Picks and Pans Review: Swing This, Baby!
Various Artists (Slimstyle/Beyond)
Album of the week
The fogies among us remember when it was understood that you touched the person you were dancing with. So they can only applaud the swing-dancing craze that has resurfaced in the past few years, especially since the 1996 movie Swingers, and is now finding its way into clubs across the U.S.
And they should also appreciate the music that motivates those dancers. This compilation includes 15 bands, some of whom—Boston's Bellevue Cadillac, New York City's Crescent City Maulers, San Francisco's The New Morty Show—display more imagination in their names than they do in their music. (Among the better-known groups: the Brian Setzer Orchestra, fronted by the former Stray Cats guitarist.) But despite occasional shortcomings, these bands generally honor the great musical tradition of their Big Band Era forebears.
There are hints of Cab Calloway in the scatty vocals, echoes of Gene Krupa in the propulsive drum work, of Charlie Christian in the introspective guitar solos and even—in the Cherry Poppin' Daddies' "Ding Dong Daddy of the D-Car Line"—a reminder of Phil Baxter's old novelty tune "I'm a Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas." These are mostly small groups of 10 or less, and more reminiscent of Count Basie's edgy Kansas City jazz than the fluid big bands of Goodman, Lunceford or Shaw. But there are some terrific players here; it's reassuring to hear young musicians who can improvise and who don't act as if there were no enviable musical influences before 1983.
Bottom Line: Hand me down my jitterbug shoes
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