Definitions of swing

herb_kayDefining swing is a notoriously difficult thing to do, since the swing quality of a musical piece is essentially a matter of perception and appreciation. It is generally accepted that the perceptible presence of swing in a piece of music is a key to having it labeled as jazz. As the 1923 Duke Ellington lyric goes, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.” Musicologists have attempted to scientifically define the element that makes up the swing effect and to trace its origins, though there is disagreement.

While the presence or absence of a swing feeling is much too subtle for it to be synthesized mechanically, it can nevertheless be analyzed. In layman’s terms, any time a note is not accentuated in a “straight” way, exactly on the beat, but rather slightly before or slightly after, a special kind of push or accentuation is given to that beat, making it feel “bouncy.” When that effect is repeated throughout a piece, with all kinds of variations, the phenomenon of swing is generated, as anyone can witness by listening to



Swing, in music, both the rhythmic impetus of jazz music and a specific jazz idiom prominent between about 1935 and the mid-1940s—years sometimes called the swing era. Swing music has a compelling momentum that results from musicians’ attacks and accenting in relation to fixed beats. Swing rhythms defy any narrower definition, and the music has never been notated exactly.

Swing is sometimes considered a partial dilution of the jazz tradition because it organized musicians into larger groups (commonly 12 to 16 players) and required them to play a far higher proportion of written music than had been thought compatible with the fundamentally improvisatory character of jazz. Nevertheless, it was the first jazz idiom that proved commercially successful. The swing era also brought respectability to jazz, moving into the ballrooms of America a music that until that time had been associated with the brothels of New Orleans and the Prohibition-era gin mills of Chicago.

The big swing bands organized their players into sections of brass, reeds, and rhythm and hired skilled orchestrators to write music for

Swing music


Swing music, or simply swing, is a form of American music that developed in the early 1930s and became a distinctive style by 1940. Swing uses a strong rhythm section of double bass and drums as the anchor for a lead section of brass instruments such as trumpets and trombones, woodwinds including saxophones and clarinets, and sometimes stringed instruments such as violin and guitar, medium to fast tempos, and a “lilting” swing time rhythm. The name swing came from the phrase ‘swing feel’ where the emphasis is on the off–beat or weaker pulse in the music. Swing bands usually featured soloists who would improvise on the melody over the arrangement. The danceable swing style of big bands and bandleaders such as Benny Goodman was the dominant form of American popular music from 1935 to 1946, a period known as the Swing Era. The verb “to swing” is also used as a term of praise for playing that has a strong rhythmic “groove” or drive.

Swing has roots in the late 1920s use of larger ensembles using written arrangements. A

Choosing The Right Guitar Teacher

The guitar is one of the most popular musical instruments that people across the world love to learn. The instrument is easy to learn provided you have the right guitar teacher to inculcate good guitar playing skills in you.

Tom Hess is one of the best guitar teachers in the USA today. He is a celebrated guitar teacher with most of his students touring the world, associated with top bands or are owners of esteemed guitar teaching schools in the nation. Many students come to him for taking guitar lessons on a regular basis. Not many students are fortunate enough to be a student of this popular and credible teacher. However, Tom Hess writes a number of informative articles to help students who wish to take his tips and views on guitar lessons.

The following are some tips shared by Tom Hess Guitar teacher that will help you find the right professional for inculcating valuable guitar playing lessons in you-

  • Tom Hess says that it is important for you to find out the experience of the teacher so that you are assured that you are in safe hands. He says that you should choose a guitar teacher that has about 3 to

