Paris, France, 02 October 2006. This day not only saw the culmination of a project to spruce old jazz swing music by including electronic elements to each track. The process involved the arduous task of seeking clearance for around 200 original swing tracks to remix plus the usual stumbling blocks.
So while the 02 October 2006 may have been the result of all this graft, it was the release date for the album G-Swing – ‘Swing For Modern Clubbing’ and saw the successful conclusion to their notion…….for the rest of the world it had brought the reality that quality, swing tinged house tracks with substance works and we now got something to go on here.
www.electro-swing.com is happy to show you what followed in the tale of a collective idea that produced the album that became the cornerstone of swing house music and re-wrote the rules on the creativity and production expected within the genre.
We are delighted to announce that in making this article possible we have interviewed one of the key men in the project, the swing house pioneer, the man who put the Greenskeepers into G, Mr G-Swing himself, James Curd.
James began Djing in his native Chicago when he was fifteen years old.
At the age of eighteen he had built up a music studio and began producing Chicago house and by nineteen released his first track on Romain Dupont and Etienne Mignard’s Paris based label Basenotic Records. Further communiques followed between them and from this meeting of America and Europe came an inspired plan to make an entire album infusing the old swing music and the modern sounds of Chicago house.
As James recounts ‘’I have a love for all kinds of music. Jazz was always playing in my first Chicago apartment. My roommate Jack was a Saxophone player and die hard jazz record collector. Every now and then I would hear a song or just a little piece of a song that I thought would be great in some of the songs I was producing and I would experiment by sampling them’’ There was now a purpose an ambition around the possibilities of a jazz swing house sound.
The name for this project between James and Romain led to the invention of the term G-Swing. Some of James earlier releases had been under the name Greenskeepers, and this was used to form the new name, in essence G-Swing is short for Greenskeepers Swing. The name would be used for the work produced by the artists on this album.
A record label was already established using the same name. G-Swing (the label) is currently a division of Basenotic and Greenskeepers Music, with James as label head. Both he and Romain work on the A&R side.
In their own words ‘G-Swing is a label dedicated to the Swing House sound’ and around 2002, James focussed firmly on the label and the swing house sound despite running two other, non swing, labels Igloo and Greenskeepers Music.
This was all four years before the release of ‘Swing For Modern Clubbing’ and in that time much work was being done to bring this concept of jazz swing and house beats to life. As James tells ‘’My partner Romain and I were able to get around 200 swing songs cleared to remix. We sent them out to all of our G-Swing artists. Lindstrom and many others turned in some great mixes and then we released it. There was a lot of work involved. Romain, who also remixed a track, did an amazing job of pulling this altogether.’’
The G-Swing artist collective included James Curd, Romain Dupont aka Romain BNO aka DJ Brame, Etienne Mignard aka Le Major Melon, Lindstrom, Ludovic Allen, Joakim aka Jimi Bazooka, Berry Dept, Marcovich and Itchy Mango.
Upon the release of ‘Swing For Modern Clubbing’ all the hard work had been realised and James realised ’’ I knew we were on to something fun and new.’’
‘’G-Swing was distributed in Paris and Romain reached out to some labels that he thought may be interested. Romain ran the day to day label duties for the Paris side of things and deserves tons of praise for his dealings for the compilation.’’
The album included tracks heavily plundered from the recognisable swing jazz standards of the big band era and included a weighted nod in particular to the works of Duke Ellington.
Track one, ‘Moon Indigo‘, was released by Duke in its original guise in 1930. Most versions were slow paced, however, this one including Nina Simone on vocals is played in double time giving it dancier vibe.
Other Ellington connections are found in the tracks ‘Ring Dem Bells‘, ‘Diga Diga Doo‘, ‘Going Nuts’ and ‘Caravan’ which was composed by Ellington’s valve trombonist Juan Tizol.
‘Cement Mixer‘, track two, was originally recorded in 1946 by Charlie Barnet who had played the bells on Ellington’s ‘Ring Dem Bells’ some 16 years earlier.
Two of the tracks came from the ‘King of Swing’ Benny Goodman. ‘Sing Sing Sing‘, originally written by Louis Prima and the excellent ‘Don’t Be That Way’ where you can hear Chick Webb on drums.
Louis Jordan who played as part of Webb’s band, pops up on the Caribbean flavoured ‘Run Joe‘. And a final link to Chick Webb is in the track ‘Fig and Dates’ where you can hear Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘Come On a My House‘.
The rest of the tracks include varying degrees of the fantastic original pieces with the up to date beats of a set of producers who kept the swing vibes going within their computer composed kicks, cymbals, hi-hats and synths.
Mood Indigo (G-Swing Featuring Ludovic Allen Remix)
Sing Sing Sing (featuring Ania Chow)
Ring Dem Bells
I’m Crazy ‘Bout My Baby
Don’t Be That Way
Calor (featuring Rossy Da Palma)
Diga Diga Doo
Figs And Dates
Twenty Long Years
Heartbreaker (G-Swing & Le Major Melon)
The album gave a second wind to the swing house scene. Better production and the creativity of the tracks led to a re-emergence of this style that would in time find itself under the umbrella of electroswing.
There had been a swing house scene prior to this album, a first wave, which originated from Chicago and indeed G-Swing the label saw it’s first release in 2002, with James in Greenskeepers mode.
His tracks ‘Dra Gan’ and ‘Keep Going’ were the B side on the vinyl to the tracks ‘Cool Down Daddy’ and ‘Swing In The Horns’ by Mike Dixon on the debut for G-Swing.
More followed from Greenskeepers, with ‘D.C. Minor, ‘Big Noise, ‘Video Days‘, ‘Auction Song’ ,‘Electro Swing‘, ‘Here It Is Babe‘, plus other releases from Mike Dixon (his output was almost as prolific as Greenskeepers), Dan X and Justin Long and Translucent, however, the scene didn’t peak for long . Looking back to those days James remembers ‘’I felt like there were too many DJ’s playing too much of it in one set. I think it hurt the first wave of swing house. In less then a year people were over exposed to it and I ended up playing less and less in my sets.‘
It’s been over five years since the release of ‘Swing For Modern Clubbing’ The G-Swing label has continued to bring us the best in swing house with the likes of Biboulakis and Enzo Siffredi, plus remixes from the likes of the mighty Wattie Green, however, releases by the G-Swing collective of remixers had gone quiet.
Great news greets us then that this is about to change. You may have noted the rumblings of something a few months ago on James’s Soundcloud page and he is eager to announce that he ‘’is back and I’m actually making vinyl. I’m trying to get a record out every 2 months. When I have enough new material I’ll do another G-Swing compilation’’
Let‘s hope that‘s not too far away and Ill leave you with his response to our question ‘What does Electroswing mean to you?’ ‘’I am happy for the new wave and now I’m playing swing house more and more. I think it’s great. I always love the mix of organic jazz sounds with analog drums and synths. I always get the itch to sit down and make some and I think I always will’’
Many thanks for your work musically and with the interview James. All future support to your swing house leanings from the team at www.electro-swing.com.
For more info: www.g-swing.com