Swing We Must!

February 17th, 2011 by tom

I preach to my musicians that the proper relationship between themselves, the music, and dancers should be “triangular,” that is to say they should love the music, love the dancers, and want the dancers to love the music.

Believe me when I tell you, big band musicians are highly motivated by their love for the music. In this band, they give up a night a week to drive to the rehearsal hall and practice the stuff, and hardly a month goes by that they don’t perform at least once at considerably less than an appropriate fee, because of their desire to play great music for people.

Why are we so high on this music? Here are some feelings pretty much shared among our guys:

  • There was an explosion of genius in the first half of the 20th Century called Jazz. As composer and critic Virgil Thompson put it, “the most astonishing musical event to take place anywhere since the Reformation.”
  • Jazz is our native art form and will stand the test of time to be our cultural identity, just as “classical” music is Europe’s cultural identity.
  • The big band is America’s equivalent to the European symphony orchestra, preserving Swing, the most structured and accessible music of our native art form.
  • The Swing Era was the absolute pinnacle of American pop culture. When big bands were popular, popular tastes were their most elevated. It was the intersection of popular music and musical art.
  • Big band Swing was written to be interactive – to be danced to.
  • To create Swing feeling is Jazz’s highest musical virtue. Our standing as musicians is primarily related to how compellingly we get dancers to want to move to our music.

Swing we must.

Tom Cunningham

Posted in Tom Cunningham News

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.

Visit Us Facebook Twitter Youtube

Join Our Mailing List

Receive updates and news every month by email. Sign up now!