Music For Swing Dance Events

A swing dance event can take many forms, some are large, others medium sized and some are intimate. Over the years, to cope with this, I’ve developed a variety of packages to cater to this market. Some are large, others medium sized and some are intimate. What makes all these ensembles connect so hard with the audience is that they deliver thirties and forties swing in the way it was done originally, with virtuoso players and absolutely no amplification. By removing the electrics from the stage the sound is allowed to form naturally in the air, just as it was in the great palaces of swing- the Apollo, The Savoy, the Palomar and the Streatham Locarno. Audiences are always carried away by the authenticity and the clarity of the sound too. Don’t worry about it being loud enough- in a big room a brass team of a high enough standard will fill it up to the rafters with swinging grooves! An extra advantage for the jaded promoter, of course, is that there is also no outlay on a PA system. It’s win-win folks!

 “From small jazz/swing ensemble to full orchestra Pete’s bands are the real deal – exquisite musicianship backed up by passion, detailed research and many years of experience. Pete plays, leads and conducts with verve and no small amount of humour” … Martin Ellis, London Swing Dance Promoter

Here’s what I have – The Small Bands

The Benny Goodman Guitar Quartet– born by accident one Sunday in Balham, this hot little gem consists of Clarinet, Double Bass, Drums and Charlie Christian style electric guitar, but no piano, giving the group a crossover sound between the classic Goodman quartet and the R&B of the late forties. Some have even christened the sound of it R&BG!

Expect all the usual BG favourites, such as 7 come 11 and Airmail special but with a slightly greasier feel. Ideal for a small event.

Benny Goodman Sextet– The classic BG lineup featuring rhythm, clarinet and vibraphone for a slightly larger evnt

Pocket Basie– another six-piece, this time playing all the great danceable Basie hits on the pared down lineup of trumpet, tenor sax and a Basie style acoustic rhythm section. If Splanky, Jumpin At The Woodside and Shiny Stockings are your thing, this is the perfect line-up for a medium sized event

Pocket Basie

The Big Bands

Echoes Of Ellington (17 musicians)- (See elsewhere)- when engaged for a dance, the Echoes Of Ellington will play a programme strictly tailored for the needs of a dancing audience, drawing mainly on the classic repertoire of the 1940’s, but with some Cotton Club favourites thrown in for good measure

Webb’s Chicks (14 musicians and female vocals)- playing off lovingly re-created arrangements from the Savoy Ballroom of the 1930’s, the band gives an accurate picture of the pulsating exciting swing unique to Webb, and his star vocalist Ella Fitzgerald.

The Goodmen (14 musicians)- A large slice of Benny’s early repertoire, made famous on his radio shows of the late 1930’s. Bright, optimistic early era swing which never fails to fill the floor, thanks to the masterful arranging of Fletcher Henderson. If required, the band can play some very high tempo numbers for competitions. On one occasion we were required to play “Swingtime At The Rockies” at 330 bpm! The big Jam on Sing Sing Sing at the end of the evening will send everyone off into the night glowing with joy!

Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall.

The Rocket Basie (15 musicians)- the natural extension of the Pocket Basie, this ensemble stays firmly in the Basie of the 1930’s, for that authentic Kansas City feel. As well as all the favourites, you can expect some seriously rare gems such as “Tippin’ On The Q.T.”, “Doggin Around” and “Shorty George”