Sunday, June 24, 2018

Pagin' the Devil: The L.A. Swing Barons and Vine Street Rumble at Californos

I feared that my decision to attend an indoor recital on a glorious Saturday afternoon to hear two bands that specialize in vintage Kansas City jazz was a mistake.  My reservations were immediately dispelled when I entered the ballroom at Californos for a free concert by the L.A. Swing Barons and Vine Street Rumble

Rather than the creaky revivalism I dreaded, the show was a lively celebration.  By the time I left Californos. I wondered why I bother listening to any other form of music.

The room was packed with about 100 rapt listeners and athletic dancers for the event billed as a battle-of-the-bands.  The remarkably youthful L.A. Swing Barons added fresh energy to renditions of material by Kansas City legends including Bill Basie, Jay McShann and Mary Lou Williams.  The more seasoned members of Kansas City’s Vine Street Rumble approached a similar repertoire with less impetuousness than the brash Californians. 

Who came out on top?  The clear winners were the extraordinarily talented dancers who demonstrated that the Kansas City sound of the Pendergast Era remains sexy, thrilling and entirely vital.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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