Swing Discussion Boards > West Coast Swing 1960s

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Steve Pastor, Oct 30, 2010.

  1. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I've got a couple things in addition to this clip I want to post here.
    I am interested in your comments.

    By way of introduction to this one, Lawrence Welk began his TV show, which was at that time broadcast locally, at the Aragon Ballroom on the Lick Pier in Santa Monica, CA (LA area) in 1951. One of Welk's competitors was the Western Swing band leader Spade Cooley, who had his own show, who had the #1 show in LA for years.
    (The Aragon had been booking Western Swing bands in 1944, and for an unspecifiied time thereafter.)

    When I learned this I wondered if dancers to Welk's music did Western Swing / West Coast Swing. I was researching Bill Black's Combo, and noticed Welk's 1961 hit "Calcutta", and then happened on this clip.

    Looks to me like there is WCS in there at the beginning.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2017
  2. Linda J Schlensker

    Linda J Schlensker New Member

  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Well I see Burgess was invovled in a Spade Cooley thing, too.

    "By age thirteen Bobby had competed in fifty-four amateur contests, most of them on television: Spade Cooley, This is My Melody and others, winning a host of prizes."
  4. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    Steve, have you ever thought about compiling all this interesting dance history into a book one day? Or maybe contribute some of it to, say, Wikipedia? You've found some real gems...
  5. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Have put an awful lot into Wikipedia already. But, I think I've exceeded the bounds of that outlet as far as the great amount of detail I've discovered. (I've got a pretty extensive record now, as a Wiki editor!)

    I've been spending the last hour or so researching the history of Bill Black's Combo, because TangoTime and The Enycopedia of Social Dance both mentioned the group's music for doing WCS/Western Swing. Right now I'm on their version of "White Silver Sands", which has been recorded many times, it turns out. Last thing I saw said it had Argentine overtones??? I'll have to listen again, and look into that.

    The Combo's music used a shuffle beat, that most musicologists write is pretty much a slow swing. London Records, who distributed their tunes (issued by Hi Records) advertised their stuff as dance music.
    Etc, etc, etc

    So, yeah, it looks like I'm in this for the long haul! Web site? Book? Multi media book would be best, I would think 'cause it could have samples, examples, video clips, etc. (I understand there is such a thing now.) Just think of the work involved!
  6. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    Steve, more power to you. Your passion shows! :cheers:
  7. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    A very good friend of mine was his teacher ( she was also a US Champion B/room dancer and was from the UK ) She was the DD at the AM studio in Pasadena at one time, whilst I was in the Wiltshire school .
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I'm curious about how many of you have heard instructors of WCS speak of either "dancer's blues", as Skippy Blair did in a converstion with me earlier this year, or "shuffle rhythm".

  9. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    "Dancer's blues"? Hmmm. In what context, I wonder. Not a dancer's mood, I take it! And "shuffle rhythm"? Only thing that comes to mind is the Fort Worth Shuffle; but in terms of WCS, it's a blank... :)
  10. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Shuffle rhythm is a musical term, not a dance one; it does not refer to dance steps. The shuffle rhythm is extremely common in blues songs, and, at the right tempo, they are the classic sound for WCS. One is example is Sweet Home Chicago.

    To describe it terms of music notation, there's a triplet and the middle note is not played. There are some sound examples here.
  11. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    jennyisdancing, thanks for explaining that! I had no idea at all. I'll check out that info on Wikipedia... :cheers:
  12. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Just lost a farily long post... ARRR....
    So, this will be short. (Ha)

    So, I guess not many WCS teachers talk about shuffle rhythm and how it is similar to swing?

    New Grove Dictionary of Jazz lists a dance step as the #1 definition of "shuffle". The term is commonly used in country western dance. #2 in that source is "A rhythm derived from the dance step."

    Shuffle is pretty much "slow swing", which is why it became popular for WCS, I have come to believe. (Yes, there are sources that agree.)

    (I have seen no documentation that most of the music currently considered to be classic, was used until the 80s (web sites don’t count). Right now dancing to shuffle rhythm appears to have started with groups like Bill Black's Combo beginning in the 60s. And that IS documented
    (Unless you want to count "Hook Line and Sinker" as danced to in "Don't Knock the Rock") .)

    (Oh, and shuffle rhythm known as Ray Price Shuffle, Texas Shuffle, etc, became part of the Nashville Sound around 1956 (listen to "Crazy Arms"), but had been used in Western Swing, too.)

    Big band swing rhythm sections played a steady rhythm. For guitarists it was called a "sock rhythm". It appears that the soloists and/or sections of the band did their "syncopated" thing.

    Makes me wonder... when comparing to cotemporary Argentine Tango where we are free to dance to whichever of the strains in the music...

    One book I’m reading lists Louis Jordan’s "Choo Choo Ch' Boogie" as classic jump band shuffle rhythm.

