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News and Views, '10/'11 # 14
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Allen Hall
MN Prince of Snark Darkness


Joined: 26 May 2004
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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 11:11 am    Post subject: News and Views, '10/'11 # 14 Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

News and Views from the Hall LindyJazzMobile
‘10/’11 Installment # 14

DANCE, DRIVE, REPEAT

Table of Contents
1. Dance and Jazz in Dayton Ohio and surrounds.
2. Book Review of “Pops: A Life Of Louis Armstrong”
3. Coming Attractions

DANCE AND JAZZ IN DAYTON OHIO AND SURROUNDS

1. We made the regular Dayton Wed. dance at Dance Elegance Studios—big floating wood floor with delightful surface, agreeable eclectic music, good sound system and acoustics, stygian lighting, about 17 dancers, mostly very experienced. $6 cover, easy parking, free finger-goodies.
2. We made the Cincinnati regular CincySwing Thur. dance on an old narrow board floating oak floor with a good surface, a wide selection of music of varying tempos, fair lighting, good sound system and acoustics, about 70 dancers with a mix of experiences. $5 cover, tight on-street parking.
3. Dayton University swing club tossed a Friday night spring dance in the ballroom of their Student Union. A crowd of 100 dancers showed; most were enthusiastic beginners. The lighting, acoustics and sound system were good. The ballroom floor was finished wood and very tight and thus hard on old weight-bearing joints. The music was provided by the DU student 16 piece big band, which is probably the best college student big band I have ever seen. Led by pro jazz drummer, Jim Leslie, they played a long single set of mostly swing evergreens—need I list them?---but they also played the Basie chart for Li’l Darlin’. This was played near but not at the Basie dirge tempo, which, regardless, is exceedingly difficult to do well, but they did it well. Playing that slowly exposes every musician to every slight mistake to every listening human ear, and I heard so few, I was astounded—that they would take it on—and that they could do such gorgeous justice to one of Count Basie’s most masterly charts.
4. A new live music dance venue in Columbus OH, “Swinging Tuesdays” at “The Big Bang Piano Bar” began last week featuring Hey! the Solomon Douglas jazz band, which predictably filled the venue with dancers. We attended the following Tues, to music by “Chief Johnny Lonesome” an energetic and interesting swing/zydeco/New Orleans jazz/Latin/Cajun/Jump/Boogie woogie band of (real grand) piano/vocalist, guitar/vocalist, bass and drums. The generous sized floor is not-quite-smooth-enough smooth concrete, and the lighting is dim, but a good crowd of experienced dancers showed up in this modern bar which is set up for dueling grand pianos. Cover $5, free water, close paid lot parking. Not incidentally, Ida Overstreet is the venue manager, and she is one of the best Lindy Hoppers to ever come out of Ohio.
(After note: Apparently Tuesday dark night at the Big Bang Piano Bar has been reinstated, and the joint is shuttered on Tuesdays, probably because Lindy Hop/Swing dancers don’t buy enough booze to cover the cost of a bartender and wait help—where have we seen THIS before?)
5. We went to dance and listen to “Dave Greer’s Classic Jazz Stompers” playing in a new venue, an Italian restaurant. The large crowd was composed of gray/white/faux color/no hairs including us. We were one of only three pair of dancers and the only one doing any kind of swing dance. The large floor was finished wood and the surface so slow it was painful to dance on. The band was, as always, entertaining by playing a variety of jazz, albeit mostly Dixieland. Every Wednesday, no cover, easy lot parking, music at 7P (oldsters need to get to bed early)
6. We went back to Wed. “Dance Elegance” in Dayton with a ditto experience.
7. We went back to the Thurs. CincySwing in Cincinnati with a ditto experience.
8. We went to the first Saturday dance thrown by the Dayton’s “VuDo Swing”, at a community center in a southern suburb of Dayton. The DJed music was primarily Rockabilly, but otherwise varied, e.g. “Wade in the Water”. About 20 other dancers attended. There was plenty of lighting, cookies, and a door raffle* of numerous sundry items from “DollarTree” including a genuine pink plastic miniature Flamingo, that I so wanted to win, and which was graciously given to me by the unfortunate raffle winner. The large wall to wall faux-wood floor danced quite nicely. $5 cover, easy parking.
*The raffle carried this mandate—all raffle items must be removed from the premises at the end of the dance.
9. A new* swing venue in Dayton, “The Therapy Café” on 3rd St. offering free swing lessons and open dancing to live music (mostly jazz) every Wednesday on a fair sized oak dance floor with just enough surface dirt to provide suitable lubrication for dance shoe soles. No cover, fair on street parking, and interesting music. Two Wednesdays a month features a duo of a fine woman vocalist plus fine jazz musician vocalist/ pianist/reedist (flute, clarinet, alto, tenor,) accompanied by electronic recordings of swing and jazz standards with open musical space for live vocals and instrumental solos. One Wednesday features the same multi/musician on piano in a quartet of bass, drums and a reported Killer tenor saxophonist. The last Wednesday features an 11 piece “Pocket” Big Band led by the same pianist.
*”new”? Ha, this venue with this music has been open and running for three years, but frequented by just a few Dayton swing dancers and most of them rank 6 count beginners. Does this not speak volumes about the LH scene in Dayton OH?

