Billy Bros Swing Orchestra: Savoy Heyday (1936-1950)

Long-established Italian swing tribute band is probably good live on the retro dance scene but the enjoyment doesn't translate to the studio


This is a new band to me, although it’s apparently been on the European circuit for 30 years. As the title suggests, it is a tribute to the swing era bands of the 30s and 40s and the material covers tunes made famous by the top bands of the time – Basie, Webb, Lunceford, Ellington, Cooper, etc.

Most of the arrangements are close to the originals and they are delivered with obvious respect, but it is difficult not to compare them with the earlier versions – unfair I know – and in this I felt they lack the dynamism and vitality, and the solos tend to be adequate but largely uninspired.

There are moments that are encouraging – Duke’s Things Ain’t What They Used To Be starts promisingly and the ensemble passages are tight, but the solos fall away. Similarly, One O’Clock Jump begins with the true Basie-style piano but again, the solos are unconvincing. There’s an attractively understated trumpet on the Kansas Joe McCoy song Why Don’t You Do Right, but the vocal delivery is nowhere near that of Peggy Lee or Lil Green.

This is probably a good band to see live, let your hair down and join in the dancing, and no doubt it’s popular on the retro scene, but I found the album disappointing. 

Opus Two; For Dancers Only; Spinnin’ The Webb; Moten Swing; Jump Through The Window; Christopher Columbus; Second Balcony Jump; Why Don’t You Do Right; Let It Roll Again; ’Tain’t What You Do; Things Ain’t What They Used To Be; One O’Clock Jump; Tuxedo Junction (42.08)
Maurizio Meterangelo (b, v, ldr); Roberta Bevilacqua (v); Alessandro Di Fonso (as); Simone Borghese (ts); Andrea Silvestri (bar); Matteo Di Matteo (tb); Jorge Ro, Alexander Tuchkov (t); Cristian Caprarese (p); Pierluigi Zappacosta (d). Pescara, Italy, July 2020.
Da Vinci Jazz C00329