Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Uptown Jump - Glenn Crytzer's New Swing

If you’ve been a Lindy Hopper for any length of time you’ve imagined what it must have been like to attend an event at the Savoy - the joy of dancing to a live Count Basie tune in 1937 or anticipating hearing the first performance of a new song by Chick Webb’s Orchestra. Outside of a very specific time frame, the composition of new Swing Jazz music specifically for dancers is very rare and the idea of waiting for that next new release of brand new, never heard before music, is not a feeling we’re used to.

Even among the recent resurgence of bands and composers so many stick to covering the classics, and it makes sense why. Dancers like their standards. Musicians learn the standards and perform the songs that get people out of their seats. Creating new authentic Swing music is a risky undertaking, especially in the aftermath of the neo-swing era. You’re setting yourself up to be compared to the great original composers and dissected by a very critical audience.

Enter Glenn Crytzer’s newest album, Uptown Jump. Eighteen original compositions made for dancers and swing jazz connoisseurs alike. Yes, eighteen!

The overall sound quality and instrumental composition are very similar to Crytzer’s previous recordings. That is to say that although the songs might be brand new, there’s a comfortable familiarity to the uncompressed tonal quality. Maybe this is due to my regular use of his previous recordings, but these recordings feel like they belong turned up over the main speakers at your local swing dance.

There’s a wonderful variety among these eighteen songs. In regular Crytzer fashion he mixes into the bulk of instrumental pieces the occasional vocal number and avoids the sin of each song sounding too much like the previous. For example, What Did I Do? (An Ambiguous Love Song) is a solid mid-tempo vocal number. Next they throw it down with the up-tempo Uptown Jump - perfect for a jam circle. And then comes Le Fantome de Saint Bechet, which is not only a great name but a wonderful bluesy jazz piece.

There’s a playful, fun soul beneath this entire album. Crytzer is never too self-serious, yet Not Far to Fargo and Mrah!, just to name the first two that come to mind, are begging for a talent greater than mine to choreograph an awesome routine to.

Just like the albums before it this is a must buy for every swing dance DJ or vintage swing jazz fan, and the excitement of good brand new swing jazz music just can’t be ignored. Available on Bandcamp. Also, check out Glenn's other work.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Lindy Hop Mini Workshop 6/1/14

We've been working on controlling where we end up - maintaining the dance in cardinal directions.

This is part of an ongoing theme with our lessons about being more and more intentional with the movements we choose rather than just letting ourselves fall upon the same old habits.  It's tough and takes practice, but with more and more control comes more tools for artistic expressions and musicality (and not bumping into other people).

Plus, everything you can do forward you can do backwards.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Lindy Hop Mini Workshop 5/25/14

Last week was all about knowing where you're going and being intentional about your directionality.  Is that a word?

This is all part of a greater concept about being intentional with your movement and learning to control additional aspects as you develop as a dancer.