Posted on August 21st, 2011 No commentsOne of the most prolific and influential bands to come out of the big band era was that of Count Basie, a Kansas City outfit that could swing harder and jazzier than any of the big name bands that came before it. The Count’s band had some of the best sidemen in the jazz world riffing along, and led by Basie, those men and that band went on to become the quintessential full-sized swingin’ jazz band. From his most famous hit April in Paris to playing live at the Sands Casino with Frank Sinatra, there are few other jazzers that had such a long and exciting career as Count Basie.
So on the Occasion of Count Bill Basie’s Birthday, here’s a few videos of the great Count Basie Band.
One O’Clock Jump
April in Paris
I’ve Got You Under My Skin, with Frank Sinatra
And my personal favorite, Corner Pocket, written by the infamous Basie band guitarist Freddy Green, a guy who never played a chord the same way twice. Listen to the execution, the perfect swinging groove these cats laid down back in 1962. The cool and swingin’ solos. The way the sections play together perfectly as to sound like a single, swingin’ horn. This one is also my favorite because I was lucky enough to have played lead tenor and tenor sax solo on this same arrangement in my college big band, 20 years ago. We, of course, were no where near as good as Basie’s band. But it felt good playing his music anyway.
-Chris “Zoot” Pinto swingin’ from the music studio at Tiki Lounge Talk
Posted on July 26th, 2011 1 comment
A little known and underrated movie for sure, Delovely is the almost fantasy-like tale of the flamboyant (and very private) life of one of the most beloved songwriters to ever grace us with his insurmountable talent, Cole Porter.
With an outstanding performance by Kevin Kline, you’ll believe your actually seeing and hearing Porter himself from first few seconds of the opening scene. An incredible supporting cast includes Ashley Judd, Johnathon Pryce, and a stage-full of cameos by some of the “Biggest Names in Showbiz” including Elvis Costello, Diana Krall, Sheryl Crow, Natalie Cole…the list goes on.
A portrait of Cole Porter’s life, the story is presented as a fantasy musical biographical stage-show being produced at the end of Porter’s life. He leads “the director” through flashbacks of his colorful life, and we learn about Porter’s previously very secret lifestyle through these scenes…filled, of course, with Porter’s songs woven into the story. The “Show” scenes are very noir, dark, often sad. The “Flashback” scenes are generally uplifting and jubilant. Great juxtaposition adds to the charm.
I don’t want to give anything away…it’s fun discovering things about this incredible man and his accomplishments and contributions, his marriage to the love of his life, and the hidden meaning behind some of his very risque lyrics (Let’s just say I’ll never think of “Your the top” and “Blow, Gabriel Blow” the same way again.)
The movie is a perfect little time capsule of 1920s-1950s America and Europe, with exquisite sets, costumes, and storyline that any vintage music lover will instantly love. Unfortunately the movie was not a hit; the box office was disappointing, critics and audiences are split down the middle on whether it’s a masterpiece or a long-winded semi-musical bomb. Who is right? Well, if you’re like me…and if you read this blog you are…then you’ll get it, and you’ll love Delovely.
My only complaint about this flick is that (probably for time constraints) some of the best songs are cut off, or just grace the background of a scene. But don’t worry, the soundtrack is available on Amazon.com.
Sit back with a bottle of champagne, a dinner of Chateaubriand, and if you’re the emotional type, a box of tissues, and enjoy this truly incredible movie.
Here’s the original trailer:
-Tiki Chris, reporting from the sound stage at Star Dust Studios, Florida
Posted on July 9th, 2011 No comments
There’s a kool kat out there who is devoting his life to bringing some of the swingin’est, jumpin’est and absolutely best music of the past and present to the masses. His name is David Gasten, and he’s just produced an album of tunes from some very hep kats and kittens.
“This is Vintage Now” is a collection of ten tunes geared toward today’s retro lovers…a GREAT combination of easy swing, jump blues, Exotica, bachelor pad and hard rockin’ blues. The tunes span the decades from the 1950s through today, with some artists you probably know well (Waitiki 7, Big Jay McNeely) and others you may not (Beverly Kenney, with a sweet voice that would have made her a star to this day had she lived past 1960).
This quote from the website really says it all: “THIS IS VINTAGE NOW introduces Vintage Music as a thriving, forward-moving musical movement. The musicians on This is Vintage Now tap
into the spirit of the original Vintage period, and bring its
“anything can happen” excitement forward to today’s listeners.”
This is the kind of album that serves a dual purpose. For retro lovers, it’s a great combination of rarely heard old tunes and new tunes that fit that elusive retro mood. For people who don’t dig the retro scene but want to get into it, it’s got the perfect mix of tunes both old and new, just right to ease into the scene.
The artists on this album are all top notch. Gasten himself even plays one of the tunes with his band David Gasten and The City Kids, a hard-swingin’ bluesy riff entitled “The Deacon Don’t Like It”. Gasten calls the style “Heavy Jump Blues”, and indeed it is the kind of music you’d want to hear at a smokey club in Memphis, while drinking Wild Turkey neat while sitting across from your tattooed, ex-stripper girlfriend.
One of the best parts about this album, besides of course the kool music, is the website that goes along with it. Gasten obviously spent a long time researching each of these artists and the tunes before laying the tracks down, and a lot of what he’s learned has gone into info pages on his site. I had some fun going through the pages, and was surprised by some of what I learned. (For instance, being an old jazz and swing musician, I always heard the style of music he calls “jump blues” as either “jump tunes” or boogie woogie. I looked up the term, and today even bands like Louis Jordan’s Tympany 5 are referred to as “jump blues”. Learn something new every day.)
