In 1985 Gordon Sumner aka Sting took several huge risks. With The Police he’d ridden an enormous wave of success, with memorable hits such as Roxanne, Message In A Bottle and Every Breath You Take. Then in 1984 – at the top of their game, The Police broke up, and Sting set about converting his fame to a solo career.
That was risk enough, but he combined that with filming the experience of forming a new band and rehearsals for their premiere concert in Paris. As Sting says in the resulting movie Bring On The Night, most movies about pop bands are made towards the end of their careers when they’ve had years honing their craft as a combo. Filming a nascent band in the early stages of becoming comfortable with each other was truly a leap of faith.
If you don’t know the difference between Lindy Hop, Charleston and Shag Dance, well neither do I TBH. But I’m gradually learning a little since one of the jazz bands I play with – Chicos Swing Combo – has been doing gigs for 8-Count.
Their next swing dance event is on Saturday night (April 17th, 2021). Details here.
It’s a blast to play for these shows; I’ve never seen such enthusiasm to get on the dance floor. So much so that between the band’s two sets, they turn on a dance DJ so the Eight Count crowd can just keep on dancing and having a ball. Though the typical age group seems to be 20 to 40s, there are people of all ages and abilities. There’s usually a dance teaching segment or two as well, sometimes aimed at beginners and sometimes for advanced swing steps.
In July 2008 I booked a ticket to San Francisco. I was double bass player for Gail Kingston’s Hot Foot Jazz and we were making plans to appear at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee in May 2009.
This was a big deal for us. The band was in peak form; we’d just completed a new CD “Can You Tame Wild Wimmen” and Gail was hot favourite as we toured to jazz festivals across south-eastern Australia.
Gail Kingston’s Hot Foot Jazz at Tooleybuc NSW, June 2008. Brian Loffler (double bass), Derek Dalton (trumpet), Ron Bash (reeds), Gordon Coulson (trombone), Harold Phillis (piano), Dave Sutton (drums), Gail Kingston (leader, vocals), Tony West (banjo)
Exposure in the US would be a breakthrough; we’d tighten up our stagecraft and have a chance to mix it with some of the best traditional jazz musicians from around the world.