Various Artists, Swing Around The World (Putumayo)

This is certainly one of the odder Putumayo compilations, featuring 12 selections of broadly defined “swing” music from the planet Earth, including three tunes from Louisiana: the New Orleans Jazz Vipers’ “Blue Drag,” adopted son Duke Heitger and his Swing Band’s “Swing Pan Alley,” and the Jambalaya Cajun Band’s “Hey, Rock.” Swing, at least to me, hasn’t been au courant since ladies’ nylons sported seams, despite the occasional revivalists (and yes, I am aware that seamed stockings are still retailed by Victoria’s Secret and Frederick’s of Hollywood, albeit primarily for use in the boudoir). The Cool Crooners of Bulawayo, direct from Zimbabwe, offer “I Van Enkulu,” a jolly tale of colonial repression, and the Ka’au Crater Boys, natives of Hawaii, deliver “Opihi Man,” a song extolling the virtues of surfing—on a surfboard, as opposed to the personal computer. Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson and St. Louis trumpeter Clark Terry team up for the scatting “Mumbles,” originally released in 1964. The Squirrel Nut Zippers, perhaps the only nouveau swing band to ever reach heavy rotation on MTV, are represented by “Pallin’ With Al,” which is hardly one of their greatest or most representative hits. Intended as it is as “a global swing dance party that’s fun for the whole family,” Swing Around The World is a pleasantly inoffensive diversion and suitable accompaniment for the digestion of the average Sunday brunch. Of course, since the so-called “swing revival” ended around 1995, the disc is a somewhat puzzling collection. I anxiously await Putumayo’s Twisting Around The World, which will demonstrate the lasting influence of Chubby Checker in such musical outposts as Swaziland, Serbia and South Dakota.