There is a wealth of great music for dancing on the internet, so without further ado…
“Skip It” The Stuff Smith Trio
Many may be familiar with jazz violinists Stephan Grappelli, Joe Venuti, or even Eddie South. But another great name in Jazz violin was that
of Stuff Smith, a vocalist and instrumentalist who cited Louis Armstrong as his key inspiration. Here he is appearing on a 1944 recording with his trio.
“Night and Day” Cole Porter, sung by Billie Holliday
This is a beautiful recording, especially suitable for dancing slow Balboa (look out for a slow Balboa workshop sometime in the future).
It was written for the 1932 musical play “Gay Divorce”. It is perhaps Porter’s most popular contribution to the Great American Songbook and has been recorded by dozens of artists including Billie Holiday.
In this recording, Billie is accompanied by Buck Clayton (trumpet), Harry Edison (trombone), Earle Warren (alto sax), Jack Washington (alto sax), Lester Young (tenor sax), Joe Sullivan (piano), Freddy Green (guitar), Walter Page (double bass), and Joe Jones (drums), Recorded December 13, 1939 in New York. (Vocalion Records).
Papa Jo’s drums solo
Not really a track suitable for dancing but I wanted to include it anyway, simply for the incredible virtuosity and joy shown here. This 1957 film footage captures the amazing drum talent of Jo Jones.
He was one of the first drummers to promote the use of brushes on drums, shifting the role of timekeeping from the bass drum to the hi-hat cymbal. I especially love his use of hands instead of sticks. Wonderful!
Jo Jones got his start working as a drummer and tap-dancer in carnival shows until joining Walter Page’s Oklahoma City band, the “Blue Devils” during the late 1920’s. He went on to record with trumpeter Lloyd Hunter’s “Serenaders” in 1931, and in 1934 joined pianist Count Basie’s band.
Papa Jo Jones also played with Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Lester Young, Lionel Hampton, Roy Eldridge, Chuck Berry, Buddy Tate, Benny Goodman, and John Coltrane.
“Centerpiece” Coleman Hawkins Quintet
This performance was filmed in London, during 1964 with Coleman Hawkins, tenor saxophone; Harry “Sweets” Edison, trumpet; Sir Charles Thompson, piano; Jimmy Woode, bass; and Jo Jones, drums.
“Blowin’ up a breeze” Chu Berry Sextet
This record was cut by the “Chu Berry Sextet” in New York City on August 28, 1941 with Chu Berry (tenor sax), Oran “Hot Lips” Page (trumpet), Clyde Hart (piano), Al Casey (guitar), Al Morgan (bass), and Harry Jaeger (drums).
Leon “Chu” Berry born in Wheeling, West Virginia on September 13, 1908 became interested in music in his youth through his sister who was a jazz pianist. He started off playing alto saxophone locally in and after graduating from Lincoln High School he would attend West Virginia State College. In 1929 while playing in Slam Stewart’s band Leon switched to tenor sax inspired by Coleman Hawkins and rapidly mastered the instrument.
He would lead a fruitful career throughout the 1930s playing for a year with Benny Carter, followed by a two year stretched with Teddy Hill from 1933 to 1935, Fletcher Henderson 1935 to 1937, and finally Cab Calloway from 1937 until his death.
Among his best known compositions was the song “Christopher Columbus” with lyrics by Andy Razaf which he recorded in 1936 with Fletcher Henderson.
“Chu” as he became known reportedly for his habit of chewing on the mouthpiece of his horn (or alternately as an obscure reference to Chu Chin Chow) grew into a great stylist of the tenor saxophone becoming a favorite of Cab Calloway.
On October 27, 1941 while traveling between gigs in Brookfield, Ohio and Toronto Chu Berry in a heavy fog fifteen miles from Conneaut, Ohio the car that he was riding in crashed into the end of a steel bridge. Berry sustained multiple injuries, and died in Brown Memorial Hospital in Conneaut on October 30, 1941 at the age of thirty-three.
His recording career spanned merely a decade.