Waitin’ and Drinkin’ Di – Anne Price – 88 Steps to the Blues – 126 – 2009 – 3:16
When I Get Low – Gordon Webster (with Jesse Selengut, Matt Musselman, Cassidy Holden, Rob Adkins, Jeremy Noller, Adrian Cunningham) – Live In Philadelphia – 107 – 2010 – 5:27
Let’s Do It – Terra Hazelton (feat. Jeff Healey, Marty Grosz, Dan Levinson, Vince Giordano) – Anybody’s Baby – 126 – 2004 – 4:28
Lemonade – Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five (vol 5) – 117 – 1950 – 3:17
What A Man – Linda Lyndall – The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles Volume 2: 1968-1971 – 86 – 2:42
You’re Losing Me – Ann Sexton – Stone Cold Funk – 113 – 1971 – 2:22
Chain Of Fools – Aretha Franklin – Greatest Hits – Disc 1 – 116 – 2:48
Here I Am (Come and Take Me) – Al Green – Greatest Hits – 95 – 1975 – 4:15
Things are Slow – Barbara Dane – I Hate the Capitalist System – 91 – 4:17
Black Rat (take 4) – Big Mama Thornton (with Muddy Waters, James Cotton, Otis Spann, Sammy Lawhorn, Luther ‘Guitar Junior’ Johnson, Francis Clay) – With the Muddy Waters Blues Band, 1966 – 101 – 1966 – 2:53
A few of my current favourites, a few of my really old favourites (Anne Sexton), a few overplayed soul classics. But really, when does ‘Respect’ get old? When we live in a postpatriarchy, baby.
You can read more about my DJing this set at the above link where I go into the night in lots of detail. But for now, this’ll do.
A group of nice songs. Not a speck of jazz, and not at all appropriate for lindy hop. Fairly heavy on the vocals and emoting. So much emoting, in fact, I almost feel uncomfortable listing these songs. But then I listen to them, and I feel better.
Caramel – Suzanne Vega – Nine Objects Of Desire – 1996 – 2:53
Chip Away The Stone – Hot Club Of Cowtown – Ghost Train – 2002 – 3:17
Tell Me Again – Ron Sexsmith – Blue Boy – 2001 – 2:37
The Littlest Birds – The Be Good Tanyas – Blue Horse – 2000 – 4:07
Railroad Bill – Crooked Still – Shaken By A Low Sound – 2006 – 2:19
Coffee’s Cold/Tater Patch – Uncle Earl – Going to the Western Slope – 254 – 2004 3:08
Clifton’s Two Step – Clifton Chenier – Louisiana Blues & Zydeco [Bonus Track] – 193 – 1965 – 3:11
Down On Penny’s Farm – Natalie Merchant – The House Carpenter’s Daughter – 2003 – 3:44
I Don’t Want Your Millions, Mister – Barbara Dane – I Hate the Capitalist System – 137 – 3:34
Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow – Natalie Merchant – The House Carpenter’s Daughter – 2003 – 3:22
Slim’s Jam Slim Gaillard and his Orchestra (Bam Brown, Zutty Singleton, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Jack McVea) The Legends of Savoy, Vol. 2 110 1945 3:17
The Stuff’s Out [it jumped just a minute ago] Skeets Tolbert and his Gentlemen of Swing (Carl Smith, Lem Johnson, Fred Jefferson, Al Hall, Hubert Pettaway) Skeets Tolbert 1931-1940 153 1939 3:24
Hey! Stop Kissin’ My Sister Fats Waller and His Rhythm (John Hamilton, Gene Sedric, Al Casey, Cedric Wallace, Slick Jones) Last Years (1940-1943) (Disc 1) 191 1940 2:48
Murder In The Moonlight Red McKenzie and his Rhythm Kings (Eddie Farley, Mike Riley, Slats Young, Conrad Lanoue, Eddie Condon, George Yorke, Johnny Powell) Classic Sessions 1927-49 (Volume 2) 193 1935 2:55
It Ain’t Right Stuff Smith and his Onyx Club Boys (Jonah Jones, Jame Sherman, Cozy Cole, Bobby Bennett, Mack Walker) Stuff Smith: Complete Jazz Series 1936 – 1939 196 1936 2:42
I’ve Got To Be A Rug Cutter Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra The Complete 1932-1940 Brunswick, Columbia And Master Recordings Of Duke Ellington And His Famous Orchestra (disc 06) 236 1937 2:35
Indiana Mound City Blue Blowers (Bunny Berigan, Eddie Miller, Gil Bowers, Nappy Lamare, Harry Goodman, Ray Bauduc, Red McKenzi) Classic Sessions 1927-49 (Volume 1) 230 1935 2:54
I Lost My Girl From Memphis Jimmie Noone’s Apex Club Orchestra (Eddie Pollack, Zinky Cohn, Wilbur Gorham, Bill Newton, Johnny Wells, Georgia White) Jimmie Noone: The Complete Recordings, Vol.2 CD 3 280 1930 2:28
Organ Grinder Blues Clarence Williams and his Orchestra (Ed Allen, Cecil Scott, James P. Johnson, Floyd Casey, Eva Taylor, Clarence Todd) Complete Jazz Series 1934 104 1934 3:11
Let’s Sow A Wild Oat Jimmie Noone’s Apex Club Orchestra (Joe Poston, Alex Hill, Junie Cobb, Bill Newton, Johnny Wells, George Mitchell, Fayette Williams) The Jimmie Noone Collection 185 1928 3:03
Then You’re Drunk Jimmie Noone Trio (Gideon Honore, Henry Forte, Ed Thompson vcl) Jimmie Noone 1934 – 1940 140 1940 2:59
I knew I had to start with Slim Gaillard, but I wasn’t sure where. Slim and Slam are so obvious. But I really like this nice, slow song with lots of talking. Slim does his usual shtick, but you also get to hear the rest of the band mucking about.
Stuff’s Out. I like thinking about dancing in inappropriate clothing when I listen to this song. You know, shirts that ride up, necklines that plunge a little low, brassieres that don’t quite do the job. Tolbert might not have been being as kind as me, but I like the idea of a lady jiggling her bits with delight.
“Swine! To the pigpen!” Fats is another obvious choice. But this is the best intro ever.
