Feb 08, 2013 - Swing, Dance and Romance with Jeff Shadley and His Big Band at the Jazz Depot February 14th
The golden age of the swinging big bands may have peaked more than seven decades ago, but that certainly doesn’t mean they’ve all gone away. Instead, they’ve just become a little harder to find – especially the ones capable of performing in the authentic swinging style of the ‘30s and ‘40s.
For that reason, Thursday’s Jazz Depot show is a special one. That’s when Jeff Shadley and his Big Band are scheduled to take the stage for a Valentine’s Day event that will include, among other attractions, numbers faithfully played from the World War II-era charts of the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
“We have 18 people,” explains Shadley, “It’s a big band in the traditional sense, with that big-band lineup of four trumpets, four trombones, five saxes, and a three-piece rhythm section [piano, drums, and bass]. It’ll be awesome in that hall, too, because the acoustics there work really well with a big orchestra.”
Shadley ought to know. The veteran trumpeter and vocalist has played many shows with groups large and small under the auspices of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, both in the current Jazz Depot and at the Hall of Fame’s old home stage in the Greenwood Cultural Center.
“On YouTube, there’s a video clip of me performing out there at Greenwood,” he says. “ I think the first thing I started doing with them was Dean Martin, with the Rat Pack show. That was quite a while back.”
For the Valentine’s Day event, Shadley plans to feature a Dino tune or two, including “You’re Nobody till Somebody Loves You” (first made famous by big-band leader Russ Morgan). He’ll also highlight plenty of numbers associated with Frank Sinatra, whose songs Shadley has been performing for some time.
“Really, this whole band really started out as a vehicle for my Sinatra thing,” he notes. “So there’ll be lots of those songs, like `Fly Me to the Moon,’ `Come Fly with Me,’ `The Way You Look Tonight,’ those romantic kinds of numbers he did.
“Of course, we’ll have lots of music for dancing, but when I think of Sinatra, during his years in Vegas, I don’t think of him as a dance act—even though you can certainly dance to his songs. So we’re calling the show `Swinging and Dancing with Jeff Shadley and His Big Band – with special guest Ruby.’”
Ruby is Shadley’s 15-year-old vocalist daughter, who, he says, has developed quite a following on her own.
“She’s been doing this with me since she was about eight, and of course I’m a little biased, but I think she’s a phenomenon,” he says with a laugh. “She’s an amazing performer who just loves to sing. She has for years. I remember that even when she was taking ice-skating lessons, she’d stand in the middle of the rink and sing at the top of her lungs – when she was supposed to be learning how to skate.”
Other members of Thursday’s show include some very familiar area musicians, some of whom have been with Shadley since he began his big band.
“I started this project nine years ago, and Vic Anderson, my lead alto, has been with me since I started,” says Shadley. “So has Rod Clark, my lead `bone player, Dave Johnson, my lead trumpet, has all kinds of credits. He played around Branson for a while and did a ton of stuff. I know he was with both Anita Bryant and Bobby Vinton. He was on a couple of Pete Fountain albums. He’s the guy I get when I need someone to come in and really put icing on the top of the cake.”
Other key members of the group include trumpeters Bill Gable and Mike Bennett and drummer Jared Johnson.
“When we first started, Mike was so busy that I couldn’t get him, so he’s not a regular member of the band,” says Shadley. “I’m really glad he was able to join us for this show. Jared is by far my favorite drummer in this part of the country – he’s been my right-hand man since back in the ’80, the Turbo Horns days.
“It’s going to be quite a show,” he concludes, “if I do say so myself.”
“Swinging and Dancing with Jeff Shadley and His Big Band, with special guest Ruby” is set to begin Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street. Tickets for the event can be purchased at the Depot or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Refreshments will be available for purchase, and there will be complimentary champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries, and dessert.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.