The latest acquisition to the family library is this swingin’, 6-LP Reader’s Digest box set, Swing Hits. Featuring Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and of course, Glenn Miller, this amazing gift was a thoughtful and welcoming gesture from the in-laws, and was actually owned by my wife’s grandfather. Many thanks for this great gift set! Rest assured, she’ll be well taken care of. Here’s to a swingin’ weekend, kids!
Interesting slight of hand with this vintage 8-track. I’m curious to find out if Benny Goodman actually appears on this Big Band Series / Collector’s Edition, or if it’s just a collection by those who list him on their resume. Either way, we can’t wait to plug in this beast on our next Throwback Thursday. (Please note that tomorrow’s Throwback Thursday has been postponed due to previous obligations.)
The Big Bay Band (one that I’d not previously hear of) released a tribute album, of sorts, to the great Count Basie with their 1958 party pleaser, Rock-A-Bye Basie. Release on translucent red vinyl, as you can clearly see, this 10-track “covers” release includes works by George Gershwin, Benny Goodman, J. Mayo Williams, Lester Young, and the great Count Basie.
In you’re in the big band mood on a little band budget, Rock-A-Bye Basie is that swingin’ jazz medley you’ve been searching for.
Time Life Records kept its swingin’ stride with 1970’s The Swing Era: The Music of 1936-1936, a three LP compilation of Jazz / Swing ensembles from the mid-1930’s. The label’s second of 14+ in The Swing Era series, this gem comes complete with a 72-page, fully historical and entertaining, photo-filled booklet. The Swing Era: The Music of 1936-1937 features a bunch of Benny Goodman, some Red Norvo, a bit of Bob Crosby, a dash of Chick Webb, and a healthy dose of Tommy Dorsey.
File this mistake under, “adolescent oversight.” This is as much an edition for collectors as the New Edition is a rival for most influential band of the 80s. You see, in 1997, big band music was big; at least it was where I grew up. It was a nostalgic glimpse into a well thought-out hoax, perfect to rival the Macarena and Aqua’s Barbie Girl. Commercial radio was sick-to-your-stomach-painful in the late 90s, and my overexcitement for something… ANYTHING different proved to be the better of me.
I had, in my faded understanding, neglected to grasp the fact that Great Hits of the Great Bands wasn’t a proper, cohesive release. I’d recently contemplated offering it up to the corner thrift if it weren’t for the sentimental value it (lethargically) held, but instead, I’ll keep it show the very simple, yet painful fact that very, very little has changed in the past 17 years.
As a wide-eyed and furrow-browed youngster, I was a huge fan of Swing Music. While attending the local tech college, certain courses were required that involved physical movement (you see, it was Wisconsin, and in the winter we’d have to constantly move around to keep from freezing to death), i.e. racquetball, swimming, and the newly added Swing dance class.
It was 1997, and every 18 year old worth his weight in overzealous ambitions was an enormous fan of the 1996 classic, Swingers… and I was certainly no different. I owned the soundtrack, the DVD, and of course, several quote spilled posters that littered the walls of my shared 3 bedroom apartment on Madison’s west side. I wanted to be a Swinger (in the film’s sense, not the 1970’s shag carpet sense), and my semester learning the lively and energetic basics of Swing was arguably one of my best months of post high school education, regardless if I’ve forgotten all the moves.
Fast-forward a good 6 or 7 years to a little record shop in Ventura, CA (no need to move around there, the temperature seldom drops below 55). I became friends with the owner and I was given a quality deal on 13, 3 LP box sets celebrating the Swing era. The series is titled, quiet appropriately, The Swing Era, with each set focusing on 3 to 5 year chunks. Currently on the platter is 1930-1936 and features a lot of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Casa Loma. This, as well as every other set includes a 64-page hard cover book focusing on the intricacies throughout the era during that set’s well, set of years.
I may never again do the Lindy Hop, but with 78 sides of quality Swing spanning the genre’s entire history (13 sets of 3 LPs each x 2 sides), I’ll certainly have the material handy if the jittery bug should ever bite again.