‘Murder in the Moonlight’ isn’t exactly a funny song, but I like singing it because it’s cheesy and makes me laugh: “I’ve been killed with kindness; it’s love in the first degree.”
‘It Ain’t Right’ isn’t really a funny song either, but I really like the timing on the vocals “mama, I’m talk-in”. It’s really clever, and my response to cleverness when I’m dancing is usually to shout out with inappropriate laughter.
The opening few bars of this song make me laugh and laugh and laugh. Dave exclaimed “Child!” at about the sixty-fifth playing.
I love Jimmie Noone more than anything. More. Than. Anything. I had about ten of his songs on this list, but had to cut it down. This one doesn’t have the funniest lyrics, but like ‘Murder in the Moonlight’ and ‘Indiana’, it has a fun riff that’s cool to sing and sounds excellently dramatic.
When Clarence Williams tells you to “wrap your lips around that clarinet and get good and low”, you do as you’re told. More talking, more fun. “Yeah boy, don’t you pull off your shoes in here.”
More Jimmie Noone. Singing about sowing a wild oat.
I really liked Ed Thompson’s scraggly vocal singing about knowing when you’re drunk.
A set list from a gig I did at the Speakeasy on Saturday night (22/1/11, 11pm – 2am or so; I DJed 12-1am or so). I haven’t done this in a while, but I was so inspired by the gig itself, and my previously-shitting-me DJing so reinvigorated, I had to post the set list with a long, boring talk about what’s in it and why I played it and so on.
Firstly, why was my DJing giving me the shits? Basically, I’d done too much of it before christmas. Too many frustrating gigs in less than great conditions at a time of year when I was totally buggered. One shitty ‘christmas’ party after another. Fuck that.
I’ve also been doing a lot of unpaid gigs, which is really soul destroying, particularly after being paid in Melbourne. Unpaid gigs make you feel as though your work has no value, particularly when you do them _all the time_. I don’t mind doing the odd gig for free, particularly if it’s for charity or for a special gig for friends who really want to put on a socially right-on gig (like this one I’ll be discussing in a second). But if I’m (one vertebrae in) the backbone of a social night, I really need to see some of the $$ being paid by the punters at the door. My music buying habit also really needs the $$.
I’ve also been doing so much dance work myself, I really want to dance. And there’s nothing more frustrating than sitting on my clack watching other people dance.
(Image lifted from here. If you’re liking this Bill Steber photo, I’ve linked to a few more here.)
So why did I take this gig? Basically, it was because the guys who run this Speakeasy event have some very nice goals:
– make it as cheap as possible for punters;
– run a socially right-on event: make it fun, make the food and drinks good (no fairy bread here), make the vibe friendly, make the music fun;
– be environmentally friendly – avoid non-recyclable cups and so on, and where you can’t be energy or environmentally efficient, be reusable;
– be good to your DJs;
– complement other events by being on after the main dance/event, and working as an ‘after party’ or complement to the main event.
I’ve DJed for them a few times, and the first time I thought ‘fuck, this is what DJing an exchange would be like if the organisers were professional and relaxed, the venue was good and the event was relaxed and fun and not riddled with politics and tension.’ I’ve done a few gigs with them since, and each time has been as good as the first one. The organisers are really nice to me (which, shockingly, isn’t as common with other gigs as you’d expect), the gig is chilled with an equal mix of dancing and socialising (which is really nice – less pressure to ‘facilitate good dancing experiences’, more emphasis on ‘playing fun songs and having fun’) and I feel relaxed and enjoy the actual DJing experience.
This really surprises me as I’m always squeezed into the middle of a crowded room, surrounded by people talking. Usually I hate that crowdedness when I’m trying to ‘work’, but with this gig it feels totally ok. The punters can come and tell me when they like a song or if they want to know who sang it, they buy me drinks, and I can ask them what they’d like to hear or what they’re in the mood for. They’re usually interested in music which isn’t oriented towards hardcore lindy hop, and I play a combination of blues, soul, funk and other fun party music. This is often a sticking point for me. I don’t usually like doing gigs with a mix of music, but I enjoy these ones. I get to play the faster blues music which isn’t ok for lindy hop, really, and isn’t wanted at straight blues nights. And I get to toss in the odd Aretha Franklin song. Which is so sell-out, but also, so wonderful.
So when I was asked to do this gig, I said yes immediately and without stopping to think. Pete was also after some help setting up and I also said yes immediately to that. I really like being involved in dance events which have their politics in the right place: make good events that are fun and friendly and good. Don’t fuck people over. Have fun. I also really like working with these guys as a DJ as they’re so friendly and lovely, I knew that doing prep work would be lots of fun. And when you’re doing volunteer work at dance events, the most important part of the experience is that it be fun and friendly. Which, once again, it’s often not.
The venue, Cross Over Dance Studio was also really nice. Pete and I went along to scout it out earlier in the week (we spent a week putting the event together, which was also nice: less long lead time to get stressy). The guy who runs the joint is really nice and I really liked the mood in the studio. It was busy, with lots of people coming in and out to dance. And as we were checking things out, a huge group of young women arrived for a badass hippity hop class, and that was beyond wonderful. The manager was ridiculously accommodating of our slow hippy-paced consensual decision making process, and I felt really good about going into that space to work with someone who was as stupidly in-love with dancing as I am. Often the venue managers we work with in dance are jaded and burnt out. Working in shitty night clubs we see too many fairly unhappy people, and it’s not nice working with them.
The space itself is nice and fresh and clean – you can see some photos on the site. We used the foyer area, with the option of breaking out to one of the studios if we needed it. Which we did. Sound proofing between the studios was GREAT, which is often an issue when you’re using multiple spaces and DJs. We moved the sofas around in the large foyer area to clear a ‘dance floor’, but plopped little bunches of couches together to making ‘conversation spaces’. It worked well – people flowed between the couch areas and the dance floor, into the studio, around the centre admin island (where we put the DJ), to the ‘kissing room’ which was a bit quieter and darker for calmer conversations. I liked the way the main area had general ‘party’ music, and that that was also where a lot of hanging about talking happened. The studio was really more for more hardcore dancing, and that sort of space isn’t really conducive to good talking and socialising, but is good for more hardcore dancing. I actually didn’t dance in there at all – I preferred the more party/pub/bar atmosphere of the main room.
