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News and Views '09/'10 # 10
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Allen Hall
MN Prince of Snark Darkness


Joined: 26 May 2004
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:24 am    Post subject: News and Views '09/'10 # 10 Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

News and Views from the Hall LindyJazzMobile
‘09/’10 Installment # 10

DANCE, DRIVE, REPEAT

Table of Contents:
1. Lindy Hopping in Dallas/Fort Worth
2. Jitterbug Jam II (Fort Worth)
3. Mo’ Dancin’ in Houston
4. Jazz, a Meandering Discussion
5. Coming Attractions

LINDY HOPPING IN DALLAS/FORT WORTH

Sat. Feb. 13 We danced at Dallas’ Sammen’s Center to DJed music. The room is roomy and boomy, but we enjoyed the music. The floor is Maple long boards with a fine surface. The dance was well attended, and there were many experienced LHers there.
Tues. Feb 16. Was the regular Tues DJed Lindy dance at the Fort Worth Southside Preservation Hall, a large space with an asphalt tile floor over concrete which has a remarkably good dance surface.
Wed. Feb 17. We hit the 99 year old Sons Of Hermann Hall for the regular Wed night DJed dance. The second floor dancehall is better lighted than I remember, the floor is old dark hardwood, the crowd was about 60 en toto with some very good dancers among them, and I really enjoyed both the music selections and tempos.
Fri. Feb 19. We turned down a dance in Denton (a far north ‘burb of Dallas) to go to a pot-luck party hosted by Ft Worth LHers, Cliff and Angelia Williams. The party was held in their beautiful 1940s vintage home in Fort Worth. Attending were all of the instructors for the weekend’s “Jitterbug Jam” LH event, the core of Fort Worth LH principals, and, Oh! so lucky, Rudy and I. There was enough delicious food there to sustain the 4th Armored Division for a month of deep winter bivouac. So I’m exaggerating, but how does this sound, one huge cake, 3 pies and 3 big round cheesecakes sound for dessert, the attendees savaged a roasted half backside of beef and an uncountable number of side dishes. The Williams home has two front parlors, one with a gorgeous original oak wall-to-wall floor with a dancer-friendly surface, just right for? Yes, and it didn’t take long for dancers to get on it. Great evening, fun dancing, sumptuous food, plus stimulating company.

JITTERBUG JAM II (Fort Worth)

I know nothing about the assertion of proprietary rights to Lindy Hop event names, but, if a name is abandoned for some period of time, I must assume that someone can take the poor abandoned name and breathe some new Lindy Hop life into it. I doubt the promoters of Jitterbug Jam (Fort Worth) contacted Melinda “Mo” Comeau for permission to use the name, but even if they knew that she ran two “Jitterbug Jam” events long ago in California, they would be hard pressed to speak with Mo. Mo is a lovely person, and has been a benefactor for swing dance of all kinds, but she has been incommunicado for many years. The only consequential problem with a LH event name that I know about took place when Amy Johnson wanted to run a “Midwest Swing Fest” in Minnesota. That named event had been held several years in Cincinnati , but the organizer had moved to Los Angeles and abandoned the event for several years running. When Amy asked permission to use the name, she was told “If you do, you will hear from my lawyer.” Amy decided there was more than one way to skin a name, and decided to change the name slightly. She then ran a successful “Midwest Lindy Fest” for many years in Minnesota, and, when she moved to New Orleans, with her blessings, the event remains in Minnesota and retains the same name.
Rudy and I made both of the well-attended Saturday and Sunday DJed “Jitterbug Jam” evening dances at the Fort Worth Southside Preservation Hall. Rudy and I enjoyed most of the music and tempos (yes, we can be fussy), and we were delighted to see that most all of the instructors stayed throughout both evenings and mingled to dance with many of the students and social dancers who were there. Fun event, this the second year, and we certainly hope that it continues to be held.

