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News and Views '09/10 # 11
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Allen Hall
MN Prince of Snark Darkness


Joined: 26 May 2004
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 5:16 pm    Post subject: News and Views '09/10 # 11 Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

News and Views from the Hall LindyJazzMobile
‘09/’10 Installment # 11

DANCE, DRIVE, REPEAT


(Editor’s word of caution: BEWARE, this thing is interminable, and you will never read it on the screen in one sitting—so print it out, in order that you may savor it during several comfortable ….wherever…seatings.)

Table of Contents:
1. “Lindy Fest”, a Houston Lindy Hop Tradition
2. An Incomplete Semi-History of 19 years of Dance Wanderings-Part 1
3. Jazz Potpourri
4. The Original Origin of Dance
5. Coming Attractions

“LINDY FEST”, A HOUSTON LINDY HOP TRADITION.

“Lindy Fest” (nee “Southwest Lindy Fest” and “Frankie Manning weekend”) has been going on since Frankie Manning was a pup—well, that’s a stretch, but this event had its beginnings in 1997 as a Frankie led event, and Frankie has been to every “Lindy Fest”, except, of course, this one, but his vital spirit is here, and I suspect it always will be. So “Lindy Fest” has long legs, and good legs too, sporting large high-quality teaching faculties almost every year (18 instructors this year). I have been long amazed at how they can afford so many good instructors. Well, since 2004, the Houston Swing Dance Society, which is the Daddy Rabbit organization for “Lindy Fest” has received grants from the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County and The Arts Alliance. Are you Lindy Hop scene leaders reading this and going, “Hmmmmm!”. If not, maybe you should.

Rudy and I are pretty sure we have attended 12 Lindy Fests, but who’s counting when you are having fun? Besides being a great event with the stress on teaching and social dance, it’s fortuitous for us that “Lindy Fest” is usually held this time of year, as it is right on I-10, the major East/west LindyJazzMobile route, and “Lindy Fest” is always about time for us to head toward the middle of the country and then turn north for home, and when I come to think of it, of all the many Swing dance events that Rudy and I have attended, many of them multiple times, “Lindy Fest” easily tops our frequency list. Let’s see, other than 12 Lindy Fests, We have attended 6 Midwest Lindy Fests (nee Midwest Swing Fests), 5 Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdowns, 4 ALHCs, 3 Los Angeles Lindy Exchanges, and large grouping, at 2 each and 1 each which are way too numerous to list. There that’s done, but what about jazz Fests? Nope, too many, maybe later. Sorry for the aside, but News and Views is my dealy, and I often write about what I think about, which often, like this, ain’t much.

This a four day event held in the same venue as last year, a big classy hotel, the Sheraton Brookhollow, with a kick-off dance on Thursday night. As Is our custom, Rudy and I attended all of the evening dances, period.

Thursday night saw two good DJs play to a large turnout of dancers on what looks to be the same hauled-in large-panel hard-wood laminate floor—good floor too, even though it is showing some wear, (a few loose screws and a few raised edges), but it didn’t tighten up as dancer-caused heat and humidity went up. Rudy and I went way past our usual quota of two dance hours per night, and as a result, suffered the next day. However, we recovered thanks to double doses of Celebrex and Tylenol. Hurrah! for the miracles of modern medicine.

Friday night had a fine programmed instructor jam, and then another impromptu one as the nattily-attired “Jonathon Stout’s Campus Five*” wailed at 288 BPM. The band had local musicians on keyboard and bass, to augment the West Coast regulars. The band sounded really good—love that rhythm guitar--, and they mixed tempos with most of the slower ones, naturally, coming on vocals. Jesse Minor DJed a session, and he did play a bunch of shuffles, as I firmly requested. Of course, Jesse knew if he didn’t, I would have him knee-capped. A big crowd, sometimes crimped floor space for dancing, but the floor surface stayed properly loose. Again, Rudy and I stayed an hour over our quota—gotta stop this, or we’re both liable to croak in mid-dance.

*Actually the Campus Five has 6 pieces, a four piece rhythm section, plus clarinet, trumpet with the beautifully dressed eye-candy, Hillary Alexander providing nice vocals.

Saturday night again featured “The Campus Five + Hillary Alexander”. There was an entertaining show with a youth group doing both Lindy Hop and Hip Hop, the Silver Shadows, plus Max with Annie, Todd with Romona and Nina, Peter with Nina, Sky with Freda, Andy with someone, Kevin and Jo, and Chazz solo tapping and then with Dawn. This was followed by the biggest Shim Sham I have ever witnessed. Rudy and I hung in there until 1AM. Every night we dance longer, can an obituary soon follow.

The Sunday night dance had the predictably lighter crowd. Rudy and I put in another 3+ hours on the floor, but my last half hour I danced as would a zombie. I am rather astounded that Rudy I can muster enough stamina for four days of this. I am energized by the music, but I don’t know what keeps her going. If it’s endorphins, let’s have a big round of applause for brain morphine.

