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News and Views '11/'12 # 2
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Allen Hall
MN Prince of Snark Darkness


Joined: 26 May 2004
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 1:22 pm    Post subject: News and Views '11/'12 # 2 Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

News and Views from the Hall LindyJazzMobile
‘11/’12 Installment #2

(Publisher’s note: You don’t need to print this out. It’s only 4 pages—piece of cake.)

DRIVE, DANCE, REPEAT

Table of Contents.
1. 13th Annual Sving du Nord
2. Lindy Events Poorly Scheduled, or Overscheduled? Do we need a Lindy Event Scheduling Clearing House?
3. Back to The Fizz in Chi-Town
4. Rocktober in Columbus OH
5. My Second Ever CD Review For General Consumption
6. Coming Attractions

13TH ANNUAL SVING DU NORD

This a teaching and social dance Lindy Hop event held in Autumn in Minnesota. I think the first few were entitled “Fall Colors” and Rudy and I attended several of those, but recently we have taken to leaving Minnesota earlier and Sving du Nord has been scheduled later.
This year the instructor pairs came from both coasts, Ben and Sheri from L.A. and David and Carole from NYC.
This expanded weekend started with a surprise live music gig on Thursday Late Night Swing by “The Glenn Crytzer Syncopaters” a sextet of Glenn on vocals and rhythm guitar, Solomon Douglas on a traveling piano*, plus traveling drummer and trumpeter, augmented by two MN aces, Steve Pikel on gut-strung string bass (and does that ever make a difference in the groove) and MN’s swingingest reedman Doug Haining. This band plays almost exclusively for Lindy Hoppers and they are on tour everywhere. Watch for them; they will make your feet happy.

*The band bus is a van pulling a trailer containing, among other sundry stuff, a real piano, and the whole lash-up gets 11 MPG. As a result, they had a gas-money tip-jar put out. I had little empathy for them since my lash-up gets 8 MPG, but I dropped in enough money to get them out of town and wee bit farther.

The Friday and Saturday night dances were also to live music, Friday to an expanded version of “Steve Clarke’s Working Stiffs” plus a lovely Stiffete singer. This is a Jump-Plus band. Saturday night was to a bigger band with, thankfully, a drummer who was not reticent. Both bands had good and familiar books, they moved the tempos around, didn’t play exhausting long numbers and had rhythmic drive.
This was a fun event with everything in one good-sized venue with a good wood floor and surface, and good lighting, but the turnout for Sving du Nord was light, but then “The Windy City Lindy Exchange” (which was also reported as lightly attended) and “The Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown” and “Southern Fried Swing” were all held on the same weekend and all in the middle of the country. There will be more said below about this malcoordination-induced disorder below.

ARE LINDY HOP EVENTS REGIONALLY OVER-SCHEDULED, AND/OR CALENDARLY DYS-SCHEDULED?

Look, I am not proposing an authoritarian Daddy Rabbit for Lindy event coordination; LHers are too independent and individualistic to submit entirely to any central authority. But, Hey! people, we can do better. The idea is to maximize the number of shoes on the floors. Take this to the ridiculous extremes: 1. All LH events are held on the same weekend every year. 2. No two LH events are ever held on the same weekend. Which is better, and are there really more than 52 weekend Lindy Hop events each year?

Perhaps over-scheduling is due to missed coordination talk between event organizers? Ha! Who talks? People, can’t we all just talk, or does some existing web-site need to act as Daddy Rabbit scheduling clearing house? Hey! how’s about “Lindy Exchange.com” doing it? They are already past half-way in listing everything Lindy which going on world-wide. (Note, neither “Sving du Nord” nor “Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown” were listed on this year’s Lindy Exchange calendar.) Looks to me, if an event date is set and listed on the Lindy Exchange calendar, then other close-by (date or geography) events can try to steer around it. Seems to me, if attempts are made to spread out the LH event wealth on the calendar, more dancers are apt to travel. Also seems to me that almost all Lindy events are enriched by the presence of out-of-town dancers. Hell, not to belabor the obvious, but that was the original raison d’etre for Lindy Exchanges, and I think the argument works for all LH events. Again taken to ridiculous extremes: 1. Traveling LHers had available only one LH weekend per year to travel. 2. Traveling LHers had 52 LH event weekends per year to travel. Which is better? That’s it; arguments made and dropped. Don’t write me with suggestions—I ain’t in charge of nuthin’.

BACK TO CHI TOWN AND “THE FIZZ”

“Monday night dances at “The Fizz” have always been annual early and late southward and northward stops on the LindyJazzMobile trail—the dancers are good, the energy vib is high, the lighting is adequate, the DJed music is good and varied, with no ridiculously fast or slow tempos, the floor size is adequate and the floor used to be good when it was a painted but had the dance area worn through to bare wood by dancer shoes. The floor has been refinished and coated with something which causes it to get slow as the heat and evening progresses, and the result was gobs of black goo accumulated on the soles of my shoes. Still, no venue is ever perfect, and I will gladly return.