The Time Jumpers, Country Swing Standard Bearers, Thrive in Nashville

NASHVILLE — In some respects it was business as usual on a recent Monday night at the 3rd & Lindsley Bar and Grill here: The Time Jumpers were playing their long-running weekly gig to a capacity crowd. The musicians, mostly on stringed instruments, occupied the full length of the stage. After racing through “All Aboard,” a quicksilver original with a locomotive theme, they eased into an old blues standard, “Trouble in Mind,” with three fiddles blending in sweet, buttery harmony.
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From another angle, the Time Jumpers — a collegial crew of Nashville studio aces like the guitarist Andy Reiss, the pedal-steel guitarist Paul Franklin and the fiddlers Larry Franklin (no relation) and Kenny Sears — operate about as far from business as usual as it gets. This 10-piece band originally formed without the intention of performing in public. And these musicians have been steadfast in their devotion to outmoded, oldfangled and underplayed forms of country music, especially the springy, gladsome lilt of Western swing, best exemplified by Bob Wills and the Texas

Vet Boswell, Member of ’30s Singing Trio, Dies; Led Swing Music Trends

Helvetia Boswell, the sole surviving member of the Boswell Sisters, a popular 1930s trio whose innovative vocal arrangements helped introduce swing music and paved the way for singing stars such as Ella Fitzgerald, the Mills Brothers and the Andrews Sisters, died Saturday in New York. She was 77.

Her daughter said she had been hospitalized for pneumonia.

Known to her fans by her nickname Vet, Boswell with her older sisters Connie and Martha performed with Benny Goodman and the Dorsey Brothers, singing “Whadja Do to Me?,” “The Music Goes Round and Round” and other hits. Their inventive use of scat singing became a model for Fitzgerald and others.

The trio broke up in 1936, after first Vet and then Martha got married and were largely forgotten. Then in 1981, their music and lives became the basis of a short-lived off-Broadway musical called “The Heebie Jeebies,” the title of one of their songs . Vet Boswell was a production consultant on the show.

She is survived by her daughter, Chica Minnerly, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Latest British Invasion Brings Big Bands Back

n two years, silky crooner Harry Connick Jr. has almost single-handedly made Big Band sounds hip for a youthful crowd.

In England, too, the popularity of swing music is on the rise with enthusiasts barely old enough to remember disco, much less swing.

“Over here,“ Barry Forgie says from London, “there are dance clubs where the younger people dress in the dress of the `40s and the young guys shave their hair back so they can look as though they have receding hair.“

Forgie should know about such trends because he is the conductor of the highly regarded BBC Big Band. Formed in the early `60s, the 16-piece swing orchestra — owned by the British Broadcasting Corporation — is the only band in the world under contract to perform swing music for regularly scheduled broadcasts.

In the past 13 years, the BBC Big Band has become quite a concert attraction as well, playing live dates all over Britain. The band is now bringing its swing sound to the United States, where last week it embarked on a 16-city tour that pulls in tonight to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. The BBC`s featured

Hitler-era Story Misses A Few Beats

The price of compromise with Hitler`s pernicious regime is the theme of Swing Kids, a negligible film that takes on too much. Filmgoers might be surprised at the sharp dramatic turns in store. Trailers sell it as a Nazi-era musical with kids dancing to the music of Count Basie and Benny Goodman, among others.

Characters are introduced and dropped or forgotten altogether in this disjointed effort. Screenwriter Jonathan Marc Feldman isn`t sure if he wants to concentrate on the younger non-Jewish generation or their collaborationist parents. So he touches on both, then leaves the parental story lines unresolved.

It`s about friends, would-be lovers, parents and children trying to cope with the unspeakable terror of living in Hitler`s shadow. But the lack of an epilogue leaves the fate of the most important characters up in the air.

Set in Hamburg in 1939, but shot in Prague, Czechoslovakia, the film looks handsome. It features a very fine performance from Robert Sean Leonard as Peter Muller, a teen-ager obsessed with American swing music, slang and dress. Also excellent is Frank Whaley as his limping musician friend Arvid, who has the courage to speak up about

Disco Lives In Its Temple, Even After A Face Lift

There aren’t many local bars left that opened at the height of the disco era.

After a nip and tuck here, a surface peel there, and most recently a face lift, Christopher’s looks better than ever, even as its heart still beats to a disco drum.