Some of the instructors showed up to social dance, but not for long, and late in the evening, we found several barricaded behind Peter Strom’s DJ booth in the Soul Room. Oh yes, there was a late night Soul Room all four days, and I commend them for keeping the lights bright enough to make out faces in that den of terpsichorean iniquity.

“Lindy Fest” has the best program booklet I think I have ever seen. In its 24 pages, there are a number of dance dynamic photos, and full page shots of Frankie as a +90 year old, and Dawn Hampton complete with her sly smile. The booklet provides good info about “Lindy Fest” history, the Houston Swing Dance Society, and voluminous bios of the instructors, plus a schedule of events, maps, and list of local gnoshing spots.

AN INCOMPLETE SEMI-HISTORY OF 19 YEARS OF LINDYJAZZMOBILE DANCE WANDERINGS- Part 1

I must be getting officially ancient as I have turned my attention to the rear—dumb thing to do. But, see, a dance friend, Jason Taylor, laid this poser on me , “Have to ever listed all the places where you have danced.” My response was something akin to, “That’s hopeless.”

But, hopeless is as hopeless does, and so, I listed all the towns and cities (not the venues, as that would be truly hopeless) in Florida where Rudy and I have danced. Turns out it was 19 that I can recall, and to tell the truth, my recall is not bad when it comes to this. (Bradon/Pensacola/Panama City/ Miami/Fort Myers/Port Charlotte/Punta Gorda/ St. Petersburg/Clearwater/Tampa/Bradenton/Sarasota/Daytona Beach/Jacksonville/Orlando/Port St. John/Altamonte Springs/Tallahassee).

Then I listed the towns and cities in California and the list reached all the way to 36 (Inglewood/ Sacramento/San Francisco/Oakland/Berkeley/Walnut Creek/Sunnyvale/West Lake Village/Agora Hills/Glendale/ Pasadena/Torrance/San Diego/West Hollywood/Monterey/Santa Cruz/Capitola/Paso Robles/ Cambria/Santa Barbara/ Long Beach/ Carlsbad/ Newport Beach/Los Angeles/Palm Springs/ Manhattan Beach/Hermosa Beach/Redondo Beach/Marina Del Rey/Arcadia/Brea/Culver city/Tustin). I’m not certain all those named are actually cities or towns, but there you have it for the two States with the largest lists.

Countries are easy. We have danced in, (The United States/Mexico/Switzerland/Luxemburg/Austria/Germany/England).

Also easy are the States in the USA in which we have never danced, (Washington/Oregon/Idaho/Montana/Wyoming/Utah/South Dakota/Vermont/Maine/New Hampshire/Rhode Island/Delaware/Alaska/ Hawaii). Notice anything? Mostly northern as the LindyJazzMobile only travels during the cool and cold months., and It don’t like to go in the snow, and it sure as hell won’t float.

To be continued….

JAZZ POTPOURRI

1. “Ear Worms” This is not about jazz per se, but I found it interesting. “Ear worms” are defined as those scraps of catchy melody which get stuck in the mind to be repeated endlessly, and often unknowingly. Where do “ear worms” come from, and who gets “ear worms”? A University of Cincinnati scientist, James J. Killaris, writes, “music with simplicity, repetitiveness and incongruity with listener’s expectations is most likely to become ‘stuck’.” “ 98% of people get ‘ear worms’, but those most susceptible are musicians, women and the worry-prone.” I don’t know what this says about me, but most days I find myself running some circular melody in my head—some of them are ancient melodies I have used for years, but, occasionally, I’ll employ a brand new ditty worm I just heard yesterday. Musical perception is not mediated entirely in the thinking brain, it is entwined with vision centers (?), and primitive parts of the brain, which can influence emotions through the limbic system, which is, of course, the seat of emotions. Killaris advises, the way to get rid of an “ear worm” is to sing it aloud. So, can we say that an “ear worm” is a ditty just insisting to be heard out loud?

