Sing, Sing, Sing

I would like to warmly welcome you to the next Monday’s social dancing in Lilla salen. The theme is ‘Sing Sing Sing’ and will reflect the music from one of the biggest names in the jazz and show industry, the leading clarinet of the Swing era, Mr. Benny Goodman.

According to Benny Goodman’s enormous legacy, it shouldn’t be hard to represent his artistry through my upcoming three hour long set, but this evening is going to be for dancers only. I’ve been collecting Benny’s records for nearly eight years and it is really hard to explain how much excitement there is to finally play his superb music.

Through the years,  I got to know music from many great band leaders such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford, Lucky Millinder, Artie Show, Fletcher Henderson and many others. They are all the greatest in their own way but I have to say that Benny always lifts up my dance spirit.

 

72b7c5586f82b9afc9eb5db2cca68ecd.jpgI vividly remember times we used to dance inside of circle jams to Goodman’s song  ’Sing, Sing, Sing’. Those were the times when nobody questioned if that song is “too fast or too long or a killer mood” like some DJs might see it. When you heard the first beats of Krupa’s tom-toms we all knew what time it was: JAM-TIME! There was some crazy stuff you could witness: stealing partners, super showing off, air-steps, brutal swing-outs, smooth shuffling and even “helicopters” from breakdancing; people from all levels joined in and just did it.

‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ was written by Louis Prima but Benny’s version, without lyrics, was a big song to us. It really connected us and we all felt great support from each other. I’m still giving a big credit to my good friend in Ljubljana, DJ “crazy” Igor (Dobnikar), who is still preserving those kind of jams with this song. But not many do it anymore.

Times changed and ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ beckoned to sofa for music lovers only. I also agree with the observation that Jonathan Stout, guitarist and a band leader of Campus Five, told in Ryen Swift’s podcast: “Sing Sing Sing is the song we all loved from the minute we start swing dancing until we got to cool for school.” Click here to listen the whole interview.

Luckily, Benny Goodman still gives inspiration to many musicians to recreate and play his songs for dancers. One of them is my friend and clarinetist from Berlin, Andreas Hofschneider, who’s band setup is really impressive. I strongly recommend you to get his music for your library or even better, see them playing live. I asked Andreas how does Benny Goodman influence on him and here is what he wrote exclusively for Balboa Special:

“Benny Goodman? Oh yeah. He’s been my hero from the age of eighteen. Actually, I started playing the trumpet and was not happy with it. When I needed glasses for my driver’s licence, I felt chic – and switched to clarinet. That was it!  The glasses were the impulse! Not the Rolling Stones or Frank Zappa, no, Benny Goodman was my role model. When I started to wearing suits and ties at school, my classmates thought I was crazy. I just loved Benny. I bought a fingering chart and all the records I could get and practised clarinet from morning to night in my grandfather’s attic.

My clarinet teacher? Benny and no one else. Till today. My inspiration? The dancer. Benny himself was a brilliant dancer and knew exactly what they wanted. I realised that myself, when I founded a quartet ten years ago: I played the wrong tempos! At that time I also met Sylvia, my wife today, who looked into my eyes and said: “You have to learn to dance, my little one!” I did – with her. Finally, we were aware, I could dance and finally understood how Benny was successful with his music: learn to dance!”

Click here to find out more about Andreas Hofschneider and his band.

So. If you learned how to dance then it’s time to shine up your shoes, put on your favourite dance outfit and show up at Balboa Special this Monday. Yes, I will play ‘Sing, Sing, Sing-Part 1’ from Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert, which is my favourite version.

Shuffle On ‘Harlem Renaissance – Part I.’

“The time has come for Balboa Special #11 in this town.”

Mc Kinney's Cotton Pickers

Another welcoming dance night with the specially cozy decorated atmosphere for Balboa dancers only. If you want, you can bake a cake to make this Balboa Special even more special. 

In the previous term, our teachers worked really hard to bring your balboa to the next level, open your mind to new things, and to guide you. But no matter how much they try, it is you who brings  the joy and energy to a dance floor and many new friends.

The musical theme for this occasion will be ’Harlem Renaissance.’ It holds a rich depth of importance to American culture; it inspired the rest of the world to follow on the magnificent, bumpy road of jazz. In general, the melody, rhythm, and harmony from this era (1930’s) had a higher energy; a simple beat that lifts the power to push your dance to the creative edge. Just like it helped to create new dances back then.

