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May 28, 2009

ok ok

So I watched the end of the first season of Veronica Mars. Now I know. Not entirely happy.

Here's my problem with it, and with Dollhouse:

Just tell me a freakin' story where the sisters win. No one gets murdered or raped or enslaved. I just want the basic premise of the story to be 'badass sister smites the patriarchy' and then she just does it. With or without her team of trusty right-on male/female/trans buddies.

I just want a story where I can come out of each episode going YEAH! FREAKIN' YEAH!!!

Also, HBO, I want to have a little talk to you about your 'quality' programs, each of which features an male ensemble cast and the odd chick who's a sex worker/wife/slave. Sure, you gave us Sex and the City, but that was YEARS AGO and, also WHAT WAS ALL THAT SHIT ABOUT THE SHOES? I loved Big Love, but it still failed gender.

So come on, I dare you, Television: give me the sweet and lowdown. Give me a decent show with an arsekicking sister who doesn't get raped/assaulted/fired/whatever. I want her to be the boss, to do the smiting, and, most importantly




"ok ok" was posted by dogpossum on May 28, 2009 9:26 PM in the category television and veronica mars | Comments (1)

all the single ladies!

There's been a bit of talk about gender and roles in swing on twitter today. As you might expect, there are some teachers who don't approve of men following and women leading, and then there are some (fully sick) teachers who do approve.

I'm a bit iffy about some 'girls routines' and 'boys routines' getting about. But these have reminded me of their awesomeness.

Know Beyonce's clip for 'Single Ladies'?

Well, these lads really know it:

(They do it here too, bringing it a little more... bet it's a queer crowd...)

"all the single ladies!" was posted by dogpossum on May 28, 2009 8:34 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances | Comments (2)

domestic violence in Veronica Mars

I'm not sure about Veronica Mars. In the episode I've just watched, Logan's movie star dad beats the shit out of his daughter's boyfriend. The boyfriend had been beating up the daughter, quite badly. While the father beats up the boyfriend, the Dean Martin song 'That's Amore' is playing and the father is telling the story of how his father beat his mother. Veronica and Logan arrive as the father beats the boyfriend with a belt. Veronica is shocked. The daughter/sister is crying, distraught, begging her father to stop.

The most disturbing part? In an earlier episode we see Logan's father beating him with a belt.

And don't forget - Veronica still isn't sure who assaulted her at the party. It could have been Logan - who she's beginning to have a bit of a thing for (I can see the appeal - he is a clever mouth; but he's not the hawt deputy dawg boyfriend Veronica's also been seeing).

It's all a bit disturbing. And it's kind of interesting to see how the program handles these issues - it's not in your face, wrapped-up-in-an-episode melodrama. It's sustained over the entire season (so far) and the morality isn't cut and dried.

"domestic violence in Veronica Mars" was posted by dogpossum on May 28, 2009 4:43 PM in the category veronica mars | Comments (2)



I win!

"bazlotto!" was posted by dogpossum on May 28, 2009 12:23 AM in the category clicky | Comments (3)

May 25, 2009

it's not a dj!

Continuing with talk about jam sessions, magazines and jazz in the 40s... Dust4Eyes asked me if I'd seen the pic of the 'DJ' in the GJon Mili Life series. I hadn't. I've just been looking at them again, and came across this one:

This isn't actually a DJ, but someone recording the session. For a V-disc, I assume.
Neat, huh?

(NB Esquire also recorded their broadcast 'all stars' performances for V-discs)

More of my posts about this stuff:

pop culture, jazz and ethnicity.
jam session photography
magazines, jazz, masculinity, mess

"it's not a dj!" was posted by dogpossum on May 25, 2009 6:37 PM in the category music and research | Comments (2)

happy birthday frankie!

As many of you know, Frankie Manning passed away a couple of weeks before the massive Frankiefest week of celebrations for his 95th birthday. The saddest of news, and yet, probably saddest because Frankie'd be crawling with jealousy that thousands of dancers are enjoying his party without him.
But even those of us who couldn't get to New York are thinking of him. And watching clips that make us cry and cheer out loud:

"happy birthday frankie!" was posted by dogpossum on May 25, 2009 6:05 PM in the category cat blogging and lindy hop and other dances and lolfrankie | Comments (1)

carol ralph


As soon as I posted that last post, I thought of Carol Ralph, an Australian singer (who totally PWNS - I thoroughly recommend her CD). I don't know Carol's background, and I feel uncomfortable writing about it. But she doesn't read 'black' or 'white'. I think I need to read a whole lot more about issues of ethnicity in Australia. I know I need to read more about whiteness-as-ethnicity.

That's a photo by my friend Scott, who's photography has improved so dramatically since November I was just stunned as I flipped through his pics looking for this one just now. In fact, his photos are just gorgeous - I like the way his photos of friends and of people he knows reveal the way he feels about them. They're very affectionate and often quite lovely photos.
Here's another of two lovely Melbourne leads:


It's funny, but I feel very strange writing about ethnicity in relation to this photo. These are my friends, and people I do not want to reduce to example of multiculturalism in swing dance. I want to tell you what it's like to dance with them, about how one of them makes films, and how the other is a lovey and one of my favourite stunt buddies. Ethnicity is important and part of who they and I are, but I don't think I have the language tools to talk about it in a way that does what I want. This, of course, was the difficult part of my dissertation. How to write about my own community, my own friends, myself, in a way that's respectful and yet also thoughtful and cognisant of these sorts of issues.

So I think I'll just end this post with another huzzah for Scott's photos (and the fact that he can make me feel all fuzzy inside looking at this lovely photo of my friends), and the recommendation that if you ever get the chance, you must dance with these boys. Or at least buy them a beer.

"carol ralph" was posted by dogpossum on May 25, 2009 3:36 PM in the category clicky and lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (1)

pop culture, jazz and ethnicity.

NB: I've done some edits on this post for the shocking grammar/mistypes. Apologies.

In the 1930s and 40s - most particularly the 40s - jazz was mainstream music. It was popular. Though it had been discussed in a range of specialist magazines and periodicals (including Down Beat and Metronome) for years, the mid-40s saw mainstream publications like Life, Look and the men's magazine Esquire publishing stories and photos about jazz and hiring writers to produce jazz reviews. I think it's worth noting the point that Esquire was a men's magazine, that almost all the jazz promoters and managers were men, and that almost all jazz instrumentalists were male.


(Norman Granz from the Verve site)
This mainstreaming of jazz is interesting. It was also a challenge for jazz afficianados who were committed to raising the profile and status of jazz musicians as artists. Reading about Norman Granz, I've come across this discussion:

Beginning with the first jam sessions he organized and extending through two decades of JATP concerts, tours, and records, Granz applied three rules. The musicians he hired would be paid well; there would be no dancing at his events; and there could be no segregation on either the bandstand or in the audiences. The first of these rules responded to exploitative club owners and promoters. The second institutionalized a trend that was already familiar from other attempts to establish jazz as an art, a concert music. The third rule was most important, because it recognized the limitations of previous efforts to mix the look of jazz- efforts that had relied on an optimistic trickle-down theory of cultural-social change. Granz’s third rule attempted to ensure consumption as an act of resistance to racist conventions; it tried to direct attention both to the relation of individual consumers to the producers of the music they consumed and to the relations between individual, and perhaps different consumers of the same musical product (26).

It's interesting to see how Granz's efforts to raise the status of jazz as art coincided with his anti-segregation and anti-racism efforts. The popular served as 'low' culture, and low culture is where black musicians were situated. It's this equating of segregation with popular culture which I find really interesting. I'm also paying attention to the way jazz is 'artified' by various discourses.

Today jazz in Australia has been thoroughly canonised, stuffed into the 'elite' or 'art' category. It is not popular music. 'Modern' jazz is 'difficult art', 'classic jazz' is daggy and something for old white people. The issue of race works in a different way: there are no black artists in the jazz bands I see at Australian dances, besides the occasional female singer. This is in part because Australian multiculturalism works in a different way to American. But I also think that these efforts to 'artify' jazz has effectively distanced it from anyone other than white musicians and white jazznick fans.

This is just a first thought, so please don't take it as any final argument or position. But it's making me wonder about ethnicity and class in Australian jazz. We were, after all, segregated as well. And we did have a White Australia immigration policy. I haven't begun any work on Australian jazz, but I'm wondering how the contemporary jazz landscape looks, in terms of race and gender?

It's also important to note that there's a general undercurrent in much of the critical work on jazz that I'm reading (critical in the 'theorised' sense rather than 'reviewing records' sense) that bebop was far more challenging and engaged with race politics in America than swing. There's also some provocative stuff about masculinity and black masculinity in the literature on bebop).

(another Gjon Mili photo from his Life magazine series)
Additionally, I'm noticing that the 'jam session' is acquiring mythic status throughout all the jazz literature. This is where jazz musicians (regardless of colour or class) could come together and just play, for hours or days, in 'safe' clubs or back rooms. The implication is of course that in jam sessions musicians were 'free' and in staged performances they were 'caged' by social convention.
My spidey sense is tingling. If these jam sessions were so free and liberal, where are the sisters? Who's home looking after the kids or grandmothers so these uncaged tigers can jam the blues all night? You know, of course, that this brings us back to the role of gender in jazz, and in jazz journalism. And to my central research interest: the relationship between different media within a community... or in constructing community.

Knight, Arthur, “Jammin’ the Blues: or the Sight of Jazz, 1944”. Representing Jazz, ed. Krin Gabbard. Duke U Press: Durham and London, 1995. 11-53.

An earlier post on magazines and jazz
An even earlier post on magazines, jazz and masculinity

"pop culture, jazz and ethnicity." was posted by dogpossum on May 25, 2009 2:43 PM in the category lindy hop and other dances and music and research | Comments (2)

May 23, 2009

last night

Last night I danced a few dances. About four in total, with a (poorly executed) big apple. I'm not sure today!
- dancing is freakin' hardcore exercise.
- I have no dance fitness.
- my dance muscles (including all of the ones in my thighs) are not ready for hardcore dancing just yet.
- dancing is the best.

