Repeating the 1920’s with great music? Frankly, why not!

Frankly Jazz after a jazz gig

“Can’t repeat the past? Why, of course you can!”, says Jay Gatsby to Nick Carraway in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, a novel that has come to be synecdoche for the 1920s. Whilst Gatsby meant it principally as encouragement for our protagonist to reignite a relationship with his former lover, it was a quotation to which we at High Row Towers gave some thought as the 2010s drew to a close, with specific interest in the upcoming decade. Much had been speculated, as the new year loomed on the horizon, as to how our upcoming 20s might repeat, or at least reflect, the famous decade a century ago.

            Frankly, we were hopeful. The 1920s had been broadly characterised by liberal artistic norms; social advances toward equality had led to the ‘flapper’ movement redefining the modern look and role of women in UK and American society; and the art deco movement peaked. Critically, jazz blossomed, and dancing rose in popularity, marking a change from the sobriety of the mood prevalent after the first world war – indeed, the 1920s are often referred to as the Jazz Age. It won’t take much imagination, dear reader, for you to imagine why, as an entertainment agency, we were excited for an upcoming ten years much pipped to be a repetition of this trend.

            But it also won’t be a far cry for you to speculate, as the final months of 2019 came upon us, as to why we found ourselves in somewhat of a panic. As a purveyor of cheery anecdote largely aimed at forwarding services we can provide, this blog is not the place to go into the full gory details of the Covid-19 pandemic; but suffice to say, there’s not a musician alive who can’t remember exactly where they were towards the end of that decade when their diary started to empty, presaging the eventual closure of the world. It was a grim period, to be sure, and it took some optimism not to shut up shop entirely, in the face of commentators speculating that we would soon suffer a second great depression. Boy am I glad we did not.

            It is important to note that the 1920s also got off to a pretty ropey start thanks to a pandemic – Spanish flu – and a lot of the advances for which the decade is known didn’t start to pick up until a few years in. In The Cloud Revolution: How the Convergence of New Technologies Will Unleash the Next Economic Boom and a Roaring 2020s, physicist [and creator of snappy book titles] Mark P. Mills writes “The ‘rising tide’ does ‘lift all boats'”. And so, in a nautical vein, as we sought a way to get our acts out and performing again, we turned to our flagship band, ‘Frankly Jazz’. Celebrate the 2020’s with 1920’s Gatsby era music.

                       A quick listen to Frankly Jazz’s recordings (- -) will obviously reveal a lot of 1920s parallels in itself. This band really nails the trad and swing sound, and anyone into jazz music will fall right in love with them. Indeed, the nature of (small) big band jazz perhaps typifies the zeitgeist of the early 20th century – there exists the tightness, punch, and attention to detail of a full horn section playing together, juxtaposed with the opportunities for creativity and seat-of-your-pants exhilaration of the improvised elements. Try not to get excited when their drummer lets rip on ‘Hey Pachuco!’. But it is the perfect group for the 20s in so many more ways. Whether you want them dressed up to the nines in tuxedos for a formal affair, or in slacks and flatcaps for a more relaxed speakeasy party, the band looks amazing. Equally, just as the technological advents of the 1920s meant people could listen to their own music more readily, our line-up’s versatility (and flexibility – book from a duo right up to an eight-piece orchestra!) means that we can quickly arrange your favourite song in a postmodern style.

            But fundamentally, what makes this group special is the dancing. When we lust back to the ‘Gatsby’ Era and dream nostalgically of the Roaring 20s, it’s not for the increased industrialisation or the economic updraft, is it? It’s for the party. The reason ‘Frankly Jazz’ was the first of our bands to recover from lockdown is that they absolutely brought a party to people who desperately needed one, and the reason that they continue to be one of our most popular groups is that, my goodness, it continues to do so. Just take a look – Celebrate the 2020’s with 1920’s Gatsby era music .

Frankly Jazz perform not only for events and celebrations, but also regularly at clubs across Yorkshire – for your invitation to the party, why not come down to the Domino Club, Leeds, on 12th October?

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