Those of you liking good jazz are due for a bit of fun in the next few weeks. So much is drifting in for the various House dances, balls, and Fall proms that this reviewer's arches ache at the thought. Our pen Horace wants to know just how in the blue blazes we are going to be three places at once tonight; but somehow it's going to have to be done. Van Alexander is at the Adams House dance, Bob Crosby at the Harvard-Dartmouth Ballroom at the Somerset, and Bunny Berigan is at the Southland--each one worth hearing.
Alexander hasn't played much in this territory before. As a matter of fact, the band hasn't been outside of New York City--but at the Roseland Ballroom there, it played for some weeks this summer to very heavy crowds. And don't let anyone kid you--no band is a success at the Roseland unless they are good. It, the Glen Island Casino on Long Island Sound, and the Palamar Ballroom on the Pacific Coast are considered the band-making spots of the country.
Among others, a lot of Alexander's arranging was done for the old Chick Webb band. In fact, if you pin him down to it, he'll admit that he was responsible for the re-birth of. "A-Ticket A-tasket", plus a lot of Chick's really good arrangements. Alexander is justly rated as one of the best in the country at arranging, and his stuff for his own band is very good.
When I heard the band in New York, I was exceedingly impressed with the dancibility of the band, and their swing septet that really plays swing. In other words, they don't work out very flossy arrangements and then tell everybody that they made them up on the second. It's strictly ab lib, and soft, and very good.
Crosby's bunch was covered here briefly last week. Most important thing to understand about the band is that their rhythm is completely different from that played by most bands of today. It is two beats to a phrase, instead of four. As a result, you get a style of jazz that is more staccatto, with shorter melodic phrases, and all sorts of trick rhythmic effects achieved thru breaking up the beat. In other words, this is a white man's way of playing jazz, as opposed to the colored man's more lagging, slurring attack of long phrase and driving rhythm. Take your choice as to which style you like.
Apropos of the columns we have written on the necessity of a good swing band playing together for years, may we call your attention to the fact that Count Basic, considered by most critics to be the greatest of the colored style bands, has a band of men who grew up in Kansas City and have played together for about ten years; and that Bob Crosby, admitted to be the best of the Dixieland type jazz, has a band made up in large part of men who hail from New Orleans, where all this fuss called jazz really got started.
Don't miss hearing Crosby play some slow blues. They are really something. Irving, Fazola, the clarinet player, has a blues tone which is so full and clear that Mr. Goodman just shuts up when anybody mentions his name. Jesse Stacy, Goodman's old piano man, is with the band, and he alone is worth the trip down there. The rest of the band--the trick stuff of drummer Ray Baudue and bassist Bobby Haggert, you probably know about already, so there isn't any need to review it. Incidentally, the latter is the author of the very popular "What's New", which the Crosby gang originally recorded under the name of "I'm Free." Just another little item not to miss.
As for Bunny, we reviewed him last week. And we repeat, don't miss him. The band is far better than early reports would have led one to suspect, and Bunny himself is almost always good. By the way, if you're looking for after-game amusement tomorrow. Leon Mayer at the Kirkland House Dance did a bang-up job of dance music last year for Winthrop House--and the rumor has spread amongst the local wolves that the vocalist with the band has charms beyond her vocal chords.
Notes between the notes: Stan Brown's signing the Dunster House dance November 11 comes as no surprise as he and his band are being considered for the Fitch Band Wagon . . . Victor records announce that the following Goodman records are being dropped from the Victor label to the Bluebird listings. And don't miss them, because they're all old ones that are good: "If I Could Be With You"--"Dear Old Southland"; "Japanese Sandman".--"I Know That You Know"; "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea"--"Christopher Columbus"; "Madhouse"--"Get Happy"; "Can't We Be Friends"--"Swing Me A Swing Song"; "Someday Sweetheart"--"Who."