Swing Around the World – Global swing dance party compilation – Putumayo World Music PUT 239-2 *****:

by | Aug 30, 2005 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Swing Around the World – Global swing dance party compilation – Putumayo World Music PUT 239-2 *****:

Have to admit I’m not a world music fan in the usual sense of the term,
though I love most anything Brazilian, tangos and anything involving
marimbas or panpipes. The Putumayo label has done well with their
compilations of popular and folk music from around the globe, but I
haven’t paid a great deal of attention to them. This one, however,
caught my eye and ear at my local CD store. It would be a kick and half
for almost any jazz fan!

Back in the 30s and 40s swing jazz — especially that of the big dance
band variety — was the music that filled the radio airwaves in North
America and to a lesser extent in Europe. People danced to its great
rhythms and fun-filled spirit. It wasn’t long before swing was
infiltrating such more distant climes as Hawaii, Africa and Asia. The
dozen tracks on this CD take us around the world for examples of how
the influence of swing can still be heard in places where you would
never expect to find it.

The first two tracks are probably my favorites on the disc. The first
features The Cool Crooners of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.  When they were
young men in the 1950s they danced to a South African style blending
ragtime, jazz and swing with local music.  Now they came together
to make sure these swinging sounds are not forgotten. The quartet’s
song is about the beginning of Zimbabwe’s fight for independence from
British rule, but the music sounds like multiple Slim & Slam. Dig
it!  The second brings us Eric Triton from Mauritius, the small
island off the east coast of Africa. His tune is “The Pleasure of
Swing,” and he sings about it in a fusion of French with local
languages. Triton blends his love of swing, jazz and blues with the
local music called sega.

Another winner on the disc is the swing band number by a Milanese
bandleader who goes by the name Alfredo Rey and his Orchestra. His
15-piece band all wear retro white smoking jackets and sing into
vintage 1940s microphones. The song is a swing version of an Italian
hit of the 80s referring to the photo-illustration comic books also
known as “fumetti.”  Another Italian band is heard from later —
Renzo Arbore and his Swing Maniacs — which is really the work of a
noted Neapolitan comedian and TV personality.  His song is “Mama,
The Rhythm Makes Me Happy.”  A different sort of Hawaiian music is
heard in the track from the Ka’au Crater Boys.  They dispense
“Hawaiian swing” via steel guitar and the rhythms of the ukulele, and
their tune praises surfing. There are several North American groups
peppered thru the disc, including a Cajun band and Clark Terry doing
his famous Mumbles with Canada’s Oscar Peterson.  That last one is
perfect since you can’t understand most of the lyrics that precede it
either. The CD closes out with the second of two tracks in the gypsy
jazz tradition. It comes from a Seattle-based group which mixes
elements of Greek music with flamenco, jazz , Middle Eastern and Latin
grooves. Their offering is a tribute to Django Reinhardt. Some of the
proceeds from sale of this wonderful disc go to the National Dance
Institute, whose work inspires thousands of children from diverse
ethnic, social and economic backgrounds thru distinctive dance programs.

— John Sunier

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