Professor Jim Fryer tells his students, “Dancing is what music looks like; music is what dancing sounds like.” A swinging mantra if ever there was one, and the videos below prove his points.
I’ve been admiring the swinging banjo / mandolin playing of Jake Sanders for some time now — but it didn’t prepare me for the groovy jazz he and his Quintet offered a room full of dancers on May 18, 2011.
The occasion was a swing dance extravaganza, “White Heat,” sponsored by Dance Manhattan on a perilously rainy night. But the music dried my clothing and lifted my spirits in four bars. You’ll see and hear what I mean.
Jake’s colleagues were bassist Ian Riggs (whom I’d met at Teddy’s), guitarist Michael Gomez (new to me, but a wizard), Will Anderson (a young swinger who’s seen all over town), Gordon Au (one of my heroes, here on cornet). They were tucked away in the corner of a small gymnasium-like room (with pillars) where a small number of intrepid dancers swirled around.
The fine photographer Lynn Redmile was herself one of the dancers, and she tells me that the other twirlers and dippers included Caroline Ruda, Eli Charne, Sam Huang, Eve Polich, Tina Micic, Pauline Pechin, Kathy Stokes, Steve Rekhler, Richard Kurtzer, Neal Groothuis, Charles Herold, Nina Galilcheva, Marty Visconti, Sallie Stutz. (If you were there and haven’t been included in this list, do let me know.)
Here’s I WONDER WHERE MY BABY IS TONIGHT, a Twenties tune (known more widely because Django and Stephane took it up in the late Thirties). The lyrics tell us that a dancing fool who could do the Charleston took the singer’s Baby away, and the singer is both morose and homicidal (“I’d like to kill the man who made the Charleston,” which I hope wasn’t meant for the sainted James P. Johnson) while the music has a Charleston-interlude at regular intervals – – – an early postmodern episode in Twenties pop:
ROYAL GARDEN BLUES: what other jazz classic brings together the 1940-1 Goodman Sextet, Bix, Louis, Basie, Eddie Condon, and is still being swung in 2011? Jake’s tempo is in the groove: they’re solid senders!
A straight-ahead reading of BRAZIL, which rocks:
DARKTOWN STRUTTERS’ BALL (with or without the apostrophe) is one of those songs that’s usually played too fast — perhaps as homage to dancing off both (y)our shoes. Here it’s “very groovy, very mellow,” to quote Mr. Gaillard:
Want to see and hear more? I’ve posted seven other videos at my YouTube channel — http://www.youtube.com/user/swingyoucats — which (as the old record jackets used to proclaim), “You’re sure to enjoy.” I hope so!