Relive the Roaring 20s and Fabulous 30s in Horsham

The Great British Swing-Dance Show hot-foots it to The Capitol, Horsham on Saturday, February 1 at 7.30pm.

Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 9:18 am
Updated Thursday, 30th January 2020, 1:14 pm
Tony Jacobs

The night brings together The Swing Time Jivers, Tony Jacobs’ Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra, The Little Tuxes Dixieland Band and Catherine Sykes plus a guest singer from the Glenn Miller UK Orchestra.

Tony is promising a dazzling celebration of dance, music and song from the Roaring 20s and Fabulous 30s including the Charleston, the Lindy-Hop, the Black Bottom and much more as the orchestra and dancers pay tribute to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in numbers including Cheek To Cheek, Puttin’ On The Ritz and Top Hat, White Tie and Tails.

“We are talking about 20s and 30s music, song and dance, and the dance element is really important,” Tony says. “I have got a ten-piece 1920s band called the Tony Jacobs’ Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra, and we have got six dancers known as The Swing Time Jivers who specialise in dance from that era.”

It’s the music Tony has always loved.

“I am getting on a bit now! I would describe myself as an ageing crooner! When I was a teenager, all my friends were getting into Cream and Eric Clapton and The Stones and things like that, but I just never really thought that that was for me.

“I discovered my father’s old collection of 78s, and I got to hear people like Benny Goodman and Arty Shaw and Glenn Miller. And I discovered Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby. They were amazingly influential figures, and I was just completely hooked.

“Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong were quite close friends. They made several films together. Louis Armstrong brought in popular music, swing basically, bringing the trumpet forward as a solo instrument. And he adored Crosby’s singing.

“And I just found the music incredibly exciting. I still do. I just find the whole thing really, really exciting. There is very little pop music around now that turns me on.”

Tony studied at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, where he indulged his passion for comedy – writing, producing and performing in revues.

After graduating, he became a social worker, but entertainment and music beckoned and there followed a five-year tenure fronting the tea-dance band at London’s Waldorf Hotel. In 1991, he was offered the job as male vocalist with the Syd Lawrence Orchestra and there he remained for ten years, touring the UK and Europe, appearing on TV and radio and performing in venues including London’s Barbican and the Royal Albert Hall.

His current band is the latest chapter in his musical career – and he loves the way it pulls in new audiences.

“The other great thing is that we get youngsters along to the gigs, youngsters who at the beginning might really not want to be there. But by the end of the show, they are just blown away. They hadn’t even had a chance to say that they think the music is rubbish because they have just never had a chance to listen to it, but they listen to it now, they hear the music we are playing, and they are just completely gobsmacked by it and completely love it.

“And I think there is a big resurgence of interest in the dance from that era.”

As for Tony’s own style: “I listen to so many singers. I like to think I am able to adapt. We do a Gershwin and Porter evening and I also form a big band every now and again. I put on a festival of hot jazz, big band, swing, cabaret and dance for Warner Leisure Hotels.”

Crosby and Sinatra are inevitably among the favourites: “Crosby once said that Sinatra brings a mood to the songs that he sings. It was sex appeal… and also the phrasing was just so important.”