We put the DJ at the main ‘island’ in the centre of the room, which was a great idea. You could see the entire room, keep the ‘in the mix’ feeling of these guys’ other events, but have a secure table for laptop and a good, somewhat raised vantage point for keeping an eye on things. The lift to the space opened straight into the room, in direct line of sight to the DJ. This was really GREAT for DJing, as I could work directly with the energy of the lift’s ‘bing’ and the sudden influx of a crowded lift’s worth of people. I aimed at making the room feel ‘full’ of sound and party with my music. The speakers were in the middle of the room pushing out from the island, and while they weren’t really up to the job, they worked ok.
People ended up dancing in a few different areas, which was also good – it kept things from feeling really crushed and it kind of messed up the usual hierarchies that happen on a dance floor. I also liked it that dance floor space was also traffic space. That would interfere with hardcore dancing which really needs safe, clear areas for dancing, but it keeps you connected, as a dancer, with the people in the rest of the room when you have to keep your eye out for people moving through to get a beer or to call out to you. I like the way that sort of room makes me dance – I feel connected to the whole room, not just my partner. Perfect for late night party feelings.
Incidentally, Pete put on some great food, free beers and wine, all included in the entry price. The studio is right in the middle of Sydney’s China Town, though, so if you’re looking for late night food, for once you needn’t chase shitty take away. Dumplings for all! The public transport was also really good, which meant a bunch of us went home on the night bus together, rather than having to get cabs.
The only real draw back to the space was the heat. We had heaps of fans on, but it got REALLY hot. This isn’t always a bad thing, though. It gets really sweaty, but I’ve always found a hot room much easier to DJ than a cool room. I think it has something to do with the way the heat affects our bodies. It makes us flush and sweat, which no doubt pumps hormones into the air. It makes our muscles looser than the cold, which makes it easier to dance. I also find it keeps people moving around the room, from the dance floor to the drinks, to the bathrooms to wash their faces, to the fans and back again. But we really could have done with a bit more air conditioning.
Ok, so what did I do with the music? I had fussed a bit over it earlier in the week. We were following the Sydney Festival Night at the Trocadero event, which was apparently AMAZING in the Sydney Town Hall, though there wasn’t much ‘real’ dancing to be had. The second part of that event included a Royal Crown Revue gig. My brief was to provide ‘mostly swing’ with ‘some neo swing’ to complement RCR. These Speakeasy gigs usually include some soul and funk, so I was to drop in some of that. Because they also usually do blues, I was to add in some blues. We talked through it a bit, and I wasn’t to do hardcore old school scratchy swinging jazz.
I ended up putting together a short list that included:
early jump blues and rhythm and blues stuff (eg Kansas shouter guys like Jimmy Witherspoon and Walter Brown, Jay McShann’s earlier stuff, some favourites like Lavender Coffin and other late 40s Lionel Hampton stuff, some later Louis Jordan, some Louis Prima, Wynonie Harris, etc);
some neo (mostly Swing Session and a few other bands, but I didn’t really emphasise this as I have very little);
hi-fi or modern bands who do dirty, gutbucket blues or saucy upenergy party music (this was a mixed group including the Asylum Street Spankers, Preservation Hall band, Tuba Skinny, Gordon Webster’s new album, etc);
some early soul and rnb (including Tina Turner, Big Mama Thornton, etc).
I do this sort of set quite often at exchanges (minus the soul), and I have to say that they’re often my very favourite. The energy is high, the tempos are really accessible, the rhythms are often more familiar than earlier swing and hot jazz, and the lyrics are lots of fun. The shouting and clapping always feels good. I felt that I pushed it a bit this time, and included some newer stuff (to me – not just my same old stodge) and worked the transitions in a more dynamic way. I really pushed the high energy vibe. I wanted the room to feel really crowded and loud and full of shouting and drinking and party. I think I got that happening. I felt really good about the set, and I really enjoyed DJing it. I’m fairly sure the punters liked it, though we had some people leave when they realised it wasn’t entirely like the previous events, or because they were just plain buggered after three different events in one night.
Righto, this is what I played (the modern artists have links to their websites – I recommend all of their albums):
[title, artist, album, bpm, year, time played]
I’m Feeling Alright (fast version) Big Mama Thornton (with Muddy Waters, James Cotton, Otis Spann, Sammy Lawhorn, Luther ‘Guitar Junior’ Johnson, Francis Clay) With the Muddy Waters Blues Band, 1966 126 1966 2:28 23/01/11 12:11 AM
All She Wants To Do Is Rock Wynonie Harris Greatest Hits 145 2009 2:34 23/01/11 12:14 AM
My Man Stands Out Di Anne Price Barrel House Queen 145 2010 2:54 23/01/11 12:17 AM
Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen Gordon Webster (with Jesse Selengut, Matt Musselman, Cassidy Holden, Rob Adkins, Jeremy Noller, Adrian Cunningham) Live In Philadelphia 151 2010 5:16 23/01/11 12:22 AM
Sugar Blues Terra Hazelton (feat. Jeff Healey’s Jazz Wizards) Anybody’s Baby 113 2004 3:44 23/01/11 12:26 AM
Knock on wood Ike And Tina Turner The Ike & Tina Turner Archive Series : Hits & Classics Vol.1 119 1998 2:31 23/01/11 12:28 AM
Respect Aretha Franklin Greatest Hits – Disc 1 114 2:25 23/01/11 12:31 AM
Hound Dog Big Mama Thornton Very Best Of 76 2:52 23/01/11 12:33 AM
Lemonade Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five (vol 5) 117 1950 3:17 23/01/11 12:37 AM
Lavender Coffin Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra with Sonny Parker and Joe James Hamp: The Legendary Decca Recordings 134 1949 2:47 23/01/11 12:40 AM
Blue Monday Jay McShann and his Band (Jimmy Witherspoon) Goin’ To Kansas City Blues 125 1957 3:40 23/01/11 12:43 AM
Play the Blues Walter Brown Kansas City Blues 1944-1949 (Disc 2) 145 1949 2:39 23/01/11 12:46 AM
In The Basement – Part One Etta James The Best Of Etta James 122 1966 2:21 14/06/10 3:55 AM
Let’s Do It Terra Hazelton (feat. Jeff Healey, Marty Grosz, Dan Levinson, Vince Giordano) Anybody’s Baby 126 2004 4:28 23/01/11 12:54 AM
I followed Tom, who’d been playing quite an eclectic mix of old school, funk, super groove and general party. There weren’t millions of people there (perhaps a dozen or so), but they were all talking and cheery (the layout of the room was really what made this happen) and the room felt ‘warm’ in a social sense.
