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News and Views '10/'11 # 13
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Allen Hall
MN Prince of Snark Darkness


Joined: 26 May 2004
Posts: 495
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:11 am    Post subject: News and Views '10/'11 # 13 Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

News and Views from the Hall LindyJazzMobile
‘10/’11 Installment # 13

DANCE, DRIVE, REPEAT

Table of Contents.
1. Another two and the last two 2011 weeks in Austin
2. Lindy Hopping on the Road North and East
3. Al and Pete
4. Dance Advice
5. Dancing in the Rain
6. Dance Excuses
7. Coming Attractions

ANOTHER TWO, AND LAST TWO 2011 WEEKS IN AUSTIN

We got here on Monday and danced at the Quality Seafood Market to Aunt Ruby’s Sweet Jazz Babies---SuuuuWEET. Then on Tuesday we made the late Four on the Floor practice session at the Fed. Wednesday we hit two venues. Early at the Broken Spoke to T-Jarrod Bonta trio, a quartet of finger-facile Bonta on piano and vocals, plus guitar, bass and drums. This group has some gorgeous instrumental arrangements with the piano and guitar playing intricate lines in unison. The second set saw a good C/W male singer sitting in. He was okay, but I wanted more from the instrumental quartet. Then, later, it was back to the “Spoke” for “Dale Watson and the Lone Stars” always a treat. Thursday was another two-fer; first at Central Market North to the Eric Hokkenan quartet with Eric on magic fiddle/guitar plus guitar, bass and drums. Later we went to the Fed for the regular Austin LH dance. Friday found us at “Swan Dive” dancing to “Continental Graffiti” a trio, plus drums, with bass fiddle/vocalist ane with vocalist/guitarist Oliver on a Djangoish flat-top acoustic. Austin is chuck full of good musicians and overflowing with great guitarists. This Saturday is our dance Sabbath. Whew! Then on Sunday we had fun dancing briefly at the “East Side Show Room” to “Hollywood Review”, a quintet (vocals/ukulele, clarinet, guitar, bass, drums) playing the songs from old Hollywood movies. Monday is another two-fer. First, back to Quality Seafood Market to dance to another helping of killer blueberry pie and the Aunt Ruby’s Sweet Jazz Babies quintet, then we danced a little at Antone’s (Austin’s storied premier blues venue) to the best blues musicians in the area, playing to a packed house, in a tribute to Austin Bluesman, Pinetop Perkins who died last week at the age of 96. Tuesday, we went to see ace fiddler/guitarist Eric Hokkenan, and his “Hip Replacements’ duo, with J.D on Guitar and Ryan on Bass, playing an eclectic assortment of happy music from gypsy jazz to beach boys covers at Flipnotics Coffeehouse, right across the street from our winter home away from home The Pecan Grove RV Park—when was the last time you could walk across the street from your house to dig a top jazz-plus trio? Or, for that matter, walk 50 feet next door at Romeo’s to hear teen fiddle-phenom, Ruby Jane, as we did on Wednesday. She is a terror on fiddle and stage-poised well beyond her 17 years of age. We later danced at the Broken Spoke to the last Wednesday gig there for Dale Watson, and where were surprised to see 6 regular Austin Lindy Hoppers. Thursday was our last Austin night, a two-fer, first at The High Ball Lounge for Dale Watson swing band, and then to the Fed for the regular Thursday night dance.

Well, folks, that’s it for Austin in 2011. This spell we were in town for 12 days, danced on 10 days and no three days we danced in two venues. And, all together for our 42 days in Austin this winter, we danced on 35 days and of those 9 days when we danced in two venues plus one day in three venues. Ahm guessin’ we’uns jus’ cain’t much he’p ourselves when we-uns in Austin

I remember well our first time in Austin, circa 1988, and well before I started dancing. We couldn’t find a place to haul up our motor home , and went to the CofC for info. Turned out, something big was going on in town—hell, there is always something big going on in Austin which puts pressure on housing and RV parking, e.g. Austin had 23,000 runners on March 27th for a 10K race, and two weeks ago they had a zillion musicians and listeners in town for “South by Southwest Music Fest”. So many people that everyone in town had to breathe in route step—had they coordinated their breathing everyone would have died of collapsed lungs. Anyway, back then, we went to what is now our favorite parking place, Pecan Grove RV Park, and they let us stay the night in a muddy spot out back with no electric, water or sewer hook-ups, and we were thankful and lucky to get it. We had came to town naively hoping to buy tickets to see “Austin City Limits”. Ha ha ha. We were laughed at, and learned that ACL dates were totally ad hoc, and when Austin scuttlebutt went around about a date tonight, an instant line formed and wrapped around the ACL building in order to get in for the free seats. Things have changed: ACL has moved to a fancy theater, they seldom book C/W bands—mostly it’s pop bands or uggy rock bands—ACL dates are published, and pricy tickets sold.

