Close-Up: An Interview With LP Swing Orchestra Bandleader Joe Pettitt

Bandleader Joe Pettitt joins us on Close-Up Culture to talk about the LP Swing Orchestra and their upcoming shows.

See the LP Swing Orchestra live – LP SWING ORCHESTRA

Hi Joe, welcome to Close-Up Culture. You have a show coming up with Jeff Hopper and Nicola Emmanuelle. What can audiences expect from the show?

We’ve been touring a couple of specific concert programmes over the last six months but for this show we’ve got a completely free rein; we’re unleashed! We’ll be featuring international YouTube trumpet sensation Louis Dowdeswell along with these two phenomenal singers. The set includes numbers from the libraries of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman plus songs made famous by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett.

Can you tell us about your collaboration with Jeff and Nicola?

Jeff has been guesting with the band for over twenty years now. He’s one of the best in the business and a firm favourite with our audiences. Nicola is a much more recent find! I discovered her whilst working on the West End production of the Rat Pack (where she played Ella Fitzgerald). Since then she’s been singing with us on our “100 Years of Big Bands” tour, receiving standing ovations wherever we go.

What insight can you give us into the creative process and preparation for a show like this?

The gig is taking place at Trinity School where there is an exceptional music department. One of the highlights playing here is the chance to involve some of their amazing young musicians. We have been working with the school’s big band who will not only be playing a ’support’ slot but also joining with us to form a 34-piece big band for a grand finalé. We’ll also be featuring one or two of their stand-out players through the concert. It’s great to see the future of Big Band music is looking so bright. This, along with our guests helps to shape the format of the show. 

The LP Swing Orchestra have been so busy, including two specials on Sky Arts. How do you reflect on the orchestra’s journey and where it is now?

I don’t think we’ve ever been in better shape. The diary is brimming with concerts all over Britain and beyond. This year we’ve already been to Dubai, next month we’ll be at Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom and looking ahead we’re playing at the Royal Albert Hall and Cadogan Hall. During the pandemic we embraced live-streaming; sometimes in the wind and rain in my back garden and at others from concert halls and even Abbey Road Studios. This really spurred on our growth into becoming probably the busiest and most popular Big Band in the country with the pinnacle being the two Sky TV shows you mention. It was really all down to the unbelievable support from our fans. They completely understood the awful state of the business whilst also needing something to satisfy their hunger for live music. We owe each and every one of them massively.

Do you have any other upcoming projects or ambitions to share with us?

We’re hoping to back broadcasting soon as this helps us to spread the gospel of swing music to the most people. It’s such a great sound that everyone needs to hear it! That’s really our ambition; to get as many people as possible to experience the sound of 17 people working together to make some of the most thrilling sounds ever!

For more dates – https://www.lpswingorchestra.com/diary

For tickets – https://www.trybooking.com/uk/events/landing?eid=37792&

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