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About lipi

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  1. Not born into it, so I wasted twenty years not dancing! In college I was lucky to have a very good dance history teacher, who got me into lindy hop, and a graduate student friend who was (and still is) a professional tap dancer, who got me into tap. I watched as much of the existing video as possible, and talked to and studied with the old timers (Norma Miller, Frankie Manning, etc.) or those one step removed (Sylvia Sykes, Rusty Frank, Chester Whitmore, etc.).
  2. TL;DR: it's mostly (Collegiate) Shag, and, no, it is not an early form of Lindy Hop. (Shag developed parallel to Lindy Hop.) It's actually a bit of a mess, because different couples are dancing different dances. Keep in mind that at the time, many people weren't as uptight about "this is dance X and you're doing dance Y." A lot of that came in with formalized instruction of the Arthur Murray form (the cynical view is that you can't teach what you don't know, so you'd better call it "wrong" or "a different dance" to save face and keep your students...). In any case: it's a mix of Charleston, Shag, and Foxtrot steps. I saw a bit of Texas Tommy (the dance, after which the Lindy Hop figure was named), and I think even some Swing, i.e. "LA Swing," the swing dance that was danced in the Los Angeles area and that was not Balboa. (Getting confused yet? Yes, the names are terrible, but that's what they called it at the time: swing.) To further the confusion: the Texas Tommy had likely been mostly abandoned by young dancers by 1936, and what was left of it was probably called Two Step (not to be confused with Texas Two Step or any of the other myriad Two Steps) or even Lindy Hop at the time. The couples that are doing a bit of traveling seem to mostly be doing standard Foxtrot steps. They may have called it Foxtrot, or they may have called it One-Step (unlikely), or they may have called it Walk (that was the name used at the Savoy Ballroom), or they may have called it Peabody... Yes, the terminology is a mess. Aren't you glad you asked?
  3. Swing Bands: Who should I listen to next?

    YES. Alphonse Trent is totally worth listening to. Most importantly, Stuff Smith was in his band for a while. Oh, and the Lunceford clip I said I'd post:
  4. Swing Bands: Who should I listen to next?

    Yeaaaaah, Alphonse Trent! How about a little Mills Blue Rhythm?
  5. Swing Bands: Who should I listen to next?

    Not enough women with big hats?
  6. Swing Bands: Who should I listen to next?

    We're getting into repeating ourselves an awful lot, but let me quickly mention that Cab had *plenty* of instrumentals. You don't have to listen to his vocals. JSP has two cheap sets with most of his output, and Mosaic has some of the stuff on the Chu Berry set. Just listen to this amazing thing ("A Minor Breakdown," 1937 take 2, Cab Calloway and His Orchestra): Also, Allen's "Devilin' Tune" is indeed a great introduction. And however much I love Eddie Condon and the rest of the Chicago gang, calling any of Condon's recordings Big Band Swing seems stretching the genre beyond its sensible limits. Finally, if we're getting into the Stan Kenton's, Raymond Scott's, and Boyd Raeburn's of the world, we can go on for several hours (and possibly flame war each other about what is Swing and what is not). I'd shy away from these for now, not because they're bad (they're not), but because they're not that close to the music Captain Howdy originally mentioned. Another approach: pick up one of the books by George T. Simon and just go down the list.
  7. Swing Bands: Who should I listen to next?