MO’ DANCIN’ IN HOUSTON

Feb. 27, We went to the regular 9PM DJed Saturday Demitasse Dance at the House of Tea. It takes place in an alternative culture Coffee/Tea Room. They move the tables and chairs outside, and we dance on a small floor of 18/18 inch quarry tile with a few raised edges, but with an excellent dance surface. The music was eclectic, but only half was—how shall I put this—LH incompatible, but the other half, while unusual, was fully LH compatible. A big crowd showed up, and even when the floor was crowded, almost all of the dancers were polite and controlled. And, there is no cover, but buying some refreshment is encouraged. Fun night.
Feb 21/28/Mar 7. Once, twice, thrice, we attended our last three, for this winter, regular Houston Sunday night LH dances. I have described the venue in a previous N&V, and nothing has changed. The crowd of well-experienced friendly dancers remains goodly sized, and the music quite Lindy-appropriate until late in the evening, when, sometimes, the Pop Rock/Hip Hop vampire DJs raise up out of their coffins.

JAZZ, A MEANDERING DISCUSSION I

Not that all jazz is good music, but Leonard Bernstein offered an open-hearted paean to Jazz. “People who do not consider jazz to be art music are missing something profound.” And, to the oft-heard dismissive canard “Jazz is just folk music”, a jazzman once replied, “Jazz is not folk music. It’s too hard to play.”
Not to get preference parochial on you, but I do not believe that many Rock musicians are much concerned about room acoustics, but jazz musicians and classical music musicians are very acoustics sensitive. Rock music is loud by design; it’s part of the overpowering energetic gravitas of the music; the decibels produced, all too often overwhelm and negate a rooms’ innate acoustics—and sometimes, Rock and Blues is so loud that everything in the room including my abdominal viscera vibrate in sympathy with the decibel frequencies overload. Anyway, each room or space has its own acoustic voice, and I have many times heard a jazz musician wax mellifluent about a room with clean and pleasing acoustics.
I believe that people who think Big Band music is not jazz are….well….misinformed. So much for uncharitable bias, but the Duke of E and the Count of B would spin in their graves if Big Band music was cast out of the Jazz tent. It’s my firm belief that most Lindy Hoppers have little recognition of how many of the recordings they dance to are the product of Big Bands. Some day—probably after my knees finally go kaput—I am going to sit through DJed LH dances so I can count the number BB tunes as a % all the music. Didja know there is an American Big Band Preservation Society? Well! Go to www.americanbigband.org I remember hearing Big Band music as a kid, but when it didn’t resonate in my teenage peers, I dropped my big band fan membership. I remember well my big band re-awakening. It was at a Saturday night dance at a regional Squash tournament in Cleveland, circa 1977. A REALLY GOOD SWINGING big band was playing, and I almost went bonkers. When they were playing, all I wanted to do is listen, and let the acoustic sound from those 18 musicians wash over me. I couldn’t abide talking, so I just walked back forth in front of that band with a crazy grin on my face. The band must have thought I was a poor soul who had lost completely “it”, was looking for “it” and couldn’t find “it”. In 1963, Duke Ellington was asked, “How have you managed to keep a big band so long when so many others have broken up? Hasn’t the rise of rock ‘an’ roll taken away your audience?” Duke replied, “There’s still a Dixieland audience, a Swing audience, a Bop audience. All the audiences are still there.” Well, the Dixieland audience is fading fast. So too is the big band audience, Perhaps it’s time for you, L’il Lindy Hoppers, to create a new young big band audience. Go witness a good big band in full cry--It is one of the singular thrills found in American music. We, in Minnesota, just lost Chuck Beasley, the notable leader of a fine eponymous big band, and I surely hope someone picks up Chuck’s fallen banner and carries it forth. Lindy Hop can ill afford to lose good big bands—the origins of Lindy Hop and big band music are inexorably joined at the hip.

COMING ATTRACTIONS.
1. “Lindy Fest” (a Houston LH tradition)
2. Jazz, a Meandering Discussion II
3. Other Stuff, To be Determined

Allen Hall, Lindy Hopper
March 9, 2010, in slowly warming Houston, Texas
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