The Swing Legacy
We can indeed! However, we only accept engagements for which the majority of songs performed will be swing music. We can play anything which comes under the generic heading of “Ballroom Dance Music”, such as foxtrot, waltz, polka, cha-cha, rhumba, samba, mambo, tango, beguine, bossa nova, merengue, etc. We can play virtually any “standard”, i.e., well-known pop songs and show tunes from the first half of the 20th century, often referred to as “The Great American Songbook”. This category of music includes the repertoires of such iconic singers as Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. We can play a hora. We do not play rock or contemporary pop music.
It sure is! It is precisely because of its danceability that swing became a national pop music in the 1930’s. Swing music is easy to dance to. Although there are many traditional swing dance steps, most folks just improvise, guided by the feel and pulse of the music, and it looks great! We also play other types of dance music (see the answer to the preceding FAQ).
For background dinner music, we play a combination of ballads (i.e., slow songs) and quiet, lightly-swinging numbers (what we call “groove” tempo). Please refer to our repertoire lists, which are arranged by tempo category. The slower numbers are generally lower energy and well-suited for the dinner period. After dinner, when the guests are ready to dance, we usually gradually crank up the tempo and energy level.
On the majority of our wedding reception gigs, Henry plays an hour or more of solo piano before the band starts. Solo piano is an elegant way to begin the music program. As a solo pianist, Henry purveys a tasteful mix of pop song standards and show tunes from the period 1920-1950, rendered in the upbeat styles of Fats Waller (hence “thins” Francis), Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, and Henry Francis. Henry has managed by various means to produce an exceptionally accurate “real piano” sound with his keyboard rig — not your generic tinny electric piano.
We have several musicians in the band who have a lot of experience and skill playing for wedding ceremonies — in particular, solo flute, clarinet, or trumpet.
We have an MP3 playlist consisting mostly of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, and Louis Jordan (early R&B), which we play through our sound system. Alternatively, we can connect your MP3 player, iPod, laptop, or CD player to our sound system, and play whatever music you choose to provide.
Good! So are we! The Swing Legacy is high-energy without being excessively loud. Our sound system is employed only to balance the natural instrumental blend, not to deafen the audience. We mike the three horns only for outdoor concerts, very large rooms, and high school/college dances.
First, check the schedule of upcoming public performances. If none of these dates is doable, then maybe we can arrange for you to peek in on a private function — this depends on the venue and client.
Price will depend on location, date, time, the particular venue, and whether you want our vocalist (most folks do). If you call or e-mail us, we will give you a price.
Most of our engagements are within 250 miles of Boston, but we’re willing to travel anywhere in principle.
Yes, but a smaller band would not be The Swing Legacy, because the Swing Legacy arrangements are playable only by the six instruments. A smaller group would (merely) be a high-quality improvising ensemble (a “jam band”) playing swing music, whereas The Swing Legacy utilizes its unique written arrangements to emulate the polish and organized structure of a classic big band.
The band was formed by Henry in 1991. Our present personnel congealed around 1995.
When the gig is booked far enough in advance, our entire “varsity team” is usually available to perform. However, since our players are all free-lance musicians who perform with whoever calls first, alternates are often required. Substitutes are drawn from our “stable” of musicians, all of whom are top-quality, rehearsed, and thoroughly familiar with the band’s music. The style, sound, and quality of The Swing Legacy is determined principally by our written arrangements, so there is very little variability even with different personnels. Leader and pianist Henry Francis plays on all gigs.
DanceNet is a first-class comprehensive source of information about the New England swing dance scene — events, classes, CDs, etc.
And here is an informative glossary of the various types of swing dancing.