Tag Archives: swing dancing

ROCKIN’ IN RHYTHM and DANCING FOR JOY with LE JAZZ HOT: CLINT BAKER, EVAN PRICE, ROBERT YOUNG, SAM ROCHA (Le Colonial, July 8, 2013)

The Beloved and I made the scene at Le Colonial (20 Cosmo Place, San Francisco) on July 8 to hear some hot music.  As an extra bonus, we saw much expert, energetic dancing.

The music was provided by a compact, inventive band — Le Jazz Hot for four (leader Paul Mehling was stuck in France for a spell): Clint Baker, guitar, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, vocal; Evan Price, violin, guitar; Robert Young, saxophones, vocal; Sam Rocha, string bass.  They romped — musicians and dancers in sweet reciprocity!  Here are a few songs from the first set.

Incidentally, the Hopperesque lighting of the scene is very unjust to violinist Evan Price, who is seated at one side of the group.  But please don’t forget to pay attention to him — his playing, never sticky-sweet, always swinging — is delightful.

Before viewers embark on this jazz voyage, I should note that I was videoing from across the room, and the dancers — properly — were in motion.  So the visual aspect of what follows may strike some as more surreal than usual, but I think these videos are lovely in a moving-sculpture way (the famous 1954 short film JAZZ DANCE came to mind).

Someone who is willing to get in the groove with us can delight in the interplay between the expertly moving dancers and the hot band.  Viewing this at home, in the right frame of mind, one can sit back and be transported, as we were.

HONEYSUCKLE ROSE:

THREE LITTLE WORDS:

I’M CONFESSIN’:

WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE?:

ONE HOUR:

MY BLUE HEAVEN:

HESITATING BLUES:

LIMEHOUSE BLUES:

What a delicious scene!  Every Monday night this happens at Le Colonial, I hear tell — but Clint, Evan, Robert, Sam, and Paul bring the best vibrations with them wherever they play.

May your happiness increase!

KALLY PRICE MAKES IT CLEAR: SHE’S GOT TO BE A RUG-CUTTER (at The Red Poppy Art House, June 17, 2012)

This little treat of a swinging performance comes from the recent appearance of singer Kally Price — with accordionist / pianist Rob Reich, string bassist Dan Fabricant, and percussionist Beth Goodfellow — at San Francisco’s congenial Red Poppy Art House (on Folsom Street) on June 17, 2012.

This quartet, with Kally blazing away, does a superb job of bringing back the 1937-8 Duke Ellington band, complete with vocal trio, to this century:

The only problem I have with this hymn to swing-dancing is that the lyrics strike me as especially self-deprecating.  Can you imagine a past where Kally Price was — dare I say it — un-trucky?  Or that she ever, ever had to improve her jive?  Maybe it was some part of her distant past, but if her jive were improved I don’t think the Red Poppy would be standing as I write this.

See what you think.  And try to keep still while watching and listening to this foursome tell us not only what swing is all about, but offer incontrovertible evidence that Swing is here to stay.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I gotta cut back a figure / So, Gate, I’ll dig you / Later!

May your happiness increase.

THE THINGS WE LOVE, or ROMPING AT RADEGAST: GORDON AU’S GRAND STREET STOMPERS with TAMAR KORN (April 18, 2012)

How lucky we are to have these young cats swinging out for us!  Those of us who can get to Radegast know what I mean — the delicious combination of hot music among friends, with a side order of swing dancing, uplifting food and drink.

If you’ve never been to Radegast, it is well worth the trip — a spiritual oasis of its own singular kind, where the ambient music is often Sidney Bechet, Walter Page, and Jonah Jones.  The Radegast Hall and Biergarten — to give it its formal appellation — is located at 113 North 3rd Street  Brooklyn, NY 11211 — parking is easy at night.  Click here to see their schedule of hot bands.

Here are four performances from Wednesday, April 18, 2012 — to lift you up and get you in the groove in the best way.  The Elevators are Gordon Au, trumpet, compositions, arrangements; Matt Musselman, trombone; Dennis Lichtman, clarinet; Peter Maness, string bass; Davy Mooney, guitar; Tamar Korn, vocal.

Let’s start with a genuine Thirties love song written by Gordon Au in the twenty-first century, SOMEHOW THE WORLD HAS TURNED UPSIDE-DOWN, with vocalizing by Tamar:

Then, a sweetly romping 1931 favorite — uplifting even if you put stevia in your latte: WHEN I TAKE MY SUGAR TO TEA:

A spicy Latin-flavored MUSKRAT RAMBLE:

And an encouragement to be candid.  IT’S A SIN TO TELL A LIE, you know:

Good deal!

These musicians are playing gigs all over — so be sure to get on their email lists / websites / Facebook pages to keep up with them.  The people who lament the aging audience for jazz, the sad necrology of the music . . . come hear this band: they are the past, present, future rolling on!

