Rowdy dance music from the jump jive era

Company B head up from Cornwall to bring alive the music of the jump jive era at Shoreham’s Ropetackle Centre on Saturday, January 31 at 8pm.

Friday, 30th January 2015, 8:53 am
Picture by Chris Potter
Picture by Chris Potter

Guitarist Matthew Arundell is promising a great night.

“We get a lot of people that come for that Glenn Miller swing, but we are a bit more rowdy and noisy than that. We were all growing up in punk bands and bands like that, so it’s not a sitting-down kind of thing. It’s rowdy dance music that makes a lot of noise, but it is a lot of fun.”

The band, who have built a reputation as one of the most entertaining acts in the south-west, boast a rock-solid rhythm section, an exhilarating horn section and dynamic vocals which veer from rowdy chant to tight harmonies.

Company B play the songs of Louis Prima, Louis Jordan, and others alongside their own tongue-in-cheek originals to create a hot atmosphere which is surprisingly cool to all ages, Matthew says.

“We used to really love the Louis Prima style of music. We used to play a lot of that kind of 50s swing. We were wanting to do an Andrews Sisters-style band, with three girl singers, but we couldn’t find that. But we just started to listen to the jump jive repertoire. That was 2010. We have had a few changes since then, but we have finally settled now as a seven-piece.

“At the same time as Glenn Miller was popular, in black American smaller ensembles and in some of the Italian-American smaller ensembles, they were doing this thing called jump jive, which was basically pre-rock ‘n’ roll. It has got links with jazz, but basically came in before rock ‘n’ roll. The songs were much more dirty, much rowdier, and there were quite a few guys from jump jive that went into the rock ‘n’ roll era and became rock ‘n’ rollers. Some of them started playing guitar and the music got simpler and the horns started to disappear. Really, jump jive was the era between 1948 and 1953. Nearly all of it was then. It was nearly all post-war, nearly all American. A lot of it was in New York and a lot of it was in the south. The main people were people like Louis Jordan. Five Guys Named Mo is that kind of music.

“There were a lot of artists that were doing similar music or working with each other or doing different versions of the same songs. That’s our repertoire. We do a lot of that, plus a couple of bits outside that and some things we have written ourselves.

“We do about 70-80 gigs every year. We have been doing that for the past three years. We have got about 50 for 2015, but that is going to get more.”

They are based in Cornwall and are effectively doing as much as they want to do. As Matthew says, the trouble with Cornwall is that everywhere is a long way from it.

“It is a bit of a corner, a bit of a cul de sac, but actually there is a really good music scene here. There are lots of pubs and clubs that we play. We love playing in Bude, and we love playing in St Austell where we are based. I have lived in Cornwall pretty much all my life, so I am pretty much Cornish, but we are stretching out a bit. Until last year, we were mainly playing Cornwall and Devon.”