Swing Band rehearsal tonight,
late, drag after a long work day fight,
to play big band music, cool swing
sounds delight, from the Depression, sting,
through to the forties war torn,
back bone of America, jazz horn
blowing, cool bop and bee-bop fifties.
I play forth trumpet on cool musical
phrases, delight my soul to read arial
high notes, syncopation throughout,
difficult rhythms to smooth anecdote,
then a soft melodic phrase,
a sax improvises to emote and amaze.
I sit next to the third horn,
about my age, very cool blower, corn
on the second and first who are
always joking around between resting bar.
Aged men these two, over eighty
seen the jazz age fully, they played many
gigs with swing bands past,
have much to learn from them, vast
is their knowledge of hard core jazz-a matazz.
We joke around during the break,
drink strong coffee to keep mildly awake,
make fun of the trombones and saxes
and them of us, to keep it fun, chum, crumb-cake done.
We’ll be ready for the next gig, hasten
to whom ever would come and listen
to old time swing, cut the rug, boogie bumping, bee-bopping
The lights are dimmed. I peer beyond the front row of saxes onto the darkened dance floor. The drummer begins a quicken intro. Sounds from Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn encourage the anxious audience as our band starts it’s first song. The dancers glide onto the dance floor like silk over crystal as they Jitterbug, Shag and Lindy Hop to syncopated rhythms. I play melodic phrases in harmony with the other trumpets, then rest. My eyes move, again, to the dance floor where I see the smiling faces of the old and young glistening with each dazzling double step time.
Beyond the dance floor, I see people sitting at their tables, moving to the fast percussion beats of Swing. They, too, are smiling and enjoying the live music from the early days of jazz.
Throughout the afternoon, our band will play songs from great Swing Band leaders of Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, the Dorsey Brothers, Gene Krupa, Glenn Miller, Harry James, Buddy Rich and others. Even Swing revival bands influence some of our music. The Great American Songbook is still alive in Los Angeles for all to enjoy. The live Swing music will surely make you tap your toes.
Palminteri and The Big Band plays once a month at Crazy Horse Restaurant & Nightclub in West Covina, California…. and other venues, as well.
S. Blair Fox