Program Notes for "Totally Swing!"
Swing's the thing in this second album from Don Conway's compact big band. Danceable from begining to end, the album carries forward the rich swing tradition of the '40s and 50s.
String of Pearls has been in the vanguard of the swing renaissance in the San Francisco bay area, where the band has made over 100 public appearances at festivals, nightclubs, concerts, and dances.
The group's previous album, "Makin' Whoopee!" (1997), is being played on swing radio programs around the nation and overseas. And in March 1999, String of Pearls spent two weeks in China in an 11-performance tour sponsored by two Beijing-based cultural exchange organizations.
String of Pearls was formed in 1991 by saxophonist and singer Don Conway. The band's octet format was inspired by the earlier mid-size ensembles of Shorty Rogers, Miles Davis, Dave Pell, and Lennie Niehaus. Such groups combine the advantages of a big band (a full rhythm section and horn ensemble work) with those of a jazz combo (plenty of improvisation). In addition, Pearls features vocals by Don and pianist Connie Anne.
This album presents 14 gig-tested swing numbers, vocal as well as instrumental, from slow groove to classic jump, and big-band to Broadway and pop. While the tunes are standards, the arrangements--mainly by Dave Wolpe--offer freshened harmonies, rhythmic suprises, and space for original jazz. The dynamic Swing tradition demands no less! Enjoy.