Solomon Douglas Swingtet

Quotes from Sidemen

The Solomon Douglas Swingtet has played in Albuquerque (NM), Asheville (NC), Atlanta (GA), Bellingham (WA), Birmingham (AL), Charlotte (NC), Cleveland (OH), Columbia (SC), Detroit (MI), Durham (NC), Edmonton (AB), Greensboro (NC), Harrisonburg (VA), Hartford (CT), Huntsville (AL), Kingston (ON), Knoxville (TN), Montreal (QC), Nashville (TN), New York (NY), Norfolk (VA), Oberlin (OH), Orlando (FL), Ottawa (ON), Philadelphia (PA), Phoenix (AZ), Pittsburgh (PA), Portland (OR), Pottstown (PA), Rochester (NY), Sacramento (CA), San Diego (CA), Seattle (WA), Tacoma (WA), Tallahassee (FL), Tampa (FL), Toronto (ON), Vancouver (BC), Virginia Beach (VA), Washington (DC), Waterloo (ON), Williamsburg (VA), and Winnipeg (MB). The band contracts top-rated local musicians wherever it plays, and this means that some of the very best swing and jazz musicians in North America have filled its ranks. Here are a few things that some of them have said about working on the band.

“Playing on Solomon’s band is always a great time. Top-notch true-to-the-recording lifts, interesting original arrangements, absolutely incredible musicians and very happy dancers! Solomon is a not only a great pianist and talented arranger, but also a measured, logical and thoughtful bandleader to work for. The tour and recording late 2009 was a great time with truly fantastic players. I’ll be telling the stories from that trip for a long time to come. Can’t wait to do it again!”  —Nicholas Dyson, trumpet (Ottawa, ON), 2010/2/8

“The Swingtet is a fabulous group to play with. Solomon goes to great lengths to transcribe and capture both the notes and the spirit of this great era of jazz music. As a leader, he is easy to work with and his charts are very precise and user-friendly. I always have a great time when I am on the bandstand with his group!”  —Greg Ruby, guitar (Seattle, WA), 2007/6/18

“I’ll be your jazz trumpeter any day! The band is too cool, and I love the charts. Thanks for having me!”  —Bria Skonberg, trumpet (Vancouver, BC), 2007/6/19

“This band swings hard and is always fun to be part of! This isn’t some watered-down ‘dance-band’ book; every arrangement has been meticulously crafted to authentically recreate not just the notes but more importantly the Spirit of the bands that originally played this music. For every chart in the book, you can bet it’s going to read down just the way the original recording sounds, right down to the most accurate level of detail. That, in and of itself, is worthy of respect—but even more than that, the band just plain swings and that’s the most important detail of all.”  —Pete Petersen, saxophone (Portland, OR), 2007/8/20

“Playing with Solomon’s band is always a blast. He understands the audience, and knows how to play a good mix that keeps people on their feet. The care and effort Solomon has put into the music really shows, and it makes our job really easy: just swing!”  —Eric Heveron-Smith, trombone and bass (Rochester, NY), 2007/12/3

“Solomon’s swingtet is a totally happening band. He knows the music inside and out, and the charts reflect that. He plays for dancers, and when they’re happy, the band sounds even better. I’ve never done a gig with him with a sub-par musician, either. Everyone wants to play on this band!”  —Mike Cemprola, saxophone (Philadelphia, PA), 2009/12/17

“What more could I say other than I would gladly play with you anywhere, any time as we have done for the last 6 years. Each time we play I feel like I’m part of something special and it makes me proud. The music you represent and play is authentic without being mired in nostalgia and you give your musicians the ability to be themselves within that environment.”  —Ted Gottsegen, guitar (New York, NY), 2009/12/14

“Playing with Solomon is always a blast. His charts are specific, accurate, and very easy to read...a rare treat for drummers! The band is always a swinging, fun group of people to play with. I’ve never had an unenjoyable gig with the Solomon Douglas Swingtet.” —Brian Heveron-Smith, drums (Rochester, NY), 2009/12/3