Then many years later we returned for an Austin Lindy Exchange, and reported it was, to that time, he best ever for us.

Then three years ago we attended the first Lone Star Championships in Austin That sold us, and we have been back for the next two LSCs and have made Austin our most-best Lindy/Music itinerary stop during the last three years.

LINDY HOPPING ON THE ROAD NORTH AND EAST

While heading north, and after an overnight lay-by with no dancin’, at Ft Hood the largest U.S Army base in area, we pressed on to Dallas.
Once in Dallas we danced in Denton TX on Sat April 3rd, in a gym with a polyurethane finished wood floor which has—still surprised—a fair danceable surface. This once a month Lindy gig featured, for the first time, live music, the “Swing Slaves Dance Band”, a quartet of guitar/vocalist, tenor/soprano, string bass and drums. They played one set of short numbers—mostly swing standards at reasonable tempos. About 75 dancers attended; most were beginners. Rudy and I both got sweaty wet, and that sure counts for a lot.
Then we got stuck in Dallas for two days, the second day because of high cross-winds (25-35 with gusts to 40 MPH). Only a fool drives a motor home in the kind of wind, and not to put too obvious a point on it, but, see, thar jus’ ain’t never been no wheels on the sides of a Winnebago.
Then we over-nighted at the Red River Army Depot just south of Texarkana. No dancin’
Next was Little Rock AFB were we danced with the Little Rock Bop Club on their regular Wednesday night DJed dance on a big wood floor in great dance condition. About 100 dancers attended, a mix of boppers, WCSers, ECSers, assorted ersatz swing dancers, and Rudy and I trying to fit in, dance slower and have some fun—Whoopee! It worked, and best of all, the DJ played about 6 of the best of the old time WCS/Bop/Carolina Shag evergreens, e.g. “Meet Me With Yo’ Black Pants On” and all these old evergreens had a solid solitary backbeat at tempos slightly faster than those now heard in WCS/Bop/Shag dances. A fun night and we are now encouraged to try to hit some more Bop dances.
East to Memphis, home for RedHotLindyHop.com which keeps a free lending library of 20 teaching videos of LH, Bal etc, and which holds a regular Friday night DJed dance at the Rumba Room (live music on the third Friday). A clean modern room with a pretty good sized, floating oak dance floor with a good surface. The DJed music selections thrilled me, and the tempos satisfied me. About 50 dancers showed, and tho’ some of their best were at the New Orleans exchange, “Fleur de Lindy”, enough good uns’ came to the Rumba Room for the dance. Memphis LHers have been in the Rumba Room for 2 years. We had a default dance available in Memphis, the Anniversary dance for the Memphis Bop Club, but we had all the dancing we could handle at the Rumba Room.
Then north to St. Louis were we parked at Scott AFB and, Whoopee! close by in Collinsville was the regular Sunday night dance for M.U.S.I.C (Imperial swing) a club which has been running for 37 years. Held in a large VFW hall with about 3,000 sq. ft. of wood floor over concrete floor with a tight finish. Well over 100 dancers showed, but only a few were doing any 8 count. We stayed for 26 DJed selections: comments follow. 1. Nine tunes made us want to dance, but we did dance more often. 2. The fastest tempo occurred when the MUSIC President was talking to us. Sigh! Otherwise, much of the music was, I think, manufactured by ‘lectronic magic, with original instrumentals or vocals overdubbed with complicated rhythms which no musical instrument ever made. 3. The foregoing tunes (11 in all) were relentlessly at 120 BPM and very long in duration. (If you have ever been to a WCS dance, you know what I am talking about.) 4. The remaining recordings were an eclectic mix of ballads, waltzes, line dances, C/W two steps and Latin. 5. We only heard rhythm breaks on one tune, the slo-swing evergreen “Mustang Sally”. We both got a satisfactory dance sufficiency with very friendly folks.

AL AND PETE

Al Cohn and Pete Christlieb are two of my favorite jazz tenor saxophonists. Al is dead, and I only got to see him play once. Pete is alive and I have often seen him play. I once told Pete, “As long as you are still alive, Al Cohn will never be dead.” Pete straightened up and seemed at a loss for a moment. Then I added “It’s the sound of your horn.” He replied, thoughtfully “I hope so.” Today, I was listening to a CD “Lefty Leaps In” which features Pete, and when he was soloing on the CD’s eponymous number, for a moment, he WAS Al Cohn. It gave me the goose bumps to hear Al Cohn playing to me from the grave. The only analogy I can think of is unexpectedly hearing the voice of one’s deceased mother.

