For Pete’s Sake! The end of The Echoes of Ellington Orchestra.

This is your last chance to hear one of the great contemporary swing orchestras

Band leader Pete Long called Swing Time Towers on Monday 4 September 2000 with the sad news that Echoes of Ellington's upcoming gig at London’s 100 Club on Thursday 19 October would be their last.

"I couldn’t do it any more," said Pete, "I’m just too busy with Jools". As musician and arranger with the Jools Holland Rhythm ‘n’ Blues Orchestra, Pete now has two huge tours to play every year. "I couldn’t give the band the attention it needed, and wasn’t prepared to let standards slip". Pete’s time is also taken up with his smaller band, 9.20 Deluxe.

Fans will be delighted to hear that the band is making a considerable noise on its departure. At the end of September they’re off to New York for a week, followed by Chicago in the first week of October. The orchestra will be appearing with The Birmingham Royal Ballet, as they perform Nutcracker Sweeties, Ellington’s jazz take on Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.

So - any dance gigs while you’re in The States, Pete? "I offered to play a set at Swing 46 for free – but they were only interested if we played the whole evening for free!" Someone should tell the manager of the club that there’s something of a gift horse mouth-gazing situation going on here!

Can any of the arrangements be played by 9.20 Deluxe? "No – they wouldn’t work with a smaller unit, so this is the last time you’ll get to hear the likes of Main Stem". How about that dancers’ favourite Let’s Get Together? "Actually we could do that one – it’s not so much of a stretch". Hurrah! The orchestra may be going but the echo will live on with 9.20 Deluxe.

Echoes of Ellington at Whitbread Brewery
Echoes of Ellington at Whitbread Brewery.

As a result of this decision, a series of web pages under construction will appear on the Swing Time site as a tribute to the orchestra. This will include reviews, photographs, details of their dates and recordings, and frankly any other stuff to do with them that can be found. It will certainly include the interview with Pete Long from 1997 which covers the formation and plans for the band at that time.

For those saddened by the news of the end of such a great swing band, Pete has this to say: "If more people had turned up at those gigs at Rayners Hotel in Harrow, we could have carried on!" So if it was always your intention to go but you never made it – take a bow! You can go some way to making up for this heinous mistake by turning out for Echoes of Ellington at London’s 100 Club on Thursday 19 October.

See you there!

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