Killeen’s own jazz orchestra, Swingtime Big Band, returns to The Crescent Lounge’s bandstand on Sunday.
“When we opened, Swingtime was the very first band we booked,” said Anthony Rodriguez, one of the club’s owners. “They play great jazz and always bring a professional show.”
The Killeen nightspot has been unwavering in its support of local live music, and the musicians in the swing orchestra seem to realize and appreciate the lounge’s patronage.
“We get dancers as well as serious listeners,” said trumpeter Ed Hernandez, who lives in Harker Heights and also plays percussion. “The mix of music along with the really friendly atmosphere at the Crescent combine to make it our favorite place to play.”
With the increasing demand for musicians during the holiday season, it’s proven difficult to get the 14 or so musicians together for a show, said Les Young, a full-time professional pianist from Austin. “But we all love this music. You just don’t get many chances to play these compositions and arrangements in a club setting, alongside musicians who have adequate performance chops.”
The set list for the evening includes classics from the swing era, tunes by modern writers like Herbie Hancock and Tower of Power, and vocals by Keely Allison, a first-call singer from Austin.
“We’re also going to perform some swinging Christmas music, too,” Hernandez said. “It’s fun to play those holiday tunes with a touch of jazz.”
Swingtime is a nonprofit organization made up of part- and full-time professional musicians, music educators and a few college students. The band is an equal opportunity ensemble, according to its members: If you can read music and have the technique and stamina required, you’re hired.
The orchestra has been together and performed publicly since 2010.
“We’ve played for the city of Temple, In The Mood Ballroom, Sun City, Sul Ross Center in Waco and lots of other venues around Central Texas,” Young said. “February 2014 is our fourth anniversary and we’re looking forward to many more years of swinging jazz performances.”