Bovis: “The League of Decency.”
Waitron: “Yeah. Right. You guys don’t look very decent.”
If you’re looking for some cute guys in retro-suits, haircuts, and two-toned shoes, keep surfing... If you’re looking for a novice with an orchid in her hair, moaning about ficticious lover-men, she ain’t here.
What you’ve got here is sweaty, ugly, funky, SWING, searing across the BLUES horizon towards orbital FUNK.
There are a lot of groups out there jumping on the Swing bandwagon lately.. Ex-punks claim to be the only ones with enough energy to bring Swing to life. What a laugh! Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd would kick their ass. Many new Swing fans have migrated from Rockabilly music. That’s cool, but it’s also the strictly vanilla side of Swing’s influence. .Skankers figure if it’s got horns it must be cool. At least they got some soul.
Once you get past the cute retro outfits, there’s a whole lot of hackin’ and wackin’ going on. All I’m saying is, that it only takes a trip to the used clothing store and a barber to look the part. Too many of these guys bought the look but didn’t bother to learn how to play. They dig Frank. So what about Joe Williams, Eddie Jefferson, Sara Vaughn, Betty Carter, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie...? Man, it is soooooo vast. Sinatra was great, but he is a fragment of what Swing’s about.
I had one Bobby Darin look-a-like tell me,” Man, I’ve been drinking martinis for years!”
What’s that got to do with anything?
To me, the beauty of Swing is that music and artistry are allowed to thrive. A couple can dig each other on the dance floor in a way that invites contact and heightens their awareness of each other. Musicians are given a chance to improvise within a form that has worked for generations of blues and jazz artists. This is where American cultures really do meld.
I dig Swing, but not to the exclusion of everything else. In looking for a variety of musical vehicles for The League, I’ve run across all kinds of great recordings that run a gamut of styles. I’m looking for material that I think any audience will like, that works for our trumpet, sax, and bone horn section plus rhythm section, and can work in different performance situations.
Thirties and forties Big Band numbers, if whittled down by an inspired arranger, can work like charms for us. By the end of WWII, records were being cut by smaller groups with a three-horn section similar, if not identical, to our own. On the Rhythm and Blues charts this continued right on into the eighties. So from the Jump styles of Louis Jordan and Lucky Millinder, through the energetic cuts of artists like Wynonnie Harris and Ruth Brown that became Rock and Roll, to the extensive explorations of Ray Charles that led to the sounds of Soul documented by Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett in Macon and Memphis which morphed into the truly revolutionary feels of James Brown’s band that opened the intergalactic portals for the emergence of Funk as practiced by Parliament Funkadelic and the Gap Band... there are many types of music that work for The League of Decency. The only reason there could possible be for only doing Jump-Swing would be to try to CASH IN on the trendy thing. I polled the band and the unanimous consensus is: “JUST FOR THE MONEY?........mmm.......naaah.”
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