The Kings of Swing: The Great Big Bands- March April 2021

The Kings of Swing- The Great Big Bands

with Denny Ilett Guitar Player& Vocalist

from England

To all our dear friends,

We invite you to a series of 3 musical lectures with the great Guitar player, Vocalist, the Artistic Director of Bristol Jazz Festival Denny Ilett from Bristol, GB!

Denny Ilett presents a series of three lectures covering the rise, fall, and rise again of the great big bands and the Swing Era. Putting the spotlight on the major bandleaders, their star soloists and their orchestrators Denny will discuss how the music was born, how it developed and how it shaped the mood of a nation. With rare videos to help tell the story, Denny will also highlight the social and economic issues of the day that had more influence on the music than is often realized.

Strictly the Bristol-based guitarist is Denny Ilett has been playing professionally since the mid-80s, perfecting a range of guitar styles across jazz, blues, rock and swing that enable him to shine in almost any context. As Artistic Director and joint founder of the Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival he has brought to the city great names.

Denny Ilett  is rare commodity – a virtuoso British guitarist and a talented writer/arranger, who has honed his chops not on the UK scene but rather by playing and touring with some of New Orleans finest including Lillian Boutte and members of such notable bands as The Meters, Dr John and the Harry Connick Jnr Big Band.

Glenn Miller Big Band

Count Basie Big Band & Billie Holiday

Duke Ellington Orchestra

Musical Lecture No. 1

(Thursday, March 18th at 7 p.m. (Israel Time

The Birth of the Big Bands 1925-1935

Almost 100 years ago jazz left New Orleans and began to spread across the United States. The music soon began to evolve as musicians from different backgrounds added their own influences and ideas. As jazz became more popular with the public, the old style of collective improvisation gave way to a more organised sound. Bands started to expand from the traditional 5-piece ensemble to groups of up to 17-pieces. We investigate the role Louis Armstrong played in creating the rhythmic approach known as ‘swing’ and how orchestras led by Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson and others paved the way for the musical explosion that followed.


Musical Lecture No. 2

(Thursday, March 25th at 7 p.m. (Israel Time

The Golden Age of Swing 1935-1945

In 1935 big band jazz officially became the most popular music of the day as Benny Goodman unleashed his ensemble on the ears of a nation. Overnight, swing was the thing and ballrooms across the nation were packed with dancers. Every major city spawned a superstar big band of their own and records sold in their millions. The rise of radio meant artists could gain national recognition in the blink of an eye and bandleaders, their soloists and musical arrangers became huge stars. Throughout the late 1930’s and 1940’s artists such as Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller and Harry James enjoyed celebrity and record sales that today’s pop stars can only dream of.


Musical Lecture No. 3

(Thursday, April 1st at 7 p.m. (Israel Time

Big Bands go Bebop! 1945-1965

After the Second World War a revolution in jazz occurred with the ‘Bebop’ years. The post-war recession forced a lot of big bands out of business and the small groups were ready to take their place with new rhythms and advanced harmonies. However, stars such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Woody Herman and others were able to adapt and survive. Others gave up and disbanded before reforming in the 1950’s and many others disappeared altogether. Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Kenton played a large role in helping the big bands evolve away from being commercial groups for dancing into more sophisticated sounds. Jazz took on a more artistic persona and the big bands left the dance hall for the concert hall.

*The lectures will be held on Thursdays at 7PM (Israel Time)

*The link will be sent to you by email, about two hours before the start of each lecture.

*The link is to the Zoom waiting room, following new security regulations from the Zoom company and 10 minutes before the start of the lecture you will be entered automaticly into lecture.

*At the end of each lecture there will be an opportunity for questions

*Each lecture lasts about an hour

*If there is any difficulty in connecting, you can write on WhatsApp to mobile number +972546560787 or email

*A link to record the lecture can be obtained on request to this email

– valid for two weeks after the lecture

*Price 120 NIS  or 28£ for the three lectures

We would love to see you with us!

Dates: March 18th, 25th, April 1st Thursdays at 7pm

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