The Knights of Swing, LLC and E3 Music Productions have announced the March 25 Vimeo On Demand release of Knights of Swing,
a feature length film powered by an incredible cast and crew of dreamers and believers.
Set in 1947, tracing the challenges, disappointments and successes of six high school boys, and the girls who join them to form a really swingin’ big band.
With the action set in Lynwood, CA (at “Castle High”), the story follows an inclusive group of musicians trying to navigate a world that is still very much entrenched in prejudices and antiquated worldviews. The 1940s was a period of both great turmoil and hope, with The United States having just come out of World War II but the Civil Rights movement still years away.
Through their trials and tribulations, and sense of duty to persevere against all odds, 'Knights of Swing' is a moving portrait that shows music can unite people from different cultures, backgrounds, and races. The hours of dedicated practice and just being together doesn’t merely bond them in a unique way, it creates a special world where they find refuge and peace from the aftermath of war and the challenges of the adult world.
Executive Producer Rolland Jacks, who wrote the original story and composed all the music with Emilio Palame
, conceived the world from personal experiences as a young man, It was 1947 in post-war Southern California. I was in a band called the Knights of Swing and wanted to recapture some of the values of the era and beauty and musicality of big band jazz when those big bands were all the rage. The film is based loosely on my own experiences, embellished with a big helping of imagination.”
As a child, Jacks played Frank Sinatra
in a Junior High musical and has been singing in choirs, quartets and as a soloist ever since. Throughout his teenage years he studied classical piano and also played alto and baritone sax in a big swing band that won the Battle of the Bands.
To direct the action, Jacks enlisted Emilio Palame, a highly-regarded pianist/vocalist, producer and film & TV composer/arranger for 45 years. Palame’s resume includes over 50 film & TV credits including Nickelodeon’s “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide,” Expelled
. On the music front, he’s worked with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Paul Williams
, Lanie Kazan, Connie Stevens, jazz artists Chuck Mangione
and Grant Geissman
, and as accompanist/conductor for the incomparable legend Miss Peggy Lee
. Also at the helm were co-director David Gutel, who helped write the screenplay with Jacks and Palame, and producer Donald Nguyen, who runs a production company called Reel Big Studios (RB Studios) in Orange County.
By arranging and orchestrating all the music, Palame actually created the band, the Knights of Swing, who’s core group includes best friends Gifford Williams (songwriter/vocalist/saxophonist played by Curran Baker) and Nolan Edwards (pianist brought to life by Kyle DeCamp) along with Conrad White (lead trombonist/vocalist played by Jeremy Staple) and their long time friends Elliott (lead trumpeter played by Christopher Pollock), Kenny (bassist played by Brandon Ruiter) and Duke (drummer played by Greg Sadler). Palame plays Lou Arthur” (or “King Arthur”), the former jazz pianist turned school principal, who helps navigate behind the scenes as political pressures mount.
To bolster the band’s sound, the Knights add vocal group The 3 B’s, which features Beverly on lead vocals (played by Emily Goglia), Bonnie, the alto (played by Ivan Cespedes Jordan), and Barb, the soprano (played by Olivia Dessy). Together with their Musical Conductor, Mr. Miller, played by actor Richard Neil, known for his work on Veronica Mars
and The Bold and The Beautiful
, the team of fourteen set out to foster change, one heart, one mind and one battle at a time.
“Knights of Swing is the most important artistic endeavor I have been a part of in my long standing career. The symmetry of working with such talented and dedicated people to tell a story that confronts racism, loss, the consequence of war, yet also shows forgiveness, unconditional love and the power of music to bring people together, is a gift that has touched my heart and I know will reach yours,” said Palame.
Co-Director David Gutel concurs, “Knights of Swing at its core is about having a dream and putting in the hard work to make it a reality. Directing this movie along side Emilio Palame was a dream come true for me and i hope that this film inspires people to follow their dreams.”
The uplifting, toe-tapping original songs heard throughout the movie are the result of a decades long musical relationship between Jacks and Palame. For over twenty years, these close friends have been collaborating on a canon of heartfelt, spirited and entertaining songs ranging in style from Pop and Gospel to Musical Theater, Jazz and Swing.
Something special really clicked with the film’s lead composition, the jazzy bluesy Schoolroom Blues.” It was magic. From there, the defacto theme song, You’ve Gotta Have a Dream” and the romantic Love Is Ours Tonight” were born with the chemistry continuing to click on the infectious Cucamonga,” the melancholic, “No Bright Tomorrows,” the shiny luminescence of Ooh Baby You’re Driving Me Crazy,” and the climatic closer, “The Victory Stomp.” The energy is palpable.
