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February 9, 2007

because trev is a little baby

Posted by dogpossum on February 9, 2007 12:48 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music

Last night I DJed for the second time since... well. I've only DJed three times this year, since November 2006 really. The last time was actually very ordinary and I wasn't very happy with it (see earlier comment). Thing is, when I'm not DJing a lot, I'm dancing a lot. So it's a trade off.

Anyways, last night I DJed a set which made me very, very happy. Practicing yesteday afternoon for the first time in ages probably helped (practicing = going through my music and doing 'test' sets, re-familiarising myself with all my music... well, most of my music).
Partway through the first or second or third (can't remember which) song I had that crazy pulse-thumping 'this freakin' RAWKS' feeling. I said to Dan about ten times "God, this sounds so GREAT on a big sound system!" Which was kind of duh, because it was either the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, from an album that every swing dancer and DJ must own - fabulous live recording of a fabulous band doing fabulous Ellington music, or it was Basie. And Basie is the best.

The night started kind of strange when a girl I thought knew my music asked if I could play some 'old school' music. And I thought she might be joking because I said "That's like asking me if I like to lindy hop". But she thought... well, who knows what she thought. Anyways, the upshot is that she really wanted to hear some Cats and the Fiddle. I showed her a short list of stuff I'd put together that afternoon with plenty of CATF, Slim and Slam and the Mills Brothers - male vocal groups which feature lots of guitar. And are, incidentally, from the late 30s and 40s for the most part. 'Old school' to me means early 30s, late 20s - serious scratch. It's not difficult to convince me to play that stuff - I loves that action (and I'd probably add some select Fats freakin-wonderful Waller and Cab Calloway to that particular subgroup - sillier vocals, smaller groups (though not necessarily with Cab... though his earlier stuff has the right sort of sound), chunking rhythm section.

Despite the impression I might have given here, it was actually quite nice to be asked to play stuff I adore. I had to stop myself suddenly go through my music and revising my plans for the set. I had to stay cool and just work with the plan.

As it turns out, I didn't play any of that stuff (not even any Cab!), nor did I play any serious old school, though I did have Who Stole The Lock (On The Henhouse Door) by Jack Bland and his Rhythmakers with Henry 'Red' Allen (1932, 243bpm) on my short list. In fact, I think it's time for a little gratuitous lindy hop pr0n.

That's Todd Yanacone and Naomi Unami (blowing all my arguments about ethnicity to shit right there) kickin' it old school at the Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown in 2005 (linkage). Dat is where it's at.

But I didn't end up playing that either. That's the sort of music that I think of as old school, and I'd add people like Willie Bryant (oh Willie, how do I love thee?), Henry Red Allen, Mills Blue Rhythm Band, McKinney's Cotton Pickers, early Cab Calloway and early Ellington to that group). I really freakin' love that action - it sounds crazy and fun and you can really hear the transition from 'charleston' music to 'lindy hop' music - ie this is where the swing is actually getting into jazz. It's not quite right for hard core lindy hop, a la Frankie, but it has the crazy energy of the music that makes you dance de charleston and other ol' timey dances. This is the sort of stuff that I associate with the breakaway - precursor to lindy hop (which you can see in the After Seben clip - Shorty George does the breakaway with an unknown partner right there at the end before the solo stuff (and that solo stuff, incidentally, was my obsession for a while - I love that crazy eccentric dance stuff)).
Though I adore this stuff, it's not terribly general-audience-friendly. The tempos are generally very high (above 200 at least) for lindy hoppers... for Melbourne lindy hoppers - I'm sure Trev could offer some nice examples of lindy hoppers in other Australian cities and their tempo-comfort. And the lack of swinginess can actually make for quite tiring dancing when you're doing lindy. It almost demands a more upright position and you don't get that 'flying' lindy look. But, as Todd and Naomi demonstrate, it still makes for freakin' amazing dancing.

Anyway, back to me and me and my stuff and me.

I think I'll just cut and paste from my comment over on Swing Talk. Here's my set list and commentary on how the set went:

[song title - artist - bpm - year - album title - song length]