I also livetweeted my DJing. Meh.

"last night" was posted by dogpossum on May 23, 2009 3:32 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances | Comments (0)

May 22, 2009

djing for balboa... again, and not terribly well

Last night I DJed for balboa dancers again. That makes three times, ever. I'm not sure I'm much good at it. I can't quite figure out what they like and whether they're really into the stuff I'm playing. They're very kind and thank me for my DJing, but I'm not quite sure I'm cutting it. There are a few challenges: I don't dance balboa very often and I've never attended a hardcore all-bal weekend or event. I don't lead bal very often at all, and I don't really understand the way balboa dancers use space or the music, so I'm not so good at reading the floor - it all looks small and tight and lowenergy to me. Because I don't go to balboa dancers, I have no idea which songs are 'popular' or favourites, so I have no careful 'safety song' list.
So far I've noticed they like: 'Jive at Five' - Basie (1939). Ellington's 'Rockin' In Rhythm' (1931) went down well last night, as did some Katharine Whalen (Just You Just Me). Mora's Modern Rhythmists' 'Tar Paper Stomp' has gone down well in the past, so I tested them with Wingy Manone's 'Jumpy Nerves' (1939). I've talked about all the songs that use the 'In The Mood' riff before, and 'Jumpy Nerves' is just one of them. It's a nice little song - it doesn't feel rough and fast or aggressive. It's about 177bpm, but it feels mellow. The familiar riff often makes people feel a bit more comfortable as well.

I also did a little shark jumping, playing some Bob Wills. I love 'Stay A Little Longer', but I'm fairly sure it won't work for lindy hop. It's solid western swing, and the the rhythms don't quite work for 8 count lindy. I was wondering if balboa dancers could do something with it. Well, people really liked the song (once they got over mocking me for the hardcore western-ness of it), but they did find it tricky to dance to. I don't know if I'll play it again.

I think part of my problem with DJing for bal dancers is that I've not seen lots of very experienced bal dancers social dancing. I'm thinking of the international doods who dance bal hardcore. I've not sat and watched a crowd of them dancing all weekend. Nor have I listened to a weekend's worth of music. So I have no clue about the 'elite' bal scene (ie, I have no idea of what to aim for). I don't know much about the history of the dance, either.
Look, here's a clip of two very famous olden days balboa dancers, Hal and Betty Takier. The 'balboa' bits are usually recognised as the stuff in closed. But bal isn't necessarily all in closed position unless it's (to use the nomenclature but not to imply any 'rules') 'pure bal':

I have done a bit of research and asked a lot of questions, but all I really 'know' is that bal developed during the 30s and continued. As with lindy hoppers, there was a preference for big bands (which I suspect was a consequence of local culture - big ballrooms (where most people danced) hired big bands to fill big spaces, and because big bands were mega popular). Swing was super popular in the 30s and early to mid 40s, and the 'dixie' sound of 20s New Orleans was considered a bit naff - sort of 'old news' - though it was popular withe NO revivalists. By the 40s bebop was developing and live music culture was changing a bit. All this means is that there were lots of things going on in the 30s and 40s, musically. And we can infer that this meant some of it was popular with some people. I suspect then, as now, there were different patterns of taste and influence, depending on the age, interests, location, class and so on of individual dancers and small pockets of dancers.

What do balboa camps or events in the US look like?

Asking people overseas, watching clips of famous bal dancers and hassling visiting dancers or well-traveled dancers isn't all that helpful either, really. While such and such might be very popular in LA at the moment, each local scene has different musical tastes. These are shaped by a range of factors a) the music teachers play in class, b) what teachers say about music in class, c) what local DJs are playing, d) dancers' exposure to different tempos and styles - what they hear in all these spaces - and whether they've danced to these different songs. The usual ideas apply to tempos - more experienced dancers are better equipped for dealing with (and enjoying) a wider range of tempos and musical complexity. New dancers are often happy to dance to anything, but they can feel too intimidated to try something fast if they're not dancing with someone they feel comfortable with.

So while I might be thinking 'I'll play X, because my friends overseas love it, I've seen it in dance clips from comps, so I'm assuming locals have also watched these clips and are into it too,' it's more likely that a small class group will only have heard music from their classes. The strongest influences on local music tastes are still teachers, particularly for dancers who spend most of their dancing time during the week at classes. This is particularly true of students with the local McDonalds dance school - I've noticed it in Melbourne, and here in Sydney, that their musical tastes are largely homogenous, mostly because their teachers tend also to look within their school for musical tastes and dancing influences. Which isn't really surprising - we do tend to keep to our peer groups and to the opinions and examples of people we admire and have contact with. Thing is, my knowledge of balboa and music for dancing to balboa is so limited that I don't even know what's 'cool' with this small group of local dancers.

I don't want to slag off the local bal teachers, mind you. I've always found bal dancers and teachers to be particularly welcoming people, and to be very supportive of my DJing (far more than lindy hoppers) and also to be most prepared to experiment with new music and new dancing ideas. Part of me, though, suspects that the small, specialist/fanatics pond which encourages such a nice, friendly and supportive culture also inhibits a broader overview of music and dancing styles. But I also suspect that idea is bullshit: often the most hardcore fans have the most hardcore knowledge of the object of their fanaticism. And balboa - as with blues to some degree - is pretty specialist in Sydney and Australia. These dancers are also disproportionately well-traveled; many of them travel overseas to balboa festivals.

Of course, the easiest solution to my balboa DJing quandary is to get out there and dance some freakin' balboa. But there are a couple of impediments here: my injured foot is in no way ready for hardcore balboa learning and dancing, and I'm just not that into dancing bal. If I had to choose between bal and lindy, I'd choose lindy every time. And because my dancing is so limited (as in non-existent) these days, I can't imagine 'wasting' a dancing opportunity on bal. In fact, if I had to choose between lindy, bal or jazz these days, I'd be 100% jazz; I just find it most interesting and challenging.

All this just goes to show that to be an excellent DJ for dancers you have to:
a) dance the dance they're into, and dance it frequently;
b) travel a lot - as a dancer and DJ - and pay attention to the music and dancing you see going on around you;
c) learn a lot - watch video clips, read about music and dance, eavesdrop on discussion boards and take classes;
d) keep your finger on the local community pulse; just cause it's cool in the US, doesn't mean it'll fly in Sydney;
e) make changes slowly and gradually, don't assume you can just drop in and change dancers' worlds;
f) be prepared to be wrong most of the time. Keep your eyes and ears open, and be prepared to change your opinions and ideas about DJing as you DJ;
g) accept that though there's some underlying logic and some consistencies in how people respond to music and how you can manipulate the responses of a crowd, at the end of the day, you have to stop thinking and just go with your instincts and feel what's going down. Just like dancing.

I'm enjoying learning how to DJ for balboa dancers because it is so challenging. It's making me rethink everything I've assumed about musical tastes and dancer/DJ responses.

Right now I'm working with these assumptions:
a) Bal dancers in Sydney are more comfortable with a range of tempos than local lindy hoppers are: bal doods are happy in the 160-250bpm range, and will happily have a bash at anything faster. Lindy hoppers in Sydney are most comfortable in the 120-160bpm range, though they will stretch if you're sneaky and take care to not overwork their energy/fitness (hopefully we'll see an increase in tempos, but only if teachers in class get the tempos above 115!!).
b) Bal dancers can work with lowenergy/high tempo combinations, but lindy hoppers have more trouble (I find experienced dancers are ok, but newer dancers need to be fired up with higher energy to work with higher tempos... but that could just be how I work as a DJ; the theory needs wider testing).
c) Bal dancers are more interested in the type of music I currently love - early 30s stuff. They like a variety (as most rooms full of diverse people do), but they're interested in exploring this earlier stuff. Most of this earlier stuff is a bit faster, so they're happy with the stuff play.
d) Some stuff just screams 'lindy hop!' But I'm not quite sure where the line is - when something stops being bal and screams lindy hop. I suspect it's entirely subjective. But I'm also fairly sure it has something to do with the rhythms and the horizontal feel of the music. I can't really explain that further beyond a feeling that bal feels more like early swing and hot jazz than like later swing that's super swingy. I could be wrong there, but I just don't have the experience to judge that yet.

Anyways, here's the set I played last night. It was a small crowd, with only about six leads to about twelve follows. It was a small, after class gig (and people've been dancing and learning intensely for a couple of hours already), so the emphasis was on 'practicing', low-stress dancing, socialising and touching base with people. After-class gigs also have a stronger focus on the teachers and a group of people who know each other quite well, so the social dynamic is a bit different to a general en masse social dance. It's a pub venue, so people are also buying drinks and drinking. The sound system is decent, the floor is small.

