Cherry Poppin' Daddies

GFS Record Club: Cherry Poppin’ Daddies – White Teeth, Black Thoughts

I largely stopped doing music reviews on this site for two reasons — one, I find that the process of reviewing an album takes a lot of the joy out of just listening to it, and reviewing music doesn’t quite fit in with the shifting focus of this site. I make an exception for that today because I got a wonderful surprise and I want to share it with you.

Cherry Poppin' Daddies - White Teeth, Black Thoughts

You may remember the heady days of the late ’90s Swing Revival, when mainstream music became fun once again (even if just for a few years). You may also remember one of the acts from that revival that rose to prominence during the time — Eugene, Oregon’s own Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. Their 1997 album Zoot Suit Riot was not only a surprise hit that year, but became one of my favorite releases of the genre.

The Daddies strayed from that neo-swing sound on subsequent albums, and to be honest I lost interest. It’s not that I don’t support artists following their own muse, but I came for the swing and the swing alone. But I knew they were still out there plying their trade, and so I rooted for them from the sidelines and I hoped that one day they would return to that style. And return they have on the recently released White Teeth, Black Thoughts.

I’ll spare you a lot more words and I’ll tell you that if you liked Zoot Suit Riot, you will like this album and you should buy it. Bandleader, lead singer, and main creative force Steve Perry has crafted a set of fun, inviting songs that more than anything else are just plain fun to listen to. The album kicks off in style with the punchy Dixieland-inspired romp “The Babooch,” and all of a sudden it’s 1997/98 all over again.

It’s pretty much one big party from there on. Some of the highlights for me are “Whiskey Jack,” a rocket-powered cover of Louis Jordan’s “Doug the Jitterbug,” and the slightly dark, slinky title track. White Teeth, Black Thoughts is a bit front-loaded but the dropoff isn’t terribly noticeable. There’s a neat little production trick on “Jake’s Frilly Panties” that adds a scratchy record effect and a heavy dose of compression to help you imagine what it would have been like hearing CPD back in the day. Also, “Huffin’ Muggles” has cool to spare and is probably the best song on the back half.

So to sum up: This is a really fun album, I’m thrilled to see the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies doing what I think they do best, and you should buy the album and go see them live. You can get all that information on their website.

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Even More Halloween Jazz for a Spooky, Swingin’ Time!

The Witch's Dance Vintage Halloween Card

I offered up a selection of four tracks for a Halloween jazz playlist last year, and I’m back for more this year. These tunes are perfect for setting a spooky, fun mood — whether you’re setting out for trick or treat or holding a classy (and classic) retro Halloween party of your own! Each of these selections has a YouTube video that’s up for now, and I’ve also embedded a Spotify playlist at the bottom of this post. Speaking of which…

(Spotify users — you can listen to these and other featured Sunday Jazz songs by subscribing to my GFS Sunday Jazz playlist.)

Kay Starr — “The Headless Horseman”

Artie Shaw — “Nightmare”

The Casa Loma Orchestra — “The House Is Haunted”

The Boswell Sisters — “Heebie Jeebies”

Henry Hall and his Orchestra (vocals by Val Rosing) — “Hush, Hush, Hush, Here Comes the Bogeyman”

Todd Rollins & His Orchestra with Chick Bullock — “The Boogie Man”

July 2, 1944 - Philharmonic Auditorium, Los Angeles

Sunday Jazz: Jazz at the Philharmonic, July 1944

The historic Jazz at the Philharmonic (JATP) concert series started by Verve impresario Norman Granz debuted at the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles, California on July 2, 1944.  It was a star-studded affair, featuring legends such as Buddy Rich, Lester Young, Nat King Cole, Illinois Jacquet, Les Paul, J.J. Johnson, and others. The fascinating thing about the recordings from this show is they serve as an excellent document of the bridge period between the late Swing era and the dawn of Bebop.

I’ve updated by Spotify Sunday Jazz playlist with some choice cuts from the excellent compilation album The Complete Jazz at the Philharmonic on Verve, 1944-1949. Additionally I’d like to share some photos of that first JATP show, taken by Life magazine photographer Gjon Mili.

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Mocean Worker - Candygram for Mowo

Album cover of the week: Candygram for Mowo!

I knew nothing about Adam Dorn, aka Mocean Worker (pronounced Motion Worker) before last week, but one glance at the cover for his latest album — Candygram for Mowo! — was enough to make me want to check him out. It’s been a long time since I decided to listen to an album just because of its cover, but this did the trick.

Mocean Worker - Candygram for Mowo

Luckily for me, Candygram for Mowo! is actually a good album. Some of the songs evoke the Big Band/Swing era nicely, just like the repurposed photo on the cover. Witness the outstanding lead track, “Shooby Shooby Do Yah!” (linked below) and “Hoot and Hollah.”

“Shooby Shooby Do Yah!” | MOCEAN WORKER by Calabro Music Media

Sunday Jazz: Got them ol’ St. Louis Blues

Years ago I picked up a budget jazz CD set called Jazz Master Files. I figured I’d find three of four songs I liked on it — instead it turned out to be a treasure trove of excellent jazz covering most of the genre’s golden years. One of the tracks on it is a sizzling live performance of “St. Louis Blues” by Louis Armstrong and his band. I had never heard the song before, but instantly fell in love with it thanks to this version (sadly, the CD contained no information on the performance itself so I can’t place a date or venue).

Published in 1914 by W.C. Handy, “St. Louis Blues” remains one of the most popular and enduring songs in jazz history for good reason. It’s energetic and simple, yet has melody that just won’t quit. The most famous take of the song is probably the 1925 rendition from vocalist Bessie Smith, backed by Satchmo on cornet. For your enjoyment this Sunday, here’s a handful of other takes on “St. Louis Blues.”

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