Eight O’Five Jive Swing Set
www.EightOFiveJive.com/Red Rudy Too Tunes
I admit it. I didn’t really ‘get’ this music.
Make no mistake, I get the blues. If I wasn’t economically privileged (and I have worked for that, dang it all), I would live the blues. I just don’t ‘get’ swing. Jive. Jump. I don’t understand it. I’m not sure I really like it. Give me acoustic, 12-bar blues and dim lights, and I’m satisfied. Don’t get me started on jazz; I’m not that privileged!
Having admitted that…I more than dig Eight O’Five Jive’s second album Swing Set.
I first played the album a month or so back, and was immediately taken by the monumental horns of Patrick Mosser and the Horn Stars. Right out of the gate, my toes were tapping. Then, a few measures in, Lee Shropshire started singing…and I knew I was hooked. “Make Mine a Double” was the song, and the group has so much fun on this shim-sham-shimmy number providing a bedrock for Shropshire’s account of adoration for all things alcohol that I got swept away. By the time she sings, “A daiquiri a day, keeps my abstinence at bay…” I knew I had found the right band to get me through the January blues of 2017.
Swing Set is fun. There is no pretense of weightiness within its eleven tracks. Nor do Eight O’Five Jive have about them airs of self-importance. This ‘one band revival’ has their heart and feet in the 40s and 50s, bringing to contemporary listeners the sauciness and escapism of the music of a distant generation of sophisticated musicians and vocalists who played wherever and whenever to make a buck or three.
The band continues to hop on “Never.” Punctuated by blasts of brass and guitar, Shropshire purrs with confidence, “You’re never gonna shake it with me!” Eight O’Five Jive’s songs are filled with rhythmic lyrical repartee, whether related to alcohol consumption (“Before you go and leave me, pour me one more glass of wine,”) marital indiscretion (“The last time I did that, I got laid out with a bat”), or alcohol consumption (“Trust me boys, I can put it back!”) Discovering the world’s problems one drink at a time, perhaps.
For a change of pace, the band modulates with the sassy saunter of “I Won’t Wear Flats (To Your Funeral),” a clever kiss-off number. Slightly more spritely is “Back Of My Hand,” in which Shropshire promises that “if I catch you flirting with another chick, you’re gonna feel how these heels feel.”
Closing with “A Little Bit of Bourbon” (“makes everything better,”) another song of female empowerment through 80 proof, Eight O’Five Jive sends their listeners off to find some “hair of the dog” to get themselves through the rest of their day.
Eight O’Five Jive isn’t out to analyse the troubles of the world. They are playing up-tempo, lively music for those who are looking for something to help them deal with the challenges of their world. The musicianship is crackerjack, with Andy Scheinman’s guitar of particular appeal. Mosser’s saxophone shines throughout, taking leads with aplomb while never over-reaching to the detriment of the combo. Bill Bois’ bass is, depending on tastes, buried a bit, while Duane Spencer’s ‘cocktail drums’ perfectly complement the sound Eight O’Five Jive achieves. Everyone sings- often the call and response variety- but the vocal star is Shropshire who carries the album. She possesses a bold voice, one that gives not an inch against her robust accompaniment.
There is a whole lot of awful stuff going on in our world. Politics appear a mess, those we are supposed to entrust with our best interest betray us, and (rightly or wrongly) we look over our shoulders much too often. Social media is anything but. Too many folks aren’t working, too many people are battling demons that are much too strong, and too many use faith to blind followers. I know my sleep has been troubled these past few months, too many hours in the early morning dark fretting forces I can’t control. The only thing that appears predictable is the implausibly unpalatable.
When I first opened the package containing this disc, I was unmoved: not my thing, I thought. I was wrong. Eight O’Five Jive is just my thing, and is the free-spirited, lively, and amusingly entertaining music I needed this month. I suggest you may feel the same.
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