02 03 Nerd Lunch: Imaginary Band: The Hot Club of Shanghai 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Imaginary Band: The Hot Club of Shanghai

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I used to sing and play some sax, and my music career is heating up again...my old R&B/soul band is reuniting to play a benefit gig for my sick trumpet player in January. There’s talk of then trying to finish the CD we started ten long years ago, and that would probably mean doing a CD release party somewhere down the line. Two or three gigs a year is about all I can handle right now, if that.

But I have a bit of a rambling imagination, and in the seven years since I’ve been out of the business, I’ve had some ideas for a new band. Here’s one of them:

The Hot Club of Shanghai

This is what I’ve been calling my Pulp Swing band. In the 1930s, the great Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt had a band called the Hot Club of Paris, and to this day there are a lot of bands that call themselves “The Hot Club of [Somewhere]” as shorthand for “1930s Gypsy swing.” While I wouldn’t want to get out of hand with the shtick here, the idea would be to borrow a little bit from the cliffhanger serial / adventure pulp aesthetic, like this could be the house band at Club Obi Wan from “Temple of Doom”.

Now, I don’t have any jazz chops, and never have, so that’s a slight problem. Possibly more than slight. But I just found out that a small company has started producing C-melody saxophones, probably the first time these have been made in 40 years or more. They are pitched between an Eb alto and a Bb tenor and were very popular in early jazz, and the new ones are well under a grand, and it would certainly be an interesting experiment.

C-melody sax, acoustic archtop guitar, piano, upright bass, drums, and maybe a second horn — cornet or clarinet, since those are also early jazz instruments seldom seen these days.

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