The Great British Swing Dance Show
SO Sunday 28th April 2019 saw us with tickets in hand, head to Birmingham Town Hall (one of my favourite venues) for the extravaganza of ‘Shake That Thing – The Great British Swing Dance Show’. The tickets had been a gift and in typical fashion had been kept safe and as a result we hadn’t done much research into what this afternoon event entailed!
So what was it, I hear you ask?
The afternoons entertainment was led by Tony Jacobs and the Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra, taking us on a journey through some musical delights of the 1920s-1930s. The musicians were quite honestly, phenomenal and captivating. See this clip
We heard some great music from the likes of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Artie Shaw and Duke Ellington, to name just a few.
The music was accompanied by the beautiful voices of Tony Jacobs, band leader, and guest singer Catherine Sykes, of the Glenn Miller UK Orchestra. There was even a star performance from the multi talented Sue Greenway (co-lead of the Orchestra) and sang ‘Sisters’ with Catherine Sykes. This quite nicely summed up the family that can be created with music and dance (more about that shortly).
There were some exceptional solo performances, including one by Mick Foster on his bass saxophone, the biggest of all the saxophones! The bass saxophone was the first instrument invented by Aldophe Sax and was presented at the Grand Exhibition in Brussels in 1841. It was such a beautiful, deep, rich sound and a classic sound of 1920s jazz music. It is a massive 1.9m in total length!
There was also a spectacular drum solo which initially gave me flashbacks to our experience at Edinburgh Swing Exchange when me and Karl had finally plucked up the courage to jump into a jam circle, only to jump in at a 16 bar drum solo! This drum solo was spectacular. The drummer (who is also on tour with Alexander Armstrong) was definitely in the zone. I couldn’t take my eyes off him!
There was also a fabulous, nostalgic performance of ‘The Teddy Bears Picnic’. The Henry Hall recording from 1932 was used for over 30 years by BBC audio engineers to test and calibrate the frequency response of the audio equipment.
One of my other highlights was the version of ‘Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me’. It is one of my favourite swing tracks and when it played live by a solid orchestra with exceptional talent, then it is goose bump making stuff!
But, it wasn’t just music – some of the tunes were accompanied by The Swingtime Jivers; a dance troop led by Maxine Green who specialise in 1920s/1930s swing dance. Some of the troop have had the absolute honour and privilege of training and dancing with the legend that is Norma Miller in America. They showcased some Charleston, specialist tap dance, The One Man Dance and some routines choreographed by Norma Miller.
All in all, it was a pretty spectacular afternoon of entertainment. There was even some audience participation for the title track, ‘Shake That Thing’ where the audience were actively encouraged to stand up and, well, shake that thing!
You just can’t beat great live music and dancing!