The Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra (KJRO) is the Hepcats favorite band – and for good reasons!
KJRO is a 17 piece big band that is especially suited for and highly skilled at recreating authentic swing-era arrangements. They are the only big band in the Lexington area, and one of the few bands in this region that can capture the energy, excitement and rhythmic feeling and pulse of the big band music of the swing-era. Close your eyes and you may think you’re back in the late 1930’s or early 40’s, dancing to Duke Ellington in the Cotton Club, Jimmie Lunceford in the Savoy, Benny Goodman in the Roseland, or Count Basie in the Woodside.
KJRO is co-directed by UK School of Music professors Miles Osland and Dick Domek, and consists of the finest and most talented faculty, alumni and musicians from Kentucky area colleges and universities.
The Hepcats and KJRO have collaborated on Big Band Swing Dance events since 2005. At these events you’ll hear many great arrangements that are considered swing-era classics. Many of these arrangements are not played very often (if at all) by your average “big band” or “swing band” due to their technical difficulty.
See below for more info on the Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra.
Here are some of the songs you’ll hear at a Hepcats/KJRO Big Band Swing Dance collaboration (*=on the Ellington Celebration CD; **=on the Flying Home CD):
o **Flying Home, by Lionel Hampton.
o **For Dancers Only; **Lunceford Special; Four or Five Times; My Blue Heaven; Baby Won’t You Please Come Home; by Jimmie Lunceford.
o Rockin’ in Rhythm (*1930 and **1963 versions); **Jive Stomp”; *Stevedore Stomp; Take the A Train; **In a Mellotone; *Ring Dem Bells; *Drop Me Off in Harlem; Cottontail; by Duke Ellington.
o **Back Bay Shuffle; by Artie Shaw.
o **Swingtime in the Rockies (the 1938 Carnegie Hall version, 264 BPM!); **Sing, Sing, Sing; Bugle Call Rag; King Porter Stomp; **Don’t Be That Way; by Benny Goodman.
o Wrappin’ It Up; Christopher Columbus; by Fletcher Henderson.
o **Skee; **Hairy Joe Jump; **Too Much; by Harlan Leonard.
o **Doggin” Around; **Jumpin’ at the Woodside; **It’s Sand, Man; Splanky; by Count Basie.
o **Chatt. Choo Choo; String of Pearls; Little Brown Jug; Penn. 6-5000; by Glenn Miller.
A Tribute to the Great Big Bands of the Swing-Era
In either a concert venue or dance event, KJRO brings back to life the vibrant and energetic music of the great big bands of the swing-era. You’ll hear KJRO play authentic, classic swing-era arrangements by big bands many people are probably familiar with – bands led by Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington; and some big bands not as well known today but that were considered top notch bands in the swing-era, such as those led by Jimmie Lunceford, Fletcher Henderson and Harlan Leonard.
For this “Tribute to the Great Big Bands of the Swing-era” KJRO performs swing-era classics such as:
Duke Ellington: Rockin’ in Rhythm; Drop Me Off in Harlem; In a Mellotone; Stevedore Stomp; Take the A Train; Tiger Rag; Jive Stomp; Ring Dem Bells; Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.
Benny Goodman: Sing, Sing, Sing; Bugle Call Rag; Swingtime in the Rockies; Don’t Be That Way; King Porter Stomp; Stompin’ at the Savoy.
Jimmie Lunceford: For Dancers Only; Four or Five Times; Baby Won’t You Please Come Home; Lunceford Special; My Blue Heaven.
Glenn Miller: In the Mood; Pennsylvania 6-5000; String of Pearls; Moonlight Serenade; Tuxedo Junction; Little Brown Jug.
Count Basie: Jumpin’ at the Woodside; Splanky; Doggin’ Around; Yeah Man; Shiny Stockings; Sent For You Yesterday.
Artie Shaw: Begin Beguine; Back Bay Shuffle.
Fletcher Henderson: Wrappin’ It Up; Christopher Columbus.
Lionel Hampton: Flying Home.
Harlan Leonard: Skee; Hairy Joe Jump; Too Much.
At these performances, close your eyes and you may think you’re back in the 1930’s or 40’s, dancing and listening to the music of Duke Ellington in the Cotton Club, Jimmie Lunceford in the Savoy Ballroom, Benny Goodman in the Roseland Club, Count Basie in the Woodside Ballroom, Artie Shaw in the Pennsylvania Hotel, or Glenn Miller in the Glen Island Casino.
How to book the band / inquires for KJRO’s “Tribute to the Great Big Bands of the Swing-Era” - - contact one of the following:
o Mike Richardson: [email protected]; 859-420-2426.
o Dick Domek: [email protected]; 859-559-6341.
