I’ve been working hard preparing my library to DJ at KissME in Ann Arbor this weekend, July 21-23. While I don’t DJ from Spotify (Jon Tigert has written about some great reasons why), I do think it’s an incredibly valuable tool for discovering new music, and a lot of great stuff has come my way in the past few weeks on Spotify that I’d like to share.
A Jumpin’s Something, Earl Hines, 2:47, 158 BPM
This song has wonderful energy for being a steady mid-tempo swinger, and hits the sweet spot of having both a memorable melody that beginners can follow, and excellent musicality and stops that give more experienced dancers lots to play with.
If I Were A Bell, Sarah Vaughan and Joe Williams with Count Basie, 2:45, 122 BPM
I love the call-and-response lyrics between Sarah Vaughan and Joe Williams, and (surprising exactly no one) Count Basie’s accompaniment steadily drives the energy throughout the whole song and ends with a grand finish.
The Minor Riff, Jimmie Lunceford, 2:50, 190 BPM
When I first started DJing, I thought Jimmie Lunceford was only good for “Tain’t What You Do” and nothing else. No longer! This fun song is sure to be a great favorite with Balboa dancers for its speedy tempo and great brass solos starting at about a minute in. And this a radio broadcast recording, so there’s some applause and a little announcement at the end.
Watcha Know, Joe?, Tommy Dorsey with Joe Stafford & the Pied Pipers, 3:26, 165 BPM
This song has trombonist Tommy Dorsey’s excellent work on full display. The title spelling of “Joe” must be a mix-up, because in the song, they’re clearly speaking to Jo Stafford, the female vocalist in the Pied Pipers. Really, it should be “Watcha Know, Jo?”
Cole Slaw (Sorghum Switch), Louis Jourdan & His Tympany Five, 2:46, 138 BPM
This song is just sheer fun. The honky-tonk feel of the rhythm, Louis Jordan’s great voice on the silly lyrics, the stops towards the end – it just all comes together and works! Do you know what they serve you, down in Arkansas?
There’s Frost On The Moon, Chick Webb, 2:53, 168 BPM
Any Chick Webb song is going to have really tight orchestration, and this is no exception. What makes this song stand out is the chorally sung lyrics that remind me a bit of an old Western. It’s a different feeling from most swing music, but it’s still danceable, and I think it adds nice variety.
Social Call, Ernestine Anderson, 2:46, 122 BPM
I love Ernestine Anderson’s rich, sweet voice, and the story-telling lyrics of this song combined with the slow tempo make it a good pick for helping beginners get comfortable on the dance floor.
All The Things You Are, Sarah Vaughan and Count Basie, 3:49, 165 BPM
Okay, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been on a Sarah Vaughan kick for the past few days. She’s known as one of the queens of 20th century vocal jazz with good reason – she has an amazing range, and she makes every word so expressive you just want to melt into it. No melting in this song, however, with its kicked-up tempo and beautiful instrumental solos that will keep the dance floor swinging right into her incredible long notes at the end.