Back | Next

Music for Tap Dancing | Ben LIght

Music for Tap Dancing
Ben Light and his Lightning Fingers

"Music for Tap Dancing" has been used as the title for more than a few LPs. Several are included in this gallery. They seem to split down the middle between those intended to be used by actual tap dancers and those that are just recordings of music that some producer thought sounded like tap dance tunes.

Ben Light's Music for Tap Dancing is more for those who just like to sit and tap their feet. Ben LIght recorded albums for Capitol, RCA and one or two minor labels. His style is part honky-tonk, part ragtime and mostly bland and boring — the piano in a grey flannel suit, you might say. In this record, his piano is backed by organ, drums, base and guitar. Sounds like a typical jazz combo, but there's no room for Charlie Parker here. The tunes are mostly from the 1920's, so this record was a nostalgia piece even when it was first released, in 1959. All of Ben Light's recordings fit this mold, but this doesn't mean that Ben was not a good piano player. First, he was fast. He lad "lightning fingers" and claimed to play over 1100 notes per minute. As the space age took off, fast was "In" and Ben Light offers "rocket-88" piano playing. The producer occasionally adds the sound of spoons to emphasize that irresistible rhythm that gets the party-goers up on their feet, tappin' like madmen. Unfortunately, none of this turns into actual music for tap dancing. There's too much going on, never a break thta might allow an actual dancer to come forward. Still, despite the sarcasm, my larger record collection (non-tap) contains 5 or 6 more LPs by Ben Light and his lightning fingers. Go figure...

— Shinichi Matsumoto