Posts Tagged Chapel Hill
I ran across a blog called LiveMusicNC.com and discovered a post called “10 Great Places to See Live Jazz (Plus One Great Show!).” I scanned the list, hoping for a scoop on where I might hear some stride piano, a dixieland group, or a swing band, and there was the same list of venues I check, week after week, that only book bebop, modern, or “straight ahead” jazz.
Clearly, we are not speaking the same language. Where is my jazz?
To say that I am disappointed with jazz in the Triangle is an understatement. This has been the norm, me being hopeful that someone will book one of the local, underrated jazz groups I love that play jazz from the 1920′s, 1930′s, and 1940′s, then being disappointed after reading local concert and venue listings. I have tried to get touring dixieland and swing bands gigs at some of these venues and at other venues that hire live music, but to no avail. I even promise an audience who will pay for the band in tips, and I still get no response.
There’s been a lot of lip service recently about jazz in the Triangle, but if the local venues are only offering a certain type of jazz or only booking certain musicians, is the scene really that vibrant?
What if there’s an entire subset of jazz lovers, new patrons, that you could draw to your venue if you added a few more bands to your lineup?
What if there’s an entire subset of talented jazz musicians you’ve never heard of because they rarely get a chance to play the music that really makes them shine?
MY POINT: We will not have a complete and vibrant jazz community without embracing all forms of jazz.
Jazz did not begin in 1950. There is an extensive, almost endless catalog of songs from the three prior decades that is full of life, energy, relevance, bliss, heartache, humor, love, affection, food, sex, and crazy people. This music is awesome in so many ways and, perhaps, should be performed live because sometimes the recording technology back then wasn’t up to modern snuff.
I want to hear it and I have friends who want to hear it. I’d love to be able to go out to something other than a swing dance and hear “Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gave to Me” or “Dinah” or “Rockin’ in Rhythm.” Can we do this, Triangle? I’ve got the people if you’ve got the space.
To help in understanding where I am coming from, I have compiled a list of reasons why your venue should book musicians who play 20′s, 30′s, and 40′s jazz:
What made the Roaring Twenties fun? It wasn’t just the booze, it was also the music – the two were almost inseparable. This music was made for parties, dance halls, brothels, bars, and just about every place your mother would disapprove of. It’s joyous music with an energy that can lift your spirits.
The jazz of the 1920′s, 30′s, and 40′s is pop music – it was the pop music of its time and, while it sounds somewhat different from today’s pop music, the two are not so far apart. It’s melodic and, for the most part, it has lyrics or is based on songs written with lyrics. It all has a driving rhythm, a certain pulse. Most of it is in a major key and in 4/4 time. I think we’ve met most of the criteria for pop music at this point, so your subconscious should at least warm up to the sound.
I don’t want to spend any time bashing modern jazz, I’ll just say it’s not my bag. It doesn’t speak to me the way earlier forms of jazz have spoken to me. Perhaps I just need something that’s simple to enjoy.
The jazz of the 1920′s through the 1940′s was dance music. In fact, a major divide between this era and the bebop/modern jazz era is that sensibility, that jazz transitioned from something that you danced to into something that you listened to – from the dance hall to the concert hall.
However, dancing isn’t the only function. Think about the music that we dance to today – people play “dance” music in bars and restaurants all the time, but you don’t necessarily get up and dance at those places. Early jazz music can create a similar energy in a room.
A lot of people book jazz groups to set a mood. Perhaps its the instrumentation or the songs themselves, but jazz is a class act. Early jazz can add a different tone of class, obviously harkening back to an earlier, perhaps even more genteel and elegant era of the silver screen, the lawn party, and the supper club. It can be a party, but it can also be a soiree, depending on the song selection.
I see evidence of this mostly at live, outdoor events, but people of all ages love this music. Obviously the people who were there the first time around are fans, but kids immediately start going bananas when they hear an uptempo swing tune and try to get as close to the band as possible. Some of the most vocal fans of this music are from the Baby Boomers. As someone sort of spanning Gen X and Y, I’ve been listening to this music since I was a teenager and there are countless others just like me in cities all over the world, and even a few more like me here in the Triangle.
I’d like to make a difference for my friends who love this music or love to perform this music. I’d like to get excited about events and bands. I’d like to make the Triangle a great place for all kinds of jazz. There is certainly so much potential here, but there is still work left to do to bridge these musical gaps.
The Mint Julep Jazz Band is excited to return to Carrboro for a show on June 16, 2012 at the Triangle Swing Dance Society swing dance, held at the Carrboro Century Center. Come dance on the finest sprung wood floor in the Triangle! Don’t know how to dance? No problem! There’s a beginner lesson at 7:00 p.m. that is included with the price of admission.
Carrboro Century Center
100 N. Greensboro Street
Beginner east coast swing lesson – 7:00 p.m.
Band plays from 8:00-11:00 p.m.
Admission: Members/students $8.00, general admission $12.00
The Washington Duke Inn
3001 Cameron Boulevard
Durham, NC 27705
6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Mint Julep Jazz Band plays from 8:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
General Admission: $35.00
VIP Admission (front row seating): $75.00
For more information and to purchase tickets, see the event’s Eventbrite page.
For photographs of past Altar Ego events, visit http://www.trebellabridal.com/Fashion_Show.html.
Peter Lamb and the Wolves will play a concert at the Carrboro Arts Center this Sunday, October 2, 2011. I will be joining the Wolves onstage for a few songs and so will Lucian Cobb, the Atomic Rhythm All-Stars‘ trombone player extraordinaire.
From the Arts Center website:
“The dance floor will be open for Peter Lamb and The Wolves’ Arts Center debut! Named best Jazz group in the Triangle, this young quintet lives up to their fairy-tale namesakes. The Wolves peddle languid sophistication that is always a little bit dangerous–their repertoire reaches back to New Orleans’ earliest syncopaters but also forward to hipster bards like Bob Dylan and Tom Waits. http://www.peterlambandthewolves.com. Recommended for fans of: James Hunter, Sam Cooke.”
Single Admission: $11
Members Single Admission: $9
Day-of-show non-members: $13
Get your tickets in advance through the Carrboro Arts Center’s website: http://artscenterlive.org/event/performance/527
This Friday, September 23, 2011, I will be performing with the Al Strong Quartet +1 as a dancer at Pink Renaissance: A Jazz Affair. This concert is a fundraiser sponsored by the Kappa Alpha Alpha Sorority and the money raised will go to scholarships. The concert will feature some early jazz tunes, to fit the Harlem Renaissance theme, and will feature the dancing of local swing dancers, including myself, performing Lindy Hop, Balboa, Charleston, and Blues dancing to the music performed by the band.
The event runs from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and will also feature heavy hors d’oeuvres and an amazing cake created by Gregory Bingham of The Art of Cake.
UNC- Chapel Hill, Sonja Haynes Stone Center Theater
150 South Road
Chapel Hill, NC
For more information visit the Kappa Alpha Alpha web site.
Episode 04 of Sound Situations featuring Birds and Arrows and the Atomic Rhythm All-Stars is set to air Thursday and Saturday at 6pm on Channel 10 of Raleigh Television Network! Web episode hits next week at http://www.soundsituations.com. We are excited to be featured on this fantastic documentary television show that highlights the music scene in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Stay tuned!
I’m getting the laptop warmed up for another DJ set at the Hot Club of Durham Thursday night swing dance. Hot Club hosts a swing dance every Thursday with DJ’ed music from 9 p.m. to midnight and a free-with-$7-admission beginner swing dance lesson at 8:00 p.m. All Hot Club dances are held at the Trotter Building, 410 W. Geer St., Durham, NC.