    It appears the Louis Jordan's use of a shuffle rhythm was influenced by German born trumpeter Henry Busse, and Jan Savitt, who had a popular band in Philadelphia.
    And "Choo Choo Ch' Boogie", Jordan’s most popular song was written in part by Denver Darling was born and raised in Jewett, Illinois, and appeared on the WLS National Barn Dance radio show. He then became an “urban cowboy” headliner performing at the Western themed Village Barn on West 4th Street in Greenwich Village after moving to New York City in 1937. He also had a radio show on WOR and a recording contract with Decca. Darling’s material had a light swing, and he often recorded with jazz musicians. The other writer played steel guitar and wrote many country songs.
    [Let the Good Times Roll: The Story of Louis Jordan and His Music pages 32, 128]
    [Country music: a biographical dictionary By Richard Carlin page 96]

    I'm just trying really hard to understand all of this. And the research is taking me to places that I find interesting.

  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Here's a list of ranges listed from written sources for both Western Swing and West Coast Swing.
    Also a link that documents perceived and actual swing ratios.

    Year - Range - Ideal Note
    1953+ 83 - 131 Songs listed For Studying Phrasing in Swing
    1960 72 - 240 half-time to 200 - 240 bpm
    1960 112 - 260 half-time above 160 and up to 260 bpm
    1971 ---à>>> 112
    2006 100-130 (give or take)
    2008 60 - 180 128

  14. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    Researching something that you have a passion for can be so fascinating. :cheers: I learn something new when I read so many of your posts...
  15. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    In 1933, while playing at the Forest Club in Miami Beach, his pianist-arranger, Paul Sprosty, came up with a lively, "shuffle rhythm" at the keyboard, and Busse decided to adopt it as one of the sounds of his group. [http://www.bigbandlibrary.com/henrybusse.html
    Jan Savitt, born Jacob Servetnick in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1908, employed shuffle rhythm with a good deal more swing than Busse, and was known for that rhythm. "It was a great commercial seller," according to one of the members of his band, although his recording titled "Shuffle Rhythm" (1937) on Variety Records was not released at the time.
    Louis Jordan would become one of the most successful users of the shuffle rhythm in the 40s.
    So, when Bill Black's Combo employed the same rhythmic device in the early 60s to great acclaim, it had a fairly long history.
    Use of the Combo's music for Western Swing (aka West Coast Swing) is documented in a book copyrighted in 1971.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2017
  16. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    Interesting information, as always, Steve! :cheers:
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2017
  17. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Wanted to add a bit more about the history of shuffle. "Jazz historians" seem well aware of where shuffle started, while most of us dancers identify it with blues. (which it is of course associated with, that's just not the whole story)

    The Rhythm
    Pianist JACK PLEIS and drummer RUSS ISAACS were solid pluses in a rhythm section, the excellence of which was overshadowed by its famous (or by some -- infamous) Savitt Shuffle. The shuffle conveys a double-time or 8/4 rhythm and is, actually, played only by the piano -- the guitar, bass and drums working their usual rhythm roles.
    The shuffle beat annoyed some critics and fans -- perhaps, because it was also employed by the sweet band (read schmaltz) led by Henry Busse. In time, however, this rhythm tool was used by Lionel Hampton and Louis Prima and by R&B and jump bands led by Fats Domino and Louis Jordan.
    (my bolding SP)
    Prominent music composer and scholar, Gunther Schuller, in his indispensable tome, THE SWING ERA 1930-1945 (Oxford 1989), perceptively noted:
    Savitt's band played with such consistently impeccable ensemble and propulsive swing that it kept even its famous shuffle rhythm, constantly energized rhythmically, from becoming a stale cliché. Indeed, the Savitt band had achieved by early 1939 a 4/4 swing amalgam that was an interesting cross between Lunceford and Basie, the shuffle rhythm simply folded into it.

    If you want to dig deeply into the music of swing and jazz, you might want to look at Gunther Schuller's books on the subject. I haven't seen the one mentioned here, but will!
  18. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    So, you have to ask yourself, why did Butler list a Bill Black's Combo song, other than the fact that the group was quite popular?
    This might be one reason.

    By the early 60s, however, the shuffle rhythm had fallen out of favor. Jazz, swing and shuffle were associated with the previous generation. Dividing the beat into equal halves became the common practice in rock, and the same trend was occurring in rhythm and blues. [‘Funky Drummer’ : New Orleans, James Brown and the Rhythmic Transformation of American Popular Music. Alexander Stewart. Popular Music Vol 19. No 3 (Oct 2000) pp 293-318]

    The people who continued to teach and dance various forms of swing were from that previous generation.
    So, Black was unusual in continuing to play this slow swing rhythm, bringing him to the attention of someone looking for contemporary (for then) music that people might want to dance to. At least that seems pretty reasonable to me.
  19. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    This is the second writen record I've found that Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass' music was used for what was still being referred to as Western Swing.
    This one is dated 1966.

    'The words rang out over Herb Alpert's scintillating Tijuana Brass as the director called out the steps for the western swing.'

    Alpert's music was also mentioned in 1980, meaning that his music was seen as appropriate for WCS for at least 16 years, which is longer than the Swing Era lasted.
  20. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    And, in spite of Western Swing being renamed "Sophisticated Swing" and "West Coast Swing", in 1963 one encyclopedia referred to it (West Coast Swing) as a “sectional teen-age dance” including the flea hop and Jersey bounce in that vein.

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