Views and Brews: Dancing Between Two World Wars
Dancing Between Two World Wars: Jazz and Dance with Ryan Martin and Hal Smith
Even though the Cactus Cafe was at standing room only we still managed to find space to swing dance! It was a night of great live music, discussion and dancing as Views and Brews looked into the relationship between jazz and dance between WWI and WWII in the US. Dancer Ryan Martin and jazz drummer Hal Smith illustrated the history of jazz and dance and talked about why are we seeing a resurgence in this style of music and dance today.
Hal Smith took up drumming in 1963. He heard Ben Pollack and Nick Fatool in person, took lessons from Jake Hanna, and studied the drumming on classic jazz recordings from 1917-1945.
He has played with some of the greatest jazz musicians from the classic jazz, swing, and traditional jazz revival eras, and in many of the best-known jazz bands in the U.S. In addition to playing jazz, he has also worked with western swing, blues and country & western bands and has led many highly-respected groups including the Roadrunners, with vocalist Rebecca Kilgore.
Hal has made over 200 recordings, plus radio and television broadcasts. He is an accomplished writer, whose articles and reviews have been published in the Mississippi Rag, American Rag, Jazz Rambler, Just Jazz (U.K.), the Bulletin of the Hot Club of France, and as reprints in jazz publications across the U.S. Hal has served as President, Assistant Director, and Board Member of America’s Finest City Dixieland Jazz Society (San Diego, California) and as the drum instructor at AFCDJS’ annual Adult Jazz Camp.
Currently, Hal divides his time between San Diego and Austin, where he plans to relocate in the Winter of 2012.
Ryan Martin’s love of jazz music initially inspired him to start swing dancing in 1997. Since that time the music and dance of the early twentieth century have become two of the primary occupations in his life. He has been dancing and teaching various swing dances off-and-on for the past fourteen years. And in the last five years he has taken a more academic approach and started to study the history of these dances.
Ryan has travelled around the country collecting interviews with dancers from the original swing era, and is currently finishing a documentary on one swing dance in particular, the shag. He is also co-founder and acting president of the Hot Rhythm Foundation, a non-profit organization that seeks to promote and sustain the jazz music and dance forms that originated in early part of the twentieth century.
Check out a video highlight from the evening with musicians: Hal Smith (drums); Freddie Mendoza (trombone); Oliver Steck (trumpet); Albany Falletta (guitar); John Doyle (clarinet); Morris Nelms (piano) and Ryan Gould (bass). Dancers include: Tracy Owen and Ryan Martin (Shag); Jen Mitchell and Matt Mitchell (Balboa) and Alex Coutier and Samantha Garfield (Lindy Hop and Charleston).