2. Today is Nate Cole’s Birthday, and I received from “Jazz on the Tube”, some lovely video clips of vintage Nate in action. From this e-mail, I learned that Nat Cole has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an “early influence”. I am on the record for being less than enthused by that pretentious Pyramid on Lake Erie, and for a number of reasons. Now I have even more reasons to be unenthused; I used to be uninterested in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s induction selection methods, but no more, and I find I am not the only one who has similar misgivings*. See, they induct from one to three “early influences” per year and have done so since 1986, and while I agree that Rock and Roll, like all music forms, builds on what has come before, and that Rock music has been influenced by several streams of American music, it looks to me like they have taken some liberties with their selection criteria for their 30 “early influences”. The inclusion of Original Rhythm and Blues stars Louis Jordan and T-Bone Walker are obviously correct as the immediate precursor to Rock and Roll was original R&B, but the inclusion of Folk music performers, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seegar is a stretch. A further stretch is the inclusion of C/W, Bluegrass, and Western Swing pioneers, Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, and Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, and an equal stretch, is popular music stars, The Ink Spots, and Les Paul, but the stretch snapped when they included Jazz artists, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Christian, Dinah Washington, Nate Cole and Billie Holiday. While I recognize such selection criteria are always subjective, what, to me, is obviously missing are the many missing names, given that Rock and Roll has proclaimed itself to be influenced by the jazz musical luminaries they have included. Looks to me like cherry-picking for some ulterior purpose. Could it be the unsightly heads of bias, and self-promotion rearing up a Hall dedicated to Fame? I think they need to change the name. The “Rock and Roll Hall of Shame” is too strong. How about the “Rock and Roll Museum of Profitability”?
I am NOT going into the building to affirm what I have been told, that the R&RHoF will not allow children on the top floor because of the offensive lyrics heard there. Jeez, It’s their right to include or exclude anything they so choose, but it does beggar the imagination that it’s called a Hall of “Fame” when they make socially unacceptable lyrics openly available to the public, but then, they know best about what should be under that now huge R&R tent…. which now includes “Rap”.
They have inducted a number of non-performers, included are two Music Recording Industry titans, who shall go un-named, but which have unsavory careers in the Music Recording Industry, which, as an industry, has a collective unsavory reputation for cheating artists and music buyers alike. But what the hell, if someone is big and influential enough in Rock and Roll, put ‘em the the Hall of FAME.
*The Sex Pistols nominated in 2006 refused the “honor” and called the R&RHoF a “piss stain”. Many others have complained about the secretive methods of selecting nominees, and some have accused the selection committee of putting in the “fix” to suit themselves and their commercial interests. What! Jury tampering and rigging in the music business? Heaven forbid, surely not.
As you can plainly see, it doesn’t take much to light my fuse, and nothing does is quicker than anyone messing with jazz.

3. Lasting joy is finding a good new-to-me swinging big band. Jazz critic, Nat Hentoff, was complementary about a CD “Common Thread” featuring the Kenny Handley Big Band and vocalist Amanda Carr. Of course I bought it, and I owe Nat some thanks as it’s a good’un. The band has several BAAAAD soloists, has tight section work, adventurous arranging (several by ex-Minnesotan, Adi Yeshaya), and Amanda Carr has the type of voice not often heard these days. She is not perfect, but who is? She has a constricted range, but her low tones are very pleasing, and she has a pleasant if rapid vibrato, but, most important and uncommon, she sings with an open throat--shades of Peggy Lee and Eydie Gorme, (more about Eydie later) and a fine feel for uniquely personalizing the lyrics without dramatically screaming or gnawing on the microphone. Damn! How refreshing is that? The song list is a compilation of time-honored hits from the Great American Songbook e.g., “They All Laughed” and “Just You, Just Me” and a couple resurrected songs which have been ignored too long, e.g., “I waited for You.” and “How am I to know?” I can’t get the smile off my face when I play this CD.
Edyie Gorme has been labeled as a popular-music singer, and during the Rock Ages, she was as under-appreciated as was Linda Ronstadt. Eydie sings with an open throat and phrases as legato as did Frank Sinatra, plus if Louis Armstrong had complete control of the trumpet, and Charlie Parker had complete control of the alto saxophone, Eydie Gorme has complete control of the vocal instrument. Many are the singers bless’d with attractive voice quality, but who neglect to develop completely as a vocalist. Edyie is well known for two things: 1. She has been largely successful in keeping her mediocre-singer husband, Steve Lawrence, from chasing skirts, and 2. She has fine-tuned to exquisite under-stated perfection almost every vocal device known in singing. She has recorded some crap, but then, signing a recording contract is always a Faustian Bargain. However, she can still fill a room with the “in” appreciative. Sadly, I have never seen her sing live.

THE ORIGINAL ORIGIN OF DANCE

This from “The Onion” America’s best news source. “Early Humans Finally Drunk Enough to Invent Dance”. Prominent ethnochoreologists believe that 20,000 years ago humans consumed enough juice from fermented vegetable matter to develop the impulsive rhythmic movements known today as dancing. Yu Wai Lin of the Beijing Institute of Dance Studies also reported, “In fact we now believe that alcohol-fueled revelry paralleled and probably influenced the practice of the ill-advised hookup, the rambling apology for the previous night’s behavior, and poetry.”

COMING ATTRACTIONS
1. I can envision absolutely nothing in the foreseeable future worthy of inclusion in the next “News and Views from the Hall LindyJazzMobile”, and unless something notable does hove into experience or thought, this is the last “News and Views” you will ever read.

Allen Hall, Lindy Hopper
March 21, 2010, In cold rainy Houston, but, Hey! it’s snowing in Dallas.
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