    Ooooh, baby! I'm glad you asked! (Aside: you might enjoy this month's BFT. It's mostly smaller groups from that era.) It depends on what you mean by "big band": how many brass and reeds satisfy you? The number steadily increased from 2 trumpets, 1 trombone, 1 reed (King Oliver) to 5 trumpets, 4 trombones, and 5 reeds (the late forties stuff). It also depends on what you mean by "need to hear." What was popular? What was seminal? What was/is great for dancing? The first thing I'd say is: you haven't heard enough Duke. Go listen to some more! And then listen to all the things under his sidemen's names. For the period you mention, Basie is as important as Duke, so listen to all of him, too. All that said... From the era you mention, and in the traditional Big Band mould: Charlie Barnet ("the blackest of the white bands"; a great admirer of Ellington's, which you can easily hear) Cab Calloway (he had quite a good band for a while, with Chu Berry, Milt Hinton, Cozy Cole, and famously a young Dizzy) The Casa Loma Orchestra/Glen Gray Lionel Hampton Andy Kirk (Mary Lou Williams is seminal) Jimmie Lunceford (to get the true experience, you have to see the band; we have one soundie and I think part of another performance; will insert the soundie below) Glenn Miller (perhaps a surprising recommendation; I suggest the album "The Spirit is Willing" on RCA to hear the non-schmaltzy stuff) Lucky Millinder (together with Hampton crucial if you want to understand where Jump Blues and later Rhythm & Blues/Rock & Roll came from) Those are a good place to start, at least. To understand where all these guys came from, the twenties and early thirties are important. If you want to dig there, I suggest: Bennie Moten (to understand where Basie came from) Fletcher Henderson (to understand where Goodman and Webb came from, and, well, everyone, really) King Oliver (to understand where Louis came from) Luis Russell (which became the Louis Armstrong Orchestra when Louis joined) Blanche Calloway (Cab's older sister; arguably the musically more talented, and a big influence on her brother; recorded very little; you want the 1930s recordings) Frank Trumbauer (for all the obvious reasons: Bix, Teagarden, and Tram himself) Historically extremely interesting, but woefully under-recorded: the all-female bands of the 1930's and 1940's. These two are good places to start (and relatively easy to find recordings of): Ina Ray Hutton and Her Melodears The International Sweethearts of Rhythm Especially in the 1940's there were a bunch of all-female orchestras due to the draft. Sherrie Tucker's book "Swing Shift" is good if you want to learn more. Not mentioned above, because, you gotta stop somewhere: Benny Carter, Woody Herman, Earl Hines, Billy Eckstine, Bob Crosby, Les Brown, Larry Clinton, Claude Thornhill, Buddy Rich, Ray McKinley, Red Norvo, Fess Williams (the first house band at the Savoy Ballroom), Jan Savitt, Dizzy Gillespie, Jean Goldkette, ... If you want specific recommendations for some of these, I'm sure we can collectively suggest some.
  8. BFT 170 Discussion Thread

    Thank you for listening! JSngry and His Merry Band of Posters have identified most of the tracks above, but there are details to fill in, and preferences to express, of course. Particularly curious to hear if you intensely disliked any of it. Did any of the Roses, Suns, or Ladies stand out as particularly good or bad?
  9. BFT 170 Discussion Thread

    I don't know that Benny Carter album, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least! The recording of "Honeysuckle Rose" on Swing is a classic that's been highly regarded by almost everyone from the day it was released. (Almost everyone except Bean, who apparently said something like "They're just jam sessions, nothing special.") Not specifically in response to medjuck's post: I know it's anathema to the usual BFT discussions here, but any thoughts of comparison between the tracks? The identification is part of the fun, but really listening to the music is most of it. (Unless you hate the music, of course! Skip those tracks!) Which of the Honeysuckles did you enjoy most? Which least? Why? Which musicians, if any, would you have fired from the gig?
  10. BFT 170 Discussion Thread

    According to Michael Dregni's "Django: the life and music of a gypsy legend," they were released as Coleman Hawkins and his All-Star "Jam" Band, just as on the Swing and Victor labels above. Carter had apparently been charged with writing some arrangements, but never came through. (Dregni, 125)
  11. BFT 170 Discussion Thread

    That's the CD I pulled this from. They were singing and dancing from the very start. And here they are singing and dancing in 1936. Harold is the little one: About fifteen years ago, I took a tap workshop where I learned this routine from Cathie and Nicole Nicholas, Fayard's granddaughters. They still perform it occasionally. They also did some impressions in their act. Here Harold is hamming it up as Cab in 1937: That's the one! The why is in some way linked to parts of the rest of this BFT.
  12. BFT 170 Discussion Thread

    Speaking of Harry Connick, Jr...this video of his went viral a few years ago: Without reading the comments on the video, can you tell what/how/where the magic occurs?
  13. BFT 170 Discussion Thread

    (I hate the quoting function on this board so very, very much.)
  14. BFT 170 Discussion Thread

    That's the one, of course. And you even picked the reason I decided to include it. This time a West Wing video. The writing for this series was the best I've ever seen for television. Sorkin seems to have taken a liberty with the exact cause of death, but whatever.