“What an incredible musical experience! I had no idea that the gentlemen on this tour would be some of the most talented musicians in the world. Everyone’s passion and dedication to the music has left me with a hunger to do more touring with the same group of guys. Not only did I have an amazing time, but I feel as if I’ve had my most recent musical growth in years. I thank you all for allowing me to be a part of this new family of musical geniuses.”  —Alcedrick Todd, trumpet (Dallas, TX), 2009/12/15

“I’ve been playing bass with Solomon since Swing Out New Hampshire ’02 in configurations ranging from two players to his 10-piece Swingtet. I’ve always been impressed with Solomon’s musicianship, but when he first pulled out his Swingtet book my jaw pretty much dropped. Basie tunes, Ellington tunes—you name it, he’s poured hundreds of hours into transcribing it note for note. His level of dedication is only met by a few but it is of great benefit to us all. Traveling the world as he does, he offers a unique experience to dancers and listeners alike: the opportunity to travel back in time and experience music as it was in the 20s and 30s. Meanwhile, by always employing the most talented local musicians, he is able to provide incredible music while simultaneously helping to support the local music scene. I think I can honestly say that the only thing I don’t like about playing with Solomon is that I can’t be on the dance floor at the same time.”  —Josh Fialkoff, bass (Albany, NY), 2007/8/28

“Recently I was contacted to play with the Solomon Douglas Swingtet on an open Saturday. I had never worked with Solomon before and, as I happened to be open on a slow week, I took the gig. I had no idea of what to expect.

As a professional trumpeter I play all kinds of gigs—jazz, rock, R&B, blues, classical, etc. Many jobs are fun to play; many aren’t. Some are musically rewarding. The Solomon Douglas Swingtet gig was musically rewarding and just immense fun to play.

Freelance musicians usually play to indifferent crowds and play functional music. That is the nature of the business. With Solomon’s band we played for a crowd of people who listened to us. The appreciated the music and musicianship. That alone would have made the gig rewarding. But that wasn’t all. The charts, for me, a trumpeter, were both challenging and a thrill to play. I was given the opportunity to use all of my skills. There were plenty of opportunities for solos, too. Everyone in the band got to have a moment in the sun.

On top of it all, Solomon was a fine musician and a gentleman. It was a pleasure to work with him. My parting words to him were that I would work for him anytime, anywhere, depending on mutual availability.

This was an ideal gig. Musicians don’t miss a chance to work for Solomon. Clients, hire this band. You’ll hear musicians playing out of joy, and this yields the best in music.”  —Nick Drozdoff, trumpet (Chicago, IL), 2008/4/15

“I’ve been working with Solomon for a couple of years now, and I must say it is truly an honor and pleasure working with him and the band. I respect him and his hustle because he’s about the music 100%, and he pulls out Basie and Ellington charts that requires one to swing hard from beneath his soul!!! Solomon is no joke when it comes to the authenticity of the music. Everytime I play a gig with him, I feel like I’m in the ’20s or ’30s or ’40s playing the music as if it’s a brand new composition written in the ’00s. I have so much fun playing with him, for the dancers, and of course with the band. It’s such a spiritual moment when we all get together and groove as one sound with individual voices. I wish we can take our love we have on the bandstand for eachother and the music on the road to more cities and countries. I love this band, and everything that comes along with it; including all the beautiful ladies dancing and smiling and swingin’ to the music. It’s very passionate and joyous. That in itself is priceless!!”  —D’Vonne Lewis, drums (Seattle, WA), 2008/4/15

“One of my favorite bands to play with of late is the Solomon Douglas Swingtet. Solomon has transcribed and arranged some great swing era stuff from Harry Sweets Edison, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Ellington, Basie etc. The other musicians are really good also....guys like Travis Ranney and Pete Petersen and Galen Green, Steve Treseler and others on saxes... Solomon is a smart cat and has really studied the music until it is second nature to him now.

For me this music seems to be designed for me to have fun! Seriously, this takes me back to my roots. I grew up listening and playing this kind of jazz music...jazz used to be for dancers! Plus the jazz from this era had so much blues and African American roots mixed really grooves and speaks to me in a seductive way.

Also, the crowds are very enthusiastic and know the music and dance their faces off! It is extremely uplifting to see 400 or so amazing dancers working up a sweat dancing to our music.

