Saturday, August 19, 2017

Spreadin' Rhythm Around - Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five Feat. Hilary Alexander

CD front, Spreadin' Rhythm Around (WON Records, 004) (2017)
Swing jazz music emerged in the USA during the 1930s with the rise of big bands and the spread of radio networks broadcasting live music. Swing jazz was at its peak from late 1930s trough the WW 2 years in the 1940s supporting an ever-increasing need for entertainment and dance music at a difficult time. The popular swing orchestras of the period were presented by their leaders such as Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Charlie Barnet a.o.. Both the full orchestras and the smaller ensembles drawn from the big bands had success with the public through records and live performance. Today, this stage in jazz music is mostly neglected, but fortunately there are exceptions. A revival of the interest in swing music emerged in the last decades of the 20th Century, especially among serious dancers searching for appropriate music to support the various dance styles - suddenly it became hip among a young generation of dancers to work out the steps of Jitterbug i.e., a dance style first made popular during the WW 2 period. The need for accompanying music led to the formation of organized ensembles that resumed the music of the original swing era of the 1930s and 1940s. An excellent example of such an ensemble is represented by Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five in focus here.
Jonathan Stout and The Campus Five feat. Hilary Alexander (promo photo by Monchette Gonda)
Bandleader Jonathan Stout is the guitarist of the Campus Five. As a guitarist he has specialized in pre-bebop jazz guitar drawing inspiration from the varied styles of jazz guitarists such as Freddie Green (of the Count Basie orchestra), Charlie Christian, Allan Reuss, Django Reinhardt a.o.. Jonathan Stout also writes a noted blog on swing guitar, accessible at the website of the Campus Five, here.  Like co-bandleader Hilary Alexander, the vocalist of the Campus Five, Jonathan Stout is an experienced dancer with a deep understanding of the interaction between Swing music and dance. The arrangements and choice of material for the performance by the Campus Five further reflect the band's and it leader's serious involvement with the original sources of the Swing music idiom.


This version of Honeysuckle Rose is inspired by the Count Basie orchestra's 1937 recorded version for Decca and is featured as the first track of the latest CD by Jonathan Stout and his Campus five, Spreadin' Rhythm Around (WON Records 004) released in June this year. The CD is the fourth by the orchestra and contains 15 tracks of danceable swing jazz drawn from the original sources as well as presenting a couple of new compositions by Jonathan Stout. Besides Jonathan Stout (g) and Hilary Alexander (voc) the Campus Five include Albert Alva (ts,cl), Jim Ziegler (tp,voc), Christopher Dawson (p), Wally Hersom (b) and Josh Collazo (d) and there are a couple of guest performances by Brian Shaw (tp) and Marquis Howell II (b). 
Photo collage copied from campusfive.com
The repertoire of the disc include well known standards like Cheek to Cheek, Limehouse Blues, Sunday, Rose Room, Undecided and the Billie Holiday hits Miss Brown To You and the title track of the CD, Spreadin' Rhythm Around. Also featured are lesser known tunes like Sir Charles Thompson's Tunis In, Just About Right For Me (- originally recorded c.1945 by vocalist Kay Starr and The Lamplighter All Stars), You've Got Me Woodoo'd (- a 1938 hit for Louis Armstrong, also recorded by Charlie Barnet a.o.), Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me (- swing versions recorded by Gene Krupa, Peanuts Hucko and Sidney Bechet 1950-51) and Sweets, a composition by Count Basie and Harry 'Sweets' Edison originally recorded by The Red Callender Six in 1945 and the Count Basie Octet in 1950. There are further two compositions by Jonathan Stout, the instrumentals Mill House Stomp and Dance of The Lindy Blossoms, both fitting perfectly in and supporting the swing feeling of the disc. My overall impression is that the music is performed with due respect to the sources without actually copying the original recordings but rather carrying on the spirit of the music in a much enjoyable way directed both at a dancing audience and the engaged listener, who are rewarded with all killers and no fillers to quote an old marketing blurb. - From You Tube uploaded live performances by the Campus Five I'll insert a couple more examples of music featured at the CD, which is available for purchase and listening in streaming audio like the previous three outputs at the band's Bandcamp website, here -  Here is first Hilary Alexander's vocal featured in Just About Right For Me


Next, here is a live performance of Jonathan Stout's Mill House Stomp



To end this small presentation of Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five featuring Hilary Alexander, here is the band's version of Rose Room, heavily inspired by the 1939 recording of the tune by the Benny Goodman Sextet featuring Charlie Christian  - enjoy!


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Jo
keepitswinging.domain@gmail.com

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Friday, August 4, 2017