I came in with Big Mama Thornton because I’ve just blown a zillion emusic credits on her and that album with Muddy Waters is beyond excellent. It was a pretty full on start, and I was taking a punt by coming in pounding like that. But I managed to pitch and time it just right, so it worked out. Though The Squeeze had to come tell me to turn the volume down. :D
I followed with that Wynonie Harris song because it’s a nice transition to ‘swing’ and jump blues, and that gave me more options for the following songs. I wasn’t sure whether I’d want to go to straight ahead lindy hop, or to soul or what, so I tried to keep my options open. I was basically thinking ‘big shouting voice’, ‘simple rhythms’, ‘clapping’, and a basic blues structure.
Then I went to Di Anne Price because she’s more in the ‘swing’ category, though this song is pretty much solid jump blues or early rnb, a cover of Julia Lee with a slightly more modern sensibility in her voice. She has a gravelly, dirty voice that complements Big Mama Thornton. From here I could go to lindyhoppable, to blues or to something more modern.
I went to Bei Mir Bist du Schoen, from Gordon Webster’s new album because it has lots of energy and a lovely, gravelly shouting vocal (NB you can download that song for free from the site. The whole album is definitely worth buying). It’s also live, which is a sure fire way of building energy. The beginning is somewhat quieter and more chilled, but that’s ok because I wanted to kind of ease off a bit and give the crowd a bit of an emotional break. But it ends massive.
We had a massive crowd of solid lindy hopper types arrive during that last song, so I went with more conventional lindy hoppable stuff with Terra Hazeleton after that. They looked a bit tired and shell shocked, so I went with something that has a fairly simple rhythm and less intense sound, so they could acclimatise.
After that I was kind of ready to shift gears. Too much swing and hot jazz and early blues type stuff can really kill the energy in a room when most people aren’t really hardcore dancers. I think it’s because it can be a bit unfamiliar, structurally and rhythmically, and people associate it with ‘serious’ dancing, or dancing you have to learn in a dance class. So I went to some Tina Turner. Which was a bit of a leap, but still shouting female vocals. And it’s a song everyone knows. But a vastly superior version to the one most people know. It jumped the energy up in the room.
Then I went to Aretha, as she’s an easy punt. I was also giving people arriving a chance to put their stuff down (we had a steady stream arrivals as the previous gig ended at 12am). But I didn’t want to go too soul or into funk as that can be too off-putting for serious lindy hoppers, or for people coming from the RCR gig.
Hound Dog is my overplayed song. But goddamn it’s good. And people know it well now, and like it. They especially like howling along with the dogs in the chorus and at the end. I was thinking ‘ok, now I’m getting serious again’ with this song. It’s a good one for bumping energy up, but it’s slow, so it’s not tiring. Big Mama is so goddamn awesome, you can’t help but love it. More shouting.
Then I played Lemonade as we had a bunch of lindy hoppers ready to really dance and I needed to give them some familiar rhythms and melodies. Still really not hardcore lindy hopping music to my mind – it’s too late, historically, and too close to blues. Too rhythmically simple. But it’s a great party song. And a nice transition from Big Mama to older, more swinging jazz stuff.
Lavender Coffin. Overplayed favourite. Perfect party song. Something everyone knows. Lots of shouting and clapping. Perfect for tired lindy hoppers. From this point we really were crowded, and people were really ready to dance. But dance in a ‘I’m at a party!’ way. The way people dance at live band gigs here (like Puggsly Buzzard or Unity Hall) where you happily dance one song then go for a drink or a chat. Or where you have to watch the people around you carefully because it’s crowded, or where you have to do some showing off for your friends on the sidelines. It was nice to see quite a bit of that last stuff, actually, and not just from my idiot friends.
Jay McShann and Walter Brown. More of the same for a couple of songs.
Then I changed it up. I’m not entirely sure this was the best song. I got distracted and had to talk to Pete, then we had a few announcements and cheering and stuff. So I started in again with something completely different – Etta James. More shouting. A clear shift back to dirty soul. I didn’t really feel it working properly, though, so I shifted again.
This time more Terra Hazelton (gee I’m overplaying her atm), because it’s a familiar song that people love singing along. It’s a nice version that starts kind of mellow (I often use it to start sets), but builds up and gets really shouty. She sings more mellowly at the beginning, then shouts more later. It’s a funny song, so the lyrics are fun. I always think of Tank Girl singing it when I play it. It’s good for lindy hop.
Now we were solidly in badass lindy hop territory. But not super fast – people were too tired, it was too crowded and it wasn’t a fast dancing scene. It was a beer drinking scene. So I pulled some Preservation Hall. This song can go really badly with the wrong crowd. I think it needs a crowded floor, and people with stamina. Preservation Hall are the ultimate party band.
But it’s a really intense song, emotionally, and really loud with a big, solid sound. So I eased it off a bit with Linnzi Zaorski, who is very popular with a lot of dancers in Australia atm. This song is also overplayed, but it’s familiar and that’s good at a party: singalong factor. It feels less emotionally intense, even though it’s a bit faster. So it feels like a nice break. I always see the floor fill or at least change over, with a new wave of dancers coming on, when this songs starts. I like that because it gives me a chance to try a new angle or work in a new direction because the dancers are ‘new’ (as in, had a song out just before) and bring a new energy to the floor.
Then Tuba Skinny. This is another mellower sounding song. It has fewer instruments, and a sparser sound. The vocals are a bit laid back. It’s a Bessie Smith song, though, so it has the right dirty energy. I’d have preferred to play the Smith version, because it is beyond wonderful. But I was heading in a particular direction and wanted the hi-fi. It also feels a bit less intense because it is a less solid sound. I dunno. Anyways, it’s a nice song, and a good lead up to the next one.
I played Shave em Dry, one of the most overplayed songs on earth, because it is loud, shouting, live, dirty, high energy, hifi, funny, has a great chunky rhythm, is lots of fun. I often play it when I want to shake people up a bit. It has a full-on live energy feel, with lots of call and response type interaction with audience. For first time listeners it’s a bit of a shock because it’s so explicit. For familiar ears, the anticipation of dirty lyrics is good. I like the way it makes explicit the innuendo of Do Your Duty, the previous song. And I played it because Jase was DJing next, and there is no song more appropriate for Jase. And I wanted to leave him with a crowded, high energy room.