Adding further credibility to the authenticity of the era are the inclusion of the Peggy Lee
classic “Things Are Swingin’” in the score and the appearance of 22-time Grammy nominee (and 4-time Grammy winner) Gordon Goodwin
in the role of Mr. Hughes," one of the judges presiding over the grand finale, the California Battle of the Bands. Goodwin is well-known throughout the big band world for his 18-pc ensemble, The Big Phat Band, which returns to the Hollywood Bowl this summer for the inaugural Hollywood Jazz Fest.
Further bolstering the music, the contributions of vocal producer/arranger Darlene Koldenhoven (Yanni, Sister Act
) and Bob Leatherbarrow
(The Simpsons, Nelly Furtado
), who provided a sublime underscore, the full assortment of contributions were immeasurable, faithfully creating the musical authenticity of the era.
Beginning Friday, March 25, the film, available in 1080p and 4K, will be available for $4.99 for a 48-hour streaming rental via Vimeo on Demand
. Closed-captioning available in English, Spanish and Japanese with further languages to be added.
In person and on your screen, it’s time to get dancin'. The Knights of Swing
are ready to soar!
Richard Neil as “Mr. Miller”;
Kathy Christopherson as “Marlene”
; Emilio Palame
as “King Arthur”
Randy Irwin as “Mr. Tanner”
Amanda Lamberti as “Mrs. Barlutski”;
Jon Briddell as “Mr. Barlutski”;
Jeffrey Conway as “Mr. Simms”;
Ian Eugene Ryan as “Sgt. Washington”; Gordon Goodwin
as “Mr. Hughes”
; Vangie Gunn
as “Ms. Brooks”
The Jammin’ Pajama Men
Gifford: Songwriter/Vocalist/Sax (played by Curran Baker);
Nolan: Piano Player (played by Kyle DeCamp);
Conrad: Lead Trombone/Vocalist (played by Jeremy Staple);
Elliott: Lead Trumpet (played by Christopher Pollock);
Kenny: Bass (played by Brandon Ruiter);
Duke: Drummer (played by Greg Sadler);
The 3 B’s
Beverly: Lead Vocalist (played by Emily Goglia);
Bonnie: Alto Vocalist (played by Ivan Cespedes Jordan);
Barb: Soprano Vocalist (played by Olivia Dessy)
Knights of Swing Musicians
Antonia Barton (“Anna"): 3rd & 1st Trumpet;
Nicholas Delgado (“Bill"): 2nd Trumpet;
Tatiana Tate ("Brenda Davis"): New 3rd Trumpet;
Jordan Wainwright (“Sandy”): 2nd Trombone;
Jonathan Bryant Sie (“Skelton”): 3rd Trombone;
Gail Genuino (“Bobbie”): Alto Sax/Flute;
Edgar Guadiana (“Eduardo”): Alto Sax/Flute;
Nathan Collins (“Macy”): Tenor Sax;
Joshua Escutia (“Luis Contreras”): Tenor Sax;
Brian Tran (“Shinji”): Baritone Sax;
Kristian de Leon (“Eugene”): Vibes & Percussion;
Edison Vilar (“Roger”): Vibes & Percussion
Created and Produced by Rolland Jacks;
Produced and Directed by Emilio Palame;
Co-Director: David Gutel;
Produced by Donald Nguyen
Screenplay by Rolland Jacks, David Gutel, Emilio Palame
Associate Producers: Richard Neil, Tam Lam;
Director of Photography: Brian Lang; Production Design: Neil Cannone;
Production Sound: Darren Augustus;
Additional Production Sound: Aaron Eberhardt;
Sound Design: Michael Keane, Darren Augustus, Wayland Productions;
Costume Designers: Tomika Smalls, Kate Bergh;
Choreographer: Lee Martino;
Edited by Frank Truong, David Gutel, Donald Nguyen and “The Knight Raiders”
Music from the Motion Picture Knights of Swing
1. Schoolroom Blues; 2. You’ve Gotta Have A Dream; 3. Love Is Ours Tonight; 4. Cucamonga; 5. Guessin’ Game; 6. Ooh Baby You’re Driving Me Crazy; 7. The Dingle Finger; 8. Butterfly; 9. Bev and Giff’s Diner Date; 10. Song for Now; 11. I’m Falling In Love With You; 12. Things Are Swingin’*; 13. Scrambled Eggs (Instrumental); 14. Baby Don’t Cry Now; 15. Wilson High Victory Stomp; 16. Battle of the Bands Medley; 17. No Bright Tomorrows; 18. The Victory Stomp (Instrumental).
Lyrics by Rolland Jacks
Music by Rolland Jacks and Emilio Palame;
Music Arranged and Orchestrated by Emilio Palame;
Vocals Arranged by Darlene Koldenhoven;
Underscore by Bob Leatherbarrow and E3 Music Productions
*Except for Things Are Swingin’ by Jack Marshall and Peggy Lee (Denslow Music Inc, ASCAP; Universal Music Publishing Group)