Every Sunday I scour my DJ collection for dance tunes you might want to add to yours.


A Rare Swing Jam from a Rare Artist

Today’s song is from drummer & bandleader Cee Pee Johnson and I swear to god I didn’t just make that name up!

C3P-JohnsonNot to be confused with ‘Cee 3 Pee Johnson’

His unique style was compared to Lionel Hampton and his energy to Cab Calloway. Most recognizably, he appears in the famous Hellzapoppin’ Lindy Hop scene (video below).

Hellzapoppin 1941 band membersThe Hellzapoppin’ Band | Marv Goldberg (click for larger)

Why don’t we know him better?

Cee Pee JohnsonAfter playing alongside Swing Greats, dropping 14 of his own tracks, appearing in the Citizen Kane movie (for real), and with a hit single in 1945, he…

…”probably” died in Hawaii

…”sometime” after 1947

…maybe. Nobody freakin knows.

Nowadays we would simply check the date of his last Facebook status update like “Yep, last cat video was on Tuesday, so…” but disappearing was a lot easier back in the day.

One thing is known: the Swing world lost a real artist when he rode off into that sunset like some kinda jazz cowboy.

riding into the sunset

This Week’s Song: “Jig in the Jungle”

This 1941 soundie (alternatively named “Jungle Jig”) starts off with African percussion oddly similar to Hellzapoppin’ — also from 1941.

Coincidence?!

Nope, that’s Cee Pee banging away in both with a passion!

Dat singer tho…

Dorothy Dandridge was a triple threat star — singer, dancer, and Hollywood star.

Her biography shows off her talents, plus Swingouts that are representative of the time and good ol’ Cee Pee Johnson yet again:

Lindy Hop starts around 6 min mark

If you like that bit, watch the whole thing; it’s packed with music, dance, and movie clips amongst life stories (like the time Dorothy was told her daughter is “too pretty and not black enough to play the roles available to [black people] at that time.”)
Still not convinced to watch? Hmm…what if I told you Laurence Fishburne makes an appearance?

Laurence Fishburne in The Matrix“What if I told you …I did other things than just The Matrix?”

Download Sunday’s Swingin’ tune

Dorothy Dandridge - Jig in the JungleA Jig In The Jungle (aka Jungle Jig)
Dorothy Dandridge w/ Cee Pee Johnson & Orchestra
iTunes (song #7) | Amazon

Check back every Sunday when I share my DJ favorites: 1st Sunday is Blues, 2nd Sunday Soul, 3rd Sunday Swing, and 4th Sundays are a surprise.

This is also like...

Jered
Jered
Jered's mildly obsessed with dance culture and history...
After 17+ years teaching dance internationally, he's still finding more to learn and inspire himself