Early R&B works really great for Swing dancers.
The version of this Jazz standard has a R&B feeling in the second half of the song but the first section is still very close to classical Swing. I also like the staccato feeling in this part.
Darktown Strutters' Ball
About the Song
“Darktown Strutters' Ball” is a popular song by Shelton Brooks, published in 1917. The song has been recorded many times and is considered a popular and jazz standard.
The landmark 1917 recording by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band which was recorded on May 30, 1917 and released by Columbia Records as catalog number A-2297 was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2006.
There are many variations of the title, including “At the Darktown Strutters' Ball”, “The Darktown Strutters' Ball”, and just “Strutters' Ball”.
Pianist Joe Liggins (July 9, 1915 – July 26, 1987) and his band, the Honeydrippers, tore up the R&B charts during the late '40s and early '50s with their polished brand of polite R&B.
Born in Oklahoma, Liggins moved to San Diego in 1932. He moved to Los Angeles in 1939 and played with various outfits, including Sammy Franklin's California Rhythm Rascals. When Franklin took an unwise pass on recording Liggins' infectious “The Honeydripper,” the bespectacled pianist assembled his own band and waxed the tune for Leon René's Exclusive logo.
The upshot: an R&B chart-topper. Nine more hits followed on Exclusive over the next three years, including the schmaltzy “Got a Right to Cry,” the often-covered “Tanya” (Chicago guitarist Earl Hooker waxed a delicious version), and “Roll ‘Em.”
In 1950, Joe joined his brother Jimmy at Specialty Records. More hits immediately followed: “Rag Mop,” the number one R&B smash “Pink Champagne,” “Little Joe's Boogie,” and “Frankie Lee.”
During this period, the Honeydrippers prominently featured saxophonists Willie Jackson and James Jackson, Jr. Liggins stuck around Specialty into 1954, later turning up with solitary singles on Mercury and Aladdin.
But time had passed Liggins by, at least right then; his sophisticated approach later came back into fashion, and he led a little big band until his death.
Title: The Darktown Strutters' Ball
Artist: Joe Liggins & The Honeydrippers
Tempo: 167 bpm
Dance: Lindy Hop
You can find all the songs of the series also on my Spotify playlist.
Official hashtag of the series: #djcsotw
Great version or not? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.