Atlanta Speakeasy Electro Swing is bringing Swingrowers, an electro swing live band, to the Red Light Cafe on Friday, March 25th. Electro swing is a blending of the sounds of jazz, big band, and electronica. Swingrowers cultivates a variety of swing that every music-lover needs in their garden. With some Django spice via manouche guitar (Alessio Costaglioloa), saxophone (Ciro Pusateri), production to put the ‘electro’ in “electroswing,” (Roberto Costa a.k.a. Pisk), and sublime vocals (Loredana Grimaudo), Swingrowers offers a unique sound that makes it hard to sit still. The Palermo-based quintet has toured their native continent and this one, reminding people all over the world of the importance of spasso. And my, is the group molto spassoso! Last year they released their second album, titled Remote, under Freshly Squeezed. I gave it a listen and haven’t stopped dancing since.
The album begins unassumingly, with a kicking beat and sax and clarinet bleating out a melody with the precariousness of an object teetering on the edge of a table before it settles safely. Then the vocals of Loredana, luscious like a sandwich on the beach, deliver the lyrics. As sumptuous as it is, this album is clearly meant to be danced to. From the first notes, raining down over the sound of scratchy nostalgia, “Baby Lone” is a romping delight. Oh, but then the violin joins in. This is the violin that I love, with full and rich strings, swooping and swirling in a melody that is as pleasant as it is enigmatic. (This is what I had in mind when, as a youth, I begged my violin teacher to lay off the Bach and Handel and let me play some “gypsy music”. Her response was Monti’s “Csárdás”, which I suppose wasn’t too far off, although I could never make it danceable.) The vocals are delivered with a gusto perfectly paired to the strings.
The group, because they’re a classy bunch, shot a video for the next song at London’s Rivoli Ballroom (which happens to be Grade II listed – that means it’s über special). The video for “That’s Right” depicts the dapper group performing for the club’s owner and his bouncer, giving it their all for a chance to play in such a splendid setting. Loredana belts out the lyrics with conviction, lyrics that speak of hope that things will work out despite the ever present possibility that all could end in disaster. Pretty appropriate for an audition. A saxophone solo that will chill your vertebrae and disconnect the bones in your knees brings it home and even gets the bouncer dancing below the neck (as the club’s owner remains virtually inscrutable). With “Stay Swing,” Swingrowers usher swing into the 21st century more than even – dare I say it – Yolanda Be Cool and DCUP did with “We No Speak Americano.” This song is original but with the best elements of swing from several decades ago. It is the collection of smells wafting from the kitchen into the dining room in a greasy shawarma restaurant, the immediately unidentifiable bromeliads in the humid part of the Biodome (which is a real place, not just a figment of a hazy Pauly Shore-infested past), the taste of the inside of a perfectly cooked onion hush puppy on your tongue.
Swingrowers “That’s Right!” on YouTube
“Frank” is a song that I could envision myself dancing to on a steamy night in an outdoor club on a Mediterranean isle. (I once attended such a place, it was quite luxe. Strong caipiroska alla fragola, a dance floor surrounded by bed-sized lounges. The people I was with – all Italians – told me not to talk to the bouncers and if anyone asked, to say my name was Bianca). An intoxicating beat nudged forward by piano clears the way for Loredana to do vocal vinyasas, weaving in and out, around and between the horns. “Django” opens with more of that violin that makes the fingers on my left hand curl and my right wrist flick, thumbnail held by the tip of middle finger. Too Many T’s bring their rhymes and fun into the mix to make me feel okay about wearing sneakers to the party.
The next track on the album, “Chiovi,” delivers an injection of all the energy one will need to dance for the rest of the album. It is fast-paced and hits you when you’re already moving, like that caipiroska. Deep bass pounds as the melody does a vigorous backstroke, cutting through the soundwaves with the precision of an olympian. An electronic beat almost disco-like in its regularity and funkiness initiates “Break Out” with an intensity surprisingly and seemingly facilely exceeded by Loredana’s delivery of the lyrics. The horns up the ante, making for an ultimately danceable musical treat. Fueled with multiplied vocals and swinging everything – wind, reed, strings, drums – the song gets under your skin in the best way possible. “Enjoy The Moment” takes you out for dinner and dancing and innumerable roaring epicurean delights, and with “Fancy,” the dance party continues. The sound that Swingrowers gifts to the world is one that is nourishing, fortifying, and so contagious that even the WHO would wrinkle their foreheads if they weren’t busy wrinkling their drab suits through dance.
The final song of Remote, “Why,” glides into a dimly lit room furnished with floating wisps of smoke and wide-brimmed fedoras. As Loredana’s dulcet voice brings light to the song, it is easy to envision her partially reclined on the piano decked out in curls and something strappy with a slit up to there. “Oh please baby please don’t leave me tonight,” she croons, ending the song with the listener wishing, yearning, longing that there were more to the album so as not to let Loredana down.
Swingrowers are nothing less than an utter delight. In an era of political noise, the group provides a welcome release from the shackles of the superficial seriousness and reminds one to “enjoy the moment.”
Head on over to the Red Light Cafe to pickup tickets to see Swingrowers on March 25th.