An 11 year study of balboa music has just concluded and the Top 20 balboa songs of all time have been determined. The study, conducted by the Music department at MIT in conjunction with the BioInformatics group at Oxford University, has been a long time coming. For years, the debates have raged on. Finally, we can put an end to all the bloodshed.
And if you believe that non-sense, I have some beach front property in Kansas I’d like to sell you.
So what is this list exactly? Every year at All Balboa Weekend I give a talk. The first few years the talks revolved around the history of swing music. Pertaining mostly to entertaining stories and anecdotes, I would give presentations that included video and photos of the great swing musicians of the big band era; Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Django Reinhardt and the like.
This year, I wanted to do something different, shake things up a bit, and thus the Top 20 idea was born. This list, not complete by any means, is a list of great balboa songs, songs that I personally love to dance balboa to. Casa Loma Stomp, has amazing sound quality for the tempo that it clocks in at (336bpm). Sweet Georgia Brown by Benny Goodman, one word: vibes. Jamaica Jam by Teddy Powell is an excellent song for hearing the “shuffle shuffle hold shuffle” rhythm in balboa.
Now, keep in mind, this isn’t a list that should be considered mandatory for all balboa events. If you look at #2, you might ask “That’s a balboa song?”. This is my top 20 list of balboa songs, and being that I’ve been DJing balboa for years, I have a love and a passion for the music, and I think these songs are the best of the best.
I’ve included the song title and artist, but not not the album name, nor a link to a website where you can find the song. I don’t want you to just go out and blindly buy a CD, or pick up some random song on iTunes, so I’ve given you artist and song title, but after that, it’s up to you. Because, in your search who knows what great versions you might find.
If you would like to hear the entire talk, pick up an ABW 2009 dvd and you can get the inside scoop on all 20 songs.
Without further ado, my Top 20 Balboa picks of all time:
- Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho SidneyBechet
- Rockin In Rhythm Duke Ellington
- Casa Loma Stomp Casa Loma Orchestra
- Lafayette Hot Lips Page
- Troubled Frankie Traumbauer
- Minor Swing Django Reinhardt
- Harlem Jump Jack Teagarden
- Dark Eyes Jonathan Stout
- Chimes At The Meeting Willie Bryant
- Honeysuckle Rose Mora’s Modern Rhythmists
- Special Delivery Stomp Artie Shaw
- Caprice Paganini XXVI Benny Goodman
- Carioca Artie Shaw
- Sweet Georgia Brown Benny Goodman
- Swingin In The Promised Land Edgar Hayes
- Rigamarole Willie Bryant
- Jamaica Jam Teddy Powell
- Ochi Chornya Wingy Manone
- St. Louis Blues Benny Goodman
- Jumpin At The Woodside Count Basie
This one album might have been played more than any single artist at All Balboa Weekend, 2009; even Benny Goodman!
As much as I would like to officially call it “The band formerly known as the Chick Webb Orchestra, featuring Ella Fitzgerald on background vocals”, you would be unable to find such a CD available for purchase. But if you look for “Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra; Live at the Savoy”, and you will find one of the best albums ever pressed.
The recording comes in that awkward space immediately following Chick’s passing, and before Ella went out on her own. Personally for me, I find this album to contain some of the best swing recordings ever, despite critics of Ella AHO at the time who said that “her” band just wasn’t that good. This has turned out to be one of the best purchases I have ever made.
The sound quality alone is top notch. You might not even recognize at first that this is a live recording from the Savoy.
Favorite tracks? Easy:
- Sugarfoot Stomp
- Everybody Rock
- In The Groove (At The Grove)
For those in the Pasadena, CA area, I would check out Canterbury Records. My favorite record store in the country. For those NOT in Southern California, you can try emusic.com (they have it for sure), or if you arent into digital downloads, amazon didnt have it when i searched for it, if you find it online anywhere else, let me know.