In my ideal re-envisioning of myself, I am both a hot cornetist — modeling myself on Little Bobby Hacksaw — and a stylish swing dancer. Both of these goals have so far eluded me, but I was delighted to be invited to the Columbia University Swing Dance Society Semi-Formal Friday night. And I took my camera. More about that in sixteen bars.
What could be nicer, more promising? The Grand Street Stompers would play hot and sweet jazz — always original — for an audience of limber swing fans who were in constant motion. The GSS is one of my favorite bands: Gordon Au on trumpet, gentle leadership, compositions and arrangements; Dennis Lichtman on clarinet; Matt Musselman on trombone; Nick Russo on banjo and guitar; Rob Adkins on string bass; Kevin Dorn (just back from the West Coast) on drums; Tamar Korn on voice.
The Beloved came in and enjoyed the scene; I got to talk with some friends: Lucy Weinman, Veronica Lynn Day, Sam Huang, Michelle deCastro, and Lynn Redmile — and to watch the dancers, who made me think sadly of college opportunities missed. I told Veronica that when I went to college swing dancing was not quite in fashion (probably I was too busy reading), but that had I been in the right place and the right time, I would have been entranced — both by the live music and by the lively young women. I would have had a fine time and probably flunked all my classes. Worth the trade? No doubt, to quote Mr. Morton.
But back to the semi-formal scenes. I stationed myself at the rear of the room to capture what you might have seen and heard had you been there . . . the videos are slightly more jumpy than I would have preferred, but I thought a tripod would not have gone with my semi-formal garb.
For Bix, for Hoagy, and for swing — RIVERBOAT SHUFFLE:
Miss Korn (resplendent in mauve or is it Valpoicella?) tells us EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY:
Are skies cloudy and gray? They’re only gray for a day, remember. WRAP YOUR TROUBLES IN DREAMS:
And Gordon’s own rocking love song, CRAZY EYES:
Wonderful scenes! And how fortunate we are that such things are flourishing in this century — not only for those people who live near 117th Street and Broadway. Get rhythm in your feet! On with the dance!