(title artist bpm album length)

I've Got To Think It Over Willie 'The Lion' Smith and his Cubs 164 Willie 'The Lion' Smith And His Cubs 2:37
Call Me A Taxi Four Of The Bob Cats 175 1938 All Star Jazz Quartets (disc 2) 3:13
The Wedding Samba Bob Crosby and the Bobcats 187 1950 Bob Crosby and the Bobcats: The Complete Standard Transcript 2:30
Flying Home Benny Goodman Sextet with Charlie Christian 167 1940 Charlie Christian: The Genius of The Electric Guitar (disc 1) 3:16
You'll Wind Up On Top Bus Moten and his Men 182 1949 Kansas City - Jumping The Blues From 6 To 6 2:47
We're Muggin' Lightly Leo Mathisen's Orkester 227 1942 Leo Mathiesen 1942-43 Terrific Rhythm 3:03
Jive At Five Count Basie and his Orchestra 174 1939 The Complete Decca Recordings (disc 03) 2:51
Jumpy Nerves Wingy Manone and his Orchestra with Chu Berry 177 1939 Classic Chu Berry Columbia And Victor Sessions (Disc 5) 2:53
The Mayor Of Alabam' Frankie Trumbauer and his Orchestra with Jack Teagarden 206 1936 King Of The Blues Trombone - 2 3:14
Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen, Part 1 Benny Goodman Quartet with Martha Tilton 176 1937 RCA Victor Small Group Recordings (Disc 2) 3:27
Just You, Just Me Katharine Whalen 181 1999 Jazz Squad 3:22
Stay A Little Longer Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys 232 The Tiffany Transcriptions (vol 2) 3:07
Let's Misbehave Boilermaker Jazz Band 196 2006 You Do Something To Me 2:52
Zonky New Orleans Jazz Vipers 203 2006 Hope You're Comin' Back 5:06
Minor Swing Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five 202 2003 Jammin' the Blues 3:24
My Blue Heaven Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra 170 1935 Swingsation - Jimmie Lunceford 3:16
Rockin' In Rhythm - Take 2 The Jungle Band with Duke Ellington 190 1931 The Duke Ellington Centennial Edition: Complete RCA Victor Recordings (disc 05) 2:53
Twenty Four Robbers Fats Waller and his Rhythm 196 1941 Last Years (1940-1943) (Disc 2) 2:43
Charlie the Chulo - Take 2 Duke Ellington 225 1940 The Duke Ellington Centennial Edition: Complete RCA Victor Recordings (disc 10) 3:10
Stomp It Off Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra 190 1934 Swingsation - Jimmie Lunceford 3:09
Honeysuckle Rose Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys 180 The Tiffany Transcriptions (vol 7) 2:12

As you can see, I have - once again - some music without dates. Back to the discographies. I find I'm having to go in there regularly to update my collection. I could just pay for a subscription, but I quite like visiting the library - free student shows in the cafeteria or in the concert hall, books, vinyl collections to raid, human beings to meet, and it's right near the FREAKIN' OPERA HOUSE in circular quay. Win!

I am currently obsessed with Willie the Lion Smith. He didn't head up too many bands, but he was an important pianist in lots of other people's bands. I'm also coming out of a Bob Crosby fad. More NO revival stuff, but it's sweet. I need to see the Australian Bob Crosby 'tribute band' the Ozcats real soon, so I can compare. Those two Crosby songs are quite different in sound and style, so they don't sound too 'samey'.

That Benny Goodman small group stuff is very popular with balboa dancers, I've noticed. The teachers played some in class, and I've heard other Australian bal DJs/teachers talking about it. I'm suspecting it's perhaps a fad; I love it and think it's marvelously complex, but it can be a bit lower energy. I prefer Willie The Lion Smith for that sort of feel, partly because he's higher energy. At any rate, that particular song is a V-Disc recording. Or so Benny Goodman says in the intro. But the wikipedia entry says that VDiscs weren't started until 1941, so either the date on that recording is wrong (which is from a large, fancy Charlie Christian boxset who's accuracy I hesitate to question) or the wikipedia entry is wrong. Whatever. I like the live intro. This song was played in class and drew people onto the floor immediately.

I love Bus Moten. I play a few of his slower songs for lindy hoppers a lot. This song has a lovely, cheery feel and feels nice and bouncy. Bus' vocal style is mellow and laid back, and he has quite a nice, light voice. The lyrics are way dirty, but you can just pretend he's singing about ... well, something else. People liked the song. I haven't played this for dancers before.

I love that Mathisen song. I haven't played it for dancers before. Mathisen is a Danish pianist who sounds like Fats Waller. This song starts out sounding a bit like Goodman - kind of tinkly and 'chamber jazz', but it has a bit of an edge and is a little hotter. A minute in the vocals begin, and the tone changes completely - it feels hot and more like Fats Waller with lots of silly chuntering vocals that actually feel wonderfully rhythmic rather than obscuring or impeding the beat. Some of the lower sax parts remind me of MBRB and that brand of New York early 30s hotness. Though Mathisen is a pianist, the song doesn't focus on his playing the way Fats' recordings tend to.
I don't know if this worked for balboa dancers. I think I'll test it on lindy hoppers. I know I'd love to lindy hop to it.

'Jive At Five' is a safety song, and filled the floor again after that last, faster song. It also feels laid back. It's an old favourite with most lindy hoppers who've been around a while. It makes me think of Frankie Manning.

'Jumpy Nerves' I've discussed above. It was a nice transition from the mellow JaF, and kept the mellower vibe that's quite important for smaller after-class gigs I've noticed.

I freakin' LOVE 'Mayor Of Alabam''. It's the combo of Teagarden vocals (he's my MAN), the bouncy, sprightly rhythm and melody. Another example of vocals working with the rhythms rather than drowning out or obscuring the beat.

'Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen' is an old bal fave from Melbourne. I love this version for Martha Tilton's vocals and the laid back, slightly minor treatment by the rest of the band. It builds and builds energy but doesn't quite explode. It's a good builder to follow with a high energy song. Also, it's a good version of a song which is overplayed in a poorer, horrible version.

The Katharine Whalen song was a strange choice for me. I'd listened to it in the afternoon and thought it might work for bal, whereas it's not so great for lindy. This is, essentially, the Squirrel Nut Zippers (some of whom are in the Asylum Street Spankers and the Firecracker Jazz Band). I chose it for the good, hi-fi quality, the chunky beat and Whalen's vocals to follow on from Tilton's (Whalen's a bit like Madeline Peryoux, but BETTER). I wanted to pump up the energy, and hi-fi is a good way to go. I was priming the room for the Bob Wills song, which is high energy, but perhaps too tricky for bal.

Then the Boilermakers as a 'recovery' song - they're popular in Sydney and the sort of music people've been dancing to bal to in Melbourne... not sure it works for this crowd, though.
'Zonky' was perhaps a mistake. I was flogging a dead horse - too much of the same, hi-fi, hot stuff. It's too long a song, too. But I love it and didn't think people could hack the McKinney's Cotton Pickers' version. Also, I was talking and not 100% focussed.

'Minor Swing' is a bal fave and was a calculated floor filler.

'My Blue Heaven' because people were getting tired, but still wanted to dance. This is a good song, but the vocals aren't properly mixed - the rest of the band goes really quiet, which sucks. Otherwise, it's quite mellow and nice, and people know the melody.

'Rockin' in Rhythm' is the fushiz. I love this sort of Ellington stuff. It went down ok, but people were kind of over hardcore dancing by then, and the leads were buggered.

The Fats song is quite well known, and someone requested some Waller. Which wasn't hard to accommodate.

'Charlie The Chulo' is my passion. I keep coming back to it. I don't think it's so great for lindy hop (though I've seen some great dancing to it). I thought I'd test it on the bal dancers. But perhaps it was too full on for too late in the night. Some people liked it.

The last two were really just fillers til we ended the night. An early night at 10.20pm, but an hour's worth of DJing was really all I was up for. I love 'Stomp It Off' and it always goes down well with dancers. People liked that version of 'Honeysuckle Rose' as well. It's a dancers' fave, but I never play it, ever, mostly because I HATE that late Ella version with all the scatting. This Wills one is nicer. Though I did get more ribbing for the western guitar.

Then I rode home. I love riding to and from DJing in Leichardt - it's a quick, 15minute ride on a safe route, and it gets me warmed up for DJing and then lets me work out my post-DJing excitement on the way home. I managed to dodge the rain last night and had a lovely ride home in the cool, quiet evening. Sydney rainy season rocks: it's not bitterly cold and windy as it would be in Melbourne on these sorts of days.

Generally, it's a set of music I really like, but I think there's a bit too much experimentation in there. I really DJ bal like a complete bub DJ who's a new dancer - I just don't know what's 'familiar' and 'safe', I try too many 'new' songs that I love and which don't necessarily work for dancing. But they ask me back for DJing, so I mustn't suck that much.

If you're interested, here are a couple of bal clips I quite like:
AnneHelene and Bernard 2006 Bal Rendezvous. I like this couple's dancing. They're French, and very nice people. I really like his relaxed, fluid upper body. A lot of bal leads (who happen to be men) tend to carry way too much tension in their upper body, so they look stiff and uncomfortable to dance with. I don't know how to just the quality of this couple's dancing, but I like his relaxed, flowing style. It makes me want to dance balboa.

Marcus and Barbl in 2003. An oldie but a goody. They stuff up a few times, but I don't mind. No one can strut like a camp German man with a moustache.

"djing for balboa... again, and not terribly well" was posted by dogpossum on May 22, 2009 1:52 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music

May 21, 2009

what happened to veronica?

So I'm watching Veronica Mars, right? I'm on about the third disc of the first season. I have some questions.
1. Where did the indy-kid Veronica go?
2. Where did the hardcore class commentary go?
3. What is the deal with her assault? This is the bit that worries me the most. In the first episode, some time is spent on the fact that she was assaulted at a party after her drink was spiked with some sort of drug. She makes it clear that she was raped, though I can't remember the exact language. We don't know who he was - it could have been any of the male characters at the party, including her ex-boyfriend, her boyfriends's friends or her best friend's boyfriend. This is an interesting narrative angle. Veronica is a clever, assertive, articulate, witty and sarcastic badass (though she's mellowing as the season continues).
The implication is that she turned her back on vapid barbiedom after her best friend was killed, she was assaulted and the rest of the barbies demoted her from supercool to indy kid. Before the best friend (who was her boyfriend's sister) was killed, Veronica was a renowned 'virgin'. Her reputation is currently 'bad' - she is scored 14/100 for purity by her schoolmates.
She's currently single and much is made of her celibacy. There are more and more comments about her being a virgin. Nothing has been said about her assault in quite a few episodes. Veronica didn't tell anyone she was assaulted except the nasty sheriff, and he told her she was full of shit. I'm not sure if the current sheriff/deputy (I'm not sure who he is) - who replaced Veronica's dad - is meant to be the same character who gave Veronica such a hard time. He's mellowed quite a bit.
Here's the general scene: the nasty characters have been mellowed. The badass, subversive characters have been mellowed. Veronica's assault has disappeared.

