Although I’ve long been great friends with the Grand Rapids dancers who run Rapid Rhythms, I don’t see them a lot – Grand Rapids is two and a half hours away from me, and a five hour round trip on a Monday night can hard to fit into my schedule. But that changed this week – I’m on spring break, and while I chose to break in place, I gave myself a fun little overnight trip up to GR on Monday and Tuesday! The good folks of Rapid Rhythms were kind enough to let me DJ a set at their beautiful weekly venue, a downtown art gallery called Lions + Rabbits.
I genuinely enjoyed playing this set, especially because Rapid Rhythms as a scene has such a robust mixture of experience levels, from first-time-this-week beginners to 5-year Lindy Hop veterans. I pulled out a few old favorites – “I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket” by the Boilermaker Jazz Band and “Second Balcony Jump” by Earl “Fatha” Hines among them – to settle in and get the floor moving. In between times, I experimented with some songs that are new to my library.
You might notice that there’s a secret star in this set – Maxine Sullivan! I recently discovered her album A Tribute to Andy Razaf, and I’m in love. Sullivan’s beautiful voice is accompanied by an all-star lineup, including Buster Bailey on clarinet, Dick Hyman on piano, Charlie Shavers on trumpet, and Jerome Richardson on saxophone. Every single piece on the album is lovely to listen to, and eight out of twelve tracks are Lindy-friendly – what a great find! At Rapid Rhythms, I featured “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Massachusetts,” and “Christopher Columbus,” but I also really enjoy Sullivan’s renditions of “Ain’t Misbehavin'” and “Blue Turning Grey Over You.”
On a related tangent: When I was researching this album, the name Buster Bailey sounded familiar to me but I couldn’t remember where I’d heard it before. A quick YouTube search turned up this mindblowing clip:
In this clip from a late 1950s TV show, Buster Bailey plays a four minute clarinet solo while his band backs him up and swings along. I recognize the melody, but can’t remember the song title – can anyone help me out? I wish I could find a recording of this – it sounds great!
As it’s International Women’s Day today, I also wanted to shout about the tune “Jump Children” by the International Sweethearts of Rhythm – an amazing all-women jazz orchestra, of whose music a pittance of recordings have survived, or were even made, for that matter. Regardless, however, in “Jump Children” the Sweethearts pump along behind the vocal power of Ernestine “Tiny” Davis, who managed to be both the best female jazz trumpet player in the U.S. and also an outstanding vocalist. I hope to find more of their music and add it to my collection in the future!
This YouTube clip isn’t the same recording as the one that I have in my library, and I don’t think it’s Ernestine Davis on vocals, but it’s fun to see the orchestra in action – check it out!
And finally, some exciting news as promised: I will be DJing at the Falcon Lindy Extravaganza this year at Bowling Green State University! It’s April 6-8, and I would love to see you there – click through the hyperlink for more information about the event!
Thank you to Sammi for the picture at the top of this post!