And that’s it! I had a lot of fun doing this set. I liked moving between styles. I really liked playing that particular room. I liked the serious change from my usual sets. I didn’t feel I had to ‘achieve’ anything. I just played loud party music. It was just a whole lot of fun. Then I went and danced like a fool, working through three tshirts in an hour.
These are some songs that I really like. They all feature singers, and they’re all (mostly) smaller bands. A few of these are songs that have more commonly known versions. These are the versions I like at the moment. I’ve picked songs that are a little salty – not too sweet.
title artist(s) album bpm year song length
Some Of These Days Julia Lee, Clint Weaver, Sam ‘Baby’ Lovett Kansas City Star (disc 1) 210 1946 2:02
Shake It And Break It Joe Turner Complete Jazz Series 1938 – 1941 177 2:59
That’s What You Think Putney Dandridge Complete Jazz Series 1935 – 1936 185 1935 2:43
Swing, Brother, Swing Willie ‘The Lion’ Smith and his Cubs) Willie ‘The Lion’ Smith 1925-1937 231 1935 2:52
Knockin’ Myself Out Lil Green (acc. by Simeon Henry, Jack Dupree, Big Bill Broonzy, Ransom Knowling) 1940-1941 104 1941 3:03
If You’re A Viper Rosetta Howard acc. Harlem Hamfats (Herb Morand, Odell Rand, Horace Malcolm, Joe McCoy, Charlie McCoy, John LIndsay, Ransom Knowling, Fred Flynn, CHarlie McCoy) Let Me Tell You About The Blues: New York (Part 2) 126 1937 3:13
Stop It, Joe Rosetta Crawford acc. by James P. Johnson’s Hep Cats (Tommy Ladnier, Mezz Mezzrow, Teddy Bunn, Elmer James, Zutty Singleton) Mezz Mezzrow: Complete Jazz Series 1936 – 1939 158 1939 3:17
That Too, Do Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra (Count Basie, Jimmy Rushing) Moten Swing 123 1930 3:20
How Do They Do It That Way? Henry ‘Red’ Allen and his Orchestra (JC Higgenbotham, Albert Nicholas, Charlie Holmes, Luis Russell, Will Johnson, Pops Foster, Paul Barabarin), Victoria Spivey and the Four Wanderers Henry Red Allen And His New York Orchestra (disc 2) 139 1929 3:20
On Revival Day (A Rhythmic Spiritual) (06-09-30) Bessie Smith acc by James P. Johnson, Bessemer Singers Bessie Smith: Complete Jazz Series 1929 – 1933 1930 2:56
I haven’t chased down the year for that excellent version of ‘Shake It and Break It’. That song came to my attention via an ILHC youtube clip of Andreas Olsson and Crista Seipp competing in the showcase category. I adore this version of this song.
It reminded me of that Julia Lee song, which is super awesome. I adore ‘Some Of These Days’, and that is currently my favourite.
I’ve just bought a bunch of Putney Dandridge, and some of it is a bit lame. In the earlier days he just rocks his awesome timing and lovely, bouncy style. Not to mention the badass vibrato, but after a while he’s obviously trying to cash in on Fats Waller’s vocal style. Laaame. But I like this song, and I quite like this version.
‘Swing Brother Swing’ is great, though we usually hear the Billie Holiday version(s). I like Willie the Lion Smith a whole lot, and I like this version. I’ve played it for dancers quite a few times and they like it too.
Lil Green is rockhardawesome, and responsible for the best version of ‘Why Don’t You Do Right?’ This song ‘Knockin’ myself out’ is one the Asylum Street Spankers do, and it’s about drugs. I like her delivery.
‘If You’re A Viper’ is also about drugs. Rosetta Howard is the foshiz. The Harlem Hamfats had a bit of popularity with American dancers a little while ago, but I’m not convinced they’re all that. I like Howard, though. She actually did some neat stuff with Henry Red Allen, Barney Bigard and Sid Catlett in 1939, but I like the viper song.
‘Stop It Joe’ has one of those melodies that just gets stuck in your brain. The band is pretty spankingly good.
‘That Too Do’ is one of my favourite Bennie Moten songs. Jimmy Rushing’s lyrics include bits of a song which most people know as ‘Every Day I Have the Blues’. But ‘That Too Do’ has someone playing piano accordion and has a sort of droning, miserable style that suits the lyrics. The best bit is nearer the end, where the band shouting and the muted trumpet do some awesome call and response.
Victoria Spivey. And Henry Red Allen. That’s all I need to say, really.
A recent post on Melissa’s blog has made me think about jazz recordings again.
The album is a relatively recent phenomenon – the 50s or so is where it really happened (I think – I’m a bit fuzzy on this). We’ve really started thinking in new ways about collections of songs since digital downloading became a real possibility, and itunes recent reworking of their logo and approach to playing songs suggests that they think we don’t care about CDs or ‘albums’ the way we do. So now, in the 2010s, 50 years after albums became mainstream, we could say that we’ve gone back to thinking about individual songs rather than songs are part of albums.
I’m not sure I actually buy that idea. There are lots of people who, I’m sure, still think about albums, including the artists recording them, the record companies selling them, and the people who buy them on CD. This seems especially relevant for smaller independent bands who’re producing their own albums. But digital downloads – particular the legit sources where you buy songs individually – have reminded us of the significance of a single song as a stand alone recording or text.
I listen to jazz almost exclusively these days, and usually jazz from the 20s-40s, so I rarely think about that music in terms of albums. Unless I’m listening to a CD by a modern band. Or rather, I think about individual CDs or ‘albums’ of older jazz as just that – albums of individual items. They’re usually ‘curated’, by record companies or another third party, long after the song was originally recorded, released, played on the radio, forgotten and then dug up again by record companies looking to make a buck. The original artists didn’t think of these songs as part of an album of songs intended to be consumed as parts of a single, whole release. They thought of each song as a text that would be released on one side of a record and then bought by people who’d listen to them over and over until the grooves wore up and they had to buy a new one.