Thanks should go to Solomon for helping this scene exist.”  —Jay Thomas, trumpet and saxophone (Seattle, WA), 2008/11/19

“I always look forward to playing with the Solomon Douglas Swingtet. The repertoire goes far deeper than the usual dance band charts, his transcriptions are very accurate, and most importantly, the music swings hard! The band always has great players, and the the dancers have a great time whenever Solomon is in town.”  —Galen Green, saxophone (Seattle, WA), 2007/8/14

“Is it a small big band? Or a big small band? Either way, the Swingtet is a lot of fun. Nice mix of standard big band repertoire, historically significant older swing, and the occasional something unexpected (Sonny Rollins, anyone?) Solomon’s arrangements re-create the sound of a full-size big band with only 8 or 10 pieces—no small feat. The dancers always have a great time, and all that positive energy coming from the dance floor makes for an enjoyable and rewarding gig for the musicians. Here’s to more DC-area engagements for the Solomon Douglas Swingtet!”  —Leigh Pilzer, saxophone (Washington, DC), 2007/9/4

“I’ve always had fun playing in Solomon’s Swingtet. He always gets the most inspiring cats in town to play the gig. His transcriptions are very true to the style he’s chosen to re-enact—swinging and often quite challenging. I hope some day soon abundant remuneration will come Solomon’s way for his great musicianship and all his dedication to keeping a great tradition alive.”  —Nathaniel Paul Schleimer, saxophone (Seattle, WA), 2007/6/18

“I think you have the best book I’ve ever played, the most authentic and by far the best sound. What a great gig!”  —Steven Johnston, bass (White Rock, BC), 2007/9/30

“I really enjoyed playing with you at the Spanish Ballroom. The musicians you hired were top-shelf. All your charts are meticulously put together and clearly printed, so there are no ambiguities about the ‘road-map.’ You’ve really done your homework on the transcriptions as well, so the notes and rhythms are all correct as well as being easy to read. Everything about the gig was ‘together,’ down to you providing us with mp3’s of the charts!”  —Paul duBois, trumpet (Washington, DC), 2007/8/2

“I’ll work with Solomon anytime! He will put together the hardest swinging band you will ever play with. Count on it! His charts make an 8 piece band sound like a 15 piece band, and he knows the charts like the back of his hand. His attention to detail is fantastic. A great guy to work with, and the audience loves it!! Great gig Solomon!!”  —Fred Selvaggio, drums (Chicago, IL), 2008/4/21

“To say Solomon Douglas plays big band music would be like saying Duke Ellington played around on the piano... Douglas brings to life a time when music was a cultural lifeline to the American public; a time when dance, art, music, and excitement converged. He’s one of the only leaders for whom I would travel a great distance to make the gig.”  —Jon Dichter, guitar (Philadelphia, PA), 2007/9/5

“There’s other guys out there playing small-band transcriptions of big band hits. But how many are constantly traveling the country, picking up the best players locally, and knocking the dancers out? You prove that what was good in 1925—and ’35, ’45, ’55, ’65—is still good today if it’s played well. Call me anytime, brother, and I mean that!”  —Gus Friedlander, guitar (Chicago, IL), 2008/4/16

“The Solomon Douglas Swingtet performs an amazingly accurate and extensive catalogue of swing music. As a gypsy jazz player and an avid listener of swing music from the 20s, I am incredibly impressed with his choices of arrangements and musicians.”  —Zander Wyatt, guitar (Nashville, TN), 2008/2/24

“Solomon’s knowledge of this era of jazz is extensive, his books are detailed and some of the most authentic transcriptions I’ve ever played. I’ve never enjoyed a dance band gig as much as with Solomon—good players, great books and a bandmaster that can read his audience. It was a great introduction into the seedy underground world of Lindy Hop exchanges.”  —Audrey Ochoa, trombone (Edmonton, AB), 2008/4/15

“Solomon’s arrangements capture the spirit and sophistication of the best music of the swing era and inject into it the youthful excitement of the modern swing craze.”  —Chris Stover, trombone (Seattle, WA), 2007/8/13

