Release date: April 10, 2015
Immediate download of 18-track album in your choice of high-quality MP3, FLAC, or just about any other format you could possibly desire. Plus: includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app.
Also check out the 7-tracks album “Uptown Jump (Bonus Tracks)” on Bandcamp.
Mike Davis – tpt, Evan Arntzen – cl/ts, Dan Levinson – ss/as/ts, Jesse Gelber – pno, Glenn Crytzer – g/vcl/ldr. Andrew Hall – sb, Kevin Dorn – d.
The first track on Glenn Crytzer's new album literally made me do a double-take: Did I really cue-up an album recorded just a few months ago or did I make a mistake and play a vintage track out of my own swing music library?
This first track in question, “The Savoy Special,” has a tone and feeling so terrific– with its bounce and that infectious “hep-hep” motif coming from the horns– it sounds like you just struck it rich while crate-digging and plucked out a mint 78rpm swing-era record that no one has ever heard before. Welcome everyone to a new milestone in the modern swing era!
I am writing this review for you, the readers of Swing DJ Resources– which is a bit like preaching to the choir, so let's just cut to the chase and say that if you are a swing DJ, dancer, or music enthusiast, you will want this record. ‘Nuff said. Are we done here?? Well, since I'm hoping that this album will find a much wider audience based on it's entertaining musicality, let's continue, shall we?
Back? Yes! Crytzer has always tried to get a more authentic sound out of his studio recordings. He eschews close-mic techniques– the modern methods that attempt to stick a mic in front of everything to isolate the individual players for greater control over the recording process (but which introduce a certain artificiality in the sound.)
To achieve the sound he is looking for, Crytzer favors using a vintage pair of microphones placed so as to capture the live sound of the room and the musical interaction between the instruments. Friends, this new album “Uptown Swing,” sets a new standard of excellence in recording for swing bands and demonstrates what can be accomplished with the studied use of old-school microphone techniques.
That SOUND! What kind of “special sauce” did they pour over these recordings to make them sound so akin to any of the best classic swing recordings you would care to mention? Anyone who plays a lot of vintage swing records will appreciate how the sound on these tracks sits so comfortably beside any of the greats in a DJ set. These new recordings are beautifully engineered to give them a sort of sophisticated silky-sheen that my ears really enjoy.
I guess a lot of what goes into that special sauce starts with Glenn Crytzer and the other members of The Savoy Seven. These talented musicians have spent years studying and refining their craft. Any fan of swing-era jazz will hear homage given to any number of legendary giants of the form, either overtly as in “Le Fantôme de Saint Bechet,” or as subtle as a passing turn of a musical phrase or the tone of a particular instrument. These are seven guys who love classic swing and have really done their homework. Your own ears are certain to discover the spirits of some of your favorite swing stars contained within these tracks.
One case in point is the tune “The Road to Tallahassee,” an instrumental that sounds like a sentimental longing for a southern childhood home that could have flowed from the pen of Hoagy Carmichael, but borrows from nothing that I can put my finger on. This enchanting melody is introduced by Mike Davis' muted trumpet in a style so evocative of Cootie Williams (from the Ellington band) that it is almost scary! This is only one of many “instant classics” you will find for yourselves on this album.
This scrappy septet can play it so hot that they sound like they are itching to test their mettle with any band out there. Any takers? (Better come loaded for bear!) Instead of facing-off with their contemporaries, they seem to be calling-out some of the classic bands of twice their size or larger to come back from ‘Jazz Heaven' and have an old-style jazz battle with them! The title track, “Uptown Jump,” sounds like they could give the likes of Gene Krupa's band a run for their money. And what the hey?? “Zombie Music” sounds like a shot fired across the bow of the great Carl Stalling and the studio orchestra that created all the “Looney Tunes” cartoon music for the Warner Bros. studios.
Another ingredient to the magic here is the deftness of the writing and the humor. This has sharpened and matured to a marked degree from previous releases. Here, the tunes on the whole have a natural charm and wit and they manage to be novel without seeming academically so. The song “It's About Time” is a clever song that draws musical inspiration from the familiar notes of a mantle clock chiming the hour with a vocal line that floats nicely over the rhythm of the tune.
Glenn Crytzer himself handles almost all the vocal chores on this record and there are six vocal numbers out of a total of eighteen tracks. He bites off quite a lot because the vocal styles broadly range from mellow crooning (“Could This Be Love”) to blues shouter (“Yes, I'm In the Doghouse Now”) to call-and-answer with the rest of the band (“Smoking That Weed.”) I have to say that as a vocalist Glenn is not going to put Bing Crosby, Jimmy Rushing, or Cab Calloway in the shade, but I do give him props for coming out swinging, as it were. I also think this beats tapping vocalists from outside the group to airmail them vocal tracks just for the recordings.
There is a special treat for you dancers in “The Lenox,” another great original dance number you have never heard before. This 185bpm tune shifts back and forth from straight half-notes to swing-eighths with varying rhythmic textures and fun breaks. The title speaks as if of some yet-to-be-born dance step. Is there someone out there who will develop the steps that will make “The Lenox” the dance-craze of tomorrow?
I'm also thinking about all the other people outside your swing dance scene that you are going to want to tell about this record. Of course, this is a record made especially with you– the swing faithful– in mind, but I think you will agree that the album stands on it's own as entertaining listening for anyone. It should appeal to people far beyond the borders of the swing scene as we know it. Spread the gospel then, brethren! Amen!
But in the end, whatever it may cost, this record is a gift that Glenn Crytzer's Savoy Seven has given the modern swing community: An entire album of original music that proves that a record written and produced today can indeed possess all of the magical qualities of a vintage performance, both beautifully recorded and clear as a bell. They did it out of love for the music and for you, their fellow jazz enthusiasts.
To quote from the lyric of the final song, ‘Good Night, Good Luck' “…with luck we'll rise above the throng, but we'll find out that in the end, the nights like these, just spent with friends, were all that really mattered all along.” That, dear friends, sums it up. We can now let beauty of the final chord of the album wash over us as the piano nimbly climbs a staircase to the twinkling stars above.