Interview with bassist Dave Post of Swingadelic, a jazz/blues & neo-swing ensemble founded in New Jersey

"Blues and jazz is a bit outside the commercial realm so it is relatively fad free and will be with us a long time, and folks keep hiring us so we will keep plugging away."

Dave Post: Swingadelic “Little Big Band”

Swingadelic is a jazz/blues ensemble founded in 1998 in Hoboken, New Jersey by bassist Dave Post. Initially, the group played jump blues in the style of Louis Jordon, Big Joe Turner, and Louis Prima to cash in on the neo-swing craze, but by the early 2000s the band was maintaining a residency at Maxwell's in Hoboken as an eleven piece “little big band.” As the dance craze waned, the band kept busy with concerts, casual engagements, and recording. Swingadelic has performed at hundreds of festivals, corporate events, and many clubs from Maine to Atlanta. Swingadelic can also provide smaller bands for your cocktail hour with sophisticated, classic standards à la George Gershwin and Cole Porter. The band members of Swingadelic are seasoned professionals with years of experience in many musical styles. Swingadelic has provided music for film soundtracks and has appeared on many regional TV and radio shows worldwide.        Dave Post / Photo by Charles Farley‎

The band plays about 100 dates per year and has traveled from Maine to Atlanta. Swingadelic has maintained a residency for eight years at Swing 46 in NYC where it performs every other Monday as a ten piece "little big band." Swingadelic has eight CDs and has been recording for the ZOHO Music label since 2011. Swingadelic CDs have been in the JazzWeek Radio charts top thirty and garnered many critically acclaimed reviews in jazz publications. Swingadelic celebrate 22nd Anniversary with the release of our 8th CD, “Bluesville"  The band’s three previous CD’s on the ZOHO Music were tributes to Duke Pearson, Allen Toussaint and Johnny Mercer. They continue to showcase their versatility on “Bluesville” with large ensemble versions of tunes by Ray Charles, Ruth Brown, Muddy Waters, Mose Allison, Count Basie and other artists. Dave Post talks about Swingadelic, New Orleans, Duke Pearson and Allen Toussaint.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Blues and Jazz music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

I grew up in a lower middle class all white community in North Jersey but at some point, I realized that most of the music I listened to and loved was a product of Black culture.  I started seeking out black music, culture and food, then got hip to the Latin stuff later (and food to die for) As I got older and got to travel a bit on my own or with bands, I always sought out the local music hang to chat with the locals and got a taste of the regional cuisine. I think something as simple and easy as this helps expand a person's worldview.

When was your first desire to become involved in the music? What does the BLUES & JAZZ mean to you?

I first became involved with music as a listener back in the day to Top 40 Radio.  Herb Alpert and the Beatles were big, but when I heard the Rolling Stones, that was THE light bulb moment for me. The Stones were essentially a blues cover band in the beginning and they led me to Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. From there it was an easy jump to the jazz organ players, Jimmy Smith, Leon Spencer et al and the sax players like Gene Ammons and Stanley Turrentine that played with them. In my world blues & jazz is almost synonymous. Albert Murray calls Duke Ellington’s Orchestra “the ultimate blues band” Johnny Hodges alto playing just drips blues & soul.

You have an interesting project Swingadelic. What characterize band’s philosophy?

I put together Swingadelic in 1998 and leading this band and getting to play with many fantastic musicians has been a most joyful experience. Buddy Terry, an alto/tenor player who played with the Ray Charles & Basie Orchestras, and Art Blakey and Horace Silver, played with us for ten years and we learned an awful lot about the idiom from him. Lately my favorite moments come from having tenor player Jerry Weldon plays with us. Whether it is a dance, a wedding or a concert, Jerry always elevates the proceedings with his musicianship, great attitude and humor. We are humbled by musicians like Buddy and Jerry and strive for their skills and connections with the audience.

"Until we were interrupted by the Covid-19 situation, New York and the surrounding area had a vast, variegated and lively music scene. It's a major jazz and recording center, the home of so much Latin jazz, a lively rock scene and fantastic classical musicians and orchestras. You can be personal friends with hundreds of musicians and there will still be thousands that you do not know." (Photo: Swingadelic)

From whom have you have learned the most secrets about music? How do you describe Dave Post sound and progress?

I learned about New Orleans music in a similar fashion. If you listen to Dr. John you get an education on Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, James Booker and all the way back to Preservation Hall and Dixie bands. In the 1970’s I had the good fortune to grow up in a suburb of NJ nearby NYC, and as kids we would run into town to go to the Village Vanguard to see Dexter Gordon, Thelonious Monk, Thad & Mel, Chick Corea, the MJQ and many other jazz greats. At the Fillmore East we would see a plethora of great rock & blues bands. Seeing Latin music great Tito Puente was life changing, serious playing for some serious dancing!

How do you describe "Bluesville" sound and songbook? What touched (emotionally) you from "Harlem Nocture" and "The Mooche"?

