Swing, Baby, Swing!

“Jazz is the red-headed third cousin
riding a bull elephant through
your teapot-laden drawing room.”
~ Ron Averill

Jazz is not popular with everyone. Many find it too academic, difficult to understand. But let us remember that there are as many types of jazz as there are flavors of M&Ms. At least as many. Myself, I prefer pre-WWII jive (as the hepcats say): swing, Dixieland, hot jazz, ragtime… Subgenres that soothe my soul.

Which leads to the question: What’s up with early jazz at Everett Public Library? Let’s find out, shall we?

Group 1

If you want to check out some early jazz, Hot Dance Bands from Okeh, 1923-1931 is an excellent starting point. The musicians featured on this album have mostly disappeared into the mists of time, the songs are not particularly well-known, but the music gives a clear idea of what was going down in the formative years of jazz. Billie Holiday adds her silky smooth voice to a musical backdrop that is clearly related to those hot dance bands but is perhaps more recognizable to modern-day listeners. And Fats Waller pumps them ivories like nobody else, providing a mesmerizing piano-centric take on early jazz.


And time marches on. Your Hit Parade: The Late 40s provides a hipster’s overview of those fabulous big band years. It’s an excellent starting point for the swing-curious. If it’s a chanteuse you’re wanting, you’d be hard pressed to find a better interpreter than Peggy Lee. Perhaps best known for Fever, Lee turns everything she sings into a sultry hot springs of passion and fortitude. And the ever-smooth Nat King Cole? His early work with the Nat King Cole Trio ranks up there with the best that swing has to offer.


You say you like the big band swing thing but refuse to watch black and white films or listen to music made before 1966? There are still excellent options available to you! Whether she’s belting out hits from the 30s and 40s or insinuating her way into your brain with hand-penned originals, Madeleine Peyroux is a bonafide contemporary jazz gem. Each and every album she drops is a genuine pleasure. Diana Krall, another modern-day siren, kicks it laid-back style with her sweltering contralto voice. Winner of numerous accolades and record-setting album sales, Krall can scratch that itch that Ms. Peyroux couldn’t quite reach. And finally, as we approach Christmas, the Brian Setzer Orchestra brings songs of joy and anticipation, in a swingin’ mood, straight to your pleasure center. If you’ve not heard Setzer play guitar, prepare for many notes. Many. Notes. And they’re all the right ones! One of the most fabulous purveyors of modern swing and Christmas music, check these fellas out.

So no more excuses. Buy a beret. Listen to some jazz. Maybe invest in cigars and culottes. Swing, baby, swing!

Music, Music, Music!

It’s the time of year when savvy hipsters start planning to attend summer concerts. From Arlington to Everett, Woodinville to Seattle, outdoor music will soon abound, with ticket prices ranging from free to less than the cost of a college education.

If I could choose only one of the many fine offerings coming to our fair region, I would be hard pressed to decide between the sultry voices and hypnotic stylings of Madeleine Peyroux and Diana Krall. Then again, I do have a morbid curiosity to witness a not-so-youthful Blondie singing songs of teenage romance and lust. Or even better yet, it’s been 30 years since I’ve seen Devo perform and it might be fun to see if any of the members are still climbing speaker stacks and jumping off of them whilst soloing.

Decisions, decisions.

To fully prepare yourself for a concert (and the quiz that’s sure to follow), check out some CDs from Everett Public Library.  Many of these visiting artists can be found in our hallowed halls, or at least on our hallowed CD racks.

Here are a few of the performers coming to our neck of the world this summer:

Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers


Ray Wylie Hubbard


Rosanne Cash     Steve Earle and the Dukes     Asleep at the Wheel     Lee Brice
Alison Krauss     Emmylou Harris     Lyle Lovett


Leo Kottke     Buffy Sainte Marie


Madeleine Peyroux     Dr. John     Diana Krall

The Brian Waite Band


Tingstad & Rumbel

Pink Martini     k.d. lang     Jake Shimabukuro     Shawn Colvin


Ziggy Marley

Mavis Staples     Earth, Wind & Fire

Melissa Etheridge     Los Lobos     Grace Potter     Los Lonely Boys   
Alejandro Escovedo
Chicago     Crosby, Stills & Nash     Bonnie Raitt     Blondie
Devo     Chris Isaak      Steve Miller Band     The Beach Boys
Ringo Starr     Boz Scaggs     Michael McDonald     Donald Fagen


Ladysmith Black Mambazo     The Johnny Clegg Band     Mickey Hart