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summertime with Swing Shift

Swing Shift is going to be shifting a bit extra in the next two months. For one, our primary band leader and musical director gets to spend the next 4+ weeks harvesting food crops 20 hours a day, 7 days a week. He will not be practicing the sax or leading the band. Co-director Wendy Lindsley, our two music teachers and manager (me) will be filling in, except where it comes to the big hole his missing alto sax will leave.

Starting July 30th, we have additional musicians joining in the band. Ken and Gayle Hart bring several talents that will be blended into our group. Gayle’s keyboard talents won’t steal the piano bench from Kathy, but her clarinet will be a great addition. Ken is even more versatile with guitar, trombone, trumpet, baritone and tuba playing in his kit bag. We don’t exactly know how this will work out, but expect the rhythm guitar with turns on the tuba and trombone might all fit in.

There is also a trumpet player who is interested in joining us, though claims modest talents (certainly could fit in with our current brass section). I’m keen on turning up a tenor sax to round out our reed section (and wouldn’t one of those really rare bari sax’s be fun?).

Knowing that arrangements are a major key to our sound, we are also figuring out where to make changes in that area. Nearly all of our charts have been worked up from our big band collection. This is okay for starting off, but we simply cannot fill all of the holes left by the absent 4 trumpets, 4 saxophones and 3 trombones. The only other charts we are adapting from were written for rhythm (drum/bass/keyboard) section plus one horn OR vocalist.

Swing Shift is enough fun and has the inertia that we are now going to invest the necessary $25-$75 per chart to get some musical arrangements written for small combos. We will be trying out a couple of sources for combo arraignments to see who and what we like. It should be fun to welcome Cliff back from harvest season with some real growth in our sound.

Anybody know where some grant money is for buying combo charts? A dozen would be a nice start, but we could even use half a dozen more just for Christmas … not to mention other special-occasion music.