“Solomon—my hat is off to you man. You’re a great leader, great player, great arranger and a great guy. For anybody wondering, I already got paid—LOL. And for any players out there wondering, it was totally fun playing for these Lindy dancers. They are hip and so appreciative. The charts were so well done. You helped us swing hard and I loved it. Cheers and congratulations!”  —Sammy Wolfe, drums (Asheville, NC), 2008/1/3

“I had a great time playing with Solomon’s Swingtet. The band, charts, and his bandleading were all excellent. He knows this music inside and out and is able to recreate both the sound and spirit of the era, all whilst keeping things fun, relaxed, and swinging!”  —Josh Roberts, guitar/banjo (Vancouver, BC), 2007/10/13

“This band is killing! True, authentic swing with the momentum and balls to drive a ballroom full of the new generation of Lindy-Hoppers. These guys would make the likes of Bix and Trumbauer proud.”  —Patrick Breiner, saxophone (New York, NY), 2007/9/3

“Solomon Douglas’s Swingtet music is fun to play for packed houses full of energetic swing dancers. Everyone gets a chance to blow and the charts are easy to read and keep you on your toes.”  —Travis Ranney, saxophone (Seattle, WA), 2007/6/23

“Our recent gig together in Ottawa was great. The charts were well written and challenging, and brought new life to some old tunes. The organization, the musicians, the arrangements, and not least the audience’s response were all fantastic. Thank you, and hope to do it again soon.”  —David Renaud, saxophone (Ottawa, ON), 2007/7/18

“I had a great time playing with Solomon’s band. He’s a very serious musician, although he doesn’t let anything get in the way of the fun of playing music. He takes great care choosing his material and his arrangements are always great. To top it off, he’s a very swingin’ piano player. I hope to work with him again.”  —Evan Arntzen, saxophone (Vancouver, BC), 2007/7/27

“It’s a very authentic band. The arrangements are very authentic, and right in the spirit of the eras that we were playing in. The charts were very well-written. You had a good selection of musicians; that makes a big difference. Overall, I enjoyed playing with the band.”  —Steve Novosel, bass (Washington, DC), 2007/7/10

“What a fun band. I smiled all night. The charts are very readable and user-friendly. Though for dancers, the repertoire is historical, not Mickey Mouse, what with Fletcher Henderson, Bubber Miley, and even Sonny Rollins and ‘Stolen Moments.’ I was ready to go on the road.”  —Russell Scarborough, drums (Norfolk, VA), 2007/6/25

“Playing with the Solomon Douglas Swingtet is a real kick! The charts are well written and faithful to the early swing era without being trite. It was a pleasant, almost unbelievable surprise to see so many young people enjoying the swing dance experience; it gives me hope that the Big Band experience will survive! Keep up the great work, Solomon!”  —Carroll Bailey, Jr., trumpet (Virginia Beach, VA), 2007/7/11

“Playing with the Solomon Douglas Swingtet was a pleasure from begining to end. The arrangements were so fun to play and the musicians were a complete pleasure to work with. Solomon does a fantastic job of working with the crowd and the musicians, making a truely wonderful experience for everyone envolved. Ten out of 10.”  —Benjamin Bohannon, drums (Vancouver, BC), 2007/7/25

“There are a lot of dance bands out there but none that I have played with come as close to the real thing as the Solomon Douglas Swingtet. The arrangements are great and authentic and they make you feel you are really back in the swing era. This band is lots of fun and I look forward to the next time!”  —Chad Fisher, trombone (Birmingham, AL), 2007/7/18

“Performing with Solomon Douglas was a real highlight for me. His book was extremely well organized and well written, and he obviously knows each arrangement intimately. But more than that, he has a gift for knowing what the dancers desire, and does a fantastic job of matching his current band lineup with the vibe that the audience/dancers are projecting. He’s also a killer pianist, a skilled bandleader and a heck of a nice cat, on top of everything else.”  —Bruce “Jake” Jacobs, bass (Winnipeg, MB), 2007/10/29

