MN Prince of Snark Darkness
Joined: 26 May 2004
Weekly Avg: 1.0115
|Posted: Sat Oct 12, 2013 12:34 pm Post subject: News and Views from the '13 Autumn Hall LindyJazzAuto Trail
||Share topic on FB
|News and Views from the Hall LindyJazzAuto Trail
‘13 Autumn Installment
1.brace yourselves, dear readers. This N&V is long, mostly because it contains an entire reprinted "Vanity Fair" article . Why did I do it? Not sure, but at the time, it seemed like a good thing to do.
2. The last N&V was sent out in the spring of 2013. What gives? Does this mean that N&Vs will now come out only twice a year? Idunno; we must wait to see what transpires.
DANCE HARD, REST A LOT, DANCE AGAIN WHEN WE CAN
Table of Contents:
1. Dancin’ to Solomon Douglas in a Gym
2. Dancin’ to Dale Watson
3. Mid-West Lindy Festival
4. Lonely Dancin’ in the facsimile of Carlsbad Cavern
5. Junior Development in Swing Dance
6. Long Sleeves vs. Short Sleeves
7.Loon's Current Dance Report
9 Coming Attractions
DANCIN’ TO SOLOMON DOUGLAS IN A GYM.
Before I go off knockin’ this gym, hear this. Gyms are notorious for lousy acoustics, but, this gym has, undoubtedly, the filthiest acoustics of any I have ever danced in, and I have danced in bunch of gyms. Whoa! there, Swing Columbus has draped long multicolored lengths of cloth from the balcony over the entire gym and this has softened considerably the acoustic room boominess.
But Hey!, this gym is in Columbus Ohio a town, which, without benefit of resident pro-level instructors, has seen a self-evolved large group of very good Lindy Hoppers. And besides, I am a big Solomon Douglas fan, most cuz he swings, AND he seems to improve markedly as a pianist every time is hear him play. This night he had gathered a fine group of musicians, i.e. drums, bass, guitar, and local trombone ace, Vaughn Weister, plus, from New England, splendid vocalist, Allison Dryfuss, who, incidentally, is an excellent Lindy Hopper, AND lookie here, she asked me to dance. I am bless’d
This gym is in the Columbus YWCA and it hosts “Swing Columbus’” regular monthly third Saturday dance. I encourage you to dance there if ever in Columbus on a 2nd Saturday night, or if you are in Columbus on any Wednesday night, go to NyOhs on Olentangy River Road. FFI r.e. Lindy in Columbus, go to www.swingcolumbus.com
DANCIN’ TO DALE WATSON
But first…..we had to get to Minneapolis where Dale is playing, at “Lee’s Liquor Lounge” on May 3rd, and that became a misadventure. See, we waited to return to MN from Dayton Ohio, until the May 1st. Big mistake; we should have gone there instead during any time in April and maybe even in March, but we got stuck for two days in Tomah Wisc, one hundred miles southeast of Mpls, separated from where we wanted to go by a big bad unseasonable spring snowdump which dropped as much as 15.5 inches of snow in a long stripe of southwest to northeast stretching between us and Dale Watson. That added to an equally big bad auto accident on I-94 near the MN/Wisc line, the road we would have traveled, this made it a no-go 4+ and two days in an AmericInn. Of course, I checked on the weather before we started. Guess what? Yep! surprise, the TV weather weenies blew the call. How come we wanna dance to Dale Watson? Well, his band is one of the best western swing bands around, including an outstanding steel player and Dale is no slouch on guitar, but, most important, Dale has some kind of fine pipes, a mellifluous baritone voice with a wide vocal range and he is masterful in the use of a microphone. He can purr and he can lean back and bark. As always, Lee’s was packed for Dale. The dancing there could be known as the Sardine Shuffle, that’s if you can call it dancing. I love Dale dearly because he is absolute Hell on the country western/Rock/Pop shit coming out of Nashville nowadays.