In 1999, KJRO released their first CD “Ellington Celebration”, a retrospective of Ellington’s music from the 1920’s to the 1970’s (1999 was also the centennial year of Ellington’s birth). With the release of “Ellington Celebration”, KJRO established itself as one of the best jazz repertory orchestras currently performing./
In 2009, partly as a result of their experiences at Hepcats/KJRO big band swing dance collaborations, KJRO released their second CD, “Flying Home”. The CD contains 24 tracks, many of them favorites for swing dancers at these events.
Flying Home - by the Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra
24 Tracks on the CD
Tk# – Title – Org. Artist – Time – c. BPM
1. Flying Home (1942), Lionel Hampton, 3:15, 192 bpm
2. Jumpin’ at the Woodside (1938), Count Basie, 3:13, 239 bpm
3. In a Mellowtone (1940), Duke Ellington, 3:15, 133 bpm
4. *On the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (1955), Harry James, 2:39, 129 bpm
5. Doggin’ Around (1938), Count Basie, 3:09, 246 bpm
6. In My Solitude (1934) – Duke Ellington – 3:18 – 080 bpm
7. It’s Sand, Man (1942), Count Basie, 3:13, 195 bpm
8. Ill Wind (1941), Benny Carter, 3:55, 068 bpm
9. Jive Stomp (1933), Duke Ellington, 2:53, 212 bpm
10. Sing, Sing, Sing (1937), Benny Goodman, 3:32, 233 bpm
11. Skee (1940), Harlan Leonard, 3:01, 204 bpm
12. Perdido (1942), Duke Ellington, 3:10, 130 bpm
13. Sepia Panorama (1942), Duke Ellington, 3:24, 110 bpm
14. Hairy Joe Jump (1940), Harlan Leonard, 3:16, 173 bpm
15. For Dancers Only (1937), Jimmie Lunceford, 2:47, 151 bpm
16. Too Much (1940), Harlan Leonard, 3:22, 182 bpm
17. Lunceford Special (1939), Jimmie Lunceford, 2:56, 242 bpm
18. *I Thought About You (1956), Nelson Riddle, 3:46, 116 bpm
19. Back Bay Shuffle (1938), Artie Shaw, 3:25, 193 bpm
20. Swingtime in the Rockies (1938), Benny Goodman, 2:34, 264 bpm
21. Don’t Be That Way (1938), Benny Goodman, 3:21, 168 bpm
22. Jack the Bear (1940), Duke Ellington, 3:22, 154
23. Chattanooga Choo Choo (1941), Glenn Miller, 2:36, 144 bpm
23. Rockin’ in Rhythm (1963), Duke Ellington, 3:45, 216 bpm
To hear some audio clips from KJRO's CD recordings, click here!
To check out a review of the Flying Home CD by Mike Richardson, click on the CD Review link: CD Review
From their earliest days as Lindy Hop and Balboa swing dancers in Lexington, Mike and Mary wanted to bring the original, hard swinging big band music of the 1930’s/40’s swing-era back to Lexington for dancers and non dancers alike to enjoy.
Mike was aware of the Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra (KJRO) as early as 1999/2000. KJRO was formed in the late 1990’s by UK School of Music professors Miles Osland, Professor of Saxophone and Jazz Studies, and Dick Domek, Professor of Music Theory, primarily as a way to perform the music of and pay tribute to Duke Ellington upon the occasion of the centennial celebration of Ellington’s birthday. Miles and Dick received a grant to tour Kentucky and perform Ellington’s music. The band members enjoyed playing the great big band music of Ellington (and other big band leaders) so much they decided to continue performing as a group.
KJRO consists of the finest and most talented faculty, alumni, and musicians from Kentucky area colleges and universities. The accolades and professional accomplishments of KJRO members are too numerous to mention here, but suffice it to say that many KJRO members are considered at the top of their profession, not only as performers, but as music educators, arrangers, etc. The truly original arrangements of the big band swing-era are not often performed professionally outside of major metropolitan areas. KJRO plays many songs that are considered swing-era classics, but are not played very often by the average “big band” or “swing band” due to their technical difficulty.
In 1999, KJRO released their first CD “Ellington Celebration”, a retrospective of Ellington’s music from the 1920’s to the 1970’s (1999 was also the centennial year of Ellington’s birth). With the release of “Ellington Celebration”, KJRO established itself as one of the best jazz repertory orchestras currently performing. Prior to November 2005, KJRO had performed mainly in concert settings. But that was about to change.
