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Bebop Spoken There

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The Strictly Smokin' Big Band included Be Bop Spoken Here (sic) in their 5 Favourite Jazz Blogs.
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Postage

14438 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 14 years ago. 716 of them this year alone and, so far, 13 this month (August 6).

From This Moment On ...

August

Mon 08: Jazz in the Afternoon @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Mon 08: Central Bar Quintet plays John Jenkins with Kenny Burrell @ Central Bar, Gateshead. 7:30pm. Concert performance (featuring Giles Strong) + jam session. £5.00 (free admission to sitters-in).

Tue 09: Jam session @ Black Swan, Newcastle. 7:30pm. House trio: Mark Williams, Katy Trigger, King David Ike-Elechi.
Tue 09: Abbie Finn Trio @ Forum Music Centre, Darlington. 7:30pm.

Wed 10: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Wed 10: Castillo Nuevo @ Revoluçion de Cuba, Newcastle. 5:30-8:30pm.
Wed 10: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 10: 4B @ The Exchange, North Shields. 7:00pm.
Wed 10: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm.

Thu 11: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, North Tyneside. 1:00pm.
Thu 11: Baghdaddies @ Cumberland Arms, Newcastle. Time TBC.
Thu 11: Indigo Jazz Voices: Little Big Band Special @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:45pm. POSTPONED!
Thu 11: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 9:00pm. Guests Donna Hewitt (sax) Josh Bentham (sax) Garry Hadfield (keys).

Fri 12: Ben Gilbert Trio @ Bishop Auckland Town Hall. 1:00pm.
Fri 12: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Fri 12: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 12: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm.

Sun 14: Vieux Carré Hot 4 @ Spanish City, Whitley Bay. 12 noon.
Sun 14: Tees Valley Jazzmen @ Hammer & Pincers, Preston le Skerne. 1:00pm.
Sun 14: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ West Park, South Shields. 2:00pm.
Sun 14: Foundry Jazz Ensemble @ The Exchange, North Shields. 3:00pm.
Sun 14: Anth Purdy @ Blues & Bourbon, Newcastle. 4:00pm. Free.
Sun 14: Castillo Nuevo @ Revoluçion de Cuba, Newcastle. 5:30-8:30pm.
Sun 14: Sunday Night Am Jam Special @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Note start time.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Crazy Rhythm: Another in my series of Favourite Songs

By Ann Alex
Here is another great song I’ve decided to write about in my occasional series of what I consider great jazz songs. Last time I tackled No Moon At All; lately I’ve discovered Crazy Rhythm, which has cropped up in our Blue Jazz Voices singing class at Sage Gateshead.  
Consider this:-
Crazy Rhythm here’s the doorway
I’ll go my way, you’ll go your way
Crazy Rhythm, from now on we’re through
Here is where we have a showdown
I’m too high hat, you’re too low down
Crazy Rhythm here’s goodbye to you
They say that when a high brow meets a low brow
Walking along Broadway
Soon the high brow he has no brow
Ain’t it a shame and you’re to blame
What’s the use of Prohibition
You produce the same condition
Crazy Rhythm, I’ve gone crazy too.
When you express lyrics in prose, it always sounds a bit naff, but I’ll attempt a prose version.  After all, a skilled lyricist (Irving Caesar in this case) would have written prose if that was the best way to get across his meaning.
The crazy rhythm is of course this jazz tune (and others by implication) which the lyricist says he’ll leave behind as this new music is too ‘lowdown’ for a highbrow like him.  But when this is attempted, he finds it’s not possible as the jazz gets him involved too much and he loses his musical bearings (‘no brow’).  This is the fault of the entrancing music, which has the same effect as strong drink, which makes him feel quite crazy.
As with many jazz songs, the social history of America is treated with a wonderful light touch.  We have themes of musical snobbery, great implied praise for the new jazz music, and mention of the failure of Prohibition to make any real change, except perhaps to create illicit drinking dens with music. Quite a subversive lyric.
I especially like phrases such as ‘here’s the doorway’ and ‘walking along Broadway’, when I picture someone walking along a New York street with sounds of music emerging from every door, and the amusing ‘no brow’ and also the rhyming of Prohibition and condition, which emphasises the meaning intended.
And all this is set to a jaunty tune (Joseph Meyer and Roger Wolfe Kahn) to which I guess you could dance the Charleston.  For good measure, there is also a long verse, too much to write here, which is really effective. It compares the jazz tunes to Nero fiddling while Rome burned and Father Knickerbocker (a symbol for New York when it was under Dutch influence and called New Amsterdam) also playing music while New York ‘burns’.  The second part of the verse refers to all the immigrants coming to Manhattan, but they soon start to play jazz and they discard their native folk songs!  As a folkie I am none too happy about that – I’m sure they kept both types of music!
I’d welcome other comments, interpretations etc. I got the information about Father Knickerbocker from our friend Mr Google, and I’m sure readers could get the full text of the verse from there.
Ann Alex. 

6 comments :

Lance said...

Thank you and well done Ann! A brilliant take on what many of us jazz folk just considered a tune to blow or scat on!
I hope you'll keep on with this series - I for one can't wait till the next one!

Liz said...

Excellent Ann, you have a flair for this! I have always loved the clever lyrics of "Crazy Rhythm"

Jen Errington said...

It was a coincidence that you decided to write about this Ann, because Jenny and I were disc ussing the lyrics on Monday night and Jenny thought it was about violence and that fisticuffs were involved! I have forwarded your excellent explanations and she has responded: "Well done Ann! She’s done her research and come up with the correct interpretation.

I had already begun to question my ideas of violence- it all seemed a bit too rock and roll and Tarantino- but I had gone down the drugs route and wondered if Crazy Rhythm was jazz code for cocaine or something. Ann’s analysis suggests that it is a term for being intoxicated or ‘off your face’ which makes sense. Much more convincing than fisticuffs! She must explain it to George." The last sentence is because George Anyfantis was questioning these lyrics and asking what highbrow/lowbrow etc was! Hard enough for us English to understand!!!

Lance said...

I think Ann meant Crazy Rhythm as being intoxicated by the music (jazz) which was just entering American society - hence 'The Jazz Age'. Other numbers such as Gershwin's Fascinating Rhythm - 'Fascinating rhythm, you've got me on the go - Fascinating rhythm, I'm all a-quiver.' Broadway Rhythm, written in the mid '30s, evokes a similar response - Oh, that Broadway rhythm. When I hear that happy beat, I feel like dancin' down the street. I'm sure our good friend Carstairs will come up with a host of other examples from that era.

Jen Errington said...

Yes Lance I thought that...I will inform Jenny....these performing arts folks get carried away with their imagination!!

Ann Alex said...

I'm just so glad that this has lead to so much discussion, especially among my fellow Indigo singers as we need to know about our lyrics. And the piano rag-like version of the tune highlighted by Lance is just brilliant.
Ann Alex

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