LONELY DANCIN’ IN A FACIMILE OF CARLSBAD CAVERN
Actually it was dancin’ in the Buffalo MN American Legion Clubhouse to a PDG jump plus combo, “Tommy Burnevic and the Senders.”
We walked into, for the first and last time, a huge space to find all the people clustered around the bar—so as to be close to the bar and on a floor space most of which was covered by a profusion of discarded pull tabs. Way off in the dim distance we saw and heard the band playing. They were behind a quite large dance floor and on one side of the dance floor was a total of 250 unoccupied chairs(I counted 'em). I almost wished we could remain in splendid isolation, just for the novelty of it all, but another swing dancer couple showed up, but that was IT. The band was an energetic Jump septet (is there any other kind?), a huge floor with a good surface, pretty good room acoustics, generous seating, no cover and only by sheer chance did any dancers or listeners show up. This, in a sentence, is largely what happens in the MN boonies. We have seen this before, but never this extent of this musical ennui. Completely self-generated dance energy can be achieved, but it is hard work, and often not worth the effort.
MID-WEST LINDY FESTIVAL
This long-running MN event is gaining ground in an artistic sense, and holding onto viability in a commercial sense. Hey! The dance venue is already booked for next year.
Three bands played. “Patty and the Buttons” played the Thursday Riverboat Cruise. “Gordon Webster’s Band plus woman singer played the Friday and Saturday night dances, and the “Twin Cities Hot Club” did the Sunday night dance. Damned good bands with high quality musicianship, and all adept at playing for Lindy dancers. Rudy and I only attended the Saturday night dance—cut us some geriatric slack. Besides, we had danced 4 of 5 nights—dumb, for us, and I had to get an appointment with the a saw-bones the following week for some shots in my knees. Some people just never seem to learn.
The prime venue was the spacious “Dancer’s Studio”, and they needed the extra space as the Saturday night dance attracted 500+ dancers. Fine Maple floor, as you would expect of a dance studio.
A great event, and if it doesn’t snow in May*, I can heartily recommend it.
*This year the event lucked out—the May blizzard came the week before.
JUNIOR DEVELOPMENT IN SWING DANCE
It is my opinion that Carolina Shag has the best junior development program of any form of swing dance in the USA. For evidence of this, check out the link below
This couple is the Carolina Shag Junior 2012 National Champs. He is 17 and she is 15. Rudy and I have seen two other Junior champion couples dance in live performances who were every bit as good if not slightly better. Carolina Shag also has a competitive category for juniors under the age of 14. Rudy and I have seen both junior categories danced in a Carolina Shag National Championships in Myrtle Beach, circa 1994 and all the competitors in both junior categories were so good it hurt my feelings, PLUS the older Junior couple tied in points with the best adult professional couple entered, Sam and Sara West. The Juniors lost over-all best in a dance off, when Sam West brought his AAA game. I think i would rather watch Sam West dance than any other male Carolina Shagger, mostly because he is both athletically fluid and stylish, while other top competitive male Carolina shaggers seem to mostly excel with excellent technique-period. That's my prejudice 'n' I'm stickin' to it. Hey! ain't I 'lowed to have an opinion?
While I am opinionating, I think the West Coast Swing has the next best history of encouraging and training competitive junior dancers. However, unlike Carolina Shag junior development which is widespread in Shag-land, WCS emphasis on Junior development is spotty in the USA.
I was encouraged recently to see a Lindy Hop event which offered a competitive flight for junior dancers.
LONG SLEEVES VS. SHORT SLEEVES
See, I always wear long sleeves when I dance. Ugly arms? Well, they are kind of skinny. Offensive tattoos? Nope, no tattoos offensive or otherwise. I wear long sleeves so my arms don't get greasy/sweating/slippery. I keep the shirt sleeves from getting dripping wet by wearing a long-sleeve underarmor shirt, made of material which wicks sweat away from the body and hold in the cloth. Do I sweat more than the average male Lindy Hopper? You better believe it, because I take two extra-strength Tylenol and two aspirin tablets before I dance, this to make me forget for two hours that I have ruined knees, but both medicines cause excessive sweating.