Individual releases of songs were often not even decided by the musicians themselves – the record company would choose the song they’d play, and the choose how and when and if it would be released. The ‘B-side’ song on the record could be from the same session or something completely different. The big sellers, particularly in the early days, were sheet music. A single song could also be recorded and ‘released’ by a number of bands in the same year, so the arrangement of the composition (the way the different instruments’ parts were organised within the performance of the song) became much more important than the original composition in many cases. Fletcher Henderson, for example, had a career as an accompanist for blues singers, as a big band leader and as an arranger for Bennie Goodman, and it was is arrangements with Goodman that really saw the largest, most rabid audiences. Really, the song itself (however it was arranged) was the important part, and audiences would hear it played not only on their records and in live radio performances, but by their local bands playing ‘the hits’.
Most of the songs I have bought recently from emusic are from ‘collected’ ‘albums’. The Chronological Classics ‘albums’ were just groups a series of recordings featuring one particular artist in chronological order on one CD. They’re really hard to buy on CD these days as they were produced by a now-defunct French company, so the downloads are invaluable. The Mosaic Records box sets are similarly just a series of recordings by one artist or band, usually listed on the CDs in chronological order. Even cheaper sets like the JSPs or Proper sets are much the same. The recording date becomes the organising principle.
I don’t think about them as ‘albums’. With jazz I tend to seek out recordings by a group of musicians (eg the young Chicago guys in the 20s) or by a particular musician (eg Bunny Berigan) sometimes grouped under a particular band leader (eg Count Basie or Artie Shaw), but not always. Or I’ll seek out different versions of a particular song, recorded literally hundreds of times by dozens of groups. Songs are often recorded more than once by the same artist or group, so you get revised versions of the song, where, once again, the recording date is the most useful piece of information for organising your listening and cataloguing of the song. The date, of course, also tells you who was in the band when it was recorded.
So ‘album’, again, doesn’t really work. Though there are some really good releases of remastered collections of songs. The Mosaic sets are a good example.
If I’m following a particular band chronologically (eg all the recordings by the Mills Blue Rhythm Band), the personnel in the band often changes according to location. These bands toured all the time so they recorded in a number of cities during a year. And the personnel would vary depending on where they were, who made it to the studio on time, which local musicians could be roped in to do a solo, or which stars were in the city and could be convinced (read: paid) to sit in.
This means that you often get wonderful little 3 or 4 song (possibly with 1 or 2 out takes) sessions recorded in one city by one incarnation of the ‘band’ on one day. Or, if you’re lucky, across two days. The term ‘band’, here, tends to fall apart. Some key artists played with the same band for years (Basie’s rhythm section in the 30s and 40s, Fats Waller’s small groups, Cab Calloway’s bigger bands), but it’s unusual to find a big band with exactly the same personnel for more than a year or so. If that. Individual musicians would drop out to do gigs with other bands, or wouldn’t be able to travel for a show. The musicians’ or band leader’s contract with a label or venue or promoter was renegotiated. The money ran short and some musicians had to be excluded. A musician was too hung over to get to the studio on time. Or too drunk to do more than one song. All sorts of things determined who sat in on a recording session.
And, most importantly, these bands were performing bands, doing live shows all the time, all over America. So recordings were complementing the live shows, not replacing them. As radio really took off in the late 20s and more in the 30s, live radio shows were often recorded and released years later. These shows yielded amazing clumps of songs recorded live, in one take. This emphasis on live performances actually affected the recordings they did. Bands would often rehearse relentlessly (especially if they were led by taskmasters like Goodman) so that their live performances were absolutely spot on. This meant that they were often so well drilled that their recordings were done in one, or at most two, takes. But recording was much more expensive then than now, and paying 15 men for more than an hour or two of recording in an expensive studio with an expensive engineer was beyond the budgets of many bands in the middle of a tour during the depression.
So those little 3 or 4 song sessions are absolute gold – the product of relentless practice and performance, tight arrangements and the unity of skilled musicians working with people they really clicked with. But you also get sessions of utter crap, with missed notes, rubbish arrangements and totally bullshit tired, cheesy instrumentation. These are all factors that often make it much easier to judge a session’s worth ahead of time if you know the musicians involved, and what they were doing with their lives at that point in time.
So these days I tend to think about those sessions as groupings reflecting that band at that moment. But they’re definitely not albums, as they were released as ‘singles’ or ‘sides’ – 2 songs, one on each side of a record. And the earlier stuff was limited to about 3.5 minutes.
It’s all very interesting. I have a lot more to write, including some stuff about who got to record what and how live gigs were parcelled out in cities like Chicago in the 20s. But I’m only just a little way into Kenney’s Chicago Jazz history which discusses these issues as they relate to Chicago specifically. I’m sorry this is such a crappy post, and I will try to rewrite it as something a bit more readable and interesting. Possibly with some nice 8track action to illustrate my points.
I stole the photo for this mix from here, the Life Magazine site. The photo is actually taken from one of the Benny Goodman Madhattan Room gigs, and I’ve included one of the live recordings from that gig in this mix.