For those who are not familiar with Al Cohn, he was a member of the storied reed section of the “Woody Herman’s 2nd Herd” a.k.a. “The Four Brothers Band”, so named because of both the unusual reed section instrumentation, and for the Jimmy Giuffre tune “Four Brothers” which featured Al Cohn, Stan Getz, and Herbie Steward all playing tenor saxophone and Serge Chaloff playing baritone saxophone. When Stan Getz was asked “What makes the perfect jazz saxophonist?” He replied, “Zoot Sims’ time (ability to “swing”), Al Cohn’s ideas and my technique. Indeed, Al Cohn had unique and engaging improvisational musical ideas. Al was also a gifted composer and arranger. Toward the end of his life, his tone grew darker, richer and more robust. I think Al Cohn was the leader of a movement to brighten and make rich the sound of a jazz tenor saxophone. I liken Al’s tone in the middle register to the attention-grabbing skirl of a bagpipe. As well, Al had a unique way of bending notes during lyrical improvisations.

Pete’s tone reminds me of Al’s tone, but Pete’s is brighter, but while Pete can easily play, and does, using the entire range of the horn he can be reiterative on solo—something Al seldom did. Pete can bend notes just like Al, but Pete can produce sonorities which are the envy of jazz tenorists. I once sat next at a bar next to one while listening to Pete play. When he produced one of those unearthly unsaxophonely sounds, I asked my bar-mate, “How DOES he do that?” He shook his head, and said, “We would all like to know how he gets down into the horn that way, and many guys have tried by using Pete’s mouthpiece and reed set-up, but no one can control it like Pete, But then, Pete’s been using the same set-up since he was 16.” Most people don’t know that they have heard Pete play way more than they have heard any other jazz tenorist, as Pete was the principal soloist in the “Tonight Show” big band for something like 20 years.

DANCE ADVICE (Swiped from LIND-E-LIST Arizona’s Lindy Hop website)

* Wear clothing that makes it easy and enjoyable to dance, both for yourself and your partner.
* Avoid shoes with rubber or spongy soles. They can stick to the floor during turns and spins and cause ankle and knee injuries.
*Avoid sleeveless shirts (As much as I hate the term for guys these are known as "wife-beaters") - It is not pleasant to have to touch the damp skin of a partner.
*Avoid sleeves that are baggy because dancers need access to partner's back, and hands may get caught in baggy sleeves.
* Gentlemen: if you have no place to leave your keys and loose change, carry them in the *left* pocket of your trousers. This makes it less likely to bruise your partner.
I’m sure both you and I could add a bunch more elements of good advice for pairs dancers, and I would, but, right now, I am too busy, and the deadline is up for this News and Views. If you send me some, I will include them in the next “News and Views”.

DANCING IN THE RAIN

“Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain.” Anon.

I don’t know about you, but Rudy and I have danced in the rain……once. It was right after midnight January 1, circa 1995, in San Antonio, in a huge parking lot, to “Asleep at the Wheel” and it was raining pretty hard. The big crowd parted to give us some room. Some bystanders had a bemused look as if to say, “Would you ever look at those idiots. Some were smiling, and we were, for sure, grinnin’ all acorst our faces. Hey! you don’t often get to dance “The Wheel”, the best damned western swing band since Bob Wills died. Gotta seize any opportunity when it comes along. “The Wheel” plays the “Broken Spoke” honky-tonk roadhouse in Austin twice a year, but, lamentably, we have never been in Austin there when they did..

DANCE EXCUSES

See, here’s the thing. Putting aside my bowed legs and big ‘ol feet which I can do nothing about, there is my wide stance (no jokes, please), and lousy posture, all bent over forward at the waist while my arms are hanging down. I always wanted to look classy on the dance floor with a narrow stance, with feet close together, while standing upright like Fred Astaire, and doing stylish dance-appropirate movements with my arms, but alas, I have given up on all of that. However, I do have a handy excuse. See, after 50 years as some kind of an amateur athlete, my body no longer cares about my needs for style. In athletics what you do is much more important than how you do it (performance trumps appearance), So I kept my feet wide, one under each shoulder, and bent over with my weight forward on the balls of my big ol’ feet, and my arms held low so when I needed to go in any direction quickly, I could raise my arms fast, and the counterweight would drive my shoes into the floor giving me firm footing with my shoes as I dropped my weight and leaned in the needed direction of movement and drove off the foot opposite from the direction of needed quick movement. And that is the way that I dance, and probably why I have come to prefer an athletic dance to music with fast tempos, even tho’ my ability to dance fast ain’t what is used ta be. When I danced West Coast Swing, I always looked like one of them about-to-collapse aluminum, folding lawn-chairs..I still do, but it can be more easily forgiven in Lindy Hop. Anyway, that’s my s’cuse and I‘m stickin’ to it.
I also have a few more excuses, but I can’t think of them, right off…..maybe later.
.
COMING ATTRACTIONS

1. The music/dance scene in Dayton OH and surrounds.
2. The dance road north toward home in Minnesota.

Allen Hall, Lindy Hopper and Jazz Freak
April 18, 2011, In warming Dayton Ohio
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