
Tuesday it was to the classy lobby and side-rooms of the Don Vicente Historic Inn in Ybor City, to dance on a dark hardwood floating floor with a fine dance surface, and enough light to delight even me. We really enjoyed the DJed music until late when it abruptly segued into rockabilly—testament to the reputation that The Tampa Bay area is international epicenter of Rockabilly music and dance. We were entertained a musical interlude of a sterling jazz pianist accompanying three female jazz singers. This a kick-off of the first ever, week-long Ybor City Jazz Fest. Rudy and I got in plenty of dancing with an assortment of old and young dancers, but all with a variety of excellent swing dance skills.
Wednesday we went to the regular weekly event at the equally historic bayside Gulfport Casino in Gulfport. It has a gorgeous huge floating old maple dance floor and a big crowd of mostly older 6 count swing dancers, but a few 8 counters, and we got in enough dancing in 2.5 hours to send us home happy. The early music is mostly appropriate for LH, but later in the evening it tends to satisfy the Rockabillies, and Latin dancers .
Thursday we planned to attended the regular monthly “Crossroads Dance” in St. Petersburg, but could not as Rudy fell ill with an attack of Fibromyalgia. This unique event is held on the first Thursday of each month in three rooms: ECS/LH, WCS, Blues, so there is some dance appropriate music for everyone’s taste, and, more importantly, there’s no waiting.

(Comment: the Tampa/St. Pete/Clearwater area is a Mecca for retired folk, and many enjoy social dancing, and so, most Tampa swing dance venues are economically-wise to offer a wide variety of musics for the wide variety of preferred dances, be they Zydeco, Ballroom, C/W, Latin, and all the protean manifestations of swing dance. For us, some of the variety in music is refreshing; some is not.)

SOME MO’ DANCIN’ IN THE TAMPA/ORLANDO AREAS Nov. 12-?

Friday 11/12 We returned to the regular Orlando UCF LH dance, but this one augmented with some drive-ins (like us) because it was the kick-off dance for a weekend of instruction by Joel and Lacy, who, not incidentally, gave one of the best beginner Swing/Charleston lessons I have seen. The floor, music and dancers were all excellent, and we enjoyed the evening.
Saturday 11/13 We drove to Tampa for a special retro-USO event, where we danced to what I think is the best “Jump Blues” band in the world right now, “Stompy Jones”. We were under the stars dancing on the deck of the WW-II Victory cargo ship “America”. Well, actually, we were ON rough canvas on top of a cargo deck opening cover, which was memorable, as that dance surface moved into second place on our all-time list of worst ever dance surfaces. I won’t burden you with a description of #1, but I hope you are never similarly afflicted. The band was wonderful; just as we remember them—it has been 4 years since we have seen them, and we were delighted when they remembered us as faithful fans. I love “Jump Blues”--more about that below.
Sunday 11/14 The folks who run the regular Sunday Tampa dance at Zendah Grotto cut a deal with “Stompy Jones” to play their venue on Sunday night—Oh! happy day—we get a “Stompy Jones” two-fur, AND get to dance to them on an good dance floor. This band never fails to please. Unfortunately, the result of short notice booking was the word didn’t get out to all of the Tampa area LHers, but Rudy and I still danced ourselves to near exhaustion on residual sore feet from the Saturday night dance. Oh well, it’s only agony, and it’s only ours

Whew! that’s it for a while. Seemingly while here in Florida, dancing comes in bunches like grapes; a bunch of dancing, and then, a bunch of convalescing, followed by another bunch of dancing.

“JUMP” MUSIC

The Name:
The name “jump” may have derived from the pronounced rhythmic bounce which characterizes the music. “Jump” is most often known as “Jump Blues”, but that’s a misnomer, as Jump Music bands play compositions that are blues (12 bar) and American popular music form (32 bar).

What it is:
Jump music is a high energy, up-tempo, form of small combo jazz usually played by 5 to 8 musicians and always a singer or singers. It’s unique and true characteristic is the sound of the rhythm section of piano, bass and drums, in which the bassist “walks”, playing the notes of the chords with single notes on each beat of 4/4 time. The pianist plays either an 8 beat figure known as Boogie Woogie, or a regular 8 beat rhythm by alternating a two-handed pulse beat of the chords, and, all the while, the drummer plays “shuffle” rhythm, (da dah, da dah) on beats 2 and 4, quite often with brushes, and this characteristic bright rhythm is usually constant during each number. A horn, usually a tenor saxophone, or horns play individually or together, usually alternating with a singer who most often sings humorous or earthy lyrics.

