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July 23, 2024

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The Swingtips
Let's Play Some Ball! (Ghost Note Records)

By: Alex Steininger

With swing in the revival stage of its life, a lot of bands are coming out of the woodwork. Some are in it for the trend, and some just want to play the music they love. For the most part, it's very easy to distinguish between the two. Mesa, Arizona's The Swingtips are one of the ones who are in it for the music they love, which is evident on their debut CD, LET'S PLAY SOME BALL! Thirty-six minutes of music, spread out over eleven tracks, they play swing music that would fit right in with the 30's and 40's, but it still has a bit of modern life breathing through it as well.

"Let's Play Some Ball!" is a very appropriate opener for this disc, as the game begins with this song. Starting off with some Bronx-style, gangster vocals talking about the ending of a baseball game, the drums softly back it up, before the horns creep in and signal the time for the music to begin. Some very rich, smooth vocals lead the song through some velvet-swing. Very creamy, the horns don't over-power the music, but they do a great job of making their presence known. When the vocals aren't belting out the lead for the band, the horns take charge and lead the band. A jazz-influenced rhythm section keeps the song going, while the piano tingles throughout the song. The guitar is crisp, and gently breezes through the song. Ending with another announcer taking about a home run, over horns playing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," the song ends just as fun as it began. Next up is "The Business End of the Barrel," a definite album stand out. It starts off with some nice horn work, and then the rest of the band comes in and slows the song down a bit. The song stays slow and quiet for a bit, then the horns charge in again and put a kick in the song, as does the vocals. Very infectious, the song has a very easy feel to it, almost inviting you to sing along. A bit of a bounce is added to the song, perfect for you to take the loved one and create a pretty intense dance with. Where as some songs can just pass by for the person who just wants to sit down and enjoy his swing, that is not the case with this song. It's too powerful for anyone to just sit down and enjoy, it calls you to get up. And you will! Carrying on without vocals, "Samba With Symphony Sid" shows the band can also play well-crafted instrumentals. The horn section burns through this number, lighting up the song with every note, while the piano runs through the song with such class. The rest of the band is rather quiet, except for the percussion, which trickles like rain in the background. Covering Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)," The Swingtips add their name to the list of swing bands who cover this track. A quote you'll hear swing lovers repeat quite often, as well as swing's slogan, it's tough to cover such a classic and not feel intimidated. But The Swingtips take this number with ease, at least that's the way it seems. Their horn section never lets their guard down, while their rhythm section keeps the song jazzy. The piano always makes its voice heard, but the guitar is often shy, which is a shame. I'd like to hear a bit more guitar in the mix of things, as I'm sure their guitar player has some nice chops. Jumping into another instrumental, "Angles Don't Play This Harp" is the kind of swing/jazz number you can imagine hearing both in a smoky jazz club, or in a swing club of old. The harmonica adds a lot of flavor as it takes charge of the whole song. Without it, the song would lose a lot of its punch, but with it, the song simply sizzles. Closing out the disc with "Too Pooped To Pop," with tunes like this, you'll never be too tired to dance along with the music.

The Swingtips handle the music they love with such passion, as well as fun, which really shines through on each track. Their goal is to get you to dance, and with each number they succeed. Whether it be an instrumental track full of juicy horns, or a track with grand vocals, they never lose their focus on this disc. I'll give it an A.

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