Ok, so this 8track is Teddy Wilson themed. I love this man. He played in so many bands, doing all sorts of stuff from hot New Orleans revivalist action to scorching 1930s big bands. He was also the king of precise, beautifully delicate solo work, and of course, his work with Billie Holiday is beyond compare. I’ve chosen a few songs from 1932 to 1946, with a range of bands. Here’s the track list:
(title band album bpm year song length)
I’ve Found A New Baby New Orleans Feetwarmers (Tommy Ladnier, Teddy Nixon, Sidney Bechet, Hank Duncan, Wilson Myers, Morris Morand) The Young Bechet 269 1932 3:14
High Society Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra (Teddy Wilson) Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra 1932-1933 250 1933 3:27
Swingin’ With Mez Max Kaminsky, Freddy Goodman, Ben Gusick, Floyd O’Brien, Milton ‘Mezz’ Mezzrow, Benny Carter, Johnny Russell, Teddy Wilson, Pops Foster Mezz Mezzrow: Complete Jazz Series 1928 – 1936 139 6th November 1933 3:05
Easy Like (Take B) Wingy Manone and his Orchestra (Dicky Wells, Artie Shaw, Bud Freeman, Jelly Roll Morton, Teddy Wilson, John Kirby, Kaiser Marshall) The Wingy Manone Collection Vol. 2 1934 2:38
In The Slot (Take A) Wingy Manone and his Orchestra (Dicky Wells, Artie Shaw, Bud Freeman, Jelly Roll Morton, Teddy Wilson, John Kirby, Kaiser Marshall) The Wingy Manone Collection Vol. 2 243 1934 2:50
Jungle Love Teddy Wilson and his Orchestra (Bobby Hackett, Pee Wee Russel, Johnny Hodges, Allan Reuss, Al Hall, Johnny Blowers, Nan Wynn) Teddy Wilson (disc 2) 190 1935 2:50
Chimes At The Meeting Willie Bryant and his Orchestra (Teddy Wilson, Cozy Cole) Willie Bryant 1935-1936 245 1935 3:01
Long Gone From Bowling Green Willie Bryant and his Orchestra (Teddy Wilson) Willie Bryant 1935-1936 201 1935 2:51
Warmin’ Up Teddy Wilson and his Orchestra (Roy Eldridge, Buster Bailey, Chu Berry) Classic Chu Berry Columbia And Victor Sessions (Disc 2) 241 1936 3:20
Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen, Part 1 Benny Goodman Quartet (Teddy Wilson, Gene Krupa, Lionel Hampton, Martha Tilton) RCA Victor Small Group Recordings (Disc 2) 176 1937 3:27
Avalon Benny Goodman Quartet (Teddy Wilson, Gene Krupa, Lionel Hampton) Benny Goodman: The Complete Madhattan Room Broadcasts (vol 1: Satan Takes a Holiday) 258 1937 2:47
Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off Billie Holiday and her Orchestra (Buster Bailey, Teddy Wilson, John Kirby) Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday On Columbia (1933-1944) (Disc 03) 124 1937 2:38
Honeysuckle Rose Teddy Wilson Quartet All Star Jazz Quartets (disc 1) 168 1937 3:13
Just A Mood (Blue Mood) Parts 1 & 2 Teddy Wilson Quartet All Star Jazz Quartets (disc 1) 88 1937 6:48
Practice Makes Perfect Billie Holiday and her Orchestra (Roy Eldridge, Don Redman, Georgie Auld, Don Byas, Jimmy Hamilton, Teddy Wilson, John Collins, Al Hall, Kenny Clarke) Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday On Columbia (1933-1944) (Disc 06) 153 1940 2:37
Gloomy Sunday Teddy Wilson and his Orchestra (Billie Holiday) The Lady Of The Blues 1941 3:12
Flying Home Teddy Wilson Sextet (Emmett Berry, Benny Morton, Edmond Hall, Slam Stewart, Big Sid Catlett) The Complete Associated Transcriptions 1944 198 New York, 15th June 1944 4:56
Indiana Teddy Wilson Sextet (Emmett Berry, Benny Morton, Edmond Hall, Slam Stewart, Big Sid Catlett) The Complete Associated Transcriptions 1944 217 New York, 15th June 1944 3:11
Cheek To Cheek Teddy Wilson Teddy Wilson (disc 5) 1946 2:25
The New Orleans Feetwarmers stuff is interesting, but it’s not my super favourite. And that Louis Armstrong Orchestra track is a bit ordinary. But – Sidney Bechet and Louis Armstrong!
‘Swinging with Mezz’ is a cool one – Wilson is playing with a bunch of Chicago doods.
The Wingy Manones are good ones, and it’s a mixed race band – check out the lineup!
I quite like the Teddy Wilson Orchestra ‘Jungle Love’, though I think ‘Warmin’ Up’ is better.
The Willie Bryant stuff is rocking, and of course Wilson is responsible for the gorgeous introduction to ‘Viper’s Moan’, a song that’s overplayed (to wonderful effect) in lindy hopping circles, but which I haven’t included here, because I actually prefer ‘Chimes at the Meeting’. I once played that song for a crowd of beginners. I remember the expression on the face of one of the few experienced dancers (and DJs) in the room that night. And I _really_ remember the way the dancers (who were pretty much all noobs) went NUTS for this song.
(that’s a pic of the Goodman Quartet – Wilson on piano, Goodman on clarinet, Hamp on vibes, Krupa on drums. I’m not sure who took that pic, but it gets used a LOT and is on the RCA small groups CD cover… It’s actually a still from this amazing clip).
After ‘Warmin’ Up’, things change a little because I visit some of the Goodman small group action. I adore this version of ‘Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen’ with Martha Tilton’s gloriously laid back vocals. This is one seriously awesome song. It’s really tight, precise, perfect (in typically Goodman style), but it’s also swinging like the proverbial.
I followed this with another song by this group (minus Tilton), because it’s a live recording from the Madhattan Room. These gigs were important because they were the first time Goodman took his mixed race small group on the stage, admittedly for a white crowd, but still. This was 1937, and that was some crazy arse shit to pull in segregated America. But this was Benny Goodman, a super extremely major rock star. And this band was phenomenally popular. Not to mention rockhardawesome. I adore the Lionel Hampton (vibes) and Gene Krupa (drums) combination. They were pretty badass percussionists, often known for a kind of blunt object approach. But Wilson and Goodman had a sort of powerful precision that seems to temper them. I adore this group and I think I have everything they did (not counting the harder to find live ones).
A note about those Madhattan gigs: apparently the crowd of star-struck teenagers kind of mobbed the stage, not really dancing, but kind of going ape shit. There are, however, some pics of kids dancing the Big Apple at this gig in the Life Magazine collection on Google.
From here, of course, I slide over to the QUEEN of everything, Billie Holiday. I love love love her work with the Teddy Wilson Orchestra. The songs they did together were attributed either to his band, or to a band under her name. Either way, the musicians they worked with were wonderful, and this combination of Wilson’s wonderful precision and gorgeously delicate piano matched with Holiday’s amazing delivery (the timing! the delays! the phrasing!) is beyond amazing. I’m also interested in John Kirby’s presence in some of these sessions. He also did some pretty nifty small group stuff, in a similarly precise ‘chamber jazz’ style – he, Goodman and Wilson had much in common in their small group recordings.
I haven’t got the details for the ‘Teddy Wilson quartet’ recordings in there, but I’m not sure that’s Hampton in there on vibes. I’ll have to look it up. I do like that song ‘Just a Mood’, and I suspect the trumpeter is Buck Clayton (who did so much work with Count Basie, with Billie Holiday and with Benny Goodman’s small groups, in the same year these were recorded.