“Performing with the Solomon Douglas Swingtet was a pleasure. Douglas’s book contains a wide variety of well-crafted arrangements designed specifically for dancers who take their swing/lindy/jitterbug seriously—and have a great time with it. When was your last opportunity to play a book featuring arrangements extending from contemporary originals all the way back through jazz standards of the 1960s to traditional hits from the golden age of big bands in the 1940s and beyond into the formative classics of the 1930s and even 1920s? Douglas is a connoisseur of classic dance music as his arrangements attest—and musicians and dedicated swing dancers are the beneficiaries.”  —Craig N. Canning, saxophone (Williamsburg, VA), 2007/7/11

“I really enjoyed playing with Solomon and his Swingtet. I was particularly impressed with the fact that we captured the style and feel of the era. That was an important part of the performance that Solomon stressed. So cool! The dancers were great. We all had fun that night! Thanks Solomon.”  —Mitch Rigel, drums (Birmingham, AL), 2007/7/20

“Playing with the Swingtet was the most fun I’ve had on a gig in a long time. The charts have a great big band sound from just an octet!”  —Josh Kavanaugh, guitar (Tuscaloosa, AL), 2007/7/18

“The Solomon Douglas Swingtet has an absolutely outstanding collection of music in its repertoire that you will not find with any other ensemble. A pleasure for performers, dancers, and audience members alike!”  —Wil Swindler, saxophone (Denver, CO), 2007/8/15

“Had a great time playing in Fultondale, AL at a swing dance! Lots of talented dancers, young and old, local and non-, and the music we played was excellent. Very challenging and fun clarinet parts. All very authentic, some early, swing music. Overall a wonderful experience.”  —Gary Wheat, saxophone (Birmingham, AL), 2007/7/25

“The musical direction for the evening, under bandleader Solomon Douglas, was both authoritative and concise. Striving for a clean interpretation with technical accuracy, he knew how to inspire his sidemen to strongly represent the direction we were all about to explore. While this evening was an eclectic journey back to a time when music was played with a predictable style, the musical arrangements by Solomon provided a fresh harmonic complexity representative of the period. Using a wide array of colours, sweeping lines, and a driving beat, the Solomon Douglas Swingtet played some very special favourites from the 1920s including ‘East St. Louis Toodle-Oo,’ ‘Rockin’ in Rhythm,’ and many more. It was truly a memorable evening from both an audience’s and a performer’s perspective!”  —Craig Kennedy, guitar/banjo (Ottawa, ON), 2007/8/16

“The arrangements were first-rate and the musicianship was very high. The material is an international treasure. It isn’t often one gets an opportunity to perform Fletcher Henderson charts. But most swung its tail off!”  —John Gronberg, trumpet (Pullman, WA), 2007/7/26

“Solomon Douglas is a great bandleader and talented composer/arranger. His charts are fun to play and the band is always tight. Playing for the lindy-hoppers is a treat; they help us swing even harder!”  —Erica von Kleist, saxophone (New York, NY), 2007/7/13

“Every time I play with Solomon I know that there will be a huge crowd packing the dance floor. The band and the crowd feed off of each other until it seems like there is just pure energy in the room!”  —Tim Malland, drums (Seattle, WA), 2007/8/13

“The most serious dancer is in the know when it comes to finding the best dance floor, and for this we can thank Solomon Douglas’s Swingtet for keeping the dance scene hot for the next 100 years. Solomon always brings in the top jazz musicians to imitate THE authentic sound and he has the command to guarantee an instant party from beat one. Put me on the roll!”  —Richard Lopez, trombone (Olympia, WA), 2007/8/5

“I had a great evening playing charts that were either carefully collected or skilfully and lovingly taken off of records—a great feat of musicianship. When the young, early 20s crowd goes crazy on the floor and demands an encore, which in this case was Jelly Roll Morton’s ‘New Orleans Bump,’ it was for me a thrilling and incredible experience—a taste of musical nirvana. The great thing about the repertoire, too, was the emphasis on early swing, the really hot stuff of the 30s, not the overdone 40s period. To play early Fletcher, Ellington and the driving arrangements of Jimmie Lunceford is a rare treat which I would love to repeat.”  —Leigh U. Smith, trumpet/cornet (Vancouver, BC), 2007/7/10

“Under Solomon’s clear direction and well-written charts, the Swingtet recreates a style of music that not only swings but inspires dancers to give it their all.”  —Peter Gregory, drums (Denver, CO), 2007/8/14

