Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Evolution of Swing

I am sure that I do not need to inform the educated, informed and intelligent readers of this blog of the origins of 'popular music' and the role played therein by things like slave songs, spirituals and so on. We all know how these songs developed into the blues, bluegrass, jazz and eventually swing, then rock n'roll and finally gave rise to hip hop, r'n'b and all the diverse genres we are familiar with today.

One of the things that I love about electro-swing is that it is such a clear continuation of this tradition. In addition, the remix culture fits Jazz (I use this as an umbrella term) beautifully - we are all used to the idea of different performers giving us their own versions of the 'jazz standards', and now the DJs and producers can do the same.

All of this leads me to the point: I thought it would be fun show the three stages of the process using a song known variously as "Go Down Moses" or "Way Down in Egypt Land". As might be expected, I came across the most modern iteration first, and then worked backwards in time to end up with the spiritual version. 

In this first track, by the Golden Gate Quartet, is a beautiful harmonised version sung a capella in a barbershop style. Although I am not a religious person, it gives me goosebumps to listen to. Also, keep an ear out for the guy singing bass - what a warm sound. If you want to hear an astonishingly bassy rendition, search for it on Spotify - I had no idea the human voice could get so low. Anyway, enough of my rambling. Here is the track (apologies for the none-too-exciting video - it was the only one I could find)

The Golden Gate  Quartet were founded in 1934 and have continued with a variety of line-ups until the present day. 

The next version of this song is by one of the most instantly recognisable voices in the jazz genre - Louis Armstrong. Again, the spiritual quality of the song comes through, with some gorgeous harmonies, but this time with a walking pace blues sound. 

Finally, the last version is electro-swing. It is a remix of the version you have just heard .This is a great example as it shows how the original melancholy sound can be immediately altered - it is perhaps not the finest electro-swing tune in the world, but I love the other two versions so much that I love to hear it. I also adore the video for its dancing bears and the chap dancing at 0:50.  Enjoy!

Oh, and one, no, two more things. C2C, from the previous post, have produced an homage to Satchmo: 

If you want to know what it sounds like when you go straight from gospel to dance music, listen to this, and for a fun game try singing 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' in the breaks.

Lots of love,


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