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I first discovered this band when looking for a cover of ‘I wanna be like you’ on the old youtube! Initially what drew me in was their sensual salsa sound but after a bit of research I realised that this influence wasn’t all there was to this group! They are recognised more commonly for playing wild, unleashed swing music with 1920’s influence… a hint of rock and roll and just a pinch of cuban style.

Album cover for 'Americana Deluxe'

So after listening to a few tracks, I decided to hunt down an album to buy. I browsed around Amazon and eBay, and their own personal website. The copy of ‘Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Americana deluxe’ (produced by Coolsville Records) I found was around £7 (this particular album I found was very rare and virtually out of production!) I recieved it promptly in the post; the booklet provided information of the band members in a beautifully designed cover. It’s evident that a lot of hard work has gone into the design! Being an art student, I really appreciate this, and it’s what I love about buying CD’s rather than downloading music. So, I discovered the eight members of this band; Andy, Jeff, Kurt, Scotty, ‘The Kid,’ Karl, Dirk and Josh. The big band brass sound they produce clearly neeeds all eight members. All are used to their optimum capacity; when listening it sounds as though there is a full concert orchestra playing, quite remeniscent of the Brian Setzer Orchestra. That quirky walking bass, the rock and roll brass and swing drums. There is an element of showground extravagance and that vintage feel of ‘showtime!’ I’m not a huge fan of jazz music and big band but these really rock the joint as well as jazzing it up.

From backstreet sleaze, (Maddest Kind of Love) to fast swing… to saucy cuban tunes, (Please Baby, Mambo Swing) this band has it all. One of the first things I thought when listening to this album was; ‘Bet they’re sweet live.’ A whirlwind of energetic musicians who just love to make music. When talent and enthusiasm collide, it’s a beautiful combination! (And may I appreciate, as a piano player that their pianist is extremely advanced.)

I particularly liked ‘Jumpin’ Jack’ and ‘Minnie the Moocher.’ Big Bad Voodoo Daddy just ooze ‘cool’ and style; the juxtaposition of parts is interesting and entertaining, no two instruments play the same part at the same time. Even though the tracks are quite long, they continue to keep the listener entertained by swapping roles, including reoccuring sections, solos and vocal parts. No two songs are the same, and this album is enjoyable throughout.

I recognised a few well-known extracts from famous swing tunes and other songs such as the small clip of ‘it don’t mean a thing, if you ain’t got swing’ in ‘Jumpin’ Jack’ and a small comical extract of the funeral march in ‘Minnie the Moocher.’ I can safely say that Big Bad Voodoo Daddy are a fantastic example of true fusion. They are the real deal when it comes to swing music and I highly recommend this album. It’s also nice to hear different members sing the final track, in a flamboyant show stopping finale.

Next: The original Frankie Manning’s Shim Sham… and how to retain your sanity when trying to learn it!

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