“I wanted to let you know that I had a fantastic time playing with your band last Saturday at Glen Echo. You have a great book of music, and I know that the band and the dancers were enjoying the music very much. Please let me know if you get to the DC area again.”  —Scott Silbert, saxophone (Middletown, MD), 2007/9/10

“Playing with the Swingtet was a pure joy. I was pleasantly surprised to find charts by Fletcher Henderson and Jimmie Lunceford in Solomon’s book. Henderson and Lunceford are unsung heroes of swing that are not as well known as Ellington, Basie and Dorsey. Solomon’s charts are very well written and they swing like a banshee.”  —Vincent Sims, guitar (Tampa, FL), 2009/1/29

“I thought the arrangements were top-notch. They were very respectful of the early jazz tradition, and of the musicians who played a part in its development.”  —J.D. Pendley, guitar/banjo (Austin, TX), 2007/12/15

“Solomon has a natural fun way with the dancers/audience and he connects remarkably well—perhaps since he is a dancer himself, he is on the same wave? His dancing experience simply leads him to know what the dancers will want to dance to and when. The charts are expertly arranged and draw a surprisingly full ‘big band’ sound from a group of just eight. They are all the best of the best swing tunes, and the book probably contains at least five hours of charts. I was grateful on stage because the charts might as well have been professional publications: no strange format issues or typos that I noticed. He hired such solid players that I was always on my toes; they are all great musicians and people who I would call in a second. Solomon is professional, friendly, and easy to work with. I would jump at the chance to play with him again.”  —Tom Lowery, saxophone (Albany, NY), 2007/8/26

“Thanks again for booking me on your gig. I haven’t had so much fun playing Freddie Green style in a long time (maybe ever). Your book has so many of the great tunes in it and the rest of the band was a breeze to play with. Please call any time for other gigs.”  —Dave Onderdonk, guitar (Chicago, IL), 2007/10/31

“There is no more fun gig than a vintage big band playing for hip swing and lindy dancers. Solomon’s band is cool, arrangements are tight and challenging, and the band leader is very entertaining. Call me anytime to play in your band!”  —Terry Chesson, saxophone (Virginia Beach, VA), 2007/7/10

“Solomon’s group is a heavy swinging half-ton of fun! It’s real jazz just the way you’d expect to hear it back when it was first written. The amount of fun we had on the bandstand was matched only by the amount of fun our audience was having listening to us.”  —Lucian Cobb, trombone (Chapel Hill, NC), 2008/1/6

“I had a fantastic time playing with the Solomon Douglas Swingtet. The band was swingin’, Solomon’s rapport with the dancers was great, and his piano playing was very articulate and swung hard. Please call me again to play, any time!”  —Darrell Voss, drums (San Luis Obispo, CA), 2007/10/30

“The gig was (and is always) a blast and the transcriptions are fantastic. It’s always a joy to play such great music and always with a top-notch band.”  —Eli Reisman, guitar (Portland, OR), 2007/10/2

“Playing with the Solomon Douglas Swingtet was a blast—great charts, great musicians. The arrangements are a lot of fun to play, and capture the authentic sound of the big bands with a small group feel. Fantastic!”  —Billy Bargetzi, trombone (Huntsville, AL), 2007/12/10

“Great tunes, great crowd, great gig!”  —Gary Leming, trumpet (Asheville, NC), 2008/1/4

“The sweets were sweet and the hots were hotter, the dancers hip and the charts cool—‘Black and Tan Fantasy’ carried me away. The dancers danced just so we would play, and we played just so they would dance. Is there any sweeter harmony?”  —Ric Becker, trombone (New York, NY), 2008/1/15

“You know, the band really was smokin’ and you really sounded good. Its inspiring to be surrounded by great guys who are great players in front of an audience that really digs what you’re doing. Every gig should be that fun!”  —Ryan Miller, trombone (Chicago, IL), 2008/4/16

“These are really fun arrangements and compostions to play. Solomon knows how to write great swinging lines for all the horns. And the dancers seem to have a ball too. Everyboby wins at those gigs.”  —Carl Maraghi, saxophone (New York, NY), 2008/1/22

