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Swingorillas – Dick Suave 1999

Posted in JAZZ, Swingorillas on November 18, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Swingorillas – Dick Suave 1999

Jazz

British native Tara “Zoome Zoome” Duff and Salt Lake City’s Dale “Big Daddy” Lee guide this nine-piece “swing-oriented” band through 10 tracks that borrow from lounge, Latin and Dixieland, as well. The lyrical approach is often irreverent-“Dick Suave,” anyone?-but tenor saxman “Growlin’,” Dan Walker and rock guitarist Eric “The Czar” Sopanen keep things relatively grounded, musically speaking. Lead vocalist Duff is playing a role here-one part gun moll, one part damsel in distress-but she’s fun to follow through the male-dominated worlds detailed in the self-penned tunes. Swingorillas fare best when messing with style: The title track is set to a near-punk pace, and “Waiting on a Promise” sounds like an alternate opener for The Dick Van Dyke Show.
By Sean Daly.
**
Swingorillas are a nine-piece swing band from Salt Lake City. The Swingorillas released their cd ‘Dick Suave’ in 1999. It received excellent reviews throughout the country. The Swingorillas’ sound ranges from traditional 30s swing to an interesting blend of mambo, calypso, boogie woogie and a more modern swing sound. Tara Duff, the lead vocalist, hails from across the great ocean. She grew up in Peterborough, England and has since made the city of salt her home. Dale Lee, the band leader, composer, arranger and alto & bari saxophonist has also performed with Ike Willis & Chunga’s Revenge, the Violent Femmes and Thirsty Alley. Dan Walker, the featured soloist on tenor saxophone, spent most of his playing days in Los Angeles but has also relocated to the angelic environment of Utah. The Swingorillas are a soulful, hard swinging band. All the band members are excellent improvisers and four of the men provide rich harmonies and occasional lead vocals to compliment Mz. Duff. Instrumentation includes: five vocalists, alto, tenor and bari saxes, trumpet, trombone, acoustic bass, guitar and drums.
**
No doubt my age influences my thinking, but the state of popular music has seemed pretty sad for some time now. The FM dial is rife with soulless beats, fake cowboys, thug rappers and teenage twits. Under the circumstances, I welcomed the swing craze in the late ’90s. Sure, the swing thing was retro, but at least it required some degree of training, if not talent. Moreover, it drew a few young people to jazz.

Swing is not nearly so hot today as it was two years ago (Latin pop seems to be the latest fleeting fad) but the best swing bands still have loyal followings. The Swingorillas hail from Salt Lake City, a metropolis not usually known for its trendy music. The Swingorillas are like the other swingers in that they wear the retro clothes and use the ’40s jive jargon. But this bunch is more jazz-oriented than most swing outfits, and if you don’t mind their perky theatrics, their music is pretty damn good.

The band’s nine musicians are purportedly some of Salt Lake City’s finest jazzers. After listening to Dick Suave, I have no reason to doubt that claim. Leader Dale Lee is talented saxophonist and arranger. Lead singer Tara Duff has a sexy voice with incredible range, though she’s a bit piercing on the high notes. Thanks to some harmonically rich arrangements and bop touches, the Swingorillas have a more open sound than most swing ensembles.

Seven of the 10 tracks here are originals, including “Swing King,” an inspired reworking of Edward Grieg’s classical composition “Hall of the Mountain King.” Other highlights include the mambo-flavored “Nebulosa” and a rocking version of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” Though Duff sings lead most of the time, four of the men join her for various duets. The vocal exchanges are elaborate, and the horn section is quite impressive.

It’s strange, but I’ve received more independent CDs from Utah than anywhere else in recent months. Dick Suave is far and away the best of the lot.
By Ed Kopp.
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Tara Duff- Vocals
Zach Craigle- Guitar, Vocals, Saxophone
Dale Lee- Saxophones, Keys
Scott Terry- Guitar
Butch Moon- Bass
Bob Smith- Drums
**
01. Dick Suave
02. Waiting on a Promise
03. Desire
04. Swing King
05. Nebulosa
06. Diga Diga Do
07. Be Boppinest Baby
08. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
09. Pushka Pee She Pie
10. Miller Time
**

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