Bunk Johnson’s bounce is so honest and groovy in this solo. I started to really get a sense of it playing along with this solo, especially right in the middle of it. This is from Bunk’s 1946/1947 “Last Testament” recordings.
This is a first installment of doing a quick recap of tunes used and video clips referenced in a weekend workshop. I’ve been doing it on Facebook for a few years, but I’d rather it be here because Facebook is no good.
It’s nice to head back to DC, where I lived for 8 years and really grew as a dancer. It’s killer to get to dance at the gorgeous Glen Echo Park. Thanks to Capital City Swingout for bringing Mia Goldmsith Halloran and I out for the second year.
First, the clips, the originals that gave us this dance…
After Seben 1929
Chick Webb’s band plays Sweet Sue and a band of killer 1st generation Lindy Hoppers, include Shorty George Snowden, show us how they showed off at that time. Upright, two-stepping, asymmetrical, rhythmic, jagged, stylish, lovely.
The name, as well as some of the imagery in the short (including the announcer, a white actor in blackface), illustrate some of the racist tropes that performers at the time had to endure while showcasing their talent – no doubt these conditions and tropes influenced the formation of these dances that we love. A product of the time which endures to this day.
Norma Miller and Frankie Manning “Swing Walk / Peabody”
While we had everyone two-stepping the ballroom, Mia mentioned the Frankie would say everyone who danced knew at least a Waltz and Foxtrot. Here’s a video of the great Norma and Frankie demonstrating the “Swing Walk”, their version of the Peabody. While not the dance we taught, it shows them stylishly demonstrating this traveling dance.
The Harlem Renaissance Documentary
I referred to this incredibly robust explosion of African American artistic, political and cultural revolution in Harlem. Lindy Hop is product of the tail end of the Harlem Renaissance. I found this documentary that you might be enlightening. The video cuts off early, but it was the best thing I found on Youtube today.
George Lloyd & Margaret Batiuchok
Here is a great clip of greatest inspirations dancing with the great Margaret Batiuchok.
Anne Johnson is in no rush to come in when she swings out with Frankie in this clip. I cued the clip to them swinging out, but, you should watch this whole thing.
Music We Used
Here’s a playlist of some of the tunes we used in class.I’m sure many are missing, but these are the ones fresh in my brain:
These recordings featuring Billie Holiday with Teddy Wilson’s bands are some of my favorites. This creepy song has a nice Memories of You vibe to it. It’s also exciting for me to hear the legendary Milt Hinton, Al Casey (of Fats Waller’s band) and Cozy Cole in a rhythm section together.
I couldn’t find sheet music for the tune anywhere, I approximated the melody from Billie’s vocals and the initial trumpet statement.
Personnel on this gem:
Bobby Hackett (clarinet) Trummy Young (bone) Toots Mondello, Ted Buckner (alto) Bud Freeman, Chu Berry (trumpets) Teddy Wilson (piano) Albert Casey (guitar) Milton Hinton (bass) Cozy Cole (drums) Billie Holiday (voc)
The Teddy Wilson recordings featuring Billie Holiday is some of the my favorite music. It’s moody, has the nice Swing era 2 balladic two-feel, and it’s just the real thing. A gorgeous recording.
Personnel in the recording:
Jonah Jones (trumpet) Johnny Hodges (alto) Harry Carney (clarinet,bari) Teddy Wilson (piano) Lawrence Lucie (guitar) John Kirby (bass) Cozy Cole (drums) Billie Holiday (voc)
I couldn’t find sheet music for the tune anywhere, so I approximated the melody from Billie’s vocals and Jonah’s interpretation and my buddies John Eubanks & Alex Belhaj gave me some insight into how they heard the chords.
This post is intended to familiarize you with some of the common structures jazz tunes tend to have. It’s written with the intent that dancers can use them to further connect with the music. Dancers can find many ways to leverage these structures to follow the mood of the song, predict things that will happen and to take a little weight off our lead and follow chops, but, that’s up to you. While this is only a small representation of what you’ll hear coming from a bandstand, it will at least get you listening. Many of you will undoubtedly think of exceptions and counterexamples, or might have a different way of relating these structures. Please feel free to share in the comments. Links to songs are a plus.
Here are some of the structures we covered:
32 Bar AABA
– 4 Sections of 8 bars (aka 4 8’s)
– A: 8 bar “phrase” (4 8’s) setting the theme of the song (“The rhythm is jumpin’, jump session… etc”)
– A: 8 bar “phrase” (4 8’s) sounds similar but with perhaps a slightly different end to leading into the B (“The rhythm is jumpin’, jump session… etc”)
– B: 8 bar “phrase” (4 8’s) (aka the bridge) generally a notably different sounding section leading back to the A (“When your feet are flying high… etc”)
– A: 8 bar “phrase” (4 8’s) restating the A and resolving the melody (“The rhythm is jumping… Jump Session… etc”)
(See “Jump Session” through “Coquette” in the playlist)
12 Bar Blues
– 4 bars (2 8’s) setting the theme (“I’ve got a girl who lives up on the hill”)
– 4 bars (2 8’s) often restating a variant on the theme (“Yes. I’ve got a girl who lives up on the hill”)
– 4 bars (2 8’s) resolving the theme (“say’s she wants to quit me”) and leading into the next chorus (“but I love her still.”)
(See “Roll Em Pete” through “Canal Street Blues” in the playlist)
32 Bar AB (aka AA’)
– A: 16 bar (8 8’s) setting the theme of the song but tends to not completely resolve in order to lead into B (“It had to be you…”)
– B: 16 bars (8 8’s) generally will start by repeating the beginning of the A, but generally will have a altered or completely different 2nd half (or so) in order to resolve the theme of the song (“It had to be you…”)
(See “It Had To Be You” through “Indiana” in the playlist)
We didn’t get to this in class, if you are a fan of gospel music or New Orleans traditional jazz, especially of the 50’s “revival” period, you know this one.
4 bars (2 8’s) getting into the theme (“You fly through my head like wine”)
4 bars (2 8’s) getting deeper into theme and bringing you back to the resolution… (“You made a wreck of many a poor boy”)
4 bars (2 8’s) resolving the theme (“and you nearly broke this heart of mine”)
(See “Careless Love” through “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” in the playlist)
Some Terms You Might Use, Loosely Defined
– A full run through the main form of the song.
– The part of the song that you say “What the heck song is this” until the chorus comes in and you say “Oh this song. That was cool.” Often played with a different speed. It’s often played at the beginning of the song to set a mood but also will get played at any point in the song to create a shift in dynamic. Some songs you will never recognise the verse. Others, like “I’m Crazy About My Baby” are together moreso than not. )”I’m walking on air, for I left all my blue days behind…”)
The “Head” or the “Top”:
– That’s the chorus of the song where the melody or theme is played. A band might play a full chorus of the “head” at the beginning of the song and maybe just play part of it to close off the song… “from the last A”, or “maybe from the bridge”.