Then I squeeze in some more Billie Holiday. Because I can. I do like ‘Gloomy Sunday’, in part because I first heard it on Sinead O’Connor’s album Am I Not Your Girl? which introduced me to jazz in 1992. That wasn’t a terribly great album, but I bought it because I was into Sinead, and that’s (partly) how I got into jazz, though I didn’t start dancing until 1998.
(this image is from the Life collection and features Sid Catlett, but isn’t the band I’ve included here… but the pic is GREAT, right?)
The Teddy Wilson Sextet stuff from 1944 is my current favourite band. Hot diggedy. Slam Stewart! That is some extremely hot shit, right there. I love that entire album and I thoroughly recommend it. It’s a bit fiddly and probably in the chamber jazz category, but it’s hotter than the Goodman stuff, and that version of ‘Flying Home’ shits all over the Goodman one that has a similar small group feel but is perhaps a bit too mannered to really pwn all. I love the song ‘Indiana’, though I most like the 1935 Mound City Blue Blowers version with the lyrics… gee, to think that that version was recorded only 2 years before Goodman did his Madhattan stuff… I think of the Mound City Blue Blowers as kind of the punkers of jazz – white boys with attitude, stuffing about with hot jazz (there are some good clips on Youtube which are really fun).
And then the last song is a solo piano piece. The song is one we tend to associate with Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and other vocalists, particularly from the 50s. So it’s kind of nice to hear Wilson do a fun, jumpy version. It’s not the best quality, though, as it came from a cheap 4CD set. But it’s definitely worth a listen. I think it best shows Wilson’s style, so completely different from people like Fats Waller or Count Basie or Duke Ellington… I tend to associate Wilson with Woody Allen films, though he’s not over-represented in the soundtracks.
I love Teddy Wilson. And I adore the variety of bands he’s been in.
Or check it out here.
Image stoled from Shorpy.
I’m trying to get my brain around some balboa music. Buggered if I know what I’m doing. All this stuff is songs that I love, but which don’t really always work for flatout badass lindy hop. What the hey – maybe they’d be good for bal? Who can say.
title artist album bpm year length
Chris And His Gang The Cairo Club Orchestra Sunday 180 2004 2:40
Swingin’ On The Campus Cootie Williams and his Rug Cutters The Duke’s Men: Small Groups Vol. 2 (Disc 2) 196 1939 2:42
Stompy Jones Duke Ellington The Very Best Of Duke Ellington 199 3:04
Stealin’ Smack’s Apples Glenn Miller’s G.I.s (Peanuts Hucko, Mel Powell, Bernie Priven, Joe Schulman, Ray McKinley, Django Reinhardt) Glenn Miller’s G.I.s in Paris 1945 175 1945 2:36
Boo-Woo Harry James and his Boogie Woogie Trio (Pete Johnson) Pete Johnson 1938-1939 209 1939 2:59
Zonky McKinney’s Cotton Pickers (Don Redman) Zonky 226 1930 3:03
Sugar (That Sugar Baby O’ Mine) Teddy Wilson and his Orchestra (Billie Holiday, Roy Eldridge, Benny Carter, Milt Hinton, Cozy Cole) Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday On Columbia (1933-1944) (Disc 05) 170 1939 2:48
I’m Crazy ‘Bout My Baby (05-20-38) Una Mae Carlisle with Dave Wilkins, Bertie King, Alan Ferguson, Len Harrison, Hymie Schneider Una Mae Carlisle: Complete Jazz Series 1938 – 1941 201 1938 2:41
Ok, so I’ve just checked this post that I wrote mid-exchange in a sleep-deprived haze, and realised that all of it is wrong. You can’t listen to it here. That’s a link to the image I used for the picture to go with the 8track.
Here’s the player:
Or you can go to the 8track site to listen there.
The set list:
Shake That Thing Mora’s Modern Rhythmists Devil’s Serenade 227 2006 2:58
(a warm up all-skate track that everyone knew, but not the Vince Giordano version that usually gets played)
Digadoo Firecracker Jazz Band The Firecracker Jazz Band 247 2005 5:20
(My obsession with this band continues. I bought all their other albums the other day (you can see them here). This was a challenging song to play for a comp, particularly as they were doing shines at this point, and everyone had to deal with very different solos. But they did a brilliant job – it was super cool to see people enter with the vibe of the solo before, then suddenly realise ‘oops, this is something different’ then tailor their dancing to suit the music. So they weren’t just dancing despite the music, pulling out stunts one after another, but actually dancing to the music. This is less common than you might think in a solo charleston comp, which can be a bit stunt-heavy. Anyways, this song is still one of my faves, and I’ve been playing this song for dancers for ages. It’s long and complicated, but it’s super neat.
The dancing was the best I’d seen all night, I think, and I had a lot of fun watching it.)
I Found A New Baby Firecracker Jazz Band The Firecracker Jazz Band 287 2005 4:05
(We had to do another round of shines as the crowd couldn’t decide which people they wanted pulled out. So all the competitors (six instead of four) went back at it. This song is faster and kind of crazy. It’s also kind of de rigeur to play this for solo charleston comps. Firecrackers again, because I love their crazy energy, and their ‘sophisticated street sound’. This song kicked their arses, and we ended up with a winner).
Bugle Call Rag Jim Cullum Jazz Band (Duke Heitger, Clint Baker) Chasin’ the Blues 243 3:51
(The winner, in charmingly good nature, conceded to a solo of triumph on request. This is the song I chose. It’s a bit less frantic, because he was buggered. And we faded it at 30seconds. But he did a jolly good job).
plus some other ones I had on my short list: Oriental Strut Firecracker Jazz Band 228 2005 The Firecracker Jazz Band
(Too many Firecracker songs for 8tracks).
Hop Head Charlestown Chasers 250 1995 Pleasure Mad 2:57
San Les Red Hot Reedwarmers 285 2007 Apex Blues4:45
Jubilee Stomp David Ostwald’s Gully Low Jazz Band (Howard Alden, Mark Shane, Herlin Riley, David Ostwald, Ken Peplowski, Randy Sandke, Wycliffe Gordon) Blues In Our Heart 278 2006 3:22
Happy Feet The Manhattan Rhythm Kings The Aviator 233 2004 2:59