Hello! My name is Tad Calcara, principal clarinet of the Utah Symphony. This week I will be hosting the Utah Symphony’s program of classic Big Band Swing music. Swing music was the popular music of the 1930s and 1940s. It is an energetic Jazz-based dance music that became hugely popular in the mid 1930s during Roosevelt’s New Deal. It also served as a soundtrack during WWII. One would hear swing music everywhere at the time – on the radio, in the movies, at the store, at school, etc….
The leaders of the Big Bands were quite literally household names at the time: Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw. These musicians were as famous as Elvis was in the 1950s or the Beatles in the 1960s. They were also amazing instrumentalist on each of their instruments. Arguments would occur when discussing who played clarinet better – Artie Shaw or Benny Goodman; or who was a hotter trumpet man: Harry James or Louis Armstrong?
An interesting phenomenon about this style of music is its appeal to other generations. The reason for this is quite simple – it has an irresistible lively youthfulness that is quite exciting – even if you were born 20, 40, or 50 years after the Swing Era! This is teenager music from the 1930s.
It is one thing to hear this music from recordings – but to really get the full experience you must hear it LIVE! There is nothing quite like seeing and hearing a Big Band in person. My band, the New Deal Swing, will be enhanced and enlarged by the full Utah Symphony. In addition we have spent countless hours researching archives and digging through music to locate the original arrangements played by the famous bands 70 years ago. Every piece on the concert is taken from the original manuscripts – no re-creations here!
Our program will also feature Jazz vocalist Melissa Pace Tanner as well as the Salt Lake Jitterbug Club. It is important to note that Swing music was first and foremost – dance music – and the Salt Lake Jitterbug Club has all of the moves down! Check out their period costumes also; everything from two tone shoes to zoot suits! In addition one should not forget that Swing Music was also a vocal music that featured many great singers. In fact many famous vocalist began their careers with the Big Bands; Doris Day (Les Brown), Peggy Lee (Benny Goodman), Ella Fitzgearld (Chick Webb), Billie Holiday (Artie Shaw), Tony Bennett and a skinny kid from Jersey – Frank Sinatra – sang with both Harry James and Tommy Dorsey.
In addition many Utah Symphony musicians will featured as soloists; principal trombone Larry “Slide” Zalkind will dazzle you with Tommy Dorsey’s Trombonology; Tony DiLorenzo will play some “smokin’” trumpet solos; and retired Utah Symphony principal bassoon Doug “Cap’n” Craig will return to Abravenel Hall on alto sax!
So Swing into Spring with the New Deal Swing Band and the Utah Symphony this Friday or Saturday at Abravanel Hall.
Tad Calcara & New Deal Swing
Utah Symphony Pops
May 2 & 3 (Fri & Sat) @ 8:00 PM
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