Monday, August 6, 2007

Traditional Jazz w/ Swing Dance - Guitar, trumpet, tuba, accordion, washboard, clarinet, vocals: The Loose Marbles

A full song with all the trimmings

A fast piece

Stunning vocals

Amazing dancing - focus on the feet

Interview with dancer Chance Bushman

Interview with Loose Marble instrumentalists Ben and Rich

Artists: Ben (trumpet), Rich Levenson (washboard), Chance Bushman (male dancer), Jake (not present, guitar), Amy (female dancer), Patrick McPeck (accordion and male vocalist), Mark Tipton (Euphonium, trombone, trumpet), Michael (clarinet)
Medium: trumpet, washboard, accordion, guitar, euphonium, trombone, trumpet, tuba, clarinet, vocals
Location: Washington Square Park near the fountain

It’s a real treat to be walking through Washington Square Park and slowly begin to hear the sweet sounds of the Loose Marbles drifting toward you over the din of the city. Playing in the shade on a hot summer’s day, their traditional jazz and swing can give you a satisfying vacation from the City during a half hour’s lunch break.

The Band
A very large group with a semi-permanent cast, the Loose Marbles designated the trumpeter Ben as their spokesperson. Ben, a New York native from Roosevelt Island and a graduate of the University of Michigan in woodblock performance, explained the story of The Loose Marbles.

The Loose Marbles grew rather organically, starting with Michael and Jake. These two started playing in the park with a few people about three years and last year Ben, upon seeing them, asked if he could join. A few months ago, the group went to New Orleans where they picked up the tuba player and the dancers (more on that below). When they returned to New York Rich Levenson added a new chapter to their history by joining on.

Clearly the band has a penchant for picking up great musicians. Rich states that he had come to New York to study drums at NYU. He got into washboard because his roommate played the banjo and developed a desire to play traditional music. Hoever, Rich didn’t know anyone who played traditional music. So, when he saw Ben and Michael playing in the park he started talking them and when they asked if he would like to join them he didn’t hesitate to jump on board.

Another member of the band comes through his relationship with Ben. Ben’s father, a trumpet player himself and Ben’s inspiration to get into music, often plays with his son and the other Loose Marbles.

The Dancers
Dancer partners Chance and Amy met in California after Amy moved there from Minnesota. They met The Loose Marbles about 4-5 months ago in New Orleans. The group was playing on the street and the two just started dancing. And, as they say, this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. The dance partners have followed the Marbles to New York and are touring with them in Europe.

Chance has been swing dancing since 1998, he took some classes to get a basic understanding of the structure “but then it’s all about, just, doing it a lot and improvising on that structure…just like the musicians do.” Amy agrees, noting that all their work is essentially improv.

When he’s not dancing Chance also runs The Rhythmic Arts Festival in San Diego – a festival dedicated to jazz and blues. The annual festival is going on its fourth year and has already doubled in size since the first festival. If you’re interested in jazz, blues and swing dance check out his festival’s site -

In General
The Loose Marbles love what they do, especially playing outside. As Ben puts it: “Oh yeah, this is the life…you know it’s a job but it’s a really fun job.” Ben in particular enjoys being outside and being able to play for people who don’t go to bars, like little kids and older folks.

The Loose Marbles also play a lot of gigs.

Like what you see and hear?
Book The Loose Marbles -
Check out Chance’s festival -

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Anonymous said...

They are so absolutely amazing!!! what an inspiration.

mil8mil said...

you forgot Kiowa, he plays guitar!

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