Although Swingadelic has had some success with our last three "tribute" CD's (Duke Pearson, Allen Toussaint and Johnny Mercer), I wanted to put out a CD that represented what we might play at a typical set on our Monday night gig at Swing 46 in NYC. Harlem Nocturne has a rich history in jazz, blues and pop music and it was one of the first arrangements we performed as a big band. I wanted to add slide guitar to it to make it a bit blusier. The Mooche was one of the first Ellington tunes that really moved me many years ago. I fell in love with the wah wah effect of the brass, the jungle drums and the clarinet arrangement.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

In being a co-owner of a 200 capacity music venue in Hoboken NJ called Maxwell's for 15 years, I learned that the younger musicians on the way up were pretty cocky and demanding, but the older cats on the way down could't be any nicer! They lived through it and survived. Ah youth!  Another thing is to appreciate what different people can bring to the table. A great Broadway player may not necessarily be a great jazz player (or may be) but he or she has their own thing to be appreciative of. There is sooooo much talent out there.

"I started seeking out black music, culture and food, then got hip to the Latin stuff later (and food to die for) As I got older and got to travel a bit on my own or with bands, I always sought out the local music hang to chat with the locals and got a taste of the regional cuisine. I think something as simple and easy as this helps expand a person's worldview."

What's been their experience from Maxwell's? Which memory from Maxwell’s makes you smile?

Maxwell’s in Hoboken where I have been co-owners with Todd Abramson and Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) for 15 years is NJ’s premier rock’n’roll venue and a lot of great bands have passed through. I got to use it to nurture Swingadelic’s eleven musicians with a venue for live rehearsals on Monday nights, where we could try out new arrangements and have people sit in and work out our music. The musicians in Swingadelic come from many stylistic areas and how we all blend together is what may make us different than other bands.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of music?

I'm a product of the '60's and '70's, and there is a lot that I miss from that era that I don't hear today. The soul of Wilson Pickett, the Gospel informed music of Aretha Franklin, the funk of James Brown and all the great hooks of pop music. I enjoy the salsa and boogaloo grooves of that era as well, over todays Latin music. In jazz, I used to be able to see the giants like Dexter, Monk, Art Blakey and many others all the time. But there are cats out there today like Benny Green, Jerry Weldon, Akiko Tsuruga and others that really send me. The pop music of today seems to be on a continual downward spiral, gone are the days of the Great American Song writers. As a bandleader I am always meeting fantastic and talented younger cats, so there is no worry for the future in that regard. I do worry that they may not be able to support themselves and that audiences for them may be diminishing as people all over the world struggle to survive.

What’s the best jam and gig you ever played in? Which memory from recording time makes you smile?

We have been doing a lot of repertoire gigs lately. Concerts of all Ellington or Basie, Johnny Mercer, The Three Louies (Louis Armstrong, Louis Jordon and Louis Prima) and our last two CD’s on the ZOHO label have been tributes to Duke Pearson and Allen Toussaint. I have been playing in bands and orchestras for 40 years now. Started in high school rock band in the basement, went to college and played with the bands and orchestras, then went to wedding bands, Polish bands, rock n’ roll bands, blues & jazz bands, and bluegrass bands. Any day making music is a great day, no matter what the style of music it is.                                       Dave Post / Photo by Diego Britt

Why the Upright Bass was/is connected with the blues & jazz music and what are the secrets of?

There is something to be learned for your sound, musicianship and experience from all styles. It is easy for a bass player to play various styles because the function is still the same, outlining the root of the harmony and providing rhythmic support.

"I'm a product of the '60's and '70's, and there is a lot that I miss from that era that I don't hear today."

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians thinking of pursuing a career in the craft?

For those learning now, I wish the best of luck. Skip the performance degree and get a background in education or in another area like math or science. You need a backup and if you love music, you will always be performing.

Some music styles can be fads but the blues & jazz are always with us. Why do think that is?

Blues and jazz is a bit outside the commercial realm so it is relatively fad free and will be with us a long time, and folks keep hiring us so we will keep plugging away.

What would you say characterizes New York's music scene in comparison to other US scenes and circuits?

Until we were interrupted by the Covid-19 situation, New York and the surrounding area had a vast, variegated and lively music scene. It's a major jazz and recording center, the home of so much Latin jazz, a lively rock scene and fantastic classical musicians and orchestras. You can be personal friends with hundreds of musicians and there will still be thousands that you do not know.

What is the impact of Blues and Jazz music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

I'm a college drop-out, not a sociologist, but I've been leading diverse mixed bands for over 25 years. I think jazz musicians are able to accept and are more supportive of race, gender and age disparities then in let's say Country or classical music. It should hopefully affect listeners and show attendees to be more supportive themselves.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

This is a tough one! The rock'n'roll era of the Paramount Ballroom? Seeing the Fania All-Stars at Madison Square Garden? First Stones or Beatles tour? I think I would like to go to Rudy Van Gelder's Englewood Cliffs studio May 6, 1961 to watch Dexter Gordon record his Blue Note release, Doin' Allright.

Swingadelic - official website

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