Happy Go Lucky Local - Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis - 110 - 1999 - Live In Swing City: Swingin' With Duke highenergy - 6:57
Moten Swing - Count Basie - 125 - 1959 - Breakfast Dance And Barbecue - 5:17
Blues In Hoss' Flat - Count Basie - 142 - 1995 - Big Band Renaissance Disc 1 - 3:13
Shoutin' Blues - Count Basie and His Orchestra - 148 - 1949 - Kansas City Powerhouse- 2:38
Four Or Five Times - Woody Herman Orchestra - 141 - The Great Swing Bands (Disc 2) - 3:09
Shout, Sister, Shout - Lucky Millinder - 140 - Apollo Jump - 2:44
Back Room Romp - Duke Ellington and his Orchestra - 155 - 2000 - Ken Burns Jazz: Duke Ellington - 9:07 PM
A Viper's Moan - Mora's Modern Rhythmists - 143 - 2000 - Call Of The Freaks - 3:30
Savoy Blues Kid Ory - 134 - 2002 - Golden Greats: Greatest Dixieland Jazz Disc 3 - 3:00
Perdido Street Blues - Louis Armstrong - 144 - 1997 - Priceless Jazz Collection #3 - 3:08
Joshua Fit De Battle Of Jericho - Kid Ory And His Creole Jazz Band - 160 - 1946 - Kid Ory and his Creole Jazz Band 1944-46 - 3:12
Lavender Coffin - Lionel Hampton, etc - 138 - 1949 - Lionel Hampton Story 4: Midnight Sun - 2:47
Cole Slaw - Jesse Stone and His Orchestra - 145 - Original Swingers: Hipsters, Zoots and Wingtips vol 2 - 2:57
Solid as a Rock - Count Basie and His Orchestra with The Deep River Boys - 140 - Count Basie and His Orchestra 1950-1951 - 3:03
Joog, Joog - Duke Ellington and His Orchestra - 146 - 1949 - Duke Ellington and his Orchestra: 1949-1950 - 3:00
B-Sharp Boston - Duke Ellington and His Orchestra - 126 - 1949 - Duke Ellington and his Orchestra: 1949-1950 - 2:54
Jive At Five - Count Basie and His Orchestra - 147 - 1960 - The Count Basie Story (Disc 1) - 3:02
Six Appeal - Jonathan Stout And His Campus Five - 141 - 2004 - Crazy Rhythm - 3:29
All The Cats Join In - Peggy Lee and Frank DeVol's Orchestra - 150 - 1998 - Complete Peggy Lee & June Christy Capitol Transcription Sessions (Disc 2) - 2:18
Flying Home - Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra - 159 - 1940 - Tempo And Swing - 2:58
Blues In The Groove - Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra - 205 - 1939 - Lunceford Special 1939-40 - 2:35
Hop Skip and Jump - Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five, featuring Hilary Alexander - 192 - 2004 - Crazy Rhythm - 2:48
For Dancers Only - Jimmie Lunceford and His Harlem Express - 178 - 1944 - 1944-Uncollected - 2:22
Till Tom Special - Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra - 158 - 1940 - Tempo And Swing - 3:23
Jumpin' At The Woodside - Count Basie - 235 - The Complete Decca Recordings (disc 02) - 3:10

I always begin with something 'safe' and hi-fi at CBD so I can fuss over the tech set up (because it always sucks). Happy Go Lucky Local went down really well (which surprised me). I'm not sure if I actually played Moten Swing or not - it was on my list but I think I was deciding between it or HGLL and didn't actually play it. Whatever.

Keith tried to suggest the one-in-a-row rule to me at about Blues in Hoss's Flat but I scoffed. I derided. Basie is such a great opener for a set - he really is the best lindy hopping music. Nice, high energy, kind of straight up and nothing too scary or difficult, you can get nice quality recordings and people know a lot of his stuff.

I consciously played a lot of favourites during the set - sort of speckled them in there between other 'mini-sets' (the mini-sets in order: the norleans set, the shouty-clapping set, the 'chilling' set, the 'finally you're warmed up, so let's kick your arse' set). Perdido Street Blues is one of my old faves which I actually DJ very rarely (it's also actually a song I think of as 'Sidney Bechet' rather than Armstrong). I can't play Blues My Naughty Sweety Gave To Me again - it make me want to hurl. Even though people love it, I'm over it. PSB was my BMNSGTM substitute.

The 'mini set' thing wasn't deliberate - it just kind of worked out that way as I tried to play songs in a logical order (ie matching styles and then moving between styles using the clutch rather than just hacking them in there).

I did scew up at one point, doing a dreaded double click 3/4 of the way through Til Tom Special, which sucked, as I was building them into a frenzy for the last song. But no one seemed to mind and an jam circle formed instantly. It was the first spontaneous jam I've seen in Melbourne for ages. There were a couple of grumbles from people who wanted to dance to that song, but I say - get in there and DANCE to it.
I think I have to add for the non-dancers reading, that that last song Jumpin' at the Woodsideis an iconic one. It's hardcore Basie, doing the very best Basie action. It's fast (though this wasn't the version I thought I played, which is about 270 odd bpm), it's fun and it's crazy. It's also been stamped as a 'jam song'. I didn't intend a jam, I just wanted to play an arse-kicking, fun, crazy fast song to close my set. As bigpants comments in that Swing Talk thread, though (and I really like this line):

"We interrupt the regular broadcast for this important jam announcement"

Maybe you shocked the jam into us. It worked.

If only I could say that I planned this. But I'm afraid it was sheer fluke.

One of my favourite parts of the night was playing Blues in the Groove (I'm on a(nother) Lunceford kick atm) and seeing people run to the floor. I blame that version of Flying Home - it's slower but gets people all worked up. And you have to love balboans - they get in there and work it at all tempos.

Another highlight was playing that version of For Dancers Only - it's off a new album I saw pimped on SwingDJs recently and which I absolutely LOVE. I think Gracenote has the wrong name for the album, but it looks like that to the right there.

As you can see from the Amazon link, it's crazy cheap. And worth it for that version of FDO alone (incidentally, Dan played a version of Wham last night - I am currently loving that song atm. Lunceford and Hamp are my men).

Then Dan played his first Melbourne gig and did a neat job. We had a bit of a scuffle over who'd play what. The best bit of DJing first is that you get to play what you like, while the second DJ can't repeat anything. Tough luck if you dig the same stuff (though that rocks because you get to dance to the stuff that way). But then, the first DJ has to suffer through thinking 'why didn't I play that?!' in the second set. Actually, I enjoyed DJed with Trev at the Speegs at MLX - we have similar tastes, but different collections, and of course, different ways of putting a set together. I played the first set, he the second, me the third, and it was really nice rubbing in/bewailing our choices.

And just in case you thought I was the nerdiest DJ in the whole world, go look at this link and see I'm not. WHY didn't I find that clip before I wrote that stuff about youtube?

Rightio. Enough postage for you there, Trev?
I have a job application to write, so I'm outy.

LCJO image stolen from here.

Posted by dogpossum on February 9, 2007 12:48 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music