What I want to know is: is all this talk about Veronica being a virgin a fairly progressive suggestion that her assault wasn't sex, but was violence or an attack? I'm not sure this TV show is actually that progressive. I'm thinking they've simply made Veronica's assault disappear. This worries me a bit. It's dodgy to sweep past story elements under the rug. But it's even more worrying to think that they've changed her character so abruptly.

WAIT! She's just announced "Last time I crashed an 0-9'er party I got ridiculed, roofied and woke up missing my underwear." But still... no talk about assault. Just implication.

"what happened to veronica?" was posted by dogpossum on May 21, 2009 4:30 PM in the category veronica mars | Comments (1)

jam session photography

Remember I was all interested in magazines and their interest in 'all-star' shows and bands? Well, I've been reading* about Gjon Mili, who directed 'Jammin' the Blues':

(I think this version is edited down... but I'm not sure)

Seen that one? Maybe you haven't seen this one:

Here's the blurb from the youtube site:

Life Magazine photographer Gjon Mili joined with jazz producer and Verve-label owner Norman Granz to produce the short film "Jammin' the Blues" in 1944 with Lester Young, Red Callendar, Harry Edison, "Big" Sid Catlett, Illinois Jacquet, Barney Kessel, Jo Jones and Marie Bryant. The film was nominated for Best Short Subject at the 1945 Academy Awards, but didn't win.

The pair came together again in 1950 to shoot footage of leading jazz artists of the day, but when funding dried up, the film ceased production and sat on shelves for 50 years (except for a few snippets which found their way onto bootlegs).

Blues For Greasy is one of those pieces shot by Gjon Mili and Norman Granz, using musicians from his Jazz at the Philharmonic tour.

Harry 'Sweets' Edison: trumpet
Lester Young: Tenor Sax
Flip Phillips: Tenor Sax
Bill Harris: Trombone
Hank Jones: Piano
Ray Brown: Bass
Buddy Rich: Drums
Ella Fitzgerald: Vocals

Isn't Youtube wonderful?
But then, Google is pretty good too:

Gjon Mili was actually a photographer, who did lots of work with magazines like Life. He also did some work for Esquire, including a 'Jam Session' shoot at his studio. And because the internets is truly freakin' awesome, I had a little look at the Life photos on Google and found this freakin amazing collection of photos.

What's so great about this series? Lots of things. The sheer calibre of stars, all together in one room, playing jazz. Duke Ellington, Dizzie Gillespie, Gene Krupa, Billie Holiday, Eddie Condon... there are just so many amazing musicians in there together. One of the other important things to note about this session is the fact that this is a group of mixed race musicians, playing and photographed together. That was still pretty amazing in 1943.

This is my favourite one:

I like it because it's Billie Holiday singing 'Fine and Mellow' with Cozy Cole on drums. I'm sure someone with a better eye could identify the others. This isn't the famous 1957 television performance I've posted before, though.

I also quite like this one:

It's a group of people from vogue magazine at the same photo shoot.
You know what I'm thinking.

*Knight, Arthur, “Jammin’ the Blues: or the Sight of Jazz, 1944”. Representing Jazz, ed. Krin Gabbard. Duke U Press: Durham and London, 1995. 11-53.

"jam session photography" was posted by dogpossum on May 21, 2009 2:41 PM in the category fillums and lindy hop and other dances and music and research | Comments (0)

May 14, 2009

omg: jazz oral histories!

Reading yet another article (Peretti's “Oral Histories of Jazz Musicians: the NEA transcripts as texts in context”), I found a reference to the Jazz Oral History Project, which is a collection of interviews with jazz musicians. The collection includes both oral and transcript records. The paper is centrally concerned with the challenges of working with oral histories (which of course is related to the idea of the 'history' and telling the history of jazz).

The JOHP was begun in 1968 by the National Endowment for the Arts, run by the Smithsonian, and after 1979 by the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University-Newark. Many of the musicians were not applying for or receiving financial support from the NEA, so it developed the interview project as a way of ensuring older jazz performers received money. Each subject was paid $2000 for a minimum of five hours speaking. The project's funding was cut by two thirds by the Reagan government in 1983. Musicians were chosen from a range of groups, and were both big names and smaller sidemen(and women). Elderly or unwell musicians were targeted in particular. Almost fifty of the 123 subjects had died by the end of 1991.

The JOHP's main goal was to capture the reminiscences of older jazz musicians in substantial and serious interviews (Peretti 120)

I'm particularly interested in this process of interviewing older musicians because of the importance of older dancers in the swing dance community. Dancers such as Frankie Manning (who passed away a couple of weeks ago, and who is deeply mourned by thousands of dancers) have been an essential part of contemporary swing dance culture. Not only as a source of story and recollection, but as a dance teacher and as a cross-generational mentor and role model for younger dancers.

But back to the JOHP. As soon as I read that there were audio records, I thought 'Oh baby, this has to be on the internet! How fully sick would that be?!' So I gave it a good google, and found the Institute of Jazz Studies' JOHP site. If you follow the links, you can listen to some sample audio files or read some transcripts. My initial reaction is: where are the rest of them?! There are heaps, according to the Peretti article. The site says:

The condition of the original reel-to-reel and cassette tapes and some of the service copies had deteriorated to the point where the Institute could no longer offer access to large parts of the collection. With recent funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, all 120 interviews have now been preserved in digital format. The digital versions of the interviews are currently stored in various media forms, including multiple sets of CD's for archival purposes as well as for client access at the Institute. The digital versions of the interviews are also being ingested into a new digital library repository (RUCORE) under development as part of the Rutgers University Libraries new digital library initiative, which will provide another form of archiving as well as enhanced means for access by users.
I'll investigate and see what I can find.

*This institute was founded in 1950 by Marshall Stearns, John Hammond George Avakian. Stearns was the author of Jazz Dance (which he cowrote with his wife Jean), and he also conducted some very famous interviews with Al and Leon. John Hammond was, of course, the famous jazz promoter (who was also involved with the Newport Jazz Festival) and George Avakian was a promoter and music producer. His son is a lindy hopper and DJ.

Peretti, Burton W. “Oral Histories of Jazz Musicians: the NEA transcripts as texts in context” Jazz Among the Discourses. Duke U Press, Durham and London 1995. 117-133.

Related projects:

"omg: jazz oral histories!" was posted by dogpossum on May 14, 2009 11:15 AM in the category lindy hop and other dances and music and research | Comments (1)

May 12, 2009

more pakour

Watching this (occasionally annoying) video about pakour/freerunning, I was struck by the similarities between these jumps and lindy hop.

I'm most interested in the landings, and in the way momentum or velocity are managed. I don't know a whole lot about the science of this stuff, so my comments are purely ill-informed conjecture.
When this guy lands, he tends to land with his feet shoulder width apart and his knees bent. This makes for stable landings - this distance between your feet is optimal for a nice, stable landing. The bent knees are also very stable - straight legs are unsteady and tend to lift your centre. When your centre is lower, you have more stability. But you don't want to be too low - it's harder to recover from a very low pose. The bent knees function a bit like springs or suspension on a car - they absorb the energy of your fall, but they also allow you to store the energy to use it again for another movement. Landing with straight legs and close together feet makes for a) jarring and b) instability.
These are all things that are really important in lindy hop. Because lindy (in the old school sense) is fast, and, essentially, like playing a basketball game within a two meter square space, you need to be able to move quickly, to make quick turns, to not lose your momentum. This makes bent knees and shoulder-width apart feet very useful. Old school lindy hoppers like Frankie Manning, who was known for his air steps, would also lean forward, bending at the hips and putting their hips back. This added 'hinge' gives greater stability and also adds another layer of 'stored energy'. It also requires your activating the layers of muscles in your torso that keep you stable and also allow you to respond quickly with turns and twists.

Here, have a look a this iconic footage (Manning is in the overalls):

I'm interested in the way these practical mechanics have been translated into bodily aesthetics. The straight leg and pointed toe are classic markers of ballet and of feminine beauty - the longer-seeming leg, the tinier foot.

It's also interesting to watch the first clip and see how this guy uses the energy from a drop or jump to move immediately into another jump (so it looks like he's springing up), or how he translates that energy into a roll. How are his feet positioned then?

Of course, all this contrasts really nicely with yoga, where you move between poses very slowly - you don't bleed off momentum with bounces or other movements. Your muscles have to be strong enough to move you through poses (and to hold you in them) without losing energy. And you hold poses for a longer time.

NB I think the reason I'm so aware of this stuff is that quite a few leads have a tendency to stop the follow during a faster dance. When you're moving at speed, it's less work to maintain the momentum than to stop and have to start again. This means that sequences of moves which use larger movements are easier on the follow than a combination of (for example) swing outs and (to be ridiculous) body rolls. It's also a reason why it's important to not stop your swingout half way through (on '4' or so); you want to keep the movement happening.

