Guide to Charleston Music - Part 1

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Once you’ve discovered the joys of Charleston dance, you’ll want to find the music to match. But the reality is that Charleston does not exist as a musical genre. Try typing Charleston into spotify and the song that comes up is ‘The Charleston’ a tune that was written in 1923. Other than the original song there is no Charleston music but there is a whole world of Jazz.

Now I know a lot of people who say they ‘hate jazz’ but jazz, like dance music has a huge list of sub-genres. From Rag-time, New Orleans, Swing, Bebop, too freeform (that's the one everyone hates!) there are so many styles, so how do we find the ones that work for Charleston dancing?

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To avoid the lecture on music history lets just say quality recordings of music from the twenties are virtually non-existent. But Musicians from that era continued recording long after, so a good way in is to begin with great artist of the time.  So here’s a list of my favourite artists with links to their tracks on youtube ….

  1. Count Basie  - Stan Shorthair
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3szm2pjt3s&spfreload=10
  3. Artie Shaw – Hope Skip and Jump
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZenQDS-hLw&spfreload=10
  5. Benny Goodman – Flying Home
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gn0hDIkvl0Y&list=RDgn0hDIkvl0Y
  7. Duke Ellington  - That Lindy Hop
  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vqx83L66FiE&spfreload=10
  9. Louis Prima  - Pennies from heaven
  10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dr8QQdnf_tY
  11. Sydney Bechet – Maple Leaf Rag
  12. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mr2aT9NSiDQ&spfreload=10
  13. Fats Waller – Lulu’s back in town
  14. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rgtt_8DbKE&spfreload=10
  15. Cab Calloway – Are you all Reet
  16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4deSYYzffM

If you’ve had a good listen, you’ll realize that a lot of these tunes are very much Swing but the good news is we can Charleston to Swing music, as well as Ragtime, Bebop, New Orleans, Kansas City and of course Electro Swing! I hope you’ve enjoyed this intro to music. I will be writing more soon, including my top ten tunes and modern artist. So stay tuned and please share your recommendations for great music to Charleston too.