Someone posted a video on YouTube from a bygone era that was the Neo Swing Movement, also called the Swing Revival which began in the early 1990’s as an underground movement, and reached the height of its popularity by 1999.
Performing with Big Time Operator from 1996 to 1999, I was fortunate enough to have been a part of this Swing Revival, as I had always performed Swing and Big Bang music since my teens, performing in my High School band director’s swing band, then playing many Elks Lodges and VFW Halls as a young union musician performing with much older musicians who grew during the original Swing Era.
To play Swing and Big Band Music for a younger audience of Swing Dancers and Lindy Hoppers was truly amazing. It felt like we were taken back in time, as musicians and dancers dressed in vintage 1940’s attire.
The Swing Revival was a late 1990s and early 2000s period of renewed popular interest in swing and jump blues music and dance from the 1930s and 1940s as exemplified by Louis Prima, often mixed with a more contemporary rock, rockabilly or ska sound, known also as neo-swing or retro swing.
What I enjoyed above all else was the opportunity to perform “Sing Sing Sing” with the chart from the legendary Carnegie Hall performance of the Benny Goodman Orchestra. A young Gene Krupa was the featured drummer and he took extended drum solos.
Out of great respect for Gene Krupa, I performed much of those drum solos as written in the Carnegie Hall chart, note for note, then toward the end of Sing Sing Sing, extended my own drum solo as an updated answer to Gene Krupa’s drum solo. What I enjoyed even more were the dancers on the dance floor, many taking turns to improvise and strut their stuff. It was beautiful because there was a communication between the drums and the dancers that was somewhat primal and uplifting at the same time. I truly miss that, but I still try to get that feeling whenever I perform in any band that emphasizes dance music. But, the swing dancers would form a huge circle during Sing Sing Sing and they would all take turns dancing away in the circle showing us their best moves. As I did my drum solo, I watched the dancers and the interaction was pretty incredible!
Anyway, someone posted the studio recording (the video above) of Big Time Operator performing Sing Sing Sing and that’s me on the drums and doing the drum solos. It IS really the only definitive example of me doing a drum solo, and an extended one at that.
Nowadays, I don’t mind not doing drum solos, as I am a team player and a drummer should only do a drum solo when it’s truly called for. With Sing Sing Sing, one of the big features is obviously the drum solo, so it was definitely called for and expected.
Well, I confess I miss those days. It seemed like we were all a part of a special event. And, I admit I miss playing Sing Sing Sing.
Below is a video of a News Report by KTLA 5 which featured Big Time Operator and Indigo Swing at The Derby in Hollywood.