’Harlem Renaissance – Part 1’ will brought to you the sound of Mills Blue Rhythm Band, Andy Kirk and his Clouds Of Joy Orchestra, Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra, Al Cooper’s Savoy Sultans and last but not least, Chick Webb and his Orchestra.

Get ready for the last kick off with Balboa Special #11. Let us celebrate, my dear balboa dancers – polish your shoes, dress up nice, and dance a night away, with sparkling wine in your hand.

Shuffle on #10 – The Aftermath

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Shuffle On #10 what a great evening that was. Nice and relaxed atmosphere made people stay longer then usual. Within the three hour set (from 8pm-11pm) I played mostly songs where Chu Berry’s solos can be clearly heard from his short career. With a few exceptions of some slow ballads (below 100 BPM), the tempo of the evening varied dynamically in a swingin’ mood, to which balboa dancers are accustomed.

Below is a list of the songs I played, with added BPM (Beats Per Minute). Calculation of the average tempo of the evening shown 200 BPM.

It is always very interesting to observe dancers from the DJ booth, especially as a dance instructor. It gives me many pointers for my next teaching sessions.

Anyway, the songs mentioned here are only the ones I had played in three hour set. It would  probably take double the amount of time to hear everything from Chu Berry. That means I would need to vary it much more in a slow mood. I left out many of the various artists that he worked with, including among them Count Basie and superb blues singers Mildred Bailey and Ollie Shepard. I also didn’t play any from the Commodore “Sittin’ In” sessions (cover on the photo above).

Although I set the list of songs in chronological order to display his freelancing, I performed recordings back and fourth; jumping from one year to another and then back again, to maintain nice dancing flow. Chu Berry was a hard working musician and, as it was for many, his schedule was tight. Of course, this here doesn’t include dates of his live performances at the theatres, jam sessions in bars, concerts at the hotels, and at private parties – all of which was the everyday live of a jazz musician.


New York, March 14, 1933
Benny Carter and his Orchestra
Six Bells Stampede; 219 BPM
Synthetic Love; voc. Benny Carter; 170 BPM
Swing It; voc. Benny Carter; 237 BPM

New York, October 10, 1933
Benny Carter and his Orchestra
I Never Knew; 214 BPM
Krazy Kapers; 250 BPM
Blue Interlude; 98 BPM

New York, February 26, 1935
Teddy Hill and his Orchestra
(Lookie, Lookie, Lookie) Here Comes Cookie; 212 BPM

New York, April 29, 1935
Henry Allen and his Orchestra
Rosetta; voc. Henry Allen; 220 BPM
Body And Soul; 121 BPM
I’ll Never Say “Never Again”; voc. Henry Allen; 201 BPM
Get Rhythm In Your Feet (And Music Indoor Soul); voc. Henry Allen; 212 BPM

New York, June 25, 1935
Putney Dandridge and his Orchestra
When I Grow Too Old To Dream; voc. Putney Dandridge; 207 BPM

New York, October 25, 1935
Teddy Wilson and his Orchestra
Twenty Four Hours A Day; voc. Billie Holiday; 225 BPM

New York, October 28, 1935
Teddy Wilson and his Orchestra
Yankee Doodle Went To Town; voc. Billie Holiday; 170 BPM

Chicago, March 27th, 1936
Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra
Big Chief De Sota (Grand Terrace Rhythm); 195 BPM
Stealin’ Apples; 187 BPM
Blue Lou; 208 BPM
Christopher Columbus; 198 BPM

Chicago, April 9, 1936
Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra
Moonrise On The Lowlands; 180 BPM
I’ll Always In Love In You; 186 BPM
Jangled Nerves; 305 BPM

Chicago, May 14th, 1936
Teddy Wilson and his Orchestra
Too God to Be True; 100 BPM
Warmin’ Up, Chicago; 248 BPM
Blues In C sharp Minor; 100 BPM
Mary Had A Little Lamb; voc. Roy Eldridge; 217 BPM

Chicago, May 23, 1936
Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra
Where There’s You There’s Me; 180 BPM
Riffin’ ; 196 BPM

Chicago, August 4, 1936
Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra
Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing); voc. Georgia Boy Simpkins; 220 BPM
Until Today; 152 BPM
Knock, Knock, Who’s There?; 228 BPM
Jimtown Blues; 212 BPM
You Can Depend On Me; 209 BPM

Chicago, March 2, 1937
Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra
Rhythm Of The Tambourine; 254 BPM

Chicago, March 22, 1937
Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra
Back In Your Own Backyard; 254 BPM