And it’s not just its musical mein that remains the same: Christopher’s mission is to help South Florida singles hook up, especially those 25-45.

Here, Looking for Mr. Goodbar meets the Playboy Club. Outside, the lot is filled with exotic, expensive cars. Inside, cocktail waitresses and barmaids wear black tails and sheer hose.

None of the bars scattered around the multilevel room has stools.

You’re here to dance, usually to a DJ from Mega 103.5 FM.

The VIP room has plush couches, and an upstairs bar was catering a party the night of our visit. High-tops (with stools) ring the perimeter of the elegant room.

New on Tuesdays are performances by a variety of live jazz artists. Wednesdays and Thursdays, women drink free all night.

Christopher’s doesn’t leave the mating ritual to chance alone: Parties, usually on Sundays, include a buffet

Swing Shift

f the joint is jumpin’ then it must be swing.

Swing music _ and the stunt-like dancing that goes with it _ is all the rage in fashion, nightclubs and advertising.

It’s so much more fun than heroin chic; the clothes are cheerier, a dry martini is more socially acceptable than a full hypodermic and with hep Generation Next bands popping up, there’s a lifestyle package just begging to be lived.

Note The Gap’s “Khakis Swing” commercial, where two khakis-clad couples break away from the dancing crowd doing their best swing moves to the vintage sounds of Louis Prima. The 30-second spot directed by photographer Matthew Rolston has been on heavy rotation on Ally McBeal, ER, The Practice and The X-Files, and appeared during the Seinfeld finale. Now Virgin Airlines and Nexxus products are using swing to sell.

The Gap made swing globally hip again, but the ball had already started in the music scene with groups such as Royal Crown Revue, The Squirrel Nut Zippers and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy pulling in some respectable sales numbers. In New York, where The Supper Club in Midtown is zoot suit ground zero, bands such as

Moving music

Bunny Covelman of West Delray Beach was so moved by the music that she got up and danced in the aisle.

“It was too good. I couldn’t sit still,” she said.

Swing music of the ’40s played by the Sid Parker Quintet and Roberta DeMuro had more than 200 residents tapping their toes at the Hagen Ranch Road Branch Library in Delray Beach.

“Everyone loved the music. People were talking about it for days,” said branch manager Karen Spano.

The free concert was sponsored by the Swing & Jazz Preservation Society. Another performance was given at the new West Boca library on State Road 7. The final concert in the series will take place at the West Boca branch, 18685 State Road 7, on March 25.

Society board member and saxophone-playing band leader Sid Parker put together the free one-hour concert program with four other musicians: Johnny Amoroso, trumpet and vocals; Joe Belanger, drums; Irwin Solomon, piano; and Al Ferrari, bass fiddle.

When Parker snapped his fingers for the downbeat on the opening number, there wasn’t a page of sheet music in sight. They play from the heart; their

Nevins and orchestra bring Yiddish swing to ‘J’

Harvey Nevins, who will lead his eight-piece Yiddish Swing Orchestra at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center’s Jewish Music Festival on Sunday (March 30), learned his craft with the famous name bands of Vaughn Monroe, Louie Prima, Ray McKinley, Charlie Spivak and Benny Goodman.

The music that Nevins — on saxophone or clarinet — and the orchestra play has been described as traditional Eastside New York and Second Avenue mixed with Yiddish and Israeli music.

Nevins, who is 88 and lives in Plantation, said he takes Jewish music like “Hava Nagila” and makes it more rhythmical, instead of transforming it into a freilach of Klezmer music or a ningun of Jewish religious music. “We make a swinging tune out of it,” he said.

The band also plays Yiddish standards with an Israeli melody, Nevins said.

The hit song of the show is the theme from “The Godfather,” he said. “We make a kazatsky [Russian folk dance] out of it.”

Nevins also plays “Romanian Rhapsody” and a take-off of “Romania, Romania” on the clarinet. “It’s quite unique,” he said.

