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BBC Big Band: Swing Legends

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
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Hear A Celebration Of The Great Swing Bands Live
It is commonly said these days that the 'clue is in the title'. And so it is with the internationally acclaimed BBC Big Band, together with its conductor Barry Forgie, who are taking to the road for a number of live concerts. For, as the title of their Swing Legends show suggests, the UK's audiences are being invited to join in a celebration of the great swing bands.

BBC Big Band
The BBC Big Band brings its Swing Legends concert to Lichfield

Fans of this era and type of music will be able to hear the legendary sounds and music made popular by swing greats such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, and Benny Goodman. Audiences can look forward to an impressive selection of vocal numbers made famous by some of the great swing singers of the era such as One O'Clock Jump, Take the 'A' Train, Begin the Beguine, and Opus One.

Duke Ellington
The legendary Duke Ellington in the 1940s. By Unknown - eBay, Public Domain,

And, at the same time, the music of the likes of singing legends Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Mel Torme and Bobby Darin will also be featured thanks to the capable hands, and voice, of special guest vocalist, Jeff Hooper, who will recreate some of the music that made them stars. Jeff is an internationally known cabaret artist who sung with the famous Syd Lawrence Orchestra.​ He also worked with Matt Monro and Stephane Grapelli, and sang with Dame Shirley Bassey and Sir Tom Jones at the opening of the National Assembly of Wales. He is a regular on BBC Radio 2 show and Friday Night is Music Night.​

Jeff Hooper, Tony Bennett
Jeff Hooper (right) sings the music of Tony Bennett (left) and other famous stars

The BBC Big Band, which comes to the Lichfield Garrick theatre on November 10, is widely regarded as the UK's leading and most versatile jazz orchestra. The band broadcasts exclusively on BBC Radio, particularly on BBC Radio 2's long-running series Big Band Special, but also performs regularly at most of the UK's major music festivals including the BBC Proms, Cheltenham and Edinburgh. It is made up of professional jazz musicians under the direction of a number of conductors including arranger and composer Barry Forgie, who has been the band's musical director since 1977.

BBC Big Band
The BBC Big Band is taking to the road

The band's origins date from the earliest days of the BBC and the formation of the original BBC Dance Orchestra in 1928. But the 'golden' period of the 1930's saw not only the BBC Dance Orchestra, but many other bands including those of Billy Cotton and Joe Loss, become celebrities thanks in part to the introduction of radio. Over the past 20 years the band has performed with many giants of the music world, including Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, George Benson, George Shearing, Lalo Schifrin, Clark Terry and Michael Bublé.

The BBC Big Band plays at the Lichfield Garrick theatre on Thursday 10 Nov 2016 at 7.30pm. Tickets costing £24 and £22.50 for students are available online or by calling the Box Office on 01543 412121.

Upcoming Shows

10 Nov Lichfield Garrick

03 Dec Plymouth Theatre Royal

17Dec Aldeburgh Snape Maltings Concert Hall
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Why? Hear The Legends Of The Great Swing Era
When: 10 November - 17 December 2016
Phone: 01543 412121
Where: Lichfield Garrick, Castle Dyke, Lichfield WS13 6HR
Cost: Tickets £24 and £22.50 (students)
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