Saturday, June 30, 2012

Big band swings into hot July action

Photo credit: Newsday / Scott Levy  |  The Swingtime Big Band has a hot schedule in July.

By PETER KING pwking@aol.com

For fans of swing-era music, July promises horns of plenty.

Long Island-based Swingtime Big Band always has a busy summer schedule because it is a popular attraction in parks and outdoor concert venues. But this July is especially hectic. The band, which has been in existence for 30 years, is booked for 12 concerts next month alone, including eight on Long Island. All of the Long Island concerts are free.

"Summer tends to be our busiest time, but since we've been doing this, this is the busiest month we've had," says Steve Shaiman, the group's bandleader and artistic director.

Swingtime's July schedule kicks off Monday at the Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre at Eisenhower Park. Along with swing classics made famous by the big bands of the 1930s and '40s, expect to hear some patriotic tunes.

"Every concert we do during the summer, we always make a point to recognize the servicemen and women currently serving, as well as the veterans," Shaiman says. Another major concert takes place July 8 at the Morgan Park Summer Music Festival in Glen Cove.

 

In addition to music from the big bands, Swingtime's two vocalists will access the Great American Songbook to honor Eydie Gormé, Ella Fitzgerald, Liza Minnelli and Frank Sinatra, among others.

 

The 20-piece band's motto is "authentic swing in living color," an objective it takes seriously. "Our mission is to capture the essence of each individual band and their sound," Shaiman says. "When we play a Benny Goodman tune, we sound like Benny Goodman's band. When we play a Count Basie number, it sounds like Basie."

 

Shaiman and his musicians adhere to the original arrangements and follow the original recordings. "These were the big hits of the day, and they were hits for a reason," he says. "That's the way the artist played it, that's the way it should be played."

 

While the music is fondly remembered by older Long Islanders, the band's appeal spans all age groups. Shaiman says it's not uncommon to see several generations of the same family swaying to the beat. "It's refreshing to see young families and kids running around when we're playing," he says. "A lot of people come not knowing what to expect, but it's the kind of music that has instant appeal and an instant feeling of joy."

For a full performance schedule, go to swingtimeny.com.

Corner Pocket-Count Basie
Swingtime Big Band
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