"more pakour" was posted by dogpossum on May 12, 2009 11:59 AM in the category lindy hop and other dances and yoga | Comments (1)

May 11, 2009

video in the desert; youtube in the cities

As you probably know if you've read some of my earlier posts, I'm fascinated by indigenous media use as a model for community media practice. Whatever that means. So I was struck by this bit of a book I'm reading at the moment:

It was costly and difficult to bring hired videotapes almost 300 kilometres from Alice Springs to Yuendumu and to stop them from being scratched or damaged in the sandy desert camps and few commercial videos in the video shops in Alice Springs were attractive for the Warlpiri to hire. So the community came up with the idea of connecting all the video recorders in the camp a low-frequency, low-powered community television 'station' and using it to distribute a single videotape to all the sets in the community (Bell 80)

Firstly, I thought, 'This is Youtube - this is what Youtube does for dancers.' Before Youtube, dancers would distribute edited bits of archival film (featuring dance, of course) via video, and later as digital clips on CDs. Then Youtube happened, and suddenly all those locally distributed clips were online, available to everyone. Previous networks of exchange and the associated hierachies of knowledge and supply were dismantled. Everyone could watch archival clips, could see the original lindy hoppers (and balboa dancers and blues dancers and charlestoners and black bottomers and...) and experiment with the movements they saw. In my thesis I wrote about the way this upset hiearchies of knowledge in the local Melbourne scene, and how it had the potential to disrupt the commodification of dance (and knowledge) by dance schools and teachers.
Of course, the results weren't quite so radical. Learning moves from grainy, downloaded Youtube clips is difficult, and many people would much rather just be taught the moves by some dood in a class. Many people don't know where to begin when searching for archival clips online - you need to know terms (black bottom, lindy hop, charleston, Al Minns, Frankie Manning...) before you can search effectively. And of course, dance classes serve a range of functions beyond the transfer of dance knowledge - they socialise new dancers, they provide peer groups for the lonely, fellow addicts for the junkies and so on.

But Youtube is fascinating for the way it changed how dancers acquire and watch archival footage. Within a year, things I'd written about in my thesis were changed, utterly. And in the last year, Faceplant has changed things again. The most important part of faceplant for this particular community is the way it's integrated and conglomerated a host of different media. Audio files, youtube clips, online discussion, blogs, newsletters, event notices, email: all of them centralised in one site. Facebook, though it is effectively a gated community* has also suddenly connected thousands and thousands of dancers all over the world. And in a very public, collaborative way. I've been fascinated by the way 'being friends' with a few key, well-traveled dancers can connect you up to a host of international scenes.

This was proved most clearly in the recent passing of Frankie Manning, just a few weeks before his 95th birthday. I'd like to write more about that, but I don't feel up to it, really. And I think Frankie deserves more than one poorly written post on my blog; I'd like to write something properly. But this one event illustrated most clearly the connectedness and sheer speed of communications within the online swing dance community. It has also pointed out, thoroughly, that my ideas about localised communities are still very important: we might all be online, but we are still thoroughly grounded, embodied and localised by dance.

Of course, we can still make the point that this sort of media use - as with the Yuendumu example - is not like traditional broadcast media. The difference is not so much that we aren't really working with the 'few-to-many' model of distribution, but that these are smaller groups taking up 'new' media and adapting them to their own particular circumstances. Wether those circumstances require dealing with dust or a way of seeing elders.**

*Thanks for that term, D4E.
**And of course, here is where parallels between Yuendumu and swing dancers arise again: the Warlpiri media collective has been very concerned with filming and then distributing the filmed image of elders. Just as swing dancers have been focussed on distributing filmed images of elders - swing era dancers. Both, of course, are managed by extensive social and pedagogic networks. And both rework 'pedagogy' for their particular contexts.

Bell, Wendy. A Remote Possibility: the Battle for Imparja Television IAD Press: Alice Springs, 2008.

"video in the desert; youtube in the cities" was posted by dogpossum on May 11, 2009 11:42 AM in the category lindy hop and other dances and research and television | Comments (0)

May 10, 2009

every day is blog amnesty day for me

...because I feel no shame, and publish every entry I begin. For which I apologise.

I was just thinking: why do I alway recognise an Ellington song? Is it the arrangements or the soloists? Ellington's band carefully showcased each soloist with personally tailored and arranged solos/parts for specific people. So I guess it's a combination: parts and whole.

Then I was thinking about my obsession with various jazz pianists. I thought I might do a post with little bios and pics of each one. Then I got distracted. But here are some I love:

Willie 'the Lion' Smith. Wasn't a big band leader, but did a zillion songs with a zillion bands. One of my favourites is a song called '4,5, and 9' with Leadbelly in 1946 from a CD my mum bought me at the Smithsonian in Washington. It's (the song, not the Smithsonian) fairly sparse - piano, guitar, harmonica, male vocals. It has a rolling, rollicking rhythm that makes me want to roll and rolllick around the house. You can't lindy hop to it. You can only roll or rollick.

Fats Waller Duh. Was a band leader. Died younger than we'd like, but not surprising considering his lifestyle. His band was famously loyal and stayed with him for a very long time. He began his career with bands like the McKinney Cotton Pickers in New York. I love his light, tinkly playing, his chunky left hand rhythms and his lovely lyrics. I love the combination of light-hearted humour and melancholy.

Mary Lou Williams You tend to find women in jazz bands at the piano or behind the microphone, mostly because they were considered 'ladylike' musical pursuits. No tubas here. Williams was in Andy Kirk's band, and was important not only because she could play like a demon, but also because she was a badass arranger. She didn't sing (that I know).

There are plenty more, but these are the ones I'm currently interested in.

I was going to write something else about something else, but I've forgotten what it was.

Oh, that's right. I've been playing Flight Control on The Squeeze's ipod touch. I've been getting quite high scores. I don't like any of the other games. I don't play computer games at all, usually.

I was hardcore into sourdough recently, but my interest has waned. I am now interested in ... well, nothing much else, food-wise.

On other fronts, I've been doing an awful lot of reading about jazz, jazz history and jazz studies. Soon my brain will blow up. I think I'm procrastinating about another book I have to read and review for a journal. I'd better get onto that one quick-smart. But I just can't be arsed - I know how it'll end, it's not hugely well written, and while the content is very interesting, I just can't stick with it.

My foot has been much, much better. But yesterday and today it was a bit sore. Podiatrist in about a week for an update, and a verdict on whether or not there'll be dancing again in my future, ever. Let's cross our fingers, shall we?

There is a cafe on the main drag of Newtown called Funky which made me a freaking wonderful prawn raviolli the other night. It was home made pasta, in large sheets, folded around some perfectly prepared prawns, in a light, fresh tomato, tiny-bit-of-cream and smidge-of-butter sauce. It was simple and perfect. I was amazed. The manager is a lovey and always seats me carefully when I come in on my own every other Friday evening for a quick before-DJing dinner. It is a delight to eat there. Especially as the cafes on that strip can suck bums. But it's really too nice to be called a cafe. And on the last few Fridays they've had a small, very excellent latin combo playing in their tiny restaurant. They had a double bass, guitar, bongos, vocals and ... something else last Friday. They were so good I wished I could dance salsa. I didn't even feel I needed to read my book, they were so nice to watch and listen to. And I do like a quiet sit-and-read on my own over a nice meal in a restaurant. I know it's not cool, but it's one of my greatest pleasures - eating alone in a restaurant.

That's all I've got for now, I'm afraid.

"every day is blog amnesty day for me" was posted by dogpossum on May 10, 2009 2:09 PM in the category djing and dogpossum and fewd and lindy hop and other dances and music and research | Comments (0)

May 8, 2009


I'm having problems with comments again. We are just about to start moving this site over to Wordpress and away from MT, so that might fix these troubles.
Meanwhile, I'll get the Support guy to check it out and see what I can do.

In the meantime, how's about checking out the Yehoodi radio tribute to Frankie Manning - the very best swinging jazz.

You know I love you,

EDIT: It's fixed.

"sorry..." was posted by dogpossum on May 8, 2009 12:12 PM in the category dogpossum | Comments (1)

May 6, 2009

hygiene - we haz it

I just made an awesome dinner that involved cooking some beef in some slop on the stove with a bunch of other things for an hour. I just had a look and found a bunch of tiny beetles floating in it. Who knows where they came from, but I'm suspecting a grotty unsealed bag of paprika. What was I thinking.

I picked out all the bugs.
Should I start again from scratch? They're tiny bugs. But there are a lot of them. I think I got them all.

Ten years ago, when I had a crazy Brisbane organic herb garden, I used to just make sure I chopped the herbs really small so the inevitable bugs and caterpillars were smashed beyond recognition. But today I'm not so cool about bugs. All those years in Melbourne, land of no-bugs, has made me weak. Weak and squeamish.


I think we might eat it anyway. The Squeeze, king of picky eating, has declared it safe. But then, it's big pieces of food he's particular about. And these bugs are real small.

"hygiene - we haz it" was posted by dogpossum on May 6, 2009 9:34 PM in the category fewd | Comments (0)

ina ray hutton and her melodears

I'm currently in love with this song, 'Truckin'' (though I prefer the Henry Red Allen version I have), and Ina Ray Hutton and her Melodears has been on my mind... what with their's being an all-girl swing band.

Teh orsum:

"ina ray hutton and her melodears" was posted by dogpossum on May 6, 2009 6:24 PM in the category music | Comments (0)

i can't believe i'm posting this

But who the fuck cares about muffin tops, and also, what the fuck IS a muffin top?

This is the sort of fucked up shit I hate about the internet, women's magazines and what I remember of high school (I'm trying to contract pattern-amnesia). JESUS CHRIST, sisters, just put on your goddamn clothes and get on your goddamn bike and FEEL THE ENDORPHINES! Then you don't give one motherfucking shit about whether you're... what? Alive? Having flesh upon your bones? Bringin' the bounty, as what badass feministahs do?

The more time you spend worrying about whether or not you're looking just some imaginary man would like you to look (or, more likely, looking the way some other woman with Issues is telling you you should look), the less time you can spend planning your next bike ride/website redesign/photography outing/sewing binge/crocheting craze/cooking fest/jazz routine/DJ set! I mean, come on - there aren't really that many hours in the day - prioritise, people!

I can't believe I followed that link. I can't believe I read it! It's a good thing there're lolcats in the world.

Shoulda posted this earlier, I guess.

"i can't believe i'm posting this" was posted by dogpossum on May 6, 2009 5:33 PM in the category dogpossum | Comments (2)

May 5, 2009

no, not the dentist

Yes, the dentist. Again.
I went in for a quick inspection today, and while I was fine all day, fine in the waiting room, I started to tremble in the chair. My heart was pumping so hard I was getting funny vision. I was sweating and teary and desperately wanted to bawl.
Dentist's verdict: one small cavity to fix up next week. Root canal site of 2007: fine. Otherwise: nice mouth.

