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Everything about the swinging music we love to DJ

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Eyeball
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#16 Post by Eyeball » Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:25 am

fredo wrote: then start DJing for dancers and find out.
Hmmmmmm.......

Haydn
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#17 Post by Haydn » Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:41 am

Freddie's got a point John. If you believe that most Swing DJs are censoring good material because they've never heard of it and don't approve of it, then there's an opportunity for someone to play all that great 'un-approved' stuff that others ignore.

I've just listened to samples of the tracks from the HEP Big John Special '49 album on eMusic. After listening to the samples, I bought a few tracks including the the 4m 26s 'Ultra', which I've just listened to. I find it more of a big band concert piece than a dance number. I quite like 'Six Two and Even' though - nice relaxed mellow swing.

I've read a bit about Harry James, and they say his early bands played some hot swinging stuff, but he switched to mellow ballads in the early 1940s. The CD Dance Parade/Your Dance Date highlights the difference in styles. Compare the 1941 Sharp as a Tack with the 1949 Big John's Special. I think the earlier stuff works much better for dancing.

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Eyeball
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#18 Post by Eyeball » Wed Sep 10, 2008 12:43 pm

Haydn wrote:
I've read a bit about Harry James, and they say his early bands played some hot swinging stuff, but he switched to mellow ballads in the early 1940s. The CD Dance Parade/Your Dance Date highlights the difference in styles. Compare the 1941 Sharp as a Tack with the 1949 Big John's Special. I think the earlier stuff works much better for dancing.
Haydn-

I have to correct whatever you may have read. James never switched styles from hot to sweet. He merely added more ballads to the band's book. Regardless of what the ill-informed AMG reviewer seems to believe, James never abandoned his hot stuff. He loved that stuff and there are hundreds of recordings post 1941 that prove that.

As to the earlier stuff being better suited for dancing : Harry James kept people on the dance floor likely longer than any other bandleader. While Ellington, Basie and Herman and Kenton had largely gone on the concert trail, James kept doing dances. His band never really 'broke up'. He kept working until he died. I saw the band back in 1978....and it was at a dance in North Hollywood. The place was packed.

The AMG review is yet another case of internet mis-interpretation by an un-credentialed writer. The records I have prove it.

The AMG dude didn't even seem to listen to all the tracks on there as he made his pronouncement. I think there were four 'ballads' on the entire CD, so the AMG reviewer based his analysis on the presence of 3 or 4 tunes on one CD.
Will big bands ever come back?

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Travis
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#19 Post by Travis » Wed Sep 10, 2008 1:10 pm

John,

Out of curiosity, do you consider the '49 version of Ultra to be "hot stuff"?

Also, would you mind listing a few examples of HJ's later recordings that you would consider hot? I am genuinely interested in good, swinging recordings by original bandleaders that were recorded post big band era. Our tastes may not end up lining up exactly but I'm always willing to listen to suggestions.

Thanks.

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Eyeball
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#20 Post by Eyeball » Wed Sep 10, 2008 1:36 pm

Travis wrote:John,

Out of curiosity, do you consider the '49 version of Ultra to be "hot stuff"?
Yes- it has rhythm, swing, vitality, syncopation, dynamics, etc. It's not a ballad, though it is not a screamer. It was designed for dancing and it is obviously more on the hot side than the sweet side.

I'll try and do more later. At work now.

Finding this stuff may be tough, but James did a lot of great stuff in the 50s for Capitol Records, then in the 60s went over to MGM Records. Very few junkers on those labels. His material on the DOT label is generally very commercial and includes many pop tunes and few hot ones. Into the 70s and 80s, he was on a number of 'Direct-to-Disc" labels. It was supposed to be rompin' stuff, but I never bought them b/c of the price.
Will big bands ever come back?

lipi
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#21 Post by lipi » Wed Sep 10, 2008 1:57 pm

i have a tremendous sense of deja vu.

harry james cheesy?

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Mr Awesomer
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#22 Post by Mr Awesomer » Wed Sep 10, 2008 2:17 pm

lipi wrote:i have a tremendous sense of deja vu.

harry james cheesy?
Ah, the memories.
Reuben Brown
Southern California

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fredo
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#23 Post by fredo » Wed Sep 10, 2008 3:35 pm

OT Reuben wrote:All of Me, Rose Room, Body and Soul... I wouldn't even think of playing James doing these numbers.
NT Reuben wrote:Since we're on the topic of favorite versions of standards...[All of Me]

Fast is Harry James' from '44 @ around 190.