ROCKTOBER IN COLUMBUS OH

Too many guys, not enough girls, and since my knees have to wait to hear the tempo, I got too few dances. Otherwise it was a good Saturday night dance on a big gym floor with a tolerable surface and tolerable acoustics (after the ceiling has was under-draped by four, wide, long multicolored colored swaths of cloth. The band was, once again, the Glenn Cryzter Syncopaters, using two very good local sidemen on reeds and bass.
For the second, (or is it the third October), Kevin and Jo taught at Rocktober. And while I was waiting for a tempting tempo and a loose follower to grab, I got into an interesting conversation with Kevin St. Laurent, who is an intelligent and interesting guy. I am going to write up our conversation and subsequent exchanges of e-mail in a later News and Views, entitled, “A Conversation with Kevin St. Laurent”—stay tuned.

MY SECOND JAZZ CD REVIEW TO A WIDE ADDRESS LIST

See, I have a problem. I send out these “News and Views” to many dance folk and a few jazz folk. I send another periodical, “Fruit o’ the Loon” to non dance and presumably non-jazz folk, with considerable overlap between the two address lists, and so, I don’t quite know what to do with Jazz CD reviews. I did send the first jazz CD review to both lists with a warning disclaimer to those who get both publications. I am unsure which, if any, people in both lists are interested in jazz CD reviews. Actually, I have only about 4 avid jazz fans in my address file, but wonder how many crypto-jazz-fans are out there.
Being a jazz fan is like belonging a secret society, one in which the members keep silent about their passion knowing that so few people also belong to the secret society, a confession of being a member might rank as peculiar, or worse, mentally unstable. Anyway, I have decided to put the CD reviews in both publications, and damn the redundancy, hoping that my passion for jazz in general, and, in particular, for this CDs will provide enough reading interest. But if it doesn’t, frankly people, I just don’t give a damn. However, if you paid for these…..er…..periodicals, I would become very sensitive to your reading needs. In the continued absence of checks or cash in the mail, I will remain most sensitive to my own needs, and that is to write whenever and whatever I jolly well please. Got that?
This is a CD review of my most precious item of recorded music. It was recorded in 1989, and entitled “Bill Perkins, ‘I Wished on the Moon’ with The Metropole Orchestra conducted by Bob Pronk”. Just like many of my amblings, one element of writing leads inexorably to another, and so on, and it really gets bad when I write about music. Brace yourselves, dear readers, for a free-association ramble.
HOW I CQAME TO BUY THIS CD. I purchased it at a used music warehouse by the name of—I’m pretty sure--- Musiclux, located on the northwest side of the Murfreesboro Road southeast of Nashville. It‘s a warehouse no different than any other you are ever apt to see, and I recently tried to find it listed on the internet but to no avail, and so, it may be closed or maybe they don’t need to advertise, or can’t afford to, or don’t give a damn.
MUSICLUX See, Musiclux has got to be a strange business—they buy de-facto worthless recorded music, at worthless music bulk prices, and then try to sell “some” of it for way more than they paid for it, but ultimately throw away most of the music as unsalable. When I walked in there and saw the acres of tapes, CDs, vinyl and sheet music on the floor and on shelves and tables, I asked a guy behind the counter, “Do you have a file of what you have for sale?” His response was a mirthless laugh. Foolishly, I then asked, “How do I find what I want.” He fixed me with a baleful stare and replied slowly while waving his hand toward the warehouse expanse, “You……look……for…..it.” When I asked “Do you have a dedicated area for jazz.” I got another laugh, more like a derisive snort. It soon became obvious that you have to root for what you want. Well, a couple of hours later I walked out with about 25 pounds of CDs and cassette tapes, and about $75 bucks poorer. A couple of the CDs I had to pitch as worthless, but the most expensive CD I saw was like $3.50 but most of them were a half buck or a buck. I got some good music some great music and this, to me, priceless CD. It had a small hole drilled in the jewel case and a corner clipped off the liner notes, meaning it was not to be resold as new, and then somehow, glory be, it got dumped at Musiclux.
RECORDING QUALITY For this CD is, in one word, superb. The CD was recorded in Europe, using DDD technology I am no sound engineer, but I think most of American music recordings are DD meaning the analog originals are then digitized and then reproduced, obviously, digitally on CDs. Anyway, the sound quality on this CD is exceptional. Perkins subtones several ballads, and his breathy attack and equally breathy decay on soft sustained notes are both easy to hear, as is the soft slap of his horn pads opening and closing. I love these sounds as they are part of the actual real sounds of a saxophone being played, but I have never heard them adequately reproduced in recordings done in the United States. End of Bitch #1