Saturday, November 19th, 2005 was the first Hepcats/KJRO big band swing dance collaboration. How did that all come about?
Mike & Mary have been instrumental in establishing, developing and growing the swing dance scene in Lexington. As the primary DJ at Hepcats events, Mike played a lot of swing-era big band music, and felt that a dance with live music from the big band genre would be appreciated and supported by the Lexington swing dance community (not sure that is true today). Mike and Mary toyed with the idea of a Hepcats/KJRO collaboration but really had no idea if the band would be receptive to playing for a swing dance. In addition, Mike knew that paying the musicians in a first-rate, high quality 17 piece big band for a gig was not an inexpensive proposition.
In 2003, KJRO played a concert at the Univ. of Kentucky (UK) Singletary Center that was dedicated to the music of the great Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra. The Lunceford Orchestra was considered one of the top big band orchestras in the swing-era (along with Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Chick Webb, Fletcher Henderson...). Knowing that KJRO played such great charts as “For Dancers Only”, “Lunceford Special” and “Four or Five Times” convinced Mike and Mary that a swing dance with KJRO providing the music was an absolute must for the Lexington/central Kentucky swing dance community!
In early 2005, Mike had a chance meeting with Dick Domek (then Professor of Music Theory at the UK School of Music). When Mike suggested the idea of KJRO playing for a Hepcats swing dance, Dick was all for it. So we worked out the details for KJRO to play its first Big Band Dance for swing dancers on Saturday, November 19, 2005 at the UK Student Center Grand Ballroom. The rest, as they say, is history.
Given the artistic success of the initial collaboration, similar additional events were normally scheduled in the spring and fall of each year. At these events KJRO plays the original arrangements of the great big bands such as Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, Artie Shaw, Harlan Leonard, Glenn Miller and others. These events were one of the most anticipated dance events of the year for the Lexington/central KY area Lindy Hop and Balboa swing dance community. These big band swing dances are a great way to get a feel for what it was like to dance in the 1930’s/40’s swing-era!
Attendees, to include dancers and non dancers, come from not only from the Lexington area, but from around the region. The connection, mutual respect and enthusiasm between KJRO band members and the swing dancers and audience is magical. The band members enjoy playing for an audience that not only appreciates the music but also respects the rich history and culture of the swing-era.
In 2009, partly as a result of their experiences at these collaborations, KJRO released their second CD, “Flying Home”. The CD contains 24 tracks, many of them favorites for swing dancers at these events.
Some of the great songs that KJRO plays at these collaborations include
(*=on the Ellington Celebration CD; **=on the Flying Home CD):
o **Flying Home, by Lionel Hampton.
o **For Dancers Only, **Lunceford Special, Four or Five Times, My Blue Heaven; Baby Won’t You Please Come Home, by Jimmie Lunceford.
o Rockin’ in Rhythm (*1930 and **1963 versions), **Jive Stomp”, *Stevedore Stomp, Take the A Train, **In a Mellotone, *Ring Dem Bells, *Drop Me Off in Harlem, Cottontail, by Duke Ellington.
o **Back Bay Shuffle, by Artie Shaw.
o **Swingtime in the Rockies (the 1938 Carnegie Hall version, 264 BPM!), **Sing, Sing, Sing, Bugle Call Rag; Christopher Columbus; King Porter Stomp; **Don’t Be That Way, by Benny Goodman.
o **Skee, **Hairy Joe Jump, **Too Much, by Harlan Leonard.
o **Doggin” Around, **Jumpin’ at the Woodside, **It’s Sand, Man, Splanky, by Count Basie.
o **Chatt. Choo Choo, String of Pearls, Little Brown Jug, Penn. 6-5000, by Glen Miller.
It was also determined that the students in the UK Jazz Ensemble (UKJE), directed by Miles Osland, would benefit from playing for swing dances. UKJE consists of the most talented students in the award winning and nationally recognized UK Jazz Studies program. So UKJE now sometimes provides the music for these collaborations. UKJE plays many original swing-era arrangements, but also some different charts, such as charts from the famous Count Basie and Frank Sinatra “Sinatra at the Sands” performance at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. UKJE also sometimes features vocalists from the nationally ranked UK Voice and Choral Studies program.
There are not many (if any) communities the size of Lexington that have regular swing dances with talented big band orchestra’s providing authentic, swing-era music, played from the original arrangements.
The Hepcats and KJRO really appreciate your support for these collaborations. Will there be a future Hepcats/KJRO collaboration? Who knows, so keep an eye out on the Hepcats web age or sign up for the Hepcats Email Newsletter. Thanks to all those that supported the past collaborations – and see you at the next Big Band Swing Dance!