“He’s so talented. The guy can play,” said Jeff Sopshin, co-chair,

Ed Winiker, Father Of Swing Music In Boston

Pianist Ed Winiker of Boca Raton, patriarch of “Boston’s First Family of Swing,” died Monday in Boca Raton Community Hospital. He was 76.

Mr. Winiker was the founder of the Winiker Orchestra, an expandable ensemble that sometimes included his sons, drummer Bill and trumpeter Bo, and even his wife, Annette, on bass in its earlier days. The orchestra has often been called the city’s “house band.”

The Winiker Orchestra is now a collective of about 50 musicians who perform at weddings, bar mitzvahs and other social functions in a variety of configurations, from big band to trio. On any given Saturday night, several Winiker orchestras might be performing from Maine to Cape Cod.

“When I was attending high school, I became a Benny Goodman fan listening to his Tuesday night network broadcasts,” he said in a story published in The Boston Globe in 1989, the 50th anniversary of his entrance into music. Mr. Winiker became so fascinated with the band leader’s music that he formed a 10-piece high school band in 1939.

“I imported good musicians from other towns in the county, and we would rehearse in a little camp on

The History of Swing Music

What Makes a Song Swing?

We know it when we listen to it. Our feet tap along, our hips may move from side to side, and our fingers snap in sync with an unmistakable beat. It’s easy to know what feels like swing music, but what is it that makes a song swing?

A typical swing song features a strong rhythm section supported by a more loose brass section, and later a string and/or vocal section. Improvisation is common in live swing performances, but depends on the song, band or the band-leader. As the song progresses, multiple soloists can pick up the baton and pass it on, but commonly there are two or three band members improvising. Swing bands tend to be bigger than other jazz bands, requiring a more organized and detailed composition, notation as well as more energetic arrangements. By having such a hierarchal structure, swing bands prevent chaos that may come from the improvisation of twelve to sixteen musicians.


Swing developed in the 1920s as a mixture of West African and Western European rhythms, and progressively evolved around America- from lively jazz experimentations in New Orleans to Kansas City and

New York Getting Into The `Swing!’

NEW YORK — We live in a time of unparalleled prosperity, with an utter lack of foreign crises, endless and dramatic medical advances, decreasing crime, a gourmet Cornish game hen in every pot and two cars with cell phones in every garage.

Things are going so swimmingly for America that even the grumpy, righteous Republicans are happy — as they so mindlessly demonstrated in Philadelphia.

But when we examine this blissful era in terms of its popular culture, what do we find?

Television sitcoms with people talking dirty in place of actual humor, and sado-masochistic “reality” shows like “Survivor,” in which half-naked people eat rats and suffer the humiliation of highly public rejection.

Movie theaters are crawling with horror, slasher and disaster films — or pseudo-historical epics like “The Patriot,” with butchery and gore dripping from virtually every frame.

In popular music, we find the ghoulish likes of Marilyn Manson, or newer ensembles such as “GWAR,” whose repertoire includes “Scumdogs of the Universe,” “America Must Be Destroyed,” “This Toilet Earth,”

A swinging time, but not the way you think A sign…

A swinging time, but not the way you think

A sign that swing dance is done, over: There was no swing music at “Casino Swing.” Instead, the popular black-tie party rocked with classic and contemporary sounds by Mike & Joe, well-known rockers on the local club circuit. A young professional crowd packed the dance floor, shaking to Top 40 favorites by such groups as the Dave Matthews Band, Stevie Wonder and U2. The gents looked dashing in tuxes and the women sexy in sophisticated gowns, but this group partied more like a Friday night in jeans and T-shirts–a refreshing turn from the usual stuffy formals. Some came to socialize with the city’s most eligible singles. Others came strictly for the dancing. And the rest–the high-rollers–came to try their luck at various games of blackjack, poker or roulette for prizes. Shouts of glee, disdain or surprise could be heard throughout the hall as gamblers stuck to the tables until last call. The 20/30 Club, whose members are socially conscious men in their 20s, 30s and even 40s, hosted this 11th annual affair inside the vintage atmosphere of Union Station. The party included an open bar,

The Right Vibes

If it hadn`t been for a musically swinging nun in Wisconsin, the world might have lost one of its more exuberant jazzmen.

