The Jive Aces and The Herb Miller Orchestra

It was swing and jump-jive all the way on Saturday 12 August at The South Bank and St Katherine Docks in London.


The Glorious Twelfth: It was Lindy Hop Heaven on Saturday 12 August, as a number of festivals and events coincided to offer free dancing to top bands in London. In West London, The Ealing Jazz Festival offered The Sheena Davies Group, playing their own brand of bright jive that brought them a booking at Monday's Stompin' earlier this year. To the East, The Hackney Jazz Festival had a more eclectic offering of music, not always to the approval of the assembled foot-shufflers.

The Jive Aces
The Aces swing at The National Theatre

At 5pm outside The National Theatre on The South Bank, The Jive Aces, freshly-returned from Europe, entertained the crowd with a selection of hits from their CDs. The stage show of the band gets more and more showy, with regular sorties into the audience while playing, still including trumpeter/singer's Ian trademark play-and-dance routine. To this has been added a 'musician pyramid' which may not be performable in venues with low ceilings.

Ian and Claire
Ian Clarkson swings out with Claire Warner

The repertoire covered a frantic Caldonia, the Blue Moon/My Baby Just Cares For Me medley, the self-penned Imagination and another Jordan classic Choo Choo Ch'Boogie. The dancer turn-out was not as high as might have been expected, and the tarmac dancefloor was not the best surface to move on, especially in the late afternoon sunshine. But the onlookers loved it, as shown by the queue to buy CDs when the gig ended, and then it was time for the band to pack up and drive to Edinburgh, where they were due to play at lunchtime the next day.

The Herb Miller Orchestra packed out Marble Quay at St Katherine Docks from 7pm on Saturday 12 as part of the Free Trade Festival, celebrating the anniversary of the bombing of the area in World War II. With drinkers and diners hanging from the balconies of the overlooking Dickens Inn pub restaurant, dancers packed the floor for the repertoire of medium-paced tunes from the band. Naturally it was all from the Glenn Miller songbook, such as Little Brown Jug, Tuxedo Junction, String of Pearls and a crowd-calling Pennsylvania 6-5000.

The Herb Miller Orchestra
The Herb Miller Orch. swings St. Kath

For the dancers, the surface was not the best though, with some kind of plug-together plastic matting called 'Portafloor' being the culprit. As a general rule in life, it's best not to set too much store by any product that is prefaced by the word 'Porta'. Despite this, the two sets met with approval from dancers that had come from events at Ealing, Hackney and The South Bank, and generally agreed to be the best of the day. All this before they disappeared for more dancing at The 100 Club, Hellzapoppin', Tango and even an African Dance evening!


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