The ideal male upper-body garb for vigorous social Lindy Hop is either several or many tee-shirts for changing, but that wouldn't work for me when I sweat like a rode-hard race-horse and it starts dripping off my fingertips. Ain't 'pologizin'; jus' s'plainin'.
1. ‘”Jazz is music. Swing is business.” Duke Ellington
2. “Jazz is there and gone. It happens. You have to be present for it. It's that simple.” Kieth Jarrett
3. Rudy and I danced 8 nights in May mostly to live music. The frequency may not seem like much, but it’s right about our limit now; something like "Dance Heal Heal, Dance Heal Heal Heal, and then repeat that until the month is over.
4. "To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there's no music, no choreography and the dancers hit each other." Anon
5. ....swing dance is one of the most popular things I prescribe,” Dr. Wright, an orthopedic surgeon at the Center for Sports Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.
6. Hot News, duh! from New York City. Why is it that writers in NYC think nothing is new or well-developed unless it gets noticed in NYC? The piece below was recently published in "Vanity Fair" and tell us what we already know has been happening out here in fly-over land for many years. e.g. In Minneapolis "The Southside Aces", a New Orleans jazz sextet and Lindy Hopper favorite just celebrated their 10th anniversary. Read the comments following the piece about what's happnin' in Austin TX, Iowa, London, New Orleans etc.
How a Swath of 20-Somethings Have Tuned In to 1920s Pop
By Will Friedwald
By Harry Fellows.
It has been called New Orleans jazz, Dixieland (a term that most of the musicians playing it despise), and most recently, “trad” (short for “traditional”) jazz. Ever since Benny Goodman exploded onto the pop-music scene in 1935 and ignited the swing era, the earlier jazz of the 1920s has been relegated to music’s margins.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the modern bandstand.
Gradually, over the past few years, more and more young jazz musicians—mainly in their 20s and even younger—have begun to play this music and, in the process, started again to refer to it by the name it was known by when it was new: Hot Jazz. Ninety years ago, dancers employed designations of temperature to distinguish between “hot” bands, like King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band or Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers and the “sweet” bands of the era, like Guy Lombardo’s.
All of a sudden, Hot Jazz bands are all over New York (and, by various indications, other cities as well)—most of them made up of musicians roughly the age of trumpeter Mike Davis and Joshua Holcomb (who plays trombone, tuba, and bass), both 21. The two are recent graduates of the Manhattan School of Music, where they jointly led a Hot Jazz student-ensemble band, and are now part of the city’s workforce of professional musicians. Such bands are heard in an increasing number of clubs, including several devoted to Hot Jazz, such as Mona’s in the Alphabet City neighborhood, and Radegast Hall & Biergaretn in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Nearly every week (particularly in the summer), these musicians also play in bands at dance-oriented “retro nouveau” events, like Shanghai Mermaid, the Jazz Age Lawn Party, and the Salon—a combination of dance, concert, and costume party. Young dancers typically come in 1920s drag, and one can see flappers and sheikhs texting and tweeting on the margins of the dance floor.
The Lawn Party, the biggest of these events, usually attracts 3,000-plus people (most in vintage attire, almost all under 30) for two weekends a summer on Governors Island. Movie director Baz Luhrmann is a regular attendee, and although his film adaptation of The Great Gatsby—based on the definitive novel of what author F. Scott Fitzgerald called “the Jazz Age”—featured little authentic jazz from the period, the movie’s box-office success reveals again how the culture of the Roaring 20s seems to resonate with contemporary audiences.
Hot Jazz is so prevalent now that New York has almost become like New Orleans in the fin de siècle period: in covering the city’s jazz scene for The Wall Street Journal, I find that I can go hear a 20s-style band, almost inevitably made up of musicians born well after 1980, playing somewhere in the city virtually every night of the week. For these young players, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, the 11-piece ensemble that’s kept the torch burning for pre-swing music for almost 40 years. Most of Giordano’s regular musicians are in their 40s and 50s, but he occasionally hires up-and-coming artists, such as 26-year-old twins Peter and Will Anderson, two reed players (clarinet and saxophone) who have been working with Giordano since 2007, their sophomore year at Juilliard.
