Songs To Stomp Out The Graduation Blues

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Woody Herman in a mortar board

Woody Herman took the stately "Pomp and Circumstance" and made it a party. Photo Illustration: Lars Gotrich; Photos: Keystone/Hulton Archive, iStock. hide caption

itoggle caption Photo Illustration: Lars Gotrich; Photos: Keystone/Hulton Archive, iStock.

It's cap-and-gown time at colleges and universities. All across the country, the next generation of American exceptionalism is coming to terms with having mortgaged its future to meet the skyrocketing cost of higher education. You've had your fun, kids; no more keg stands. Now it's time for the rubber to meet the road. Take all that unbridled optimism and great expectation you've accumulated to the real-world scenario of matriculating into a jobless recovery and a tattered economy!

That said, jazz can help you during the transition. When the frustration of applying to hundreds of entry-level positions builds momentum, just stomp it out with some blues. Here are five songs that'll help you dance like there's no tomorrow. All are guaranteed to alleviate the burn that comes with re-entering the atmosphere. Good luck on the way down.

Songs To Stomp Out The Graduation Blues

Complete Capitol Recordings

Pomp Stomp

  • Artist: Woody Herman
  • From: Complete Capitol Recordings of Woody Herman

By the 1950s, a slew of talented instrumentalists and arrangers had already graduated from Woody Herman's big band, a.k.a. The Herd. This group from 1954 takes the ubiquitous graduation march, Sir Edward Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance," and swings it. Pianist Nat Pierce arranges the Victorian splendor, while tenor saxophonist Bill Perkins takes a solo that hearkens back to the legato style and immaculate phrasing of Lester Young. Graduation has never sounded this cool, but imagine how quickly the procession could be if you played this version.

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Jelly Roll Morton: 1924-1926

Black Bottom Stomp

  • Artist: Jelly Roll Morton
  • From: 1924-1926

America was roaring in 1926, and Jelly Roll Morton was stomping in Chicago. Morton is the de facto king of the stomp, having written countless variations on the simple-sounding jazz tune. When you break it down, Mr. Jelly Lord's music was highly structured. All that organization never got in the way of hearing lively rhythms and danceable "Charleston" beats. Johnny St. Cyr strums the banjo and Kid Ory's trombone glissandos create the standard for "tailgating," while Omer Simeon sings on the clarinet. Morton's piano break is a joy to behold.

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Song
Black Bottom Stomp
Album
1924-1926
Artist
Jelly Roll Morton
Label
Classics
Released
1991

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Boogie Woogie Stomp

Boogie Woogie Stomp

  • Artist: Albert Ammons
  • From: Boogie Woogie Stomp

If you need money to pay rent, consider this stomp. Before boogie woogie pioneers Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis made their big debut in New York (and the first recordings for Blue Note Records), they were playing the rough-and-tumble Midwest gin joints and saloons. Here's a rare opportunity to hear Ammons play his rollicking boogie-woogie stomp in a make-believe rent-party affair at Frank Lyon's home recording studio in Chicago. Meade Lux Lewis introduces the powerfully good tune, and lends an occasional comment while Ammons is pounding that left hand.

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Song
Boogie Woogie Stomp
Album
Boogie Woogie Stomp
Artist
Albert Ammons
Label
Delmark
Released
1998

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Cover for Spadella: The Essential

Oklahoma Stomp

  • Artist: Spade Cooley
  • From: Spadella: The Essential

Everyone remembers Bob Wills as the King of Western Swing, but Spade Cooley is the first to actually star in a movie granting him the moniker. That's fine, as long as you don't get drunk and kill your wife, which Cooley did. That crime has overshadowed much of Cooley's music, which featured one of the baddest lap-steel guitar players of all time, Joaquin Murphey. "Oklahoma Stomp" was a signature workout for Murphey. Listen to this and you'll agree that he could have given Django Reinhardt a run for his money out on the plains.

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Song
Oklahoma Stomp
Album
Spadella: The Essential
Artist
Spade Cooley
Label
Columbia/Legacy

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Cover for I Hear You Knockin'! The Excello Singles

Pondarosa Stomp

  • Artist: Lazy Lester
  • From: I Hear You Knockin'! The Excello Singles

Hopefully, you're not graduating from the real Ponderosa — Louisiana's Angola State Prison. Many great musicians have spent hard time down on the farm and lived to sing about it. Harp player Leslie Johnson, a.k.a. Lazy Lester, cut some important early rock 'n' roll and blues sides for Nashville-based Excello Records over the late 1950s and through the 1960s. His instrumental, "Pondarosa Stomp," is the namesake of a roots-music festival that keeps the pioneers of rhythm-and-blues-based American music gainfully employed.

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Song
Pondarosa Stomp
Album
I Hear You Knockin'! The Excello Singles
Artist
Lazy Lester
Label
Excello Records
Released
1994

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