|THE LONDON SWING ORCHESTRA—“THE ROARING TWENTIES” (Upbeat
URCD249) Playing time: 64 mins. 34 secs.
You’re the Cream in My Coffee; It Had to Be You; Wedding of the Painted Doll;
Jealousy; What’ll I Do; The Sheik of Araby; The Charleston; Breakaway; Dance
Little Lady; Because My Baby Don’t Mean Maybe Now; Makin’ Whoopee; My
Canary Has Circles under His Eyes; The Mooche; Copper Coloured Gal; Stormy
Weather; Cotton Club Stomp; Ill Wind; Mackie Messer; Chicago; 42nd Street.
No recording data provided. Personnel: Graham Dalby – leader, conductor, and
vocals; no others listed.
This CD is the first of a quartet of albums to mark the 25th anniversary of The
London Swing Orchestra. Titled “The Roaring Twenties,” it covers the music of the
period from approximately the end of WW I to the outbreak of WW II. (The other
three albums making up the anthology are “The Elegant Thirties,” “The Birth of
Swing 1935–1945,” and “The Age of The Crooner 1945–1975.”) Except, perhaps, for
Breakaway and Dance Little Lady, most of the tunes should be familiar. Mackie
Messer, which is sung in German, is better known as Mack the Knife.
Although this orchestra, which recreates the music of the twenties and thirties, has
been around for some twenty-five years, I was unfamiliar with it before now.
According to their CV, they have appeared at many locations world-wide over the
years and for audiences that have included royalty. They have also, the liner notes
aver, “recorded extensively for the BBC.” They appear to be a “society orchestra”—
one that plays for various society affairs, such as “coming-out balls” for debutantes
and various charity events headed up by some celebrity, as well as other concerts
The leader, Graham Dalby, states on the group’s web site, that “Using only top,
classically trained virtuosi, The London Swing Orchestra represents the very best of
British talent in its field...." That is readily apparent as the tunes are played
flawlessly. Dalby has rehearsed the musicians well, and there is not a flub or clam
to be heard. I am quite sure that this would be true, also, of a live performance, with
not a hair or a note out of place. Dancers will find the tempos ideal.
But as well as being a strength, it is something of a weakness, too. While I enjoyed
the performance throughout for its technical perfection, I could not detect any
swing. The same is true of all of Dalby’s vocals—his enunciation and diction are
perfect, his vibrato well-controlled, everything indicating a well-trained voice. But I
would have liked the orchestra and the vocalist (I didn’t dare say “band” and
“singer”) to be a bit looser. It is all a bit too polite, too prim and proper, too
Since no information is given as to recording dates or personnel, it is difficult to say
much here, other than it seems that there are several dates as I detect a violin on
some of the titles in the first half dozen or so but not any after that. Dalby sings on
all tracks except The Mooche (for which I doubt there are lyrics) and Cotton Club
Stomp (ditto). But after the guitar intro on Stormy Weather, I wouldn’t have been
surprised to hear the Ink Spots sing!
This CD should appeal to those who appreciate fine arrangements of music of the
period, the lyrics of the songs, and extremely competent musicians to perform them.
On all of these counts the CD delivers. But it didn’t get me up out of my chair, I’m
While Upbeat is an English label, this CD can probably be purchased in the U.S. at
Jazzbymail, www.jazzbymail.com, which stocks Upbeat releases, or at the Upbeat,
www.upbeat.co.uk, which provides for ordering by mail if one clicks on “New