Someday, perhaps soon, I am going to send out a survey to rank order LH scenes. I will provide a list of same with a request to include others. The LH scenes who are interested will then get the results of a pop quiz to determine where each stands in the USA LH scene wonderfulness/dreadfulness continuum.

Sadly, there is only one major Dayton jazz venue, Gilly’s, but it books only occasional jazz, and very seldom nationally known performers. Jazz-sterile Dayton is too strong; Jazz-sorry Dayton is more like it. For the first time visiting in Dayton, I didn’t get to see either Cincy’s “Blue Wisp Big Band” or Columbus’ “Vaugn Weister’s Famous Jazz Orchestra”. This though we were in Dayton for 30 days this spring (the usual stay is 15 days, but Rudy’s mom was ill, and had to be relieved of her gall bladder which was chuck full of bile sludge and gravel.)

BOOK REVIEW OF “POPS: A LIFE OF LOUIS ARMSTRONG”, BY TERRY TEACHOUT

This hefty 674 page paperback biography of Louis Armstrong should stand as the best and perhaps the last complete story of his life. The book is scrupulously researched and detailed to a fault. That said, the high quality of Mr. Teachout’s writing breathes life into “Pops”, and keeps the biographical narrative moving like a juggernaut. Further, unlike all the other biographers of Armstrong, Terry Teachout is a musician, and that skill is evident in the many interesting music particulars found in the book.
Plentiful are the jazz authorities who consider Louis Armstrong the most important and influential jazz musician ever. Single-handed, he changed the way jazz was perceived, from a music with polyphonal lead voices, to a music form with a single improvisational voice. He firmly installed the solo as a key element of jazz.
Some quotes r.e. Louis Armstrong:
1. “He was born poor, died rich, and never hurt anyone on the way.” Duke Ellington
2. “As I watched him and talked with him,…playing, talking and singing, he was so perfectly natural, the tears came to my eyes.” Jazz pianist, Jaki Byard
3. “I know of no man for whom I had more admiration and respect.” Bing Crosby
And yet, Armstrong’s life as an musician and entertainer was not free from knocks. During the advent of Bebop, several advocates of the new modern jazz found Armstrong to be dated, old fashioned and even laid upon him the epithet “Mouldy Fig” No less latter–day beloved jazz musician, Dizzy Gillespie, “accused Armstrong of ‘Uncle-Tom-like subservience.” Later in life Gillespie recanted, “…coming from a younger generation, I misjudged him.” Armstrong’s exuberant singing, scating and his wide-smile stage presence as an entertainer was found, by many African-Americans in the 1960s, demeaning, and worse, “minstrel showism”.. Amstrong’s movie roles in which he was cast as something other than a proud musical artist, were considered repugnant by those to the hard political left and by many black militants during the equal rights era..
Undaunted, Armstrong transcendended his considerable reputation as a jazz artist and innovator, and went to his grave in 1971 (his DOB is in dispute, but Armstrong claimed it was July 4, 1900) as the world’s most beloved musical entertainer. When his record “Hello Dolly” out-sold the Beatles, that statement speaks to a undeniable truth.
He burst onto the jazz scene as a cornetist/trumpeter of astounding command of the entire range of the instrument and with incendiary use of the silver notes at the top of the horn’s range, emotion bordering on passion, and an unerring sense of “time”—indeed, his phrasing was unique for the time, and he swung hard in singing, scating and horn playing. He also had a preternatural sense for how to emotionally present music in the best possible way, be it ballads, blues or up-tempo barn-burners. He was not just a well-known and beloved entertainer, he was one of a select group of supremely talented jazz musician who was all business about his music…always. And more than that, his stage persona mirrored exactly his life-long personality which was sunny, happy and optimistic. Never was the contrast more apparent as during the Hard Bop era when many black jazz musicians were angry, sullen, uncommunicative and unreconsiled to the unsatisfactory society of that time.
If you are interested in the foremost figure EVER in jazz, this is your book, but, sorry, this copy had to be returned to the jazz-bro who loan it out.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

1. Lindy and Jazz in Louisville, Chicago, Madison and Minneapolis on the trip north to Lake Sylvia
2. Who knows?
3. A “‘10/’11 News and Views….” Requiem.

Allen Hall, Lindy Hopper
May 13, 2011 At Fort Knox, Louisville KY. No, we didn’t ask to see the (our) gold, but now, I know where it is.
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