From left to right: Gordon Webster (piano), Dennis Lichtman (clarinet), Nick Russo (banjo), and Jared Engel (bass).
By Bruce Gast.
Mona's Hot Four.
Will Anderson feels that an understanding of early jazz is essential to being able to play the music of any period. “I enjoy playing all styles of jazz, because it is all rooted in the music of the 1920s—harmonically, rhythmically, and melodically.” He adds, “Twenties jazz has a clarity and beauty that anyone can identify with; it expresses the most bitter sadness and complete joy, simultaneously.”
Along with the Nighthawks, a newer, smaller band that’s serving as the focal point of the Hot Jazz movement is Mona’s Hot Four, which plays all night long every Tuesday, to a capacity crowd of regulars and musicians who come to sit in and jam. Here, alas, there’s no room for dancing and, in fact, barely any room even for listening. “I believe musicians of my generation and younger are attracted to the roots, blues aspect of the music; the collective polyphony of the ensemble; the partner-danceability of the rhythm [that has] revitalized excitement of the audiences,” says Mona’s Hot Four’s guitar-and-banjo player, Nick Russo. Gradually, the mania surrounding the music has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Mr. Russo notes that the more musicians play Hot Jazz, the more crowds are attracted, which, in turn, he says, generates “more gigs.”
What’s also interesting is that this new wave of traditional jazz relies on nontraditional venues: formal jazz clubs, mostly in midtown, generally ignore it, and so far Jazz at Lincoln Center has not yet gotten hip—a further irony, in that 30 years ago J.A.L.C. founder Wynton Marsalis was one of the first major musicians to encourage younger players to study Louis Armstrong as much as Miles Davis. (An exception is the Louis Armstrong tribute band, led by David Ostwald, which has been playing weekly in Birdland for over a decade.) Hot Jazz turns up in all manner of venues that are far from exclusively jazz clubs, the most high profile of which is probably Joe’s Pub. The Hot Sardines, the name reflecting singer and co-leader Elizabeth Bougerol’s Parisian origins, currently enjoy a monthly residency at Joe’s, and this summer the club is also presenting another young French group, the Avalon Jazz Band.
By Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images.
Cecile McLorin Salvant.
Of all the Hot Jazz groups, the Sardines have probably come the furthest. They’ve been together almost five years, during which time they’ve assembled a unique repertoire, and a sound and a style that are distinctly their own. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys Traditional “Jass” Band, a brand new combo that, within a few months of being formed in the Crescent City at the start of 2013, was already drawing crowds in New Orleans as well as in the New York area. The Donkeys even boast a celebrity offspring: tubaist Wessell Anderson Jr. is the son of saxophonist Wes “Warmdaddy” Anderson, the longtime Marsalis sideman. (Full disclosure: the father of the band’s banjo-guitarist-vocalist, Sam Friend, is an editor at Vanity Fair.) Unlike the Sardines, the Donkeys don’t have an identifiable band “book” of their own yet, and most of their tunes are familiar Dixieland warhorses (many sung by trumpeter James Williams, channeling Louis Armstrong), but that will surely come in time, the longer they continue to work together. (Right now their most intriguing number is a mash-up of two jazz standards based on the same chord changes, the 1920 song “Whispering” and Dizzy Gillespie’s 1945 “Groovin’ High.”)
The Sardines, contrastingly, have not only their own identifiable tunes but a fast-paced act that combines jazz and old-fashioned showbiz, spotlighting Ms. Bougerol’s singing (and spieling). Which points up another aspect of the current Hot Jazz scene: virtually all of these players have grown up in the contemporary, post-CD era, and to them the notion of bands scuffling around trying to get “signed” by major record labels is an archaic idea from a bygone age. None of these bands has been on a top label, although some sell their own self-produced CDs. Yet audio-only representations, in general, are almost entirely beside the point. To these groups, it’s much more important to be well represented on the social networks, to have a compelling Facebook presence, and to get noticed on YouTube.