Still, I came out of there shaking and feeling faint and wanting to cry.

Goddamn that root canal of 2007. GodDAMN it.

"no, not the dentist" was posted by dogpossum on May 5, 2009 7:43 PM in the category domesticity | Comments (0)

wingy manone


I've been downloading a bunch of Wingy Manone from emusic's Chron Classics/Complete Jazz collection. I thought I could keep away from him, but I can't. He played the trumpet in bands with all sorts of people in New Orleans, Chicago and New York.

This entry states:

Wingy Manone was a New Orleans trumpet player and vocalist who lost his right arm in a streetcar accident when he was ten years old. He wore a prosthetic arm while on stage performing and used it so well that many never noticed his disability.

Makes me wonder if they realise that it's not a disability if it's not impairing his abilities...

"wingy manone" was posted by dogpossum on May 5, 2009 3:59 PM in the category digging and music | Comments (1)

May 4, 2009

map of new orleans jazz neighbourhoods


This will make a lot more sense if you read more about it over here at the National Parks Service site. Yes, jazz + parks. It's a strange American thing. Remind me to post about the Century Ballroom and its interesting relationship with the NPS.

If you're digging on these maps, make sure you also check out the Louisiana maps, especially the historic ones.
I have been trying to 'tour' New Orleans via googleearth, but can't quite figure it out. Will report back.

Can I add: MAPS! SKWEEE!

"map of new orleans jazz neighbourhoods" was posted by dogpossum on May 4, 2009 8:50 PM in the category academia and maps and music and research | Comments (0)

the trouble with linear jazz narratives + more

In the earliest parts of my researching into jazz history, I tried to set up a sort of 'time line' or map* of musicians and cities and bands. Who played with which band in what city at what time? Then where did they go? This approach was partly based on the idea that particularly influential musicians (like Armstrong) would spread influence, from New Orleans to New York and beyond.

But drawing these time lines out on pieces of paper, I found it wasn't possible to draw a nice, clear line from New Orleans to New York, passing through particular bands. Musicians left New Orleans, went to New York, then back to New Orleans, then off to France, then back again to New York. The discographies revealed the fact that a band recorded in different cities during the year - they were in constant motion, all over America. Furthermore, musicians didn't stick with one band, they moved between bands, they regularly used pseudonyms and even the term 'band' is problematic. The Mills Blue Rhythm Band, with its dozens and dozens of names, was in fact a shifting, changing association of musicians, and did not even have a fixed 'core' set of players. Perhaps this is why the MBRB is so important: many people played with them, and they were a band(s) which moved and changed shape, a loose network of musicians who really only existed as 'a band' when they were caught, in one moment, on a recording. Or perhaps on a stage (though that's far more problematic). I wonder if that's why it's so hard to find a photo of them? Perhaps the 'Mills Blue Rhythm Band', as a discrete entity didn't really exist?

The more I read about jazz and 'jazz' history, the more convinced I am by the idea of 'jazz' as a shifting series of relationships. I think about cities not as fixed locations, but as points on a sort of 'trade route' or even as a complicated web or network of relationships between individual musicians (which is, incidentally, how I think about international swing dance culture - the physical place is important, but it's not binding).

Right now I've followed some references backwards to an article by Scott DeVeaux called Constructing the Jazz Tradition, which is really interesting. It not only outlines some of the political effects of a coherent 'narrative' history of jazz, but also the economic and social effects of positioning jazz as a 'black music', with interesting references to consequences of the 'jazz musician as artist' for black musicians. Read in concert with David Ake's discussion of creole identity and ethnicity in New Orleans as far more complicated than 'black' and 'white', this makes for some pretty powerful thinking.

I'm very interested in the idea of a 'jazz canon' and of the role of people like Wynton Marsalis, the Ken Burns Jazz discography, jazz clubs and magazines developing during the 30s and 40s devoted to New Orleans recreationism and the whole 'moldy figs' discussion. The tensions surrounding the Newport jazz festival also feed into this: the Gennari article (which I discuss in reference to its descriptions of white, middle class men rioting at Newport here) pointed out the significance of a festival program loaded with 'trad' jazz - for black musicians and for the popularising of jazz generally. I've also been reading about the effects of this emphasis on trad jazz for superstar musicians like Louis Armstrong.

O'Meally and Gabbard have written about the way Armstrong's public, visual persona is marked by ethnicity.
Armstrong was known for his visual 'mugging', or playing the 'Uncle Tom' for white audiences, particularly on stage. Eschen writes the struggle for equality accelerated, Armstrong was widely criticized as an Uncle Tom and, for many, compared unfavourably with a younger, more militant group of jazz musicians (193)
This, as Eschen continues, despite the fact that Armstrong was actually an active campaigner for civil rights in America, and overseas.
The trad jazz movement - or 'moldy figs' pushing for the preservation of an 'authentic' jazz from New Orleans - effectively pushes Armstrong to continue as Uncle Tom - unthreatening black man clowning for white audiences. A narrative history of jazz which emphasises a beginning in New Orleans and a consistent, clearly defined lineage of musicians and styles also, more subtly, relies on an idea of the black musician as powerless or unthreatening. DeVeaux makes the point that positioning jazz (and jazz musicians) as artistic loners who do not 'sell out' with commercial success:
Issues of ethnicity and economics define jazz as an oppositional discourse: the music of an oppressed minority culture, tainted by its association with commercial entertainment in a society that reserves its greatest respect for art that is carefully removed from daily life (530)
In this world, the 'true' jazz musician is 'black' (in a truly singular, homogenous sense of the world), he is poor and he is mugging for white audiences.
Billie Holiday becomes a particularly attractive representation for this idea of the 'jazz musician': poor, black, addled by drugs and alcohol, a history of prostitution, yet nonetheless, a creative genius pouring out, untainted in recording sessions (and I'm reminded of the 'one take' stories) and tragically cut short.

All of this is quite disturbing for someone who really, really likes jazz from the 20s, 30s and 40s. Am I buying into this disturbing jazz mythology? It's even more disturbing for someone who found similar themes in contemporary swing dancers' development of 'narratives' and geneologies of jazz dance history. As DeVeaux writes (about jazz, not dance), though, this is

The struggle is over possession of that history, and the legitimacy that it confers. More precisely, the struggle is over the act of definition that is presumed to lie at the history’s core (528)
I wonder if I should suspect my own critique of capitalist impulses in contemporary swing dance discourse?

I don't think it's that simple. Gabbard discusses Armstrong's work with Duke Ellington, including the filming of Paris Blues (in which Armstrong starred, and for which Ellington contributed the score) and the recording of the 'Summit' sessions:

…at those moments in the film when he seems most eager to please with his vocal performances, his mugging is sufficiently exaggerated to suggest and ulterior motive. Lester Bowie has suggested that Armstrong is essentially “slipping a little poison into the coffee” of those who think they are watching a harmless darkie….Throughout his career in films, Armstrong continued to subvert received notions of African American identity, signifying on the camera while creating a style of trumpet performance that was virile, erotic, dramatic, and playful. No other black entertainer of Armstrong’s generation – with the possible exception of Ellington – brought so much intensity and charisma to his performances. But because Armstrong did not change his masculine presentation after the 1920s, many of his gestures became obsolete and lost their revolutionary edge. For many black and white Americans in the 1950s and 1960s, he was an embarrassment. In the early days of the twenty-first century, when Armstrong is regularly cast as a heroicized figure in the increasingly heroicising narrative of jazz history, we should remember that he was regularly asked to play the buffoon when he appeared on films and television (Gabbard 298)

You can see a clip from Paris Blues here.

Armstrong's performance gains meaning from its context, from the point of view of the observer, from his own actions as a 'real' person (Armstrong was in fact openly, assertively critical of Jim Crowism and quite politically active) and from its position within a broader 'body' of Armstrong's work as a public performer. Pinning it down is difficult - it's slippery.

The idea of layers of meaning is not only interesting, it's essential. This physical performance of identity, tied to the physicality of playing an instrument reminds me of the layers of meaning in black dance. And of course, of hot and cool in dance, and the layers of meaning in blues dance and music. Put simply, what you see at first glance, is not all that you are getting. Layers of meaning are available to the experienced, inquiring eye. Hiding 'true' meanings (or more subversive subtexts) is important when the body under inspection is singing or dancing from the margins. Tommy DeFrantz discusses meaning and masculinity in black dance during slavery:

serious dancing went underground, and dances which carried significant aesthetic information became disguised or hidden from public view. For white audiences, the black man’s dancing body came to carry only the information on its surface (DeFrantz 107).

Armstrong's performance is more than simply its surface. As with any clown, the meanings are more complex than a little light entertainment. Gabbard continues his point:
In short, Ellington plays the dignified leader and Armstrong plays the trickster. Armstrong’s tricksterisms were an essential part of his performance persona. On one level, Armstrong’s grinning, mugging, and exaggerated body language made him a much more congenial presence, especially to racist audiences who might otherwise have found so confident a performer to be disturbing, to say the least. When Armstrong put his trumpet to his lips, however, he was all business. The servile gestures disappeared as he held his trumpet erect and flaunted his virtuosity, power, and imagination (Gabbard 298).

This, of course, reminds me of that solo in High Society that I mentioned in a previous post. There's some literature discussing the physicality of jazz musician's performances, but I haven't gotten to that yet (though you know I'm busting for it). I have read some bits and pieces about gender and performance on stage (especially in reference to Lester Young), and there're some interesting bits and pieces about trumpets and their semiotic weight, but I haven't gotten to that yet, either.