New York, March 23, 1937
Chu Berry and his Stompy Stevedores
Indiana (Back Home Again In Indiana); 204 BPM
Now You’re Talking My Language; voc. Hot Lips Page; 200 BPM
Too Marvelous For Words; voc. Hot Lips Page; 208 BPM
Limehouse Blues; 284 BPM

Chicago, June 3, 1937
Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra
Chris And His Gang; 188 BPM

New York, August 31, 1937
Cab Calloway and his Orchestra
Mama I Want To Make Rhythm; voc. Cab Calloway; 210 BPM
Queen Isabella; 184 BPM
Savage Rhythm; 232 BPM

New York, September 10, 1937
Chu Berry and his Stompy Stevedores
Maelstrom; 184 BPM
Chuberry Jam; 200 BPM
Ebb Tide; 194 BPM

New York, December 10, 1937
Cab Calloway and his Orchestra
Every Day’s A Holiday; voc. Cab Calloway; 182 BPM

New York, January 26, 1938
Cab Calloway and his Orchestra
One Big Union For Two; voc. Cab Calloway; 162 BPM
Doing The Reactionary; voc. Cab Calloway; 173 BPM

New York, March 23, 1938
Cab Calloway and his Orchestra
At The Clambake Carnival; 194 BPM

New York, April 3, 1939
Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra
It Don’t Mean A Thing; voc. Lionel Hampton; 182 BPM
Johnny Get Your Horn And Blow It; voc. Lionel Hampton; 183 BPM

New York, April 5, 1939
Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra
Sweethearts On Parade; voc. Lionel Hampton; 181 BPM
Shufflin’ At The Hollywood; 226 BPM
Wizzin’ The Wizz; 335 BPM

New York, June 9, 1939
Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra
If It’s Good (Then I Want It); voc. Lionel Hampton; 192 BPM
Stand by! For Further Announcements (And More Good News); voc. Lionel Hampton; 188 BPM
Big Wig In The Wigwam; voc. orchestra; 190 BPM

New York, June 19, 1939
Wingy Manone and His Orchestra
Limehouse Blues; 304 BPM

New York, September 11, 1939
Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra
Hot Mallets; 252 BPM
When The Lights Are Low; 193 BPM

New York, May 15, 1940
Cab Calloway and his Orchestra
The Lone Arranger; 216 BPM

Chicago, June 27, 1940
Cab Calloway and his Orchestra
(I Don’t Stand) Ghost Of A Chance (With You); 102 BPM
Come On with the “Come On”; voc. Cab Calloway, Chicago; 250 BPM

New York, August 5, 1940
Cab Calloway and his Orchestra
Papa’s In Bed With His Britches On; voc. Cab Calloway; 168 BPM

New York, August 28, 1940
Cab Calloway and his Orchestra
Lonesome Nights; 104 BPM

New York, July 3, 1941
Cab Calloway and his Orchestra
Take The “A” Train; 168 BPM


At the end of this post I would like to thank to anyone who showed up and enjoyed the tenth edition of  Balboa Special at Forum, the place of West Coast Jitterbugs. There were some nice moments caught by . . . well lets just say he is a dear friend of mine, a dancer and a gentleman, and obviously an awesome photographer whose modesty wished to stay anonymous. Thank you!

Shuffle On #10

Next dance evening of Balboa Special will be the #10 edition. Previous performances had no specific themes and I used to spin records quite by random choise. When you spin with records for the dance floor you learn a lot about not just dance-floor craft and mood, but also the DJ equipment and your record collection. The latter in specific teaches you to become more efficient – faster and clear on your choises – within the three minutes which in general is the lenght of one song, but to be so, you should know what you have within reach (albums of artists, their songs, years and places of recordings, levels of tempos etc.), and the more you go through that the easier it gets. Eventually.

Yes, being a record collector has many benefits, and it’s quite in an excitement to keep searching and expanding your music library, but we always begin with something. My journey of being a DJ and a record collector began long before I held my first record (in fact it was a CD), back then when my taste for swing jazz was just about to develop.

Two years before I actually start dancing swing I bought the CD, wrapped together with an Italian magazine about home interior and its design. I need to mention that my main occupatuon was Visual-merchandiser at that time and I was looking for work inspiration anywhere I could. Those kind of magazines are often highly priced, but in this case, the price sounded quite reasnoble if I also got a CD with it. Seeing now all this, it was actually a very good thing that I gave to myself, not so much from the magazine part but the music that came along with that CD.