To this day, 82-year-old vibes master Lionel Hampton credits a hard-driving Dominican nun at Holy Rosary Academy in Kenosha with opening his ears to music.

“She knew every single instrument, she taught me the 26 rudiments of playing drums,“ says Hampton, who`s best known as a vibist and bandleader but also takes flight on drums, piano and vocals.

“And the same techniques that she taught me I use today,“ adds Hampton, whose music hasn`t stopped swinging since, his next stop being the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park on June 9.

His family had moved to Chicago from Birmingham, Ala., and he had been sent to Wisconsin because “the schools were a little rough around Chicago`s South Side at that time,“ recalls Hampton.

Nevertheless, Hampton took pains to hear all the jazz greats who had settled in Chicago.

“Chicago was already a hot musical town in the `20s, because there

Still ‘Jumpin”, but a new joint

“Ain’t Misbehavin'” is a 30-year-old Broadway hit that’s a tribute to the swing music of Thomas “Fats” Waller and a time when the Cotton Club and Savoy Ballroom were the playgrounds of the Harlem Renaissance. It’s also the newest Goodman production under the direction of Chuck Smith. He’s taking a fresh approach with the show, though not with the music. Oh, no, Smith says. “I wouldn’t dare futz with the music.”

This “Ain’t Misbehavin'” is still all about “Your Feet’s Too Big,” “Honeysuckle Rose” and “The Joint is Jumpin'” — but it’s been taken out of the cabaret and into the Big Band stage shows of Smith’s Chicago boyhood. About once a month on Sundays after church, he’d go with his uncles and take in a stage show at the State-Lake Theater or the Regal.

Andrew Polich, saxophone player and bandleader, dies at age 90

During the 1940s and ’50s, Andrew Polich played the saxophone with the acclaimed Eddy Howard and His Orchestra, a gig that took him from the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles to Roseland Dance City in New York. In Chicago, he played the famed Aragon Ballroom.

Mr. Polich later started his own big band, and newspaper clippings from its heyday described him as the “New Saxophone King,” “The Pied Piper of Swing Music” and the “handsome dark-haired maestro,” family members said.

“He was very smooth, talented and charismatic,” said his daughter, Paula Engelbrecht. “He’d play his sax while stepping off a stage and into a crowd. He had a collapsible top hat that opened when he hit it up against his hip.”

Mr. Polich, 90, formerly of Bedford Park, the founder and leader of the Andy Powell Orchestra, died Saturday, Aug. 16, at Silverado Senior Living, an assisted living facility in Escondido, Calif., of complications related to Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2000, Mr. Polich played his final performance at the Willowbrook

Bird Loves To Wing It With Swing Music

On stage, Andrew Bird is deadpan, impassive. He introduces his songs, fits a violin under his chin or leans into the microphone to sing, and hardly looks up.

But that’s just at first. Because in no time his left leg’s shaking, a smile is threatening to erupt and before long his head’s tossed back in rapture.

Imagine this for a moment: Lou Reed meets Edward Gorey to sing original music styled after the 1920s and ’30s. If you can picture that on the body of a slightly embarrassed, good-looking 23-year-old from Evanston, you might get an idea about Bird.

“I’ve now focused on a period of music that’s pre-World War II, whether it be Swing or Latin or gypsy — anything you were inclined to hear at that time that’s leisure music, that’s what I’ve arrived at after a long period of wandering,” he says. “That’s where I go now, where there’s the most pure expression of musicality.”

Right now, though, Bird goes along with three bands: The Squirrel Nut Zippers, charlie nobody and the more recent Bowl of Fire. In fact, charlie

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