It started with a little idea in my head. A Jazz band that didn’t just plough through the standards. A swing band that played renditions of classic hits arranged by me as per the some of my favourite records. A group that with vocals that played those quirky witty numbers that you hear on the radio and fall in love with instantly, but you hardly ever see anyone perform. Anyone on the local or UK scene that is.
Things like …
Blossom Dearie’s version of Surrey With The Fringe On Top,
Dave Frishberg’s Slappin’ The Cakes On Me & Can’t Take You Nowhere,
Sunny Side Of The Street a la Dizzy’s great recording Sonny Side Up,
Sometimes I’m Happy a la Lester Youngs version (and already covered by the Oscar Peterson Trio on Live From Chicago),
A rare Louis Armstrong number The Home Fire,
Duke Ellington's Classic Tulip or Turnip,
Ray Ellington’s witty number The Best Man,
and last but not least some of my favourites from the great Mel Torme.
His big band versions of Sent For You Yesterday & Take The ‘A’ Train. The latter which includes some bits from a great Oscar Pettiford live TV recording that was re-issued in the 90’s.
So in September 2013, I spoke with Mireille at the Cafe Jazz on St Mary’s Street in the heart of Wales capital city; Cardiff. I set out to put together a rehearsal band to perform on the 1st Monday of each month. With a date set and only a few weeks to go, I got to work writing these and many other arrangements for the band.
We started as a quartet; Gareth Hall - Piano, Aeddan Williams - Upright Bass, Greg Evans - Drums, and yours truly on Guitar and Vocals.
With that, donnie joe’s American Swing was born. A fitting name as I’m donnie joe, I’m American, and we play Swing.