At first I hadn’t paid much attention to music from the CD but when I listened to it, which was on rare occasion, that music made my foot tap every time. Two years later, when my Lindy-hop had already improved, I found this dusty CD and I put in the player for the “old-time’s” sake. And then I play it again, and again, and then again. The selection on this CD featured an artist and his collaboration with many different bands, but nothing sounded close what they played on dance floor at that time.

Despite the fact it was not impossible to Lindy-hop to it, it elevated my taste in Jazz – the music I never understood before and because of it I eventually began to explore the new dance that would match this “other kind” of dancing music – The Balboa!

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The feature artist on this CD is Chu Berry ‘On Parade’ whose tenor sax sound could be heard on many dance occasions, but never really pointed out as important as a sound for swing dancers, till now.

At Balboa Special #10 l will dedicate the evening to musician whose work set me on the path of Jazz and Balboa. In my collection, I located one hundred-twenty recorded works of Chu Berry but it will be hard to fit all in a three hour program. I will try my best to introduce you to Chu Berry in his wide range of work, from famous solos to fine riff support in sax ensemble.

About Chu Berry click here

 

‘No Name Jive’

(Part 1, Part 2) by Charlie Barnet (1940)

A tip of a gramophone’s needle gently touches the surface of a spinning record, and in a lightly waving motion, like a yacht wiggles on small waves, the needle starts to picking out the crackling sound. Then, all of a sudden, a big band disturbingly alerts you with its powerful sound, but only for a short interval. Soon, only the rhythm instruments can be heard, sparkled by lead piano. The sound becomes very pleasant and it’s winning the ears of every dancer in the room.

The music reaches out to the hallway where people are changing shoes and greeting one another. And there you are too putting on your beautiful spectators for dancing. Your feet are taping and you head starts to noodle when the reed instruments start to riff with the main theme. ‘Ta-la-li-la ta-la-la-laaaam’ comes loudly out from your mouth; you laugh at it. You recognise the song but which one is it? One O’Clock Jump? No, can’t be.

Muted trumpet takes its solo and excitement is flourishing through your body. Couple’s laughter comes out from the room and a large grin arrives on your face,  knowing that laughter was nothing but a pure dancing joy. Probably it was some funky leading or something like that.

As you try picturing the scene, a gentle voice from behind cuts in in a very cautiously way by asking you: ’Would you like to dance?’.

Your eyes meet an excited face with big open eyes, and without hesitation you happily say ‘SURE!’. By offering your elbow to escort your partner to the floor, you add ‘Let’s dance!’.

The room has a cosy and intimate atmosphere with a low sitting area in one corner. Glowing candle lights along the window and pair of vintage lamps create a special, almost mysterious feeling in the room. With the bouncing saxophone in the air now you take your first steps with you partner, readjusting the connection. After a couple of moments your ears are sharpened and your third eye is opened; you can feel as though you are dancing as one with your partner.

Now clarinet solo encourages you for some more pivoting.

Next, the rascal trombone follows up, but all of sudden your dance is uncomfortable. Your partner’s stiffness zooms you out, but you react very quickly and in a very smooth manner. While still dancing, you take a breath in, deep enough to invite your partner in; and with the exhale you micro shake your shoulders, readjust your arms and in a snap, you’re both back as one again.

The double bass walks in ‘bom-bom-bom-bom-BOM-BOM-BOM-bom …’. All dancers are now in closed position, shuffling with their steps; the piano tickles. The energy in the room gets static and goosebumps go through your hair, because of the trapped energy between you and your partner, that magic feeling which is always hard to describe and here it is! Now! This very moment!

The trombone section enters. ‘Wow, this floor is fantastic!’ you think to yourself.

In a few moments everything builds up and it’s loud again, the wind instruments riff against “po-wow”; could be invisible but there it was, very tiny Out-&-In move that created stretch but only the energy between you two.

The song is now reaching its climax and it seems like it will explode, when out from nowhere the bass enters ‘bom-bom-bom-bom-BOM-BOM-BOM-bom…;’ piano tickling here and there, and the whole band wraps it up with ’T-H-E  EEEEND.’

Perfect!

Everything stops! Soon the noise of the crisping needle disappears into the walls too, I lift it off from the record and I let the moment last a bit. Some couples – including you two – are still embraced for the sake of prolonging that energy between you and absorb with it every second that had passed. ‘Let’s dance one more song?’ one might suggest.

With a smile on my face I enjoy what l’ve just seen. Well, the next record is now ready to go. A tip of a gramophone’s needle gently touches the surface of a spinning record, and in a lightly waving motion…