Sorry to end this so abruptly: these are really just ideas in process. :D

To sum all that up:
- The idea of a jazz musician as 'isolated artist' is problematic, especially in the context of ethnicity and class. Basically, the 'true jazz musician who doesn't sell out by making money' is bad news for black musicians: it perpetuates marginalisation, not only economically, but also discursively, by devaluing the contributions of black musicians who are interested in making a living from their music. Jazz musicians are also members of communities.

- Linear histories of jazz are problematic: they deny the diversity of jazz today, and its past. Linear histories with their roots in New Orleans, insisting that this is 'black music' overlook the ethnic diversity of New Orleans in that moment: two categories of 'black' and 'white' do not recognise the diversity of Creole musicality, of the wide range of migrant musicians, of the diversity within a 'white' culture (which is also Italian and English and American and French and....), of economic and class relations in the city, and so on.

- 'linear histories' + 'musician as artist' neglect the complexities of everyday life within communities, and the role that music plays therein. These myths also overlook the fact that music is not divorced from everyday life; it is part of a continuum of creative production (to paraphrase LeeEllen Friedland and to refer to discussions about Ralph Ellison - which I will talk about later on).

- Music and dance have a lot in common. They carry layers of meaning, and aren't simply discrete canvases revealing one, singular meaning to each reader. They are weighted down by, buoyed up by a plethora of ideas and themes and creative industrial practices and sparks.

DeFrantz, Thomas. "The Black Male Body in Concert Dance." Moving Words: Re- Writing Dance. Ed. Gay Morris. London and New York: Routledge, 1996. 107 - 20.
DeVeaux, Scott, “Constructing the Jazz Tradition: Jazz Historiography” Black American Literature Forum 25.3 (1991): 525-560.
Eschen, Penny M. “the real ambassadors”. Uptown Conversation: the new Jazz studies, ed. Robert O’Meally, Brent Hayes Edwards, Farah Jasmin Griffin. Columbia U Press, NY: 2004. 189-203.
Friedland, LeeEllen. "Social Commentary in African-American Movement Performance."
Human Action Signs in Cultural Context: The Visible and the Invisible in
Movement and Dance
. Ed. Brenda Farnell. London: Scarecrow Press, 1995. 136 -
Gabbard, Krin. “Paris Blues: Ellington, Armstrong, and Saying It with Music”. Uptown Conversation: the new Jazz studies, ed. Robert O’Meally, Brent Hayes Edwards, Farah Jasmin Griffin. Columbia U Press, NY: 2004. 297-311.
Gennari, John. “Hipsters, Bluebloods, Rebels, and Hooligans: the Cultural Politics of the Newport Jazz Festival.” Uptown Conversation: the new Jazz studies, ed. Robert O’Meally, Brent Hayes Edwards, Farah Jasmin Griffin. Columbia U Press, NY: 2004. 126-149.
Lipsitz, George. “Songs of the Unsung: The Darby Hicks History of Jazz,” Uptown Conversation: the new Jazz studies, ed. Robert O’Meally, Brent Hayes Edwards, Farah Jasmin Griffin. Columbia U Press, NY: 2004: 9-26.
O’Meally, Robert G. “Checking our Balances: Louis Armstrong, Ralph Ellison and Betty Boop”. Uptown Conversation: the new Jazz studies, ed. Robert O’Meally, Brent Hayes Edwards, Farah Jasmin Griffin. Columbia U Press, NY: 2004. 276-296. (You can see the animated Betty Boop/Armstrong film O'Meally references here.

*The jazz map was found via, but they don't list the url for the map in context.
There's something seriously addictive about historic 'jazz maps'. I think it's because they're imaginary places. My latest find: New Orleans 'jazz neighbourhoods'.

"the trouble with linear jazz narratives + more" was posted by dogpossum on May 4, 2009 6:33 PM in the category academia and djing and lindy hop and other dances and maps and music and research and thesis | Comments (2)

Marty Grosz and his Honoris Causa Jazz Band, Hooray for Bix!

Marty Grosz and his Honoris Causa Jazz Band, Hooray for Bix! Despite the scary album cover (this was released in 1957), there's some nice stuff on this album. I'm getting a bit tired of New Orleans revival bands (especially the ones from the 50s and later), but Marty Grosz is a guitarist, and this is reflected in the music - there's a little less emphasis on the brass. Well, comparatively speaking. I'm still not liking the shuffle rhythm from the drummer on some tracks (it's just NOT RIGHT for NO stuff), but there are a couple of songs I really quite like and will play for dancers. In an ideal world I'd stick to the originals, but some of those originals are really scratchy.

In an interesting turn of events, emusic is now releasing the Chronological Classics albums as well as the 'Complete Jazz Series' albums, though they seem to be the same albums. I'm not sure whether there's a sound quality difference, but even CC wasn't perfect sound quality - it's more for people who're looking to collect everything from an artist during a particular year. Which you can do with these series.

"Marty Grosz and his Honoris Causa Jazz Band, Hooray for Bix!" was posted by dogpossum on May 4, 2009 1:09 PM in the category digging and djing and lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (2)

May 3, 2009

recent emusic adventures

My emusic account ticks over on the 19th, and I've managed to hang onto some of my downloads til today... and there are still some left! It's too easy to use them up, though, especially when you're an ob-con tempted with the option of 'going complete' with an achievable artist... such as Jimmie Noone or the McKinney's Cotton Pickers. But I find I really can't absorb much more than my download limit per month. Well, not if I also want to keep listening to my existing collection and knowing it well enough to DJ with any sort of competence.

But this is what I've downloaded recently:

Lavern Baker Sings Bessie Smith. Just a few songs. I had a couple of tracks from this already from compilations, but I noticed it'd been added to emusic lately (that 'music you might like' thingy is very convincing) and figured I'd download a few things. Namely 'Gimme a Pigfoot'. I've just come across a really slinky Billie Holiday version and thought I'd like the Baker one. And I do. She's no Bessie Smith, but she don't suck. There are moments, though, when I wish Baker'd follow through on her big, arse-kicking intros; she tends to back off a bit a few bars in. Bessie wouldn't.

Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra 1941: The Complete Standard Transcriptions. Just a couple from here, but versions I didn't have. I've really enjoyed a few tracks from the Bob Crosby album in this series, and thought I'd give these a punt. Nice. No surprises, but slightly better quality than some versions of these I already have, and 'John Hardy' is a bit quicker (and snappier) than the one I had. Transcripts are interesting because they were recorded for the radio, some of them live. Digging through the discographies has made me realise just how important broadcast radio was to jazz and to music in the early days. Live broadcasts were de rigeur, and important to musicians' careers.

Jimmie Noone, Wingy Manone, Doc Cook and His 14 Doctors Of Syncopation, Andy Kirk and other scratchies. Mostly obsessing over these doods.

But I can never go past a little hifi or good quality saucy blues.

Big Mama Thornton's 'Ball n Chain'. Just the song 'Gimme a Penny'. Because that's all you need, really. Well, that and 'Hound Dog', because some skinny-arse white boy ain't got nothin' on this sister.

The Bluesville Years Volume 11: Blues Is A Heart's Sorrow (you don't need a photo for this one). I've downloaded various bits and pieces in this series. The quality is fab. The artists are amazing. The songs are super, excellently saucy. Not at all G-rated.

There are lots more, but this is the sort of thing I'm enjoying at the moment. Gotta go eat pizza now. :D

"recent emusic adventures" was posted by dogpossum on May 3, 2009 8:41 PM in the category digging and djing and lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (2)

some things about djing that other DJs've taught me

Here are the most useful things I've learnt about DJing, from other DJs:

1. Begin as you mean to go on. Russell from Canberra used that line, and it's useful. If I don't want the tempos to be too low during the set, I try to make my first song the slowest I'll go during that set. No lower. From there, the only way is up.

2. Come in loud and proud - get that party started. Andy from Melbourne taught me the most useful tip for DJing blues I've ever learnt. He plays a loud, spankin' blues set - no quiet kissing and cuddling. I once heard him start a set in the back room at a late night at MLX by yelling "let's get this party started!" and playing some loud, chunky hippity hop. Only Andy could get away with that shit - his energy and enthusiasm is infectious.

3. Be really into the music you're playing.
Trev from Perth is a big, fat music nerd. He loves the music he plays. Sometimes I find myself getting frustrated with DJing for dancers because I'm not happy with the music I'm playing. I feel like I'm playing stuff I don't really like as a way of compromising between what I do like and what I think they like. But Trev doesn't seem to compromise - he plays what he likes. What he loves. I find that I do a better set and have a much better time DJing when I play music I love, and when I (consequently) really get into the feel of dancing. I figure, if it's good music, people will dance despite themselves. And as DJs, we're really doing this as a community service (as well as as a chance to show off), so why not buy and play music we like?

"some things about djing that other DJs've taught me" was posted by dogpossum on May 3, 2009 3:12 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (0)

May 2, 2009

djing report

Last night I did one of the funnest sets ever. It was the first night of the balboa weekend (there are a couple of big name bal couples in town) and I was given a 'lindy/bal' brief. I figured I'd play hot jazz that makes for spankin' lindy hop, with some more 'complicated' ones in there for bal. I have only ever DJed for bal dancers once before, but I've been asking people and looking up the sorts of things that bal people like to dance to. From what I can gather, they like hot jazz that makes for spankin' lindy hop. There used to be an emphasis on New Orleans revival stuff, but I think that's shifted a bit.

