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…