Bands have welcomed a minor big band boost with artistes such as Robbie
Williams, Michael Bubl’e and Paul Anka reviving standards and up to date pop and
rock songs with new arrangements in the big band style.
Big band leader Denny Wise comments “Can we really claim that musicians dressed up in US forces kit represent a real revival for the big band?” He thinks not, and most of his associates agree with him. “Youth is proverbially intolerant of the tastes of the previous generation but we must exploit a market that we know exists but have difficulty in finding”, Concert venues are limited, as are the bands that can fill them. They also cannot provide the chance of audience participation that motivates the enjoyment of the young adult in the twenty first century.
Wise, in common with other leaders catering for the special event/party business, has discovered that no matter what the event, there are always young people present who have never heard big band music played by musicians of their own age, and are always bowled over by the experience.
A case in point is a recent engagement at the Dorchester Hotel, London, where the band played a mixture of chart hits, cabaret by the band members and big band entertainment sent everyone home happy having had a really enjoyable evening regardless of their age or musical tastes. The mainly young crowd heard some great music from the big band and experienced that rapport between entertainers and audience that only participation in a live event can give. “What’s more,” Wise adds, “in future they won’t dismiss the big band sound as music for crinklies.”
A skilled big band can also provide extra-good backing for cabaret at all types of events. Denny Wise believes that flexibility in presentation and content tailored for the event and those present points a way for the future of the big band. “Many of the now defunct big bands had a character that people remembered, and that is just as important now. It needs a touch of the show band and the showman, combined with the professionalism in music and presentation to create a renewed demand for what is potentially a unique combination of talents.