Some people argue that swing started in 1924 when Louis Armstrong joined Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra. Others say it started in 1935 when Benny Goodman’s Orchestra caught on. What’s interesting about all this is that, as far as I can tell, nobody really agrees on what swing is in the first place. Is it a combination of simple melodic lines written against a rhythmic background or is it when a group performs in such a rhythmically coordinated way as to command a visceral response from the listener? Might be both, I suppose, but the description I’m going with says swing is “an irresistible gravitational buoyancy that defies mere verbal definition.”
Well, whatever it is, and whenever it started, one thing’s for certain: it won’t go away. Remember the film ‘Swingers’ with Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn? Came out during the great swing revival of the late nineties? All the sudden everybody was discovering all those Sammy Davis, Dean Martin Rat Pack tracks, not to mention the Louis Jordon and Count Basie catalogues. One thing led to another and before we knew it, we were swinging with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Royal Crown Review, Squirrel Nut Zippers, the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and all the rest.
Well this week’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl just goes to show that they weren’t the first generation to rediscover the joys of swinging. In fact this set has more swing than you’ll find on a playground. It’s so money, you can stick it in the bank. It features a couple of classics like Joe Jackson’ take on “Five Guys Named Moe,” and Bette Midler’s cover of the Andrew’s Sisters’ hit, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” And, since we are in the Deep Tracks, we’ll throw in a couple of curves like the Good Rats doing “Fred Upstairs and Ginger Snappers,” “Parker’s Band” from Steely Dan, and the Pointer Sisters doing “Cloudburst.” So call it what you will, define how you like but remember, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.”
|Brian Setzer||Dirty Boogie|
|Bette Midler||Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy|
|Good Rats||Fred Upstairs and Ginger Snappers|
|Joe Jackson||Five Guys Named Moe|
|Joni Mitchell||Raised on Robbery|
|Steely Dan||Parkers Band|
|Jazz Crusaders||Young Rabbits|
How’s that for a swing set? The Jazz Crusaders doing a Wayne Henderson composition called “Young Rabbits.” The group consisted of Henderson on trombone, Joe Sample on keyboards, Wilton Felder on tenor sax, and Stix Hooper on the drums. Like Tom Scott and the L.A. Express, the members of The Crusaders were in serious demand as session players, you’ll find their names on records by Jackson Brown, Randy Newman, Joe Cocker, Taj Mahal, and Joni Mitchell just to name a few. And proving that very point, we heard “Raised on Robbery” from Joni’s Court and Spark, an album featuring members of both the Crusaders and the L.A. Express.
Before “Young Rabbits,” it was Anita, Bonnie, June and Ruth, The Pointer Sisters from their great debut album in 1973, a song called “Cloudburst.” At the top of the set, one time rockabilly revivalist turned big band leader, Brian Setzer and his orchestra doing the title track to their 1998 release, “The Dirty Boogie” which led us into the Divine Miss M, from the bath houses to Broadway, Busty Bette Midler sounding like a long-lost Andrews Sister on the hit “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” That band with the smooth style of syncopation somewhere in the middle was Steely Dan from Pretzel Logic we heard “Parker’s Band,” as in Charlie Parker spending a Dizzy Gillespie weekend, smacked into a trance. Elsewhere a white as light as moonjune, a band as tight as Mancini’s, all the way from Long Island, those positive rodents: Good Rats. From their very Tasty album, we had a show with ten toe tappers, “Fred Upstairs and Ginger Snappers.” We also heard some Jumpin’ Jive from Joe Jackson, the classic, “Five Guys Named Moe.” Big Moe, Little Moe, Four-eyed Moe, Eat Moe, and No Moe, as in we got no mo’ time. I’m Bill Fitzhugh in the Way Back Studios, saying thanks for listening. I’ll be back with another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl next time, right here in the Deep Tracks.