Where Jump Music came from:
I doubt anyone knows who first played Jump music, but, there is no doubt that Louis Jordan was the alpha and omega, the father and the supreme popularizer of “Jump Music”. As well, he is commonly regarded as the Godfather of “Rhythm and Blues” and “Rock and Roll”. Jordan said R&B ad R&R were the same thing, (except blacks usually played R&B and whites played R&R)---you gonna disagree with Louie? Don’t, he is historically rated as the 5th most popular entertainer ever in the United States, and a primary and seminal figure in the development of post-swing era popular American music.

Bands:
1. “Louis Jordan and the Tympany Five” (with five, seven or eight pieces) was the progenitor Jump band. They had an unrelenting string of popular recordings from 1942 to 1951, but his band was formed in the late 1930s. During the early ‘40s bands featuring Earl Bostic, Jack McVea, Arnett Cobb, Wynonie Harris and Big Joe Turner all played some jump music.
2. Another popular Jump band was “Sam Butera and the Witnesses” Sam played tenor and sang, and the group was the musical foundation for the popularity of the Las Vegas lounge act starring Louie Prima and Keeley Smith. The Witnesses were formed in 1952, and can be heard on almost all of the Louie Prima/Keeley Smith recordings.
3. For those of you in Minnesota, “The Senders” is another good jump band, but one which struggles to find and keep personnel who can play the characteristic jump rhythm.
4. During the retro-swing era (swing revival) several popular bands took up the fallen “Jump” standards, and carried it on, early retro bands were “Royal Crown Review”, and the two “Daddies” bands; “Cherry Poppin’…” and “Big Bad Voodoo…” Other bands which jumped on the latter day Jump music bandwagon were, “The Might Blue Kings”, “Mitch Woods and His Rocket 88”, “Roomful of Blues”, and “The Nighthawks”. More contemporary jazz bands which feature classic jump music in their repertoire are those led by Lavay Smith, Steve Lucky and Johnny Nocturne.

What’s Jump music good for:
In two words “swing dancing”. The relentless vertical bounce rhythm in Jump music is insistent for swing dancers. Indeed, music which features “shuffle rhythm” seems to just shout to dancers “Get yo ass outta yo chair!” Jump band saxophonist, Art Chaney, said “(W)e were insulted when an audience wouldn’t dance.” To my knowledge, all current jump bands primarily book swing dance gigs.

TIPS FOR JAZZ MUSICIANS (Swiped from the internet)

A few things to remember at the gig

1. Everyone should play the same tune.
2. Always wear dark glasses, the darker the better. You won't be
able to see a thing but people will think you're deep and mysterious.
3. Stop at every repeat sign, and discuss in detail whether to take
the repeat or not. The audience will love this a lot!
4. If you play a wrong note, give a nasty look to one of the other cats.
5. When talking into the mic, start everything with "Hey man..."
6. Keep your fingering chart handy. You can always catch up with the others.
7. Carefully tune your instrument before playing. That way you can
play out of tune all night with a clear conscience.
8. When hitting a high note, always throw your head back and make a
grizzly face expression.
9. Take your time turning pages.
10. The right note at the wrong time is a wrong note, except among
the tone-deaf.
11. If everyone gets lost except you, follow those who get lost.
12. Strive to play the maximum NPS (note per second). That way you
gain the admiration of the incompetent.
13. Markings for slurs, dynamics and ornaments should not be
observed. They are only there to embellish the printed score.
14. If a passage is difficult, slow down. If it's easy, speed it up.
Everything will work itself out in the end.
15. If you are completely lost, stop everyone and say, "I think we
should tune".
16. Happy are those who have not perfect pitch, for the kingdom of
music is theirs.
17. If the ensemble has to stop because of you, explain in detail
why you got lost. Everyone will be very interested.
18. A wrong note played timidly is a wrong note. A wrong note played
with authority is an interpretation.
19. A true interpretation is realized when there remains not one
note of the original.
20. When everyone else has finished playing, you should not play any
notes you have left.
COMING ATTRACTIONS:
1. Still Mo’ Dancin’ in The Tampa/Orlando areas.
2. Weather permitting, dancing at the Swing n’ Soul dance weekend in Atlanta
3. How to Listen to Jazz Part I (Guest editorial—actually I swiped it off the internet)
4. Smooth Jazz, an Editorial by your’s truly
Allen Hall, Lindy Hopper
November 21, 2010 in sunny south Florida



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