Live Swing, Jazz & Big Band Sound with a Small Combo
How many musicians does it take to play great jazz, swing and big band music?
As Jimmy Durante used to say, “everybody wants to get into the act.”
But that doesn’t make them good.
Experience, skill …and musical taste… mean a lot.
Our trios, quartets and bands play “the good stuff,” the vintage music of the jazz age, WWII big band, glorious Old Hollywood retro and deco, ballroom, standards and elegant jazz along with hard-driving R&B, Motown, vintage “doo-wop” oldies, grooving rock, funk and soul and classic R&B. There’s plenty of music from old Fred Astaire movies and the musical extravaganzas of the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s along with Broadway show tunes, hip blues and country classics.
And we get rave reviews in the press for all of the above!
The score of “South Pacific” and The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” in the same set? It’s child’s play for us.
Nobody is reading from a “fake book” or imitating Michael Buble imitating Frank Sinatra or Bobby Darin.
Just a few good people, an enormous repertoire…and a lot of talent.
We know what to play, and when to play it.
If you want “big,” we can give you big with the best of them.
It’s just not always necessary.
We enjoy the challenge of playing music not everyone else plays, and are unusually adept at performing the big band repertoire with a small group. It’s a trick I learned from Frank Sinatra.
Because he could hear every bad note a musician played from across the room or around the corner and had very high standards, Sinatra used only the very best musicans in Los Angeles, which really means the best musicians in the world. And the smaller the performance group was, the better the musicians had to be.
That’s what we do.
I’ve been collecting handknitted sweaters, velvet evening coats and unique musicians for years. I don’t need a lot of them, and the best will always do.
We’re lean, mean and mobile, and you can dance to everything we play.
It’s fun to simply sit and listen to our repertoire, which is seemingly endless.
We take requests directly from the dance floor. We do it all the time, because we can.
At a recent upscale elegant anniversary party in Palm Springs, someone asked us to play “So Rare,” an obscure old chestnut from the swing era.
We knew it, and played it immediately. It’s a good thing we didn’t need to rely on a “fake book,” because that’s not a song that would be found in a book anywhere anymore.
And then we swung into Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman,” followed by “I Will Survive.”
We don’t like to stop for more than a second or two between songs, if that.
At another recent wedding in Temecula, we worked primarily from a list of both family’s favorite songs. They were great music lovers and knew exactly what they wanted: lots of partying and dancing.
As soon as we finished the first dance, father/daughter dance and mother/son dance – and the bride’s parents top request, “Get Here,” songs like “Shout” and James Brown’s “I Feel Good” launched a dance floor rush long before dinner service had ended.
Sometimes I feel like we’re putting on a rock concert!
Our members have played on vintage soul, funk, rock and disco albums with Gloria Gaynor, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, The Temptations, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Beck, Justin Timberlake, Paul McCartney and so many more.
We play, we sing.
And none of us are imitating Michael Buble imitating Frank Sinatra or Bobby Darin.
The esteemed jazz critic Don Heckman calls the stuff we play “irresistable music.”
It’s intelligent, sophisticated, charming and exciting music, familiar and well-loved and also from a very deep place in a time when live music was generally better than it is today. We enjoy keeping the tradition alive.
Most of all, it’s not about us. It’s tailored to fit the mood and the moment, then take the audience, guests, bride and groom, family and friends on a fabulous journey.
We call it “the good stuff.”
Our small combo virtuoso ensembles are living proof that having a bunch of superfluous musicians onstage doesn’t sound as good as a tight handful of the world’s best.
Sometimes, less really is more.
Bandleader Judy Chamberlain is a highly-regarded singer, entertainer and music historian who is acknowledged by jazz critics to be a “walking encyclopedia of American music.”
She can be reached at 714 319-9242 or via e-mail at email@example.com