The Art of Swinging: Everybody Has to Be Doing It

The club opens. The people enter. The band hits the stage and everybody is ready to swing.


The servers pour water, the band starts the first tune, the people are getting into the groove. Everybody is swinging.


What I love about the Jazz fan is that they know what’s happening and they know when it’s nothappening, but they’re still gonna groove with you. What I love about the person who may not be an aficionado, they might not know exactly what’s going on, but they’ll bob their heads, pat their feet or sway to the feeling of whatever their hearts and minds are sensing. They’re just as hip, you see – in order for swing to be effective, everybody has to be doing it. When my sister yells out, “Woo!” and someone else goes, “Ah!” and the drummer goes “Blam” and the server stops what he’s doing to look up at the band – everybody is swinging, y’feel me?


The band is now on fire. They’ve been at it for about 4 songs and somehow 40 minutes have passed and the leader looks at the setlist and realizes he still has 8 more songs to go in a 75-minute set and what the hell am I supposed to do now?!? I got all this good music and I can’t play it all. Danny Jankow tells me we could have played another hour and it would have been cool. It was getting late and the leader wasn’t too sure about that…


I skip a few things to interrupt the “lull” and wind things down, but finish big, wishing there could have been another set. Not this night. Not this town. Not these days. Not this economy.


Next era for sure – everybody will be doing it

(Sunday, September 30, 2012 at 3:08am)


In Remembrance of Dave Brubeck

images-7But, it’s about so much more than that…

When I was 4, my Aunt Barbara gave me an inch high stack of used vinyl records that she purchased for a quarter from a flea market. Included in that stack was Dave Brubeck’s “Time Further Out”, recorded May/June 1961. When I put on the first track, “It’s a Raggy Waltz”, it struck a chord with the funny, adventurous side of my “old soul.” That’s all I knew; here’s what I DIDN’T know then:

I didn’t know that this record was over 10 years old.

I didn’t know that Mr. Brubeck was a leading force in the “Cool Jazz” era.

I didn’t know that he, along with Max Roach, was a master of odd time signatures.

I didn’t know that Dave Brubeck was White and Modoc.

I didn’t know ANY of that and didn’t care.

Here’s what I do know: we have to stop guilt-tripping young musicians into playing Jazz. They’re not going to find their place that way and ultimately, this is what freedom of choice is all about as an artist.  If they have to ask too many questions and don’t have the innate desire to consume this music with love and burning passion, then there’s a good chance they weren’t meant to play it. If there is a contingency that wishes to label swinging as “old hat” and “outdated” – I can’t do anything about that, except to keep being pro-swing. “Anti-“ is going to get you nowhere – fast.

The only way to “preserve” the music is to keep playing it. History gets written down – we learn about it. We’ll never forget wars, inventions, catastrophes – largely because these events have been documented (with some accuracy) and re-told over the ages. For those of us that love swinging, we have to simply continue in that vein. If we allow ourselves to get discouraged because of who’s on what magazine covers, who’s on whose gigs, who’s in which venues – we become bogged down in the mire of bullshit that has absolutely nothing to do with being artistic: performance, creativity and the edification of others.

Let’s find our way back home.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012