50s bands for swing dancing

Everything about the swinging music we love to DJ

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julius
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#136 Post by julius » Tue Apr 13, 2004 12:23 am

Doug wrote:Julius - I know you were just funnin with us regarding Sugarfoot Stomp (#7)
No I was seriously drawing a blank! Don't you hate it when that happens? "Damn it what is the name of this song ARRRGH oh yeah it's "Yesterday" by the Beatles..."

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#137 Post by Doug » Tue Apr 13, 2004 5:52 am

Just wait. Some days I can't remember if I should be looking for the Ginko Balboa or the Vaigra.

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Jerry_Jelinek
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#138 Post by Jerry_Jelinek » Tue Apr 13, 2004 9:49 am

Doug wrote:Jerry - PM me with your e-mail address.....
Doug, you can email me at my sig email address Jerry@WKHR.org This comes to me directly.

I would really enjoy seeing the list. Sounds like most of my ideas of big band swing music are not what the swing pro DJs are spinning at dances.

Jerry

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#139 Post by Jerry_Jelinek » Tue Apr 13, 2004 10:11 am

julius wrote:Just to reiterate, I think most of us own and enjoy good jazz beyond the swing music we like to dance to....Ballads, for example, are usually completely ignored by most swing DJs.
This is another subject entirely. Ballad singing and playing to me can really hit the emotional strings. Take Johnny Hodges playing Passion Flower - that knocks me out. Or a great ballad singer with a love song. That can literally send me to tears everytime.

Now I understand the current generation of swing dancers aren't into romance nearly as much as their parents or grandparents (when it comes to music that is). So the need to have slow, romance related music at dances becomes unnecessary.
...Another thing worth remembering is that the most vocal people on this board tend to be the types who favor classic era swing music, whereas the types who favor 50s style swing are usually rather quiet. Except for Lawrence, but he's been oddly silent on the issue.
That was pointed out to me. The silent majority may in fact enjoy and want to play some hard swinging things from the 50s big bands. Good point.

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#140 Post by julius » Tue Apr 13, 2004 11:15 am

Jerry, there is a venue called "Lindygroove" in Los Angeles which tries to provide a decent cross-section of music for lindy hoppers, but which caters mainly to the so-called "groove" dancer who is most apt to favor 50s style jazz music (and shuffle blues...). While a lot of us argue about what constitutes 'groove' the huge number of DJs who've played there might be interesting to read. Rather, their picks of music.

http://www.lindygroove.com/djs.htm

There is a vocal contingent in LA (and a few other cities) who dislike what lindygroove plays and favors classic swing from the 30s and 40s.

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#141 Post by mousethief » Tue Apr 13, 2004 11:20 am

julius wrote:Jerry, there is a venue called "Lindygroove" in Los Angeles which tries to provide a decent cross-section of music for lindy hoppers, but which caters mainly to the so-called "groove" dancer who is most apt to favor 50s style jazz music. While a lot of us argue about what constitutes 'groove' the huge number of DJs who've played there might be interesting to read. Rather, their picks of music.

http://www.lindygroove.com/djs.htm

There is a vocal contingent in LA (and a few other cities) who dislike what lindygroove plays and favors classic swing from the 30s and 40s.
Except for the fact that most dancers can't distinguish a post-war, non-Basie big band from a pre-war one. All they here is "big band" and turn themselves off in many cases.

What is typically - since no one can define it - meant by "groove" is a looser, swinging style with lots of small combos and female vocalists. So if there is not some Ernestine Anderson, Oscar Peterson or god forbid Eva Cassidy in there, a classic '50s big band set is going to be just as lost as a classic '30s set.

Kalman
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Ron
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#142 Post by Ron » Tue Apr 13, 2004 12:07 pm

Jerry, instead of trying to understand why your selections aren't good for dancing, maybe it'll help to see some selections that ARE good for dancing. I'm too lazy to post clips, though. You'll have to find the clips on Amazon or something.

Here are ten 50's/60's big band songs, all instrumentals, all in glorious hi-fi, that I have played for Lindy hop dancers:

o "Vine St. Rumble" - Basie (142 BPM) (not sure of the album)
o "Begin the Beguine" - Artie Shaw (141 BPM)(Big Bands in Hi-Fi, probably out of print)
o "Sent for You Yesterday and Here You are Today" - Goodman (158 BPM)(BG in Hi-Fi)
o "Until I Met You" - Ellington & Basie (146 BPM)(First Time, Count meets Duke)
o "String of Pearls" - Glen Grey (153 BPM)(Big Bands in Hi-Fi)
o "For Dancers Only" - Billy May (?? BPM)(Oscillatin Rhythm)
o "T.D.s Boogie Woogie" - Tommy Dorsey (140 BPM)(Swingsation)
o "Splanky" - Basie (122 BPM)(Complete Atomic Basie)
o "Easy Does It" - Big 18 (13x BPM)(Live Echoes-probably out of print)
o "C-Jam Blues" - Lincoln Ctr Orchestra (145 BPM)(Live in Swing City)

There's lots more good Basie instrumentals from that time, too. And there's plenty more 50's big band plus vocalists I would play, like a lot of great Ella songs in front of Ellington or Basie. And a lot of modern big band that sounds like old big band, like Bill Elliott Orchestra.

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#143 Post by KevinSchaper » Tue Apr 13, 2004 12:35 pm

Doug wrote: 7. - Sugarfoot Stomp. Good arrangement. I might DJ with this. But I find the insistant cymbal work annoying. Give me 4 on the pedal at this tempo. Despite the generally high energy playing and the musicianship, the energy is not there for me. But I still might play it.
This listening test is great.. I have that album, and I love it, but it's cool to see what opinions people have of it without seeing who it is..