“Solomon was a pleasure to work with. His easy-going manner seemed to put everybody at ease and he’s a top notch band leader to boot. The band swung hard and the dancers ate it up. I’d do it again in a heartbeat!”  —Richard Olivarez, guitar (Charlottesville, VA), 2008/2/6

“I had a great time playing all the music with the Solomon Douglas Swingtet. Mr. Douglas is really keeping our traditional music ALIVE. I was glad to be a part of it!”  —Jonathan Chamberlain, drums (New York, NY), 2008/1/16

“I enjoyed playing with the Swingtet in Harrisonburg, VA for the JMU Swing Dance. Solomon’s charts were swinging and fun to play, especially with the excellent players in the group. Plus I got to stop at Sheetz, my favorite rest and food stop, on my way home. Thanks, Solomon.”  —Don Lerman, saxophone (Washington, DC), 2008/1/29

“Solomon knew what he wanted from his band, but communicated with the musicians with respect. His charts were very readable with great song selection. The dancers were a very responsive crowd and there was a wonderful give and take between them and us. His love for the music is contagious and I would gig with him again in a heartbeat!”  —Andrew Kirk, drums (Charlottesville, VA), 2008/1/28

“Great charts and playing—it was fun.”  —Tim Jensen, saxophone (Portland, OR), 2007/9/30

“Solomon sure knows how to put a band together. Great charts, seasoned musicians, challenging repertoire. But what makes it really fun is the swing kids that come out to dance like they just discovered live music. What a great combination. Solomon, you rock!!”  —Peter Beaudoin, drums (Ottawa, ON), 2008/3/24

“Thanks for your great organizational skills. You are an excellent communicator and you were able to tell the musicians the exact sound that was appropriate for the dancers. And those dancers LOVED the band! It was a pleasure to work with you!”  —Hal Smith, drums (San Diego, CA), 2008/4/9

“A good time was had by all, both dancers and musicians alike. A rare treat.”  —Michael Green, drums (Nashville, TN), 2007/12/9

“I had a great time playing with the Solomon Douglas Swingtet. The concept is very unique and surprisingly effective. The charts were easy to follow and more importantly the bandleader was very easy to work with. A real pleasure!”  —Dennis Chang, guitar (Montreal, QC), 2008/3/15

“It is always a pleasure to get a call to play with Solomon’s band. The players are great, the arrangements are awesome and true to the styles they represent (rare with many arrangements these days). Most of all, the band always swings. Solomon’s own fine musical skills and his leadership make it easy for the players to swing their butts off.”  —Vince McCool, trumpet (Washington, DC), 2008/4/15

“Solomon Douglas is truly a special musician and person. He manages to maintain an exceptionally high level of musical quality and discipline, mixed with an original and entertaining performance aesthetic—all while staying true to the various jazz and swing traditions he draws from.”  —David Andrew Moore, drums (New York, NY), 2008/4/16

“I had a great time playing with your Swingtet! It is not that often the musicians are treated so respectfully, paid well, and fed to boot! All in one gig close to home. I would do it again and again. I wish you much success. The Swingtet is swingin’.”  —Steve Dillard, trumpet (San Diego, CA), 2008/4/20

“Classic repertoire, authentic arrangements, and great musicianship. The audience loves the music, and the musicians enjoy playing it.”  —Jim Head, guitar (Edmonton, AB), 2008/4/29

“Since the very first note I played in your band I could tell you were a ‘man on a mission’ to share the joy of fun swing music. I was pleasantly surprised at the vibrant, all-ages lindy hop scene. It is a welcome break from nightclubs and casinos. I am honored to be part of your upcoming CD, and I look forward to every show we play. I wish you the best of success on your continuing ‘mission’!”  —Ted Bowden, trumpet (Seattle, WA), 2008/4/24

“I had a wonderful time playing with the Solomon Douglas Swingtet! Solomon was incredibly organized which made it a breeze to navigate the book. The charts held true to the tradition, and I feel the swing dancers had a great time and really enjoyed the group. I’ll play with this band anytime!”  —Brennan Carter, trumpet (Seattle, WA), 2008/5/25