By Kaitlin Hanrahan.
The New Orleans Swamp Donkeys.
Modern jazz has grown increasingly into concert music, over the last 50 years especially, with musicians more or less looking like a string quartet—just sitting and playing, sometimes reading music from stands. Conversely, Hot Jazz bands do everything they can to keep the audience engaged, making the music visually appealing. The Sardines feature tap dancer “Fast Eddy” Francisco, who functions as a second percussionist; they not only play for dancers in the crowd but include a dancer as part of the music itself. Jon Ramm, the 27-year-old trombonist with the Swamp Donkeys, makes a specialty of maneuvering his instrument’s slide with his bare foot. It’s pure vaudeville, to be sure. Mr. Ramm says, “A lot of people write off this kind of jazz as antiquated, but the truth of the matter is it’s still pop music. Twenties music has those qualities . . . a connection with basic human emotion. All the music we play is basic, structure-wise, chord-change-wise. And it gives us an ability to reach all people.”
As the names of these groups imply, this music is about the bands, many of whom have colorful and unforgettable appellations like the Hot Sardines, the Swamp Donkeys, Baby Soda, the Grand Street Stompers, Emily Asher’s Garden Party, Dan Levinson’s Roof Garden Jass Band, Jesse Carolina and the Hot Mess—whereas modern jazz is often mainly about star soloists. There are several outstanding individual players, nonetheless, who attract attention no matter what groups they’re working in. Bria Skonberg, 29, is a Canadian trumpeter and vocalist who moved to New York in 2010; she looks like a Scandinavian beauty-pageant winner (or, as I wrote in the Journal, like “Thor’s kid sister”), and when she puts the horn to her lips, it becomes clear that she can compete with virtually any brassman playing jazz today. Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, 24, is African American, visually impaired, and an Orthodox Jew who won’t appear in public without a proper head covering. He sings and plays passionately (banjo, guitar, piano, and many other instruments), working with folk, blues, and country bands as well as jazz. They both know a million songs from the period, and their music is rife with soul and personality. They both possess what jazz players of all genres and generations strive for: a distinctive sound and approach to their instruments.
The new movement is experiencing breakthroughs even as we speak: in June, veteran clarinetist Dan Levinson, age 48, hosted a jam session on the stage of New York’s Symphony Space, featuring musicians who were 20 years younger than him (including all of Mona’s Hot Four). Produced by the Sidney Bechet Society, this was the first formal concert focusing on the current generation of trad-jazz standouts. At press time, the first full-scale New York Hot Jazz Festival has been announced for August 2013; the gathering is being planned as a one-day concert (August 25) at Mehanata, on the Lower East Side, that producer Michael Katsobashvili hopes will grow into an expanded annual event.
At 23, Cécile McLorin Salvant is a highly acclaimed jazz singer who does an especially inspired job with songs from the 1920s, 30s, and beyond. She compares the young musicians who specialize in this music to “a Star Trek–convention kind of thing. We love the music from this time period, and we even have a kind of nostalgia for something that we have never lived through in our own lifetimes—or even our grandparents’! There’s just something special about music that seems so far away; there’s a certain sense of mystery to it—and then [someone is] able to bring it to you. Plus, let’s not forget: this all started as party music for teenagers.”
By Mick Gold/Redferns.
Blind Boy Paxton.
In many ways, the new Hot Jazz players seem to be deliberately undoing the accomplishments of Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and then the modernists, who spent generations trying to get the world to take jazz seriously. These musicians, instead, are working conspicuously to prove that jazz can be a popular music all over again. It seems to be working.