Jerry, do you think as a bonus you could throw up a chunk of the 3rd track on side A?

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#144 Post by Jerry_Jelinek » Tue Apr 13, 2004 1:09 pm

Julius,

Thanks so much. :shock: That is some list. I'm going to go through that and see what I can find from the 50s style of big bands that I really enjoy.

Thanks,

Jerry

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#145 Post by Jerry_Jelinek » Tue Apr 13, 2004 2:10 pm

Ron wrote:Jerry, instead of trying to understand why your selections aren't good for dancing, maybe it'll help to see some selections that ARE good for dancing......
Ron, thanks for the list. I'm going to go through that music. I have most of this on CD.

I'll reserve many of my comments until I get to listen to the selections you have. But I'm getting some conflicting ideas here. Quickly I've read repeatidly that 'blaring horns' are bad for dancing. To me the definition of blaring is to sound loudly. Or to have a loud shout to the music. In fact there is a term for a lot of big band charts 'Shout Chorus'.

Yet when I see your list, I would say (without listening), that everyone of these would have these blaring horns or 'Shout Chorus'es in them.

My latest set of selections I purposely tried to almost eliminate any loud or blaring shout calls from the trumpets especially. So I'm thinking my definition of blaring is different than the pro swing DJs. Thoughts?
o "For Dancers Only" - Billy May (?? BPM)(Oscillatin Rhythm)
AHH - Billy May. He is my all time favorite arranger. Well maybe Duke/Strayhorn is #1 and Billy May #2. I'm glad I finally see some mention of him in a dance list. His band was very popular in the early 50s for swing dancing. All the while he was one of the top staff arrangers for Capitol in the 50s. Just a brilliant musician.

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#146 Post by julius » Tue Apr 13, 2004 2:18 pm

julius wrote: Another thing to remember is that we're really vastly overgeneralizing. The whole 'blaring horns' issue is one example. Really, when I criticize the clips you posted, it's more about having a reaction to the music and then trying to figure out why I am not excited by it, rather than vice versa. So maybe I fixate on things that don't just appeal to me, but which might be OK on its own. But when several things like the dynamics, the rhythm and the arrangements all don't appeal at once, my reaction is much stronger.

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#147 Post by mousethief » Tue Apr 13, 2004 2:25 pm

No offense, J_J, but I shelved every one of my Billy May CDs shortly after the shrink wrap came off. Virtually everything was god-awful.

I will freely admit that I could have gotten bad material, but I have a tendency to buy in blocks and I must have scooped up 4-6 CDs and all of them should have been issued with crackers to go with the cheese...

Kalman
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#148 Post by GemZombie » Tue Apr 13, 2004 2:32 pm

Jerry_Jelinek wrote:Ok to add fuel to the debate fire, I put up 10 new clips:

http://www.wkhr.org/SwingDJs/
I'm probably going to say the same thing everyone else has.

1. Foxtrot - Not really my thing.
2. Kinda jazzy/groovy - Not my thing for dancing.
3. Still awful boring. It has that high school thing going again. Boring drum work for sure.
4. Nice energy, but the drummer sucks. It got worse as it went on.
5. Ack, those bell things are horrendous. It's not even that good of a song to begin with. What's with all the elevator music. None of this makes me wanna dance.
6. Interesting arrangement and chord choice for the melody, but not good in my opinion. Definitely not a way to improve on the original.
7. Best one in the bunch so far. Drummer leaves a lot to be desired. Trying to decide whether I think it's square or not. I'd consider DJing this one and see what people think. I don't like the sax section arrangment towards the end of the clip, it's pretty shrill.
8. Nice Jazz piece... elevator music though.
9. Hey, some energy. This seems like something between swing, bop and R&B. It's the best clip in this set, I'd consider using this to DJ from... but it wouldn't be on the top of my list.

The theme of this set was jazzy elevator music, whereas the last set was "high school swing".

Not meaning to offend you and your tastes, but I just don't find this music very danceable.

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#149 Post by mousethief » Tue Apr 13, 2004 2:32 pm

When I think of blaring trumpets and/or brass - clarinets are certainly guilty of this too - it's being loud for virtually no reason. It's not a declaration like a cornetist issuing a challenge or taking the lead in a hot jazz piece. It's often orchestrated, using whole sections, and it's loud without purpose. It does not add to the piece, except to give the musicians something to do.

Less is more. Wider is better. Hollywood girls taste like candy.

Kalman
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#150 Post by Jerry_Jelinek » Tue Apr 13, 2004 6:30 pm

GemZombie wrote:...Not meaning to offend you and your tastes, but I just don't find this music very danceable.
It should never be taken personally. If everybody liked the same great music, then Billy May would have been a much bigger star than he was!!! :)

This dialog is very educational to me. I go to swing dances around Cleveland that have live music. I enjoy supporting the people who have extensive musical talent. When they play dances, I really enjoy listening to the music and watching the people dance. It is a great visual and auditory treat.

I'm really trying to find the medium betwen the swing music of the 50s, that was danced to, and what the current generation of swing dancers enjoy.

The music can be enjoyed on so many different levels because it is great music. Anyone who becomes pertinacious about expanding their musical taste, is really missing out on the true enjoyment of the art.

But I have to admit I may hold off on posting the clips of Ellington playing music from Mary Poppins. We may not be up to that level just yet!!!

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