2nd set, 9-10pm Fri 1 May, Roxbury, Sydney Balboa Festival 2009
(title artist bpm year album last played)

Rag Mop Bob Crosby and the Bobcats 164 1950 Bob Crosby and the Bobcats: The Complete Standard Transcript 1/05/09 9:10 PM
Joshua Fit De Battle Of Jericho Kid Ory and his Creole Jazz Band 160 1946 Kid Ory and his Creole Jazz Band 1944-46 1/05/09 9:13 PM
Whoa Babe Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra with Lionel Hampton, vocal 201 1937 The Complete Lionel Hampton Victor Sessions 1937-1941 (disc 1) 1/05/09 9:16 PM
A Viper's Moan Willie Bryant and his Orchestra with Teddy Wilson, Cozy Cole 153 1935 Willie Bryant 1935-1936 1/05/09 9:20 PM
Truckin' Henry 'Red' Allen and His Orchestra 171 1935 Henry Red Allen ‘Swing Out' 1/05/09 9:23 PM
The Back Room Romp Rex Stewart and his 52nd Street Stompers 152 1937 The Duke's Men: Small Groups Vol. 1 (Disc 2) 1/05/09 9:25 PM
Solid as a Rock Count Basie and his Orchestra with The Deep River Boys 140 1950 Count Basie and His Orchestra 1950-1951 1/05/09 9:28 PM
Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra 135 1945 Hamp: The Legendary Decca Recordings 1/05/09 9:32 PM
St. Louis Blues Ella Fitzgerald 183 Ella Fitzgerald In The Groove 1/05/09 9:37 PM
Call Me A Taxi Four Of The Bob Cats 175 1938 All Star Jazz Quartets (disc 2) 1/05/09 9:40 PM
Bearcat Shuffle Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy with Mary Lou Williams 160 1936 The Lady Who Swings the Band - Mary Lou Williams with Any Kirk and his Clouds of Joy 1/05/09 9:43 PM
Jive At Five Count Basie and his Orchestra 174 1939 The Complete Decca Recordings (disc 03) 1/05/09 9:46 PM
Shortnin' Bread Fats Waller and his Rhythm 195 1941 Last Years (1940-1943) (Disc 2) 1/05/09 9:48 PM
Algiers Stomp Mills Blue Rhythm Band with Henry 'Red' Allen, J.C. Higgenbotham, George Washington, Edgar Hayes, Lucky Millinder 219 1936 Mills Blue Rhythm Band: Harlem Heat 1/05/09 9:51 PM
Mr. Ghost Goes To Town Mills Blue Rhythm Band 192 1936 Mills Blue Rhythm Band: 1933-1936 1/05/09 9:55 PM
Seven Come Eleven Benny Goodman Sextet 234 1939 Charlie Christian: The Genius of The Electric Guitar (disc 1) 1/05/09 9:58 PM
Stomp It Off Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra 190 1934 Swingsation - Jimmie Lunceford 1/05/09 10:01 PM
Peckin' (-3) Duke Ellington and his Orchestra with Johnny Hodges, Cootie Williams 164 1937 Duke Ellington: The Complete 1936-1940 Variety, Vocalion and Okeh Small Group Sessions (Disc 2) 1/05/09 6:09 PM

(that's the Mills Blue Rhythm Band there (well, part of), stolen from the internet)

I started with some NO revival stuff to follow up from Sharon's set (she'd just played some Boilermakers and something else in the same vein). I'm also a bit nuts about that Bob Crosby album atm, especially that great 'Rag Mop' song. I've never played that version of Jericho so early in a set before - it was interesting to see how it went down. I've found that this NO revival stuff doesn't work at the Roxbury, ever. But Sharon had warmed the room and the bal nuts (including a lot of out of towners) were up for it. Yay.
Then I played 'Whoa Babe', which I freakin' love: it makes me feel like dancing like a crazy, manic fool. Kind of dodgy transition from Bechet, but I wanted to ditch the NO stuff and get back to the Savoy. Then 'Viper's Moan' to drop the tempos a little, but get us towards the sort of sound I'm really into atm (that song isn't as overplayed here as elsewhere). Plus, Willie Bryant = A1. I love 'Truckin'' and Henry Red Allen. I love the lyrics. This was sort of my homage to all that truckin' business that's been getting about in the US at gigs like ULHS, etc. Plus, I was half planning to play 'Peckin' next, for the comedic value. 'Truckin' is actually a bit mellower, and feels more laid back, which I think the crowd needed as they were getting a bit frenetic and the non-hardcore-bal doods were looking a bit forlorn. That mellower feel tricks people into thinking the song is slower than it is, and I didn't want to let the tempos get below 160 if I could help it.
But then I played 'Back Room Romp'. It sounds and feels higher energy, even though it's slower. Again, I wanted to get the people on the sidelines up with something a bit slower. I'd also noticed the people dancing every song were looking a bit shagged. 'Solid As A Rock' and 'Hey Ba-Ba-Re-Bop' were crowd-pleasing favourites. I wanted a 'newer' sound (funny how 1950 and 1945 are 'new' in this context) with the 'smoother', hardcore swinging sound of that later classic swing period. Lower tempos to revive people, higher energy to get them up and dancing.
'St Louis Blues' is still my fave from that Ella album. I'm not sure what's happened to the date on that one - gotta chase it up now I'm home. It's mid-30s, though, or perhaps '38, '39, after Webb had died and Ella was leading his band. It's a fucking great song: high energy, live at the Savoy, absolutely A1. I keep meaning to play other stuff from that album, but I'm not sick of this one yet. And I rarely get to play faster stuff. It got people pumped.
'Call Me A Taxi': my 2nd Crosby song of the night, and perhaps a mijudgment. People were still dancing, but I'm not sure it did what I wanted. I should have stayed mega highenergy. But this is a great song for bal as well as lindy and it has lots of rinkytink piano, which I love, and which I wanted to use to get to Mary L Williams and Fats. 'Bearcat Shuffle' is lighter and feels kind of friendly - it's not a big wall of sound. It has a lovely piano line that makes me want to shorty george. It also screams 'swing out, bitch!' This was a resting tempo song.
'Jive at Five' because I was thinking of Frankie. This is a nice song - lighter and friendly, and while it's a bit quicker than 'Bearcat Shuffle', it actually feels a bit slower. It went down with bal doods really well last time I played it, so I gave it another whirl. Also, I love it. And: more piano-centred stuff.

Fats and my overplayed version of 'Shortnin' Bread'. Which I still freakin' love. It starts mellower and tinklier (like the last few songs), but it ends with a nice, fat, full shouting chorus that makes people crazy.

'Algier's Stomp' is so great. I'm not sick of it yet. Lighter, but chunkier than the previous songs. Less with the piano, more with the chunky rhythm section (yeah! great dancing!) and the brass, incl best baritone sax solo ever (well, after Zonky). Why, hello there Mr Henry Red Allen, it's good to see you again. This is something I know bal doods have liked in the past, plus it screams 'lindy HOP MOTHERFUCKERS!' to me.

Then 'Mr Ghost Goes To Town' by the MBRB again. Russ was hanging shit on me for thinking about playing a 2nd song by Fats earlier, so I was all 'HA! I mock your DJing rules!' The hi-fi Mora's Modern Rhythmist version of this song gets played a lot (esp up here), so I played this original, chunkier, aweseomer, faster version. It was familiar for the crowd (so they got up to dance if they hadn't been), it feels a bit slower, but it's actually chunky and driving. I have some reservations about the bunch of solos in the middle, but the sax solo redeems it.

Energy was way up in the room by then, so I went hardcore with the Benny Goodman sextet and 'Seven Come Eleven'. I love this song more than anything. It's a bit too complicated for lindy hop, and doesn't really have that badass, driving energy that makes you swingout. But I figured it's just right for balboa. It went down well. At this point Dave said to me "Hammy! In their face!" because it was so quick. It's not _that_ quick, for baldoods, but it's complicated so it feels like hard work.
Then I played 'Stomp It Off' because I wanted some Lunceford. This is another lighter sounding song, but it's still quite quick, so it doesn't drag. This is one I've played a lot, and tend to play after something very fast because it sounds slower and allows me to keep the tempos up but also keep people dancing. Bal doods like it.
Then I closed with 'Peckin' because it's GREAT and in honour of Ellington's birthday this week. I didn't get to play it directly after 'Truckin', but still, it rocks ("well you talk about the truckin' when the peckin' is (ill?)!" At this point Russ and I were heckling the crowd and demanding pecking. They failed, so we obliged ourselves.
Ah, DJ humour. How sophisticated it is.

This was a really, really fun set to play. I love the bal doods: they eat up the tempos. I get to play the more complicated stuff I tend to leave off for lindy hoppers. They're also interested in the early 30s stuff I really love. This is where my musical passions lie atm. It was a crowded room with lots of crazy dancing. I had an absolute ball.

I did worry that I was playing too much fast stuff, but people told me I wasn't. And reviewing the set, I did vary the tempos more than I thought I did. I think it was lots of fun to DJ because I was actually in the set properly. I worked the tempos in the wave, but I also worked the energy levels in the songs, and this is something I haven't had the brain to do lately. I felt like I did a much better job last night than I have in ages. It was a bit tricky to see the crowd, though (the lights were on over our heads in the DJ booth, but the floor was dark) and sometimes I felt I couldn't quite work the people who were sitting down.

Seeing as how it was MayDay, I was thinking 'fight the power' and 'for the workers!' but I'm not sure how well that came through. But I figure 2 tracks by the Mills Blue Rhythm Band - the hardest working gigging band of the 30s - were a pretty good flag-flyer for that.

And while I didn't get to play 'Shiny Stockings' for Frankie (Russ handled that - phew), I figured he'd have dug a hardcore Savoy set like that. Also, I saw some knickers when the follows were twirling, and I _know_ he'd have liked that.

Then Russ played a fun set that worked a different vibe, which was really nice - I think he did a lot of stuff I didn't in my set, so between us we managed to cover a wide range of styles. Also, I danced TWO SONGS and then danced some solo stuff a bit. I'm paying for it today, but man - those endorphines!

BTW, this is a useful site for info about early jazz. Thing is, it's about the worst, most terribly un-userfriendly site in the universe. This is the problem with a lot of jazznick sites: crappy layout. But if you do manage to navigate it, you'll find some fab pics, info and even sound.

"djing report" was posted by dogpossum on May 2, 2009 1:31 PM in the category djing and lindy hop and other dances and music | Comments (0)