[Dixielandjazz] Hot Dance Redux

Stephen G Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Jul 7 13:33:41 PDT 2008

Hi Chris:

After checking out all the web sites and sources, I found no written  
definition of "Hot Dance" on them? The only written definitions I  
found were in Sudhalter's and Tex Wyndham's books.  And that of Dave  
Robinson on the TJEN website which follows:

"... the dominant popular music of the late 20s and early 30s: (was)  
"hot dance". This music was performed by pre-swing "big bands" of  
about 9-12 pieces. It was highly arranged, using syncopated rhythms  
and, to varying degrees, "hot" (i.e. jazz) solos. Typical  
instrumentation included two trumpets, trombone, three saxes, violin,  
piano, banjo, tuba, and drums. While it is related to the 20s styles  
of traditional jazz, I do not include this music among them because  
its instrumentation and approach are markedly different. Instead of a  
small number of horns playing polyphonically, "hot dance" uses five or  
more horns scored as sections playing in tutti. It must be noted,  
however, that some fairly large bands mixed sectional tutti passages  
with polyphonic passages in a single performance."

Dave is careful to note also "that relatively few traditional jazz  
performances are 'pure' manifestations of any one style. Mixing and  
matching various stylistic elements is the norm-that is, after all,  
the creative process."

Surely people use the term, but what does the term mean? There is so  
much confusion and overlap (like in the term "jazz") that the word(s)  
have come to mean different things to different people. Your, Tex's  
and Dick's and Dave's definitions are all different.

That makes the term meaningless, in my opinion , because there has no  
standard meaning. For example, to some, orchestrated Dixieland is hot  
dance. To others it is not. As another example, according to some of  
his biographers, Red Nichols played both Dixieland and Hot Dance.  
Which was which?

My point is not which definition is right, but rather that there seems  
to be no standard definition. And each passing year changes those non- 
standard definitions, making things worse. Heck, there is even a "Hot  
Dance" airplay  category on the current billboard charts. It may not  
interest us, but it is out there for the rest of the world.

Or see <http://www.westendjazzband.com/music.htm> for yet another  
current definition of "hot dance" as played by a 6 piece band. (They  
have won the Jean Goldkette Award for Musical Excellence, The Coon- 
Sanders Roodles Award, and The Starr-Gennett Foundation Champion Award)

BTW, "diatribe" referred to your post disparaging Tex etc., and anyone  
who believes him by association. IMO that was uncalled for, but as an  
opinionated jazz musician not too different from you, I understand how  
posts like that happen and have had it happen to me as many can  
attest. Doesn't mean either of us are bad guys. Just means we say what  
we think.

Steve Barbone


More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list