I went pretty hard on the heavy, chunky stuff at Herrang this year. Mostly because I was hearing a lot of tinkly cerebral jazz and got a bit bored.
On Wednesday night I DJed a taxi dance for charity, where teachers danced with anyone who’d pay 20 crowns. It was a hard gig. The tempos had to stay low, but I had to keep the energy up and the dancing interesting so the teachers could bring their A game, the punters felt confident to ask them to dance, and we all had fun. So I played lots of favourites:
My Baby Just Cares For Me 120 Nina Simone
Be Careful (If You Can’t Be Good) 121 1951 Buddy Johnson and his Orchestra
Smooth Sailing 118 Ella Fitzgerald
Massachusetts 147 1956 Maxine Sullivan With Buster Bailey, Milt Hinton, Jerome Richardson, Osie Johnson, Dick Hyman, Wendell Marshall
Splanky 125 1957 Count Basie and his Orchestra The Complete Atomic Basie
Banana Split for My Baby 137 1956 Louis Prima, Sam Butera, Keely Smith
Knock Me A Kiss 147 Louis Jordan
Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby 141 2014 Naomi and Her Handsome Devils (Naomi Uyama, Adrian Cunningham, Matt Musselman, Jake Sanders, Dalton Ridenhour, Jared Engel, Jeremy Noller)
Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop 135 1945 Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra
Lavender Coffin 134 1949 Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra with Sonny Parker and Joe James
B-Sharp Boston 126 1949 Duke Ellington and his Orchestra
Take It Easy Greasy 135 2014 Naomi and Her Handsome Devils (Naomi Uyama, Adrian Cunningham, Matt Musselman, Jake Sanders, Dalton Ridenhour, Jared Engel, Jeremy Noller)
Solid as a Rock 140 1950 Count Basie and his Orchestra with The Deep River Boys
Easy Does It 129 1958 Big Eighteen (Billy Butterfield, Buck Clayton, Charlie Shavers, Rex Stewart, Lawrence Brown, Vic Dickenson, Lou McGarity, Dicky Wells, Walt Levinksy, Hymie Schertzer, Sam Donahue, Boomie Richman, Ernie Caceres, Johnny Guarnieri, Barry Galbraith, Milt )
Walk ‘Em 131 1946 Buddy Johnson and his Orchestra
Shiny Stockings 126 1956 Count Basie and his Orchestra
After that I DJed for a while, and did some of the best DJing I’ve done in ages. I was really proud of myself, and the dancers lost their shit. It was a mix of solid favourites, some of my personal favourites, some less frequently played stuff, and a whole heap of stompy piano.
I began with the hi-fi Ella ‘Jersey Bounce’, then I went solid chunk.
Tempo de Luxe 130 1940 Harry James New York World’s Fair, 1940 – The Blue Room, Hotel Lincoln, 3:19
Everybody Rock 187 1939 Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra Live At The Savoy – 1939-40 3:19
Savoy 166 1942 Lucky Millinder and his Orchestra (Trevor Bacon) Anthology Of Big Band Swing (Disc 2) 3:05
Feedin’ The Bean (Alt-2) 172 1941 Count Basie and his Orchestra (Buck Clayton, Harry Edison, Al Killian, Ed Lewis, Ed Cuffee, Dan Minor, Dicky Wells, Earle Warren, Tab Smith, Don Byas, Coleman Hawkins, Buddy Tate, Jack Washington, Freddie Green, Walter Page, Jo Jones, Buster Harding) Classic Coleman Hawkins Sessions 1922-1947 (Mosaic disc 06) 3:16
The Girl I Left Behind Me 206 1941 Bob Wills San Antonio Rose [disc 10] 2:40
Ridin’ On The L&N 170 1946 Lionel Hampton and his Quartet Lionel Hampton Story 3: Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop 2:53
Page Mr. Trumpet 167 1946 Pete Johnson, J.C. Heard, Jimmy Shirley, Al Hall, Albert Nicholas, Hot Lips Page, J.C. Higginbotham Pete Johnson: Complete Jazz Series 1944 – 1946 2:53
Drinkin’ Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee 134 1949 Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra with Sonny Parker Hamp: The Legendary Decca Recordings 3:24
Bearcat Shuffle 160 1936 Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy (Mary Lou Williams) The Lady Who Swings the Band – Mary Lou Williams with Any Kirk and his Clouds of Joy 3:01
Take It 174 1941 Benny Goodman and his Orchestra (Jimmy Maxwell, Irving Goodman, Alec Fila, Cootie Williams, Lou McGarity, Cutty Cutshall, Gus Bivona, Les Robinson, Georgie Auld, Pete Mondello, Bob Snyder, Johnny Guarnieri, Mike Bryan, Artie Bernstein, Dave Tough) Classic Columbia and Okeh Benny Goodman Orchestra Sessions (1939-1958) (Mosaic disc 03) 3:13
Jesse 224 1939 Harry James and the Boogie Woogie Trio (Pete Johnson, Albert Ammons, Johnny Williams, Eddie Dougherty) Boogie Woogie And Blues Piano Mosaic Select 2:44
Answer Man 143 1940 Harry James New York World’s Fair, 1940 – The Blue Room, Hotel Lincoln, 3:47
Keep On Churnin’ 146 1952 Wynonie Harris Wynonie Harris: Complete Jazz Series 1950 – 1952 2:56
It was interesting seeing how other DJs do things in Herrang, and I was struck by just how great an emphasis the Australian DJs that I admire most place on working the crowd. And how great an emphasis is placed on playing ‘rare’ or ‘hard to find’ stuff by some of the European DJs. There were other DJs at Herrang who’d never have played ‘Keep on Churnin’ or ‘Drinkin Wine’ because they’re too popular or too ‘easy’.
Me, I like to offer dancers invitations to dance – easy, friendly songs that are of a moderate tempo and easy to dance to – so they’ll get up and on the dance floor. And I like to work a tempo/emotional wave so we all get together and feel strong crazy feels together. The tempos in this range are quite moderate, and most of these songs are really easy to find. I have them on collected works CDs, for the most part. And Mosaic make it easy to find the more obscure stuff and go complete.
I think the most important thing a DJ does is make it easy for people to have fun. No wankery, no ‘educating’, ‘challenging’, or ‘pushing’ dancers. Just get up and entertain the peeps. What we do does require skill, imagination, and creativity. But it’s not brain surgery. The goal is simple: get everyone dancing, and then get them dancing til they go crazy. A full floor is just the starting point. The goal is emotional crazitude.