Hey Reuben, any change of heart about Harry James in the time between these posts? especially re:hot numbers :wink:

incidentally, I was reading the old 50s swing bands thread that was just linked and when I read that list of songs you gave with better alternate versions it made me think of all those "favorite version of ..." threads -- particularly the All of Me thread, because after you recommended that Harry James recording I went out and found it and enjoyed it also. I play it from time to time, as well as the recording of Rose Room w/ the cool clarinet lick that I like in the opening solo.

musical tastes change over time, not to mention the fact that there are exceptions to perceptions, so this is not meant as a "gotcha!" but more of an observation. I definitely have some Harry James that I like to dance to, but from all that I've heard of HJ the ratio of cheese to "yes, please!" is definitely leaning towards cheese.

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Mr Awesomer
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#24 Post by Mr Awesomer » Wed Sep 10, 2008 3:51 pm

fredo wrote:
OT Reuben wrote:All of Me, Rose Room, Body and Soul... I wouldn't even think of playing James doing these numbers.
NT Reuben wrote:Since we're on the topic of favorite versions of standards...[All of Me]

Fast is Harry James' from '44 @ around 190.

Hey Reuben, any change of heart about Harry James in the time between these posts? especially re:hot numbers :wink:
Hee hee. I'm actually sitting here at work listing to all my Harry James because of rereading that thread. I still stand by most of my comments, though some of the early stuff ain't bad (though, I'd still rather pick someone elses version before HJ's) Your catch on "All of Me" is pretty funny though, because it's got flippin' strings in it and I somehow like it (maybe cause it's rare to hear that song done uptempo.) Plus I think I was just being an ass for the sake of being an ass. Shocking, I know, haha.
Reuben Brown
Southern California

Haydn
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#25 Post by Haydn » Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:30 pm

Eyeball wrote:As to the earlier stuff being better suited for dancing : Harry James kept people on the dance floor likely longer than any other bandleader.
Yeah, what kind of dancing though? :wink:

Eyeball wrote:I saw the band back in 1978....and it was at a dance in North Hollywood. The place was packed.
How would you describe the music and dancing that night John?

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Eyeball
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#26 Post by Eyeball » Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:52 pm

Haydn wrote:
Eyeball wrote:As to the earlier stuff being better suited for dancing : Harry James kept people on the dance floor likely longer than any other bandleader.
Yeah, what kind of dancing though? :wink:

Eyeball wrote:I saw the band back in 1978....and it was at a dance in North Hollywood. The place was packed.
How would you describe the music and dancing that night John?
I honestly do not remember well.

I don't recall being too disappointed. The band sounded good, wasn't a ghost band, didn't seem to be coasting.

I mean, hell...god-damn Harry James and there he is on the bandstand like it's 1942! You won't see that again any time soon.

It was a mixed crowd of young and old. Public ballroom with an advert in the newspaper, so they drew all kinds. Same venue that was used in the film "1941" during their big Lindy Hop sequence.

I spoke with HJ and the 2 tunes I requested were no longer in the book.

I spoke with a young trumpeter in the band who was friendly and leaving the band that night b/c, he said, there was so little new material being added...not too surprising, really. He said the last new chart they had gotten was the theme from Sanford and Son.

Long time ago. First real big band dance I ever went to. All the other shows had been concerts - Ellington, Basie, Roy Eldridge
Will big bands ever come back?

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Eyeball
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#27 Post by Eyeball » Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:55 pm

Ya know - 1978 was close to the half-way point between 1942 and 2008.

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fredo
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#28 Post by fredo » Wed Sep 10, 2008 7:11 pm

Those are good questions, Haydn. I was thinking to myself earlier that there must be a remarkable difference between what we consider "dance" music in today's swing culture versus what was "dance" music for people post-WWII. So when John or Jerry (in the 50s thread) describe songs as being totally dance-able I think the imagery that is coming to mind is much different that what we think of for today's lindy hop culture.

Perhaps it has to do with Frankie/Al/Norma teaching the next generation teachers how they danced and then it just took off from that perspective, as opposed to the dance perspective of a more "mainstream white" dance tradition.

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#29 Post by Ryan » Wed Sep 10, 2008 9:05 pm

Eyeball wrote:I mean, hell...god-damn Harry James and there he is on the bandstand like it's 1942! You won't see that again any time soon.
Too bad it wasn't like 1937. :)

All kidding aside, I will say that the later Harry James does very little for me from a dancing / dj'ing standpoint, but he had a couple fantastic sides in the late 30's.

His best cut for me is his 1937 (Harry's Band not the Goodman cut w/ James) version of "Life Goes to a Party". Considering the sidemen he was using in that band, it's not a surprise they swung the doors off.

This CD has that cut plus a solid One O'Clock Jump and some others of note.

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#30 Post by zzzzoom » Thu Sep 11, 2008 6:17 am

Now because of this thread I'm sitting at work, listening the Harry James in my collection.

There are really only two that I consistently dj . . .

Flash

and

Texas Chatter

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