June 24, 2006
It's a Monday evening around 8:30 pm when a group of musicians wanders into Maxwell's, the venerable music club in Hoboken, NJ and start tuning up. Swingadelic, an eleven-piece "little big band has been gigging the front room at Maxwell's every other Monday for the past three yearsplaying some of the most infectious jazz/blues out there in a free-for-all setting that's part improvisational workshop and part just plain fun. The band is made up of six core members that include great players like Dave Post, its leader and bassist (and one of the owners of Maxwell's), Buddy Terry, who plays alto sax and sings (he played with Ray Charles) and drummer Paul Pizzuti, one of the most respected drummers on Broadway as well as a top-notch Latin percussionist. But on any given night you never know who else might show up to jam with the band. Well-known musicians like Julio Fernandez, a guitarist for Spyro Gyra, who lives in near-by Union City, likes to drop in from time to time. The band begins to play, and almost from the downbeat I can tell that this group of seasoned musicians can swing with the best of them... they are tight!
How Swingadelic got started is one of those musician stories worth repeating. "I was working at The Supper Club in New York City back in 1998, Dave Post said. "At the time swing music was very big. A music agent came running into the back room and frantically said he needed a band. So I said, I have a bandof course I didn't. He asked me what the name of the band was. I thought for a moment and said SwingadelicI made it up on the spot.
Since that humble beginning, Swingadelic has gathered a loyal following with their unique blend of swing, jazz, jump blues, and hip Latin sounds. Starting with the traditional music of Duke Ellington, Count Basie and the masters of jump blues, they've added some soulful jazz organ to create a whole new sound. In addition to appearing at Maxwell's they also perform at high society gigs, municipal concerts, weddings, and on TV. And they have played at Lincoln Center's long running series, Mid-Summer Night Swing.
On the night I went to see Swingadelic at Maxwell's there was a major rain storm ragingbut the band still pulled in a good crowd. I entered the club to find it looking not all that different from its rock 'n roll heyday 20 years back, when it was one of the hippest music venues in the country. Though the place has changed owners a few times since then, it still has that wonderful energy that saysgreat, innovative music can be heard here. When Swingadelic was playing, I couldn't help but notice how many of the patrons in their 20's and 30's were captivated by the big band sound. Here was music that straddles all generations with its hip arrangements and timeless quality. The band's players were behaving like kids in a candy store egging each other on to great solos, blending together like one big train moving toward its destinationreally good music. "We play everything from Ellington and Basie to T-Bone Walker and Louie Jordan, Post said. "We will customize our play list to what the customer wants. We are just a bunch of working musicians who love what we do, and will give all to make each gig a success.
Some recent reviews say it all. "Swingadelic seems an excellent party band. It sounds authentic (as opposed to slick and faux retro). Its arrangements and solos make for fun listening as well as dancing (Jazz Times). "Don't miss 'Organ-ized' from bassist Dave Post and his assemblage of the greater New York area's hippest players. Swingadelic mingles blues, jazzy swing, Latin flavor and funky boogaloo, drawn from recordings by Count Basie, Louis Jordan, Muddy Waters and Solomon Burke, not to mention killer originals like 'BC Boogaloo', 'You Dig? You Dog!' and 'Chicken, Beer, and Fifty Dollars.' A happening set (Blues Revues).
But don't take their word for it, or even mine for that matter. Go experience Swingadelic yourself. If you aren't taken by the talent and downright hipness of this group of seasoned musiciansand if you're not dancing by the third songthen check your pulse.