Teamed with the publisher of What is Scientology?, one of the hottest international swing bands delivers positive message on U.S. tour.
The popularity explosion in swing music across the United States has led to chart and movie success for top American swing bands such as Brian Setzer and the Cherry Popping Daddies. But now Americans are experiencing a British swing sensation, launched from Hollywood.
ong before there was ever a swing scene, a movie called Swingers or an award-winning Gap commercial featuring swing music and dancing, six young Englishmen had earned acclaim throughout Great Britain and Europe as England’s top jive band — the Jive Aces.
The group first hit the American swing scene late Summer 1998 and performed at top club The Derby (featured in the movie Swingers). An instant success, the Jive Aces appeared on MTV and were featured in US magazine. They next entered the studio and recorded their second album. “Planet Jive”, the CD, was released in January at The Palace in Hollywood. The band then conducted a European tour, returning to Los Angeles mid-summer to launch their 20-city U.S. tour.
Before “Planet Jive” was released, the band’s first CD, “Bolt from the Blue,” was being sold all over the world. The band has also shared the stage or studio with such artists as Isaac Hayes, leading Australian pop jazz vocalist Kate Ceberano, the Count Basie Orchestra, John Travolta, Lisa Marie Presley and Edgar Winter, who wrote one of the songs on the new album.
The six young men from London who comprise the Jive Aces started swinging ten years ago out of a sincere passion for hot jive music. The group has since toured the UK, Europe, the Caribbean and America, and are arguably the most traveled swing band in the world with fans on every continent.
“Find out for Yourself”
Following on the success of the new album release, the Jive Aces are now bringing their larger than life “Planet Jive” show to Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit and other cities on their U.S. tour.
The band, all members of the Church of Scientology, have teamed up with the Los Angeles publisher of the new national best-seller What is Scientology? for the current tour (see also “Books Provide Answers”).
Since that book’s release at the close of 1998, the publisher, Bridge Publications Inc. of Los Angeles, and the Church of Scientology have been conducting an informational campaign inviting people to find out about the subject for themselves, with the message “find out for yourself.”
The merger for the U.S. tour suits the group well, says Jive Aces leader and trumpet player Ian Clarkson, as band members are frequently asked about Scientology.
The Jive Aces attribute much of their success to the use of the principles of the religion and encourage people to read What is Scientology?
“Scientology has become so widely talked about — often by people who do not really know what it is,” says Clarkson. “So the Church decided to invite people to take a look at the subject and find out about it for themselves. The book What is Scientology is the best way to do that. It answers everything.”
“Our message has been very welcome in America,” said drummer Pete Howell. “Also, apart from enjoying the music, a number of people we spoke with had never actually met a Scientologist before. They knew that Scientologists are opposed to drug abuse, or that we support human rights and freedoms, but they were interested in finding out what Scientology really is.”
Like the book and the religion it represents, the band’s performances are positive, combining a mixture of original numbers and new arrangements of swing era classics from such artists as Cab Calloway and Louis Prima.
The Jive Aces have been instrumental in the resurgence of swing and their influence is continuing to spread across the UK, Europe, Canada and the United States. The comeback of the music form and its popularity proves it a welcome alternative to recent trends of “dread” and “grunge” music.
Their energetic performances and their message find the Jive Aces in demand. They have been asked to return to almost every club they have performed in.
They have played at countless major events including the Cannes Film Festival, the Edinburgh Festival, the Lord Mayor of London Spectacular, the City of London Festival, the Cork International Jazz Festival (Ireland), Hemsby Rock ‘n’ Roll Festival (UK), Beeches Jazz Festival (Toronto), the International Lindy Hop Festival (Norway) and the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Venues which have hosted the Jive Aces range from the House of Blues in Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles and the Royal Albert Hall in London to the Apollo in Brooklyn, where they performed earlier this year with rap artist Doug E. Fresh.
The group is a favorite with swing dancers, and in addition to creating packed dance floors wherever they play, they have worked with top dance troupes including the “Jivin’ Lindy Hoppers” and “Zoots and Spangles.”
“We just really like to let people know that life can be a happy experience. Our music is one way of doing that,” says Clarkson.
That is something worth finding out all about.