by Degen Pener
Swing Book (Little, Brown & Company) should be required
reading for anyone who enjoys classic big band or neo-swing
music, anyone who has ever taken a class in Lindy Hop, or
anyone who has ever seen that Gap commercial and wondered
what the whole thing was all about. It should also be required
reading for anyone majoring in history, sociology, music or
fine arts. Or anyone who ever wanted to major in those subjects.
Hell, even if you're not remotely interested in swing, read
this book, because you will be.
comprehensive guide covers everything from the history of
jazz and the origins of the Lindy Hop to the roots of the
swing renaissance. There are biographies of greats like Basie,
Ellington, Jordan, and Prima, as well as neo-swing artists
cuch as Royal Crown Revue, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, The Squirrel
Nut Zippers, and the Brian Setzer Orchestra. there's an entire
chapter on learning to dance, complete with illustrations
of several moves, and a chapter on retro fashions that includes
a "starter kit" for guys and dolls. Sidebars cover
topics like "Swing Lingo" and "Ten Reasons
Swing Came Back" (Reason number three: Grunge). The back
of the book features a city-by-city guide to swing clubs nationwide,
plus lists of the best swing Web sites, magazines, and movies.
Degen Pener gets a gold star for his copious research and
delightful writing style. Rich with anecdotes and chock-full
of facts, The swing Book is a superb resource for swing lovers
of all ages. Put it at the top of your holiday wish list.