Saturday, 11 December 2010

It don't mean a thing...

...If it ain't got that (Electro) Swing!

Is there an age at which you should stop discovering new musical genres? If not, I think I've got myself another one...
I've always liked some jazz music.  Obviously not that which offered the Fast Show's "Jazz Club", fronted by John Thompson's "nice" Louis Balfour, such an abundance of material back in the Nineties; there's no "Jackson Jeffery Jackson" in my collection!
But an early liking for rock 'n' roll (& Hollywood Noir crime thrillers) led me into the genre via the jump-jive sounds of Louis Jordan, Louis Prima, Cab Calloway et al.
From this I moved on to the the "hip" Jazz Dance movement of the Eighties, as epitomised by Manchester's legendary Jazz Defektors and London's seminal Wag Club (which I actually got to visit just the once, on a Monday night following a Ska Revival gig in another part of town - oh how retro!).

Snowboy's definitive history of the UK Jazz Dance Scene culminates in the Acid Jazz "explosion" of the Nineties.  And it was this style that also coincided with my biggest purchasing of jazz sounds; be they part of the Gilles Peterson- and Eddie Piller-inspired "revival", or those original tracks from the Blue Note back catalogue.  Throw in a fair amount of hip-hop and Mod Jazz reissues and I imagined my tastes to be pretty much as cool as could be.  I believed I was "Talking Loud & Saying Something" - I probably wasn't.
My personal highlight came in the mid-Nineties with an excellent "warm-up" gig by Acid Jazz label faves Corduroy at The Blue Lamp on Hull's Norfolk Street followed by an Eddie Piller all-nighter at the legendary Room.  Gawd did I think I was part of something special that night.  But in reality the scene was on the wane and so were my days as a frequent clubber.
As such, for the past decade or more, music along with many other former interests has taken a back seat to those other "hobbies" that marriage and parenthood entail.  
Indeed I became - and still am - so out of touch with what's "happening" that I've been forced to rely on the likes of Neil McCormick and his fellow writers in The Daily Telegraph (of all publications) to alert me to some of the best contemporary sounds around.  It helps me to occasionally top-up my previously impressive collection of sounds, be they vinyl, CD or even cassette.  And thanks to the Telegraph, I "discovered" the Drums, Mayer Hawthorne and Plan B to name but three.

Then a piece by Thomas H Green in Thursday's paper entitled The new Jazz Age is upon us... caught my eye.  It highlighted the Electro Swing thing, currently  causing a stir in some of the more fashionable clubs across the south of England, where Green says it is "set to be the sound of this season's parties".  
The piece focused in particular on the White Mink: Black Cotton club night and its Freshly Squeezed record label offshoot; already responsible for two fine introductory compilations sub-titled "Electro Swing versus Speakeasy Jazz", the first of which appeared last year followed recently by Volume 2.    
A couple of YouTube clips later and I was hooked.  At times I felt as if I was back  in Spiders circa 1989, dancing along to Jordan & His Tympany Five's "Saturday Night Fish Fry"; at others I was lounging in the aforementioned Room on George Street during one of Lee Armstrong's mid-90's "Uncle Toby's Loveboat" Sunday lunch sessions, listening to quality sounds while mixing with some of Hull's smarter club-set.
As it is, the realisation soon hits me that it's 2010 and I'm actually ensuring the volume is turned down on the aforementioned clips so as not to wake Mrs Slush and/or the Slushettes.  Such is the rock & roll lifestyle I now lead!
Still, this music is current and "freshly squeezed", whilst also casting a deserved nod in the direction of the past masters.  And I can enjoy it without feeling as if I'm trying too hard to be "Hip".  Which is always a bonus.
As I type this I'm enjoying an impressive array of sounds in the knowledge that I can do so long into the wee hours - it's not as if we're playing any bloody football at the moment!

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