Daily Archives: August 11, 2009

DANCE, SIN, and HEAT

 no sinUsing Walter Donaldson’s melody and Edgar Leslie’s lyrics, Spats Langham, Mike Durham, Paul Munnery, Norman Field, Martin Litton, Frans Sjostrom, and Debbie Arthurs explain this trio of concepts to the crowd at Whitley Bay, even though it was pleasantly cool in the room. 

But two pairs of dancers — one of them stride wizard Paul Asaro (in the checked shirt) and the energetic Bridget Calzaretta — didn’t need the song’s lyrics to encourage them.  (If the other couple sees this and wants to identify themselves, they can have their names immortalized here, too.)

And for those of you who’d like to have something to sing to yourself as you mop your brow, here are the lyrics, both verse and chorus:

Verse: Dancing may do this and that, and help you take off lots of fat.

But I’m no friend of dancing when it’s hot.

So if you are a dancing fool, who loves to dance but can’t keep cool,

Bear in mind the idea that I’ve got.

Chorus: When it gets too hot for comfort, and you can’t get ice cream cones,

Tain’t no sin to take off your skin and dance around in your bones.

When the lazy syncopation of the music softly moans,

Tain’t no sin to take off your skin and dance around in your bones.

The polar bears aren’t green up in Greenland, they’ve got the right idea.

They think it’s great to refrigerate while we all cremate down here.

Just be like those Bamboo Babies, in the South Sea tropic zones,

Tain’t no sin to take off your skin and dance around in your bones.

Chorus: When you’re calling up your sweetie in those hot house telephones,

Tain’t no sin to take off your skin and dance around in your bones.

When you’re on a crowded dance floor, near those red hot saxophones,

Tain’t no sin to take off your skin and dance around in your bones.

Just take a look at the girls while they’re dancing. Notice the way that they’re dressed.

They wear silken clothes without any hose and nobody knows the rest.

If a gal wears X-ray dresses, and shows everything she owns,

Tain’t no sin to take off your skin and dance around in your bones.

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THREE PODS OF PEPPER, July 10, 2009

I’ve posted the second half of this performance, where the Three Pods of Pepper were joined by Bent Persson, but here are the Pods in their original form.  A collection of C-melody saxophone, clarinet, bass saxophone, two banjos, ukulele, and guitar might sound like the inventory of a dealer of moderately-antique instruments, but the Three Pods of Pepper (named as if for a spinoff of Kid Ory’s 1922 recording band with perhaps a nod to Jelly Roll Morton’s Victor band) are fervent, swinging, lively.  How could they not be when their members are Spats Langham, Norman Field, and Frans Sjostrom?

Here they perform NEVER AGAIN, explained in depth by Professor Langham:

Courtesy of Rube Bloom and his Bayou Boys, MYSTERIOUS MOSE, a song designed to scare the kiddies, although not fatally:

GONNA GET A GIRL, both lyrically and musically, is one of the dumbest songs ever written (a rebuke to those who think everything in the Jazz Age was by definition more creative) but it sticks in the brain — perhaps for that reason.  And its repetitive simplistic lyrics and melody line exactly capture the woozy thought processes of a hormonally-charged fifteen-year old boy, intent on what’s lacking in his life:

The other side of the amorous condition is the vainglorious pride of ownership, expressed in IT ALL BELONGS TO ME, associated with Annette Hanshaw and Cliff Edwards:

THE MAN FROM THE SOUTH is rhythmically propulsive although not philosophically deep, also connected with Rube Bloom and his Bayou Boys:

Finally, a tender masterpiece, MARY (WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?) by Walter Donaldson, which is always — in memory — performed by Bing Crosby with Paul Whiteman, on a wonderful 1927 Victor record where Bix Beiderbecke and Henry Busse represent Old and New (in Bill Challis’ witty arrangement), Old slowly going beneath the waves at the end.  But this version is more than its equal, with Spats singing the lyrics as if his heart was in every line and playing beautiful Eddie Lang guitar; Norman’s eloquently simple playing; Frans, majestic and logically emotional as always:

three_podsIf you’ve watched these performances with the growing awareness that your life — culinary or musical or both — needs more spice, don’t rush to the pantry to spoon Tunisian harissa into your oatmeal.  Relief of another kind is in sight!  Tthe Pods have a wonderful CD, uncluttered and generous, that is just what you (and your friends) need.  It’s called HOT STUFF! (WVR 1003) and it features guest appearances by those masters of capiscum Mike Durham and Keith Nichols. 

Details at www.wjrk.co.uk.

HOT AND BLUE AT WHITLEY BAY (July 10, 2009)

For your listening, viewing, and dancing pleasure — Spats Langham and his Rhythm Persons!

This gender-neutral appellation was created to include the lovely and talented Ms. Debbie Arthurs on percussion and vocals.  The other members of this ensemble are Spats himself, on vocal, banjo, guitar, and ukulele; Mike Durham on trumpet and vocal; Paul Munnery on trombone; Norman Field on clarinet, C-melody saxophone and other reeds; Frans Sjostrom on bass saxophone; Martin Litton on piano; John Carstairs Hallam on bass and tuba. 

I was also entranced by the utterly impassive woman sitting near the bandstand, watching everything intently but from some metaphysical distance, who clapped her hands above her head at the end of each selection.  I’m sure she was having a fine time, too.

Here are a few selections from their afternoon program:

I wouldn’t ordinarily post banjo spectaculars, but this one’s splendid: a Langham-Litton romp on the 1925 Harry Reser song, LOLLIPOPS.  Spats lets us know that the key of A is “horrible,” but Mike Durham speaks up for it in a truly egalitarian way.  The tempo direction, “as fast as you can,” also needed to be preserved for posterity:

Incidentally, Spats and Martin have also recorded a duet CD — with the same title — for Lake Records.  Even better! 

Debbie Arthurs is a wonderful percussionist with an infectious beat; she’s a wow on the temple blocks, snare drum, and choke cymbal.  Her steady bass-drum four also drives the band.  She’s also a fine, winsome singer, as her version of AM I BLUE? proves.  Hear her on her new Lake CD, “THANK YOU, MISTER MOON,” which is a consistent delight:

Mike Durham delivered the Ted Lewis recitative, I’M THE MEDICINE MAN FOR THE BLUES, mixing deadpan satire and seriousness:

IT LOOKS LIKE RAIN (IN CHERRY BLOSSOM LANE) is a tepid tune — but it was recorded once, memorably, by the journeyman vocalist Dick Robertson on one of his by-the-book Deccas (1937?) with lustrous playing by a very young Bobby Hackett.  Here it is, in tribute:

Finally, every jazz set needs a pseudo-religious song, and SING YOU SINNERS was the one that the Persons chose — my video camera kept wandering off to the dancing feet of Bridget Calzaretta and her ad hoc partner, who just might be a musician with the Chicago Stompers.  If anyone knows . . .