Festive season starts with a swing in Uckfield

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Christmas was launched with a swing at Uckfield Civic Hall on Friday night.

The sell-out performance by the 17-strong Swingshift Big Band saw the dance floor filled to capacity from start to finish with dancers thrilled to experience the sound of exciting live music, played by the trumpets, trombones, saxophones and full rhythm section of this precision organisation.

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It was a follow-up to their equally successful 40s VJ celebration dance in the summer when the audience dressed in period costume for the occasion. On stage the band was joined by four talented girl singers, headed by Georgie Collinson, who has frequently sung with the band, and Ruth Fahie. Ruth joined Avril Davis and Tracy­­­ Tucker to form the classic three harmony vocal group needed for numbers like Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree and It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t got that Swing.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the evening was the involvement of the audience. This included synchronised dance routines generated by audience members themselves plus elegant, classical skills demonstrated by other couples who took to the floor. And you didn’t have to dance - people said there was plenty to listen to as well with a generous sprinkling of Christmas favourites and seasonal carols given big band makeovers for this Christmas event.

Audience members said the musical highlights for them included a powerful interpretation of the Judy Garland classic Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Georgie and a foot-tapping version of Too Darn Hot from Ruth.

Outstanding jazz saxophonist Dave Brown was making one of his frequent appearances with the band. The Swingshift Big Band was created by professional musicians Alan Seymour and musical director and trumpet player Jonathan Bailey, who worked as a professional musician and music teacher for more than 50 years and has run a number of groups including the County Youth Big Band during the 1980s.

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In 2007 he decided to form his own local big band and Swingshift Big Band was born. The evening ended with drummer Alex Pitt featured in the pulsating swing classic Sing, Sing, Sing before a farewell from the band with its special treatment of Auld Lang Syne.

Photos by Ron Hill.

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