May your happiness increase.

 

AT THE HOP (Part Two): CLINT BAKER’S NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND (Aug. 20, 2011)

One set by Clint Baker’s New Orleans Jazz Band wouldn’t have been enough for anyone — either the audience at the Wednesday Night Hop at Mountain View, California, or for the wider audience of JAZZ LIVES.  So here’s the second collection of exuberances: six songs, four of them explicitly New Orleans-rooted, the other two jazz classics.

And a surprise.  When the band took to the stage for the first set, it was Clint (trumpet, leader, vocals); Jim Klippert (trombone, vocal); Robert Banics (clarinet), Jason Vanderford (banjo, vocal); Sam Rocha (bass, tuba); J. Hansen (drums), Carl Sonny Leyland (piano).  But a very nimble pianist — masquerading as the brilliant drummer Jeff Hamilton — was prevailed upon to sit in, and Jeff played the first four tunes of the set, having a good time himself.

And you’ll notice the absence of microphones.  Who needs them when you’ve got swing this hot?

Those tunes?  Well, why not start off with a Debussyian dream, full of watercolor shadings and sweet pastels?  On second thought, let the impressionists be dreamy elsewhere.  Here’s TIGER RAG:

Clint (who’s not a whiner) likes the Jelly Roll Morton tune, a thinly-veiled advertisement of erotic prowess, WININ’ BOY BLUES.  Don’t deny his name:

William H. Tyers’ classic PANAMA followed, its multiple strains in place:

And one of the most-often played and most durable songs in the common language of small-band-swing, HONEYSUCKLE ROSE:

Carl came back to play his part in an energetic SOME OF THESE DAYS:

And the set closed with a funky blues — somewhere between Bill Haley and the Comets and MOP MOP — which I know as JOE AVERY’S PIECE (although it might also be JOE AVERY’S BLUES):

Oh, play those things!

NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND (Dec. 19, 2010)

This isn’t about Dostoevsky or his grim-pre-existential narrator.

No, the subject is much happier and equally profound. 

I had learned from trumpeter Gordon Au that there would be a below-ground wingding on Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010: he and the Grand Street Stompers would play an hour’s gig down on the subway platform, the F train at Second Avenue for those taking notes.  Even better, they would be joined by New York City swing dancers in vintage attire.  Then, everyone would board an antique subway train (circa 1960 with yellow / blue rattan seats), do a round-trip out to Queens and make way for a second train trip. 

I could only take the vintage subway a few stops uptown, but I did capture the vivid action on the platform.  The Grand Street Stompers began as a trio — Gordon, Pete Anderson on clarinet, Rob Adkins on bass — but soon became a quartet when guitarist Mikey Freedom Hart arrived.

Their first number was a nicely rocking / sentimental BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA, perhaps a homage to Louis, who began his concerts with this sweet old song for nearly twenty-five years:

Then, in the first acknowledgment of the season, IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS in two tempos, the dancers dipping and whirling even in the confined space (everyone was fully aware that overdramatic dancing would take them and us too close to the edges of the platform):

An unusual (and brave) choice for the context, Hoagy Carmichael’s NEW ORLEANS, with Gordon growling passionately, Rob bowing in the best old-New-Orleans manner:

SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN (the song that made J. Fred Coots financially secure forever) here sounds as if BLUE MONK was not far in the background — it’s really a good, simplistic Thirties song:

I don’t know if Fats Waller ever took the subway, but he would have been pleased by this pretty — although brief — version of his 1929 hit AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’:

Finally, the pop lexicon’s version of the primal scene — Freudian or out of PEYTON PLACE? — I SAW MOMMY KISSING SANTA CLAUS.  Let’s hope it was Daddy in the red suit, shall we?

I delighted in the lovely playing of the quartet, the delicious incongruity of the music and the setting — but the real pleasure was in watching the dancers reflect the music in their bodies, singly and in pairs, switching off, having a fine time.  Lynn Redmile, who appears in the beginning of the last video (to the right), promised she would tell me the names of the spirited and agile dancers we so admire here.  

The Home of Happy Feet for the price of a Metrocard swipe — !

KEEP THE HEAT IN IT!

But sweeten it . . . !

If you need something to cheer you up, or you are already cheerful, watch the Silver Shadows, male and female, strut and wiggle.  It’s not hard to see how much fun they are having, is it? 

I first met Naomi Uyama at Banjo Jim’s, when she had come up from her Washington, D.C. home to be one of Tamar Korn’s Boswell Sisters.  (I didn’t ask whether she aspired to be Vet or Martha, but perhaps that question would have been impudent.)  And now I find out that she is a champion Lindy Hop dancer as well. 

Visit www.naomiuyama.com for more delightful information.