Volume II, Issue III Autumn 2003


Picking up a copy of the video "Swingin' the Blues," a biopic of Count Basie, gave the Turbula staff a glimpse of what it must have been like to have been a teen-ager or young adult in the 1930s and '40s and going to see your first swing dance show. Going to a ballroom like the Savoy or Roseland in New York, the Aragon in Chicago, the Raymor in Boston or the Palomar in Hollywood, or even the small ballroom in San Diego's Balboa Park (little changed from the days when local dance bands held sway during the War), having all the lights and floral arrangements, and the sharply dressed young men on stage playing that beautiful, lively music – well, it must have been something is all we who followed can say.

In this issue:

Scorsese's blues: Ooh, that smell
This sure isn't 'Ken Burns' Jazz'
By Buddy Seigal

A great American singer
Put Johnny Cash alongside Sinatra and Ella
By Jim Trageser


Unlike rock and roll or alternative or rap, swing music was something new. It was the first time that an entire economy was built around delivering popular dance music to teens and young adults.

Sure, seeing Beethoven or Mozart perform live was undoubtedly a thrill – but it's hard to see a waltz generating the kind of pure electricity that a big band swing dance created.

Seeing 12 men swinging on stage remains a singular treat – a jazz big band possesses more musical energy than any stack of guitar amps can ever provide. Seeing the Basie band in the prime of their youth swinging on film is surely not the same as being there. Nevertheless, it still provides goose bumps all these generations removed.

To be there, to be young, well, that's a kick in the pants we've been searching for ever since. Woodstock, the US Festival, all have been attempts to recapture that sense of magic of seeing Basie or Ellington or Goodman or Miller at the Savoy.

It's a high we've never ceased searching for.

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