Photo- Michael Stewart

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This CD recalls the days of the Swing Era, the music created in the 30's and 40's. Whether experienced live in a dance hall, from a "78" on the Victrola or through a radio broadcast, it became a vehicle that would uplift us from the very difficult world we lived in, namely the unsettling years of World War II. Swing music became the music of our youth.

As with all things, both music & dance are constantly evolving. The square dance gave each partner a turn with each of the others. Dance was still a communal thing, but as the twenties moved into the thirties, dance became more intimate. The fox trot, one step and two step are all examples of this. Now there was one man, one woman, holding one another closely on the slower turns, moving out and in on the faster numbers. The music followed or led each of these changes, where love and marriage became an integral part of the music and the dance. As the music moved, so moved the dancers, all maturing during the Swing Era.

I invite you to open the case, put on the disc and transport yourself to a simpler time that was, in many ways, just as complex as our world is today. Imagine yourself in a dance hall, or seated next to an old am radio with your family. Close your eyes and soak up every note. Focus on one instrument, the rhythms, patterns and the dance between the musicians, who like dancers, react intuitively to each other's phrases, voicing and notes. Most importantly, enjoy the music, swing music, the stuff that love, marriage & families were made of and made with.
Rusty Mason

Russell Leroy Mason was born in Winchester, Virginia in 1922. He began playing brass instruments in his grade school band, and was introduced to jazz trumpet via the recordings of Louis Armstrong. “Jazz was big in the 'thirties,” Rusty remembers, even in the rural Shenandoah Valley where he was growing up. By the age of thirteen, Rusty was already working professionally with several local dance bands, affording the young musician valuable touring experience. Rusty recalls being the first black musician in his area to break the color barrier, playing with a local white jazz band at a time when racial segregation was the general rule. Serving in New Guinea during World War II, Rusty led the dance band he played with in his army unit. After discharge from the Army, Rusty enrolled at the Modern School of Music in Washington, D.C., studying clarinet technique and classical music for two years. After consolidating the skills needed to make a living playing music, Rusty spent the late 1940's and early 1950's as a busy jazz musician. His talents were quite in demand, and he worked with such well-known bandleaders as Tiny Bradshaw, Lucky Millinder, and Buddy Johnson, among others. Rusty, now 79, can be heard at a variety of clubs and other venues in the Washington, D.C. area where he makes his home. Since 1989, Rusty has served on the faculty of the Augusta Heritage Center's annual Swing Week at Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia, where he continues to teach successive new generations of swing players. A talented multi-instrumentalist, Rusty plays not only the saxophone (alto, tenor, and baritone), but is also accomplished on the trumpet (his first love), clarinet, flugelhorn, and piano. Like many swing musicians of his generation, Rusty was influenced by the post-war bebop revolution, and incorporated some of those more modern elements into his style. However, Rusty's heart and soul is in swing, where he continues to find new ways to bridge the generations with music, and to play jazz with energetic creativity.                                                                      


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Deep Purple * I Remember Clifford * A Smooth One *
Once in Awhile *They Can’t Take That Away from Me *
Polka Dots and Moonbeams * Sweet Lorraine * Tenderly *
These Foolish Things * Jive at Five

Rusty Mason - tenor sax, piano on Tenderly
Steve Abshire - guitar       Wendi Bourne - voice
Ralph Gordon - bass      Steve Larrance - drums
Robert Redd - piano      Tom Mindte mandolin on Tenderly


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Body and Soul * Tangerine * 'Deed I Do * Our Love is Here to Stay
I Thought About You * Chana's Blues * September in the Rain
Skylark * Girl from Ipanema * Polka Dots and Moonbeams
Embraceable You * One Short of Four * Billie's Bounce

Rusty Mason - Tenor Sax & Flugel Horn
Robert Redd - Piano            Ralph Gordon - Bass
Steve Larrance - Drums


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  Jawbreakers *   Perdido *  ‘Round Midnight *  C Jam Blues *
  In a Mellow Tone *  Street Lights *   Edison’s Light *  
  Heat and Serve * Wave

Rusty Mason - Tenor Sax
Herm Hopkins - Trombone           John Previti - Bass
Steve Jones -Piano          Percy Smith - Drums