I want to talk about this:
(You can see me smiling and clapping at about 7:18.)
First of all, I’d like to say that these two bands were so incredibly swingin’ that even before that actual head-to-head, Jonathan Stout’s orchestra was playing a tune prior to the official commencement of the battle, and then Glenn Crytzer’s Blue Rhythm Band all wandered onstage and took up the tune with them, until both bands were playing together and finished it out as one giant swinging monster. I was standing center-stage the whole time, watching and listening, and it was so damn exciting that I literally cried tears of joy watching it happen. Yeah, so these bands on stage making music together, in a room full of lindy hoppers dancing to the music that this dance was made to be danced to, made me cry. I’m a total sap.
I kept thinking to myself that this is what the Savoy must have felt like every night. That this is what our community has been missing for so many years, without my even really being able to put a finger on it. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like music of this caliber just hadn’t been a part of the Lindy Hop experience up until the past couple of years. And now it’s here. And I sure hope it’s here to stay. Because everyone deserves to witness a night like the one I witnessed at Glen Echo last Saturday. I was probably standing and watching and listening more than I was even dancing, and I just may have enjoyed watching and listening more than I enjoyed dancing. The music was that good.
And I should also say, I think Glenn Crytzer’s Blue Rhythm Band really deserved the win that they got, because the whole crew was full of not only excellent musicianship, but also really wonderful showmanship. Special hat-tip to their bass/tuba player, who you just couldn’t ignore. I really think that it helped that Glenn’s horn section was standing, and even the sax/clarinet section did a lot of standing up during solos. Jonathan Stout’s Orchestra was seated the whole time except for solos, and I think the music stands blocked the musicians from the view of the audience and dancers in a way that made them less accessible. It’s no knock on the sound they were making, though — both bands were truly excellent and the music was just top-notch.
I should also point out that both their singers, Hilary Alexander for Jonathan and Meschiya Lake for Glenn, killed it.
I’m apparently not the only one who came away from that night feeling like I had witnessed something truly incredible and memorable, because blog posts and notes are popping up all over with people commenting on the night and this battle. I feel fortunate to have been in the room to experience that magic. Here’s hoping that I get to have that kind of experience again sometime, and soon. And so so so many thanks, so much love and respect, to the Glenn Crytzer Blue Rhythm Band and the Jonathan Stout Orchestra. It was an honor to be there with all of you. Keep swingin’ hard.