THE METROPOLE ORCHESTRA. The orchestra behind Perkins is composed of 25 strings (13 violins, 5 violas, 4 cellos, and 3 double basses) and it really sounds like it. The American recording industry weeinies like to save money on strings by recording a small bank of strings and then “enriching” the sound by re-recording that same string track several times onto the master, and then claiming that Charlie Blowbutt on Bassoon is backed by strings. How many strings? Mainly, you ain’t gonna find out how many, nor know their names of these mysterious string players. I challenge you to find the names of string players in the liner notes of jazz or pop music recordings. End of bitch # 2.
In addition to the strings, there are 22 additional musicians on horns and rhythm instruments, the result of which, on the full orchestra tracks, is the huge, lush, deeply romantic sound of a full concert orchestra. As well, the Big Band and small combo tracks on this CD have been produced by excellent musicians, excellently rehearsed, and excellently recorded.
THE CD TITLE TUNE. The eponymous track “I Wished on the Moon” is the first cut on the CD, and if there is a more beautifully wistful ballad melody, I’ve don’t think I’ve ever heard it. It was written during the Tin Pan Alley epoch of American popular music composition, but not, it seems, of it. The composer was, the largely unknown Ralph Rainger, about whom Doug Ramsey wrote, “With their beguiling melodies and challenging chord progressions, Rainger’s works are frequent vehicle for improvisation….yet most musicians who play them have puzzled looks on their faces when you ask them “Who wrote that?”
RALPH RAINGER. He was primarily a film scorer with over 30 films credit. He won an academy Award for the hackneyed Bob Hope theme song, “Thanks for the Memory”, but several of his best tunes are firmly entrenched in the Great American Songbook. A short list sampling include, “Easy Living”, “If I Should Lose You”, “Moanin’ Low”, “June in January” and the delightful “Miss Brown To You”. He was, in a sense, a fatal casualty of WW-II, as he died, as a passenger in a civilian airplane which had a mid-air collision with a military airplane in 1942. Rainger was 41 when he died.
BILL PERKINS. (b ’24, d ’03) was a jazz saxophonist and flautist of the first order during the swing era and during BeBop and beyond, to become a jazz modernist in the very best sense. He was far from my favorite jazz phrase-maker, but he swung gently, and he had a lovely tone on tenor saxophone; lovelier, in my opinion, than that of Lester Young, Zoot Sims or Stan Getz, and unlike Young and Getz, he played the lower register of the tenor without sacrificing any beauty of tone. He was a section man and soloist in both the Kenton and Herman Big Bands
I have had the pleasure of seeing him perform twice. Once, circa late ‘90s at the Four Queens Monday Night Jazz in Las Vegas. He played standing, but bent over at the waist. Only later did I learn he suffered from a severe back pain. The second time was later at a small Jazz Bistro in Hermosa Beach. He was not in good health, and played seated while paired with another tenor saxophonist, Ray Pizzi, and accompanied by a spare rhythm section (no drums). After starting one number, Perkins had the RS sit out, while he and Pizzi weaved their way through several choruses of a jazz standard, using the most beautifully sinuous counterpoint I have ever heard, before or since. I had to ask myself then, for the first time, what kind of musical mind can continually and accurately keep running a silent melody and chords of a tune while effortlessly improvising against them, and, all the while, another musical mind is doing likewise, AND make of the counterpoint product a seamless one-of-a-kind piece of magical music? I could only conclude that there are jazz musicians, and then, there are super jazz musicians.
RAY PIZZI, a concert orchestra-grade bassoonist and jazz reed player can have, without a doubt, the harshest and most strident tenor saxophone tone I have ever heard. That said, I have heard him with a lovely tone on tenor—he must use several mouthpiece/reed set-ups. It must be said, additionally, he plays lovely flute with aspirate delicacy, and he is one of the funniest jazzman ever. The list of his howler comments is long and ample evidence of a quick and quirky mind. e.g., Henry Mancini asked Ray, “Hey Pizzi, what’s your range on the bassoon?” Ray replied “About 3,000 yards.” “Maestro Pizzi, Do you have some advice for female bassoon players?” Ray replied. Yes,….Dress sexy, but keep your knees together.” Also attributed to Pizzi, “One of my favorite things in L.A. is waking up to the sound of birds coughing. Here in our beloved city, we don’t like to breath air we can’t see.”

COMING ATTRACTIONS
1. How should I know if there will be any? We are presently stuck in Dayton Ohio trying our dead-level best to empty what remains in the Medicare coffers.

Allen Hall, Injured Lindy Hopper
October 27, 2011, In Mom’s Backyard in rainy gloomy Dayton Ohio
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