Various Artists

Swing Tanzen Verboten!: Swing Music and Nazi Propaganda

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The Proper Box folks have assembled a massive collection of jazz and swing-related material from the second World War, much of it performed right under the noses of indignant fascists; some of it prepared with the de facto backing or propaganda interests of the occupying parties in mind. All politics aside, the music is a blast -- vital and vibrant as well as more varied than some snobs might suspect. As for the motivations of the players and the forces which oppressed them, listeners should feel free to take some of the commentary with a grain of salt, or a plate of sauerkraut if that seems more appropriate. Inevitably there will be people who will not enjoy listening to Django Reinhardt once they begin to speculate on his relationship with the Gestapo, just as there are listeners who shelve their Jimi Hendrix sides permanently once they read biographical tomes suggesting the great guitarist liked to beat up his girlfriends.

Expatriate Mike Zwerin claims to have experienced something of a nervous breakdown writing his book Swing and the Nazis, the publication of which precedes this box set by decades. It is indeed a heavy subject: whether it is the tale of a Jewish family who were allowed to step off a certain deadly train in trade for some rare Count Basie sides, or the careers of some of the players featured herein. Even the loutish storm troopers had the sense to realize this type of music attracted dissidents; so they would let gigs happen just to keep their eye on whoever showed up. How much some of these groups were involved in these proceedings is often unknown. Perhaps these details are not so important in view of what exists here, now: a fairly complete collection of the characters who were not prevented from swinging by swastikas. This includes not only both brothers Django and Joseph Reinhardt, but the orchestras of Eddie Barclay, Gus Viseur and violinist Svend Asmussen. Of course the context adds an extra tingle to tracks such as the wisely chosen opener "Nachtexpress Nach Warschau," performed by Erhard Krause Und Sein Orchester, but not every performance by a German artist reeks of the death camps. The ensemble directed by Willy Berking features good instrumental soloists taking part in musical novelty features with non-political titles such as "Legato" and "Rhythmus."

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Charlie & His Orchestra 03:18 Amazon
2 Charlie & His Orchestra 03:23 Amazon
3 Charlie & His Orchestra 02:56 Amazon
4 Charlie & His Orchestra 03:21 Amazon
5 Charlie & His Orchestra 03:25 Amazon
6 Charlie & His Orchestra 02:49 Amazon
7
Charlie & His Orchestra 03:01 Amazon
8 Charlie & His Orchestra 03:11 Amazon
9 Charlie & His Orchestra 02:48 Amazon
10
Charlie & His Orchestra 02:40 Amazon
11 Charlie & His Orchestra 02:57 Amazon
12 Charlie & His Orchestra 02:44 Amazon
13 Charlie & His Orchestra 02:57 Amazon
14 Charlie & His Orchestra 03:32 Amazon
15 Charlie & His Orchestra 03:08 Amazon
16 Charlie & His Orchestra 02:37 Amazon
17 Charlie & His Orchestra 03:17 Amazon
18 Charlie & His Orchestra 02:48 Amazon
19 Charlie & His Orchestra 03:22 Amazon
20 Charlie & His Orchestra 02:29 Amazon
21 Charlie & His Orchestra 02:26 Amazon
22 Charlie & His Orchestra 02:52 Amazon
23 Charlie & His Orchestra 02:52 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Svend Asmussen and His Orchestra 02:50 Amazon
2 Svend Asmussen and His Orchestra 02:32 Amazon
3 Svend Asmussen and His Orchestra 03:07 Amazon
4
Valaida 02:55 Amazon
5 Kordt Sisters 02:56 Amazon
6 Harlem Kiddies 03:20 Amazon
7 The Ramblers 02:46 Amazon
8 The Ramblers 03:20 Amazon
9 The Ramblers 03:00 Amazon
10 The Ramblers 03:23 Amazon
11
Frans Wouters 02:47 Amazon
12 Piet Van Dyk 03:24 Amazon
13
Ernst Van t'Hoff 03:25 Amazon
14
Ernst Van t'Hoff 02:43 Amazon
15 Charlie Nederpelt 02:29 Amazon
16 Dick Willebrandts 02:05 Amazon
17 Dick Willebrandts 02:12 Amazon
18 Dick Willebrandts 03:14 Amazon
19
Dick Willebrandts 03:03 Amazon
20
M.A.U.I. Eilanders 02:24 Amazon
21
Klaas Van Beeck 02:45 Amazon
22
Klaas Van Beeck 02:34 Amazon
23 Rolf Syversen 03:00 Amazon
24
Gabor Radics 02:52 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Stan Brenders / Django Reinhardt 03:04 Amazon
2 Stan Brenders / Django Reinhardt 02:44 Amazon
3 Stan Brenders / Django Reinhardt 02:51 Amazon
4 Hubert Simplisse 03:24 Amazon
5 Fud Candrix / Django Reinhardt 02:44 Amazon
6 Fud Candrix / Django Reinhardt 02:44 Amazon
7
Fud Candrix / Django Reinhardt 02:21 Amazon
8
Gus Deloof 03:13 Amazon
9 Gus Viseur 03:04 Amazon
10 Ernst Van t'Hoff 03:01 Amazon
11 Gus Viseur 02:46 Amazon
12 Andre Ekyan 02:37 Amazon
13
Orchestre Swing Jo Reinhardt 02:51 Amazon
14 Dany Kane 02:32 Amazon
15 Dany Kane 02:42 Amazon
16 Joseph Reinhardt 02:36 Amazon
17 Joseph Reinhardt 02:28 Amazon
18 Quintette Francais 02:49 Amazon
19 Quintette Francais 02:47 Amazon
20 Quintette Francais 03:21 Amazon
21 Quintette Francais 03:30 Amazon
22 Christian Bellest 02:28 Amazon
23 Christian Bellest 02:42 Amazon
24 Eddie Barclay 02:56 Amazon
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