The Swing Legacy
We are only six pieces plus vocalist, but we utilize our own written arrangements to emulate the polish and organized structure of a classic big swing band, and this sets us apart from generic wedding bands and indeed most Boston swing bands. This approach to performing swing music, as opposed to merely having the musicians improvise with no written music, results in a full, unified big-band sound which is classy, elegant, and exciting.
Weddings, which by nature are gatherings of all generations, require reception music which will resonate with people of all vintages. Over the years, we have consistently observed that people of all ages respond happily to our particular flavor of swing music — even those who grew up marinated in rock/pop music. The high energy, polish, and verve of The Swing Legacy appeal to all generations — from elders who came of age listening and dancing to big-band swing music, all the way on down to teenagers (who are often the best dancers). And, we have played for many school prom dances, to wildly enthusiatic receptions — the kids respond to our swing music’s energy and drive. Swing music is universally popular, and ideally suited for weddings, because it is dynamic, upbeat, very danceable, accessible, and classy. So, if you have made the wise decision to have live music (rather than a DJ), then the next logical wise decision would be to have The Swing Legacy. By the way, here’s a nice article extolling the positive benefits of live swing music (click the ‘Live Music’ link).
Swing music evolved in the 1930’s and 40’s with the principal aim of satisfying the huge dancing public, and this resulted in a highly danceable genre of music. As proof, the dance floor at the wedding receptions we play is usually full, often even during dinner. Our prime goal is a packed dance floor, and we take our cues from the dancers, to see what musical moods and tempos bring out the greatest number of dancers. Whatever types of songs work best, we then favor them. Each wedding reception has its own terpsichorean personality: Some weddings prefer slowish foxtrots, some go for funky urban blues, while others are happiest with hot up-tempo jitterbug numbers. However the guests vote with their feet, we respond!
The band works hard (we earn our breaks), and we play with a lot of fire. The Swing Legacy has the ability to rouse its listeners into action, i.e., dancing. This is definitely hot music, not cool, and therefore perfect for such a festive occasion as a wedding.
Our vocalist Debby Larkin has strong rapport with all kinds of audiences, and her natural exuberance complements perfectly the band’s ebullient musical personality. Audiences tend to love Debby madly.
Although swing music is our forte, 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. At Jewish weddings, we often play a hora. 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” — think of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. Each member of The Swing Legacy has extensive experience in a wide variety of musical situations, and a large repertoire of standard songs. So in addition to our library of written arrangements, we can cook up a version of practically any request (as long as it is not rock music).
A substantial part of our repertoire is well-suited for background dinner music, for which we play a combination of slow, low-energy songs (“ballads”) and quiet, lightly-swinging numbers (what we call “groove” tempo). After dinner, when all the guests are ready to dance, we increase the tempo and energy level.
For many of our wedding receptions, Henry plays an hour or so of solo “cocktail” piano before the band starts. Solo piano is an elegant (and cost-effective) way to begin the music program. As a solo pianist, Henry purveys a tasteful, upbeat mix of pop song standards and show tunes from the period 1920-1950, rendered in the musical styles of Fats Waller (hence “thins” Francis), Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, and Henry Francis. Henry’s electronic piano setup produces an excellent “real” piano sound — not your usual cheesy, “Holiday Inn lounge” timbre!
We don’t like loud bands! The Swing Legacy is high-energy without being unpleasantly loud. We employ our sound system only to balance the natural instrumental blend, not to deafen the audience. For wedding receptions, we never mike the three horns.