The album, which is currently available only as instant download from the site, is only $9.77, and will include two bonus tracks for a limited time. You can listen to each of the songs on the site to make sure you dig it…but I’m sure you will. Here’s the info:
This is Vintage Now Homepage (and purchase info)
So if you dig vintage tunes mixed in with some swingin’ new riffs, check out This is Vintage Now. I think you’ll flip for it, kids. I sure give it Five Coconuts!
-Tiki Chris P. reporting from the music room at Tiki Lounge Talk, the place for Tiki news, events, music and more from South Florida & beyond.
Posted on July 14th, 2010 14 comments
The kid from Canada, Michael Bublé (Pronounced ‘booble’ at the Tiki bar) has been swingin’ it up on the scene for a few years now…you’ve probably heard his tunes somewhere, at the mall, in Starbucks, in Canada, or on TV. He dresses vintage, looks like he stepped out of the early ’60s, can croon in the style of Dino and Frank and is just as laid back singing an R&B or corny modern pop tune. The kids like him, the grays like him, and the swingin’ kats and kittens in between like him.
Remember a kid named Bobby Darrin?
In the ’50s Bobby Darrin made a big splash with hits across the charts, from swingin’ tunes like Mack the Knife and Beyond the Sea to Rock ’n’ Roll hits like Splish Splash. One of the original “crossover” singers of pop music, anything Darrin touched (for most of his career) turned to gold.
Bobby Darrin’s Mack the Knife vs. Michael Bublé’s Mack the Knife
Bobby had class, he had style, he knew when to throw around a joke and knew when to get serious and not goon up the act.
We retro kats are always looking for someone to fill the openings left by the Rat Packers, Jazz giants and kids like Darrin. We’ve got Harry Conick, Jr. who fits nicely into the crooner slot. We’ve got chicks like Diana Krall who can sing and swing with the best of them and show them a thing or two. Even Natalie Cole has done her part to keep the old fires burning. So what about this Booble kid?
Requirements: In order to really, truly swing with the big boys you’ve got to have the main ingredients for the swinger’s cocktail.
1. Real Talent
2. A smooth, kool style.
3. Must be a hit with the ladies.
4. Must be funny, in an easy, off-the-cuff way.
5. Gotta look the part and look good doing it.
6. Gotta live the part.
7. Have to find that perfect blend of swinging the standards while maintaining that oh-so-important originality.
8. Gotta have a hat.
I’m not so sure about the hat, but I think the kid has many of the requirements needed to be accepted into the retro crowd. I’ve seen him sing live on SNL (not lip syncing) and he sounded good. He was also in a skit and was pretty damned funny, better than I expected. The only thing that will keep this kat from attaining Sinatra-esque status is his choice in songs. For every standard he croons, he adds some new, popbage (pop+garbage=popbage) to his act. Sure, that’s what he has to do to bring in the bigger crowds, get the kids’ attention, make the big bucks. I understand completely…Hell, I’d play a few crap tunes on the tenor if it made me the clams to be able to play the stuff I want, too. But you won’t catch me at a Booble concert, ’cause I just ain’t hip to the neo-jive the kat lays down for the 13-year-olds.
So the real question is, does he have the style?
Of course no one could take Bobby’s place. But some kats come close. I’ll ask you kids…yay or neigh on Booble? Can he really pull it off? Does he make the cut as a real, happinin’ retro-swinger, or is he just another pop music kid trying to be slick and falling short?
You at least have to give the kid credit for getting this famous on 60-year-old songs in the age of hip-hop fever and pop-tart mania.
Comments welcome, let’s hear what you have to say.
Posted on April 26th, 2010 5 comments
First, I’d like to thank the team at GOOGLE for helping with a potential attack. They identified a possible hacking threat, notified me immediately, removed my site from their search listings to protect others (you) very quickly. As soon as I was able to make sure the site was clean the re-instated my search engine rankings within a few days. Thanks Google!
Watch out, Derek Flint. Move over Austin Powers. And take a back seat, James Bond - Matt Helm is on the case!
When the cold war was at its peak and spy thrillers were taking the place of westerns and war movies, America answered the 007 call with a few good men - one of the best being Matt Helm, a suave, lady-loving swinger who could catch the bad guys, snap some great photos and make love to the girl in the same scene.
This series of movies gives us a fantabulous peak at the styles, cars, furnishing and hot chicks of the swingin’ ’60s. The movies are combination thriller-comedies, with the main lean towards funny. With Dean Martin at the helm (as Helm), you get that groovin’ mix of humor, sex appeal and crooning.
This particular flick, one of my favorites, features a 1960s beauty named Daliah Lavi who’s got the right curves in the right places and a sexy accent that will make you melt. Stella Stevens drops in with her crazy figure too. And there’s an all-too-short cameo by the beautiful Cid Charise, dancing her way through a sultry nightclub scene (she sings too, but apparently it’s not her voice - she’s dubbed by a then very young Vicky Carr.)
While 007 sported an Aston-Martin, Matt Helm had himself a good, solid American car - a 1965 Mercury Parklane Station Wagon - of course his was modified somewhat by Chuck Barris…The car now resides at the Volo Hollywood Car Museum in Volo, Illinois. Leave it to Dean Martin to make a station wagon kool, huh?
Since Dino’s favorite drink was the Martini, set yourself up with a pitcher before the show starts. Martin also loved Italian cuisine, so go with that for your dinner and a movie. Maybe a nice Penne ala Vodka with grilled chicken and zucchini. And make sure you watch it with someone who looks like Stella Stevens, you know, for full effect.
-Tiki Chris reporting from behind the Tiki Bar.
Tiki Lounge Talk - The Tiki Culture blog for Retro Kats & Swingin’ Kittens