Will Friedwald writes about jazz and nightlife for The Wall Street Journal. His last story for Vanity Fair focused on Michael Feinstein. Friedwald is the author of eight books on music and popular culture, including A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers, Stardust Melodies, Tony Bennett: The Good Life, Jazz Singing, and the award-winning Sinatra: The Song Is You. He has written more than 600 liner notes for compact discs and has received eight Grammy nominations
Hey, *Louis Armstrong* said it was called Dixieland, and if that isn't good enough for some people, well you can tell 'em what's what because Pops *is* this music, start to finish! And it isn't just New York or 20 somethings, we have a band of (mostly) 13-15 year olds who can dish out the Jelly Roll with the best of 'em (facebook.com/eighthstreetorchestra)
Keep in mind here that the original players, the Louis Armstrongs, Nick LaRoccas, Bix and Ory, they were all kids when it was started; BG was 19 when he recorded that first set of records, and it was teens who ripped up the Palomar when he hit the west coast.
This has *always* been a young-person's music!
I've been saying that mainstream jazz has been boring for wayyyyy too long. They seemed to have lost their way. King Marsalis needs to take notice. Imagine that, musicians playing music they think is fun. They look like they're having fun......... hmmmmmm.......... must be fun!!!!!
@Brotherflower c'mon man, cut him some slack, jack -- marsalis has a job to do and did you tune in to his new years broadcasts? or the ellington special series? my kids here (eighthstreetorchestra.blogspot.ca) were glued to the set all three nights, and I don't believe they learned any bad habits (they can get all those from me) -- wynton inspires and educates and he's no slouch on the horn either. let's give him some respect. I mean, hey, he's even booked the Sun Ra Arkestra to play his Lincoln Centre! the man knows what he's doing.
Smoking Times Jazz Club - New Orleans
This is also happening in the UK with the Top Shelf Band - who write their own tunes and are absolute cads. www.thetopshelfuk.com. Check 'em out. They're wild.
A bunch of us have been doing it full steam down here in Austin for 15 years! We all moved here in our early 20's to play hot jazz and haven't stopped. Big scene down here for it! White Ghost Shivers, East Side Dandies, Aunt Ruby's Sweet Jazz Babies, Jazz Pharaohs, Thrift Set Orchestra, just to name a few. Not to mention all of the bands that have come and gone over the years. We also have one of the best dance scenes for it as well and host an annual event called Hot Rhythm Holiday that caters to all Balboa, Shag, and Charleston. Also, Nola, our sister city, is hot as hell too!
Same thing is happening in Philadelphia Area, South New Jersey, Delaware and Eastern Pennsylvania. Many new young band leader and bands of folks in their 20s. Lots of Hot Jazz played and lots of YOUNG audiences.
Trad jazz is big time in New Orleans, too. Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns, winner of the 2012 Big Easy Music Award for "best traditional jazz band," has toured or played trad jazz and swing dance concerts/festivals all over the world.
interesting article ... you should check out what is happening in the Midwest USA - Iowa for example - look at bands like the Spicy Pickles and swing dancing ... similarly in Edinburgh Scotland -- look up artists like Alison Affleck and the swing dance scene there..
This is happening in London also, so many great events and young bands/orchestras popping up. The best in London I know of has to be Alex Mendham & His Orchestra. Full of young enthusiastic musicians. Rumour has it the Savoy Hotel is going to bring back their 20s/30s dinner dances, featuring them. The older revival bands from the 70s have had their time.
LOON'S CURRENT DANCE REPORT
'13 Month Days dancing
Kinda slowin' down, huh? Yes, given our maniacal dance history since 1992. Well, it is what it is. On a personal note, I continue to dance because Rudy and I so enjoy the unpretentious young people in Lindy Hop, and it is the only fun vigorous physical activity currently available to me. Besides, I am steeped to the core in jazz, a fan since I was a young teenager. On days I don't dance, I do a 20 minute set of stretching and light muscle building exercises. Gotta run the machinery some or it will rust and seize-up even worse than it already has.
P.S. September is a little more like it.
1. Dancing to Johnny Boyd 2X
2. Lindy during a 15 day car trip through fly-over land
3. Rocktober Fest in Columbus OH
4. Time Warp Swing, Ohio State University
Allen Hall, Lindy Hopper
October 13, 2013, In Dayton Ohio