Have you noticed Hollywood counts on European actors when they need a pitch perfect American accent? Christiane Beinl, who leads Vienna’s Stompin’ Lickers hones in on the tone of a mid century songstress more believably than most 21st century American women can. Her band likewise follows suit.
Born in 2011 into a rapidly growing local swing scene the Stompin Lickers have made dance-able jazz their focus. They spent eight years playing for Lindy Hop, Charleston and other dance gigs before making it into the studio last fall. The new format allows the sextet plus vocal to play for each other as well as the room. The fun of that shared experience is evident throughout an album of steady danceable rhythms and rich melodies. The soloing doesn’t try to take control. They recorded to two mics, one for the vocal and the other for the band, it creates a balanced and natural vibe.
Christiane Beinl is a dance instructor who felt inspired to explore “a time in musical history when listening to music could hardly be separated from moving the body along to it.” Forming a band was the natural next step in persuing her love of early jazz and swing.
The Stompin’ Lickers pick out jazz and pop tunes of the 20s though the 40s but despite the earlier vintage of titles like “Sister Kate” the play itself is consistently of the late swing era. They have a sound that works for all their moving parts (and yours), and they stick to it.
The vocal tracks have a live feel, like video from early TV variety shows. “Imagine My Frustration” not only fits narratively, it inspires the band to its fullest sound. I found their rendition of “Bye Bye Blackbird” particularly moving; the piano and bass interaction has a Vince Guaraldi feel and Christiane on this one is more Judy Collins than Etta James. “The World is Waiting for the Sunrise” also welcomes that sentimental feeling.
“Hopedibop” gets creative and even has a bit of a loose breakdown, but never loses the dancers spontaneous movement. The same can be said about the fireworks on the riff tune “Stinky Pinkie”. “Am I Blue” is clean fun with charming vintage patter from Christiane. It’s a well crafted album from an excellent swing band. Keep an eye out for them at Vienna Honey Swing and other European dances.
Explore the Austrian Swing Scene: www.ighop.at.