“Solomon consistently hires top-notch musicians who really make the music come alive, to the pleasure of all attending. It’s my continued honor to be a part of this band when it comes through the region. The charts are a lot of fun, giving a modern eye to the old-school swing style to an extent that keeps every show unique and interesting. Keep it up, Solomon!”  —Ian O’Beirne, saxophone (Philadelphia, PA), 2008/6/15

“Being from New Orleans, I was thrilled to see Jelly Roll Morton’s music included in Solomon’s large repertoire! And the band was just great! (Having my buddy Chic Sperell on drums didn’t hurt, either!) One of Solomon’s most respectable talents is his uncanny ability to get his musicians to play vintage music stylistically correct; he achieves this in a gracious and diplomatic way, with great efficiency, ruffling no feathers and bruising no egos...he’s a real gentleman and a pro who’s definitely ‘done his homework’.”  —Ed Wise, bass (Philadelphia, PA), 2008/6/16

“Thanks again for the call, it’s always a pleasure working with you. I think you are very organized and motivated in your band leading, and the charts always sound great. I also really like playing with the local musicians you find each time, especially this last group in Prospect Park. I wish I had the opportunity to play in the big band/swing type of setting you create more often, because that’s what I studied in college, yet I seldom find myself playing. Please contact me about any gigs in the future, whether they are right in Philly, or any surrounding state, I’ll always make room to play with your band.”  —Brian Adamczyk, saxophone (Philadelphia, PA), 2008/6/16

“You can always expect a swingin’ band with great musicians on a Solomon Douglas gig. Great selection of charts!”  —Jennifer Krupa, trombone (Washington, DC), 2008/8/25

“I enjoyed working with you very much the other night. For me it was great seeing a new set of dancers and styles that I did not know was being utilized. So, for the most part, I would say I was ignorant of this genre’s existence. I have done many gigs in the more recent Jump-Jive retro thing. I had a great time, and enjoyed just about everthing about your gig. Good luck, and please call in the future.”  —Eddie Marshall, saxophone (Orlando, FL), 2008/6/26

“Solomon Douglas is that rare combination of leader/arranger who treats his players and audience with respect. Top players plus a great and challeging book make for a fun evening for all. Thanks Solomon; I look forward to the next time!”  —Robert Alberts, trumpet (Los Osos, CA), 2008/8/5

“It was a pleasure working with Solomon and the Swingtet. It’s a great book that accurately captures big band history from Fletcher Henderson through Ellington and Basie. He hired a great band, the charts swing and the audience responds accordingly!”  —John Wise, trombone (Phoenix, AZ), 2008/10/1

“I had a good time playing your charts, you have done a good job with the arranging/transcription. It is nice to see some real dancing going on for change as well. I look forward to doing it again sometime.”  —Michael Durig, guitar/banjo (Norfolk, VA), 2007/6/25

“I really enjoyed playing with the Swingtet. Your arrangements as well as your insistence on top notch players made for an impressive big band sound without having the need for a full big band. It was also very refreshing to see the art of swing dancing alive and well, it seems less and less common to get a call to do an actual swing dance these days. Keep up the good work and don’t hesitate to call next time you are in the area.”  —Leroy Flaten, saxophone (Harrisonburg, VA), 2008/10/1

“It was great playing with Solomon’s Swingtet. It was the first time I have played for that many dancers and the energy in the room was exciting. I liked the interaction between the mucisians and participants. I’d love to do it again some time!”  —Dan Mock, drums (Phoenix, AZ), 2008/10/2

“The Solomon Douglas Swingtet is a fine example of classic swing era music at its finest. Frequently touring the country, much like in the spirit of big bands of yesteryear, Solomon and the Swingtet musicians all bring a solid sense of musicianship and swing to the bandstand. His collection of charts covers many of the danceable mainstay standards (and even some more obscure titles, as well). I look forward to Solomon’s return to the Northeast so that I can rejoin this great band!”  —Mike Wyatt, tenor sax (Boston, MA), 2008/10/2

“Playing with the Solomon Douglas Swingtet was a blast! Not only were the musicians top notch but the charts were clear and concise. Solomon also does a great job of putting everything together with ease. It was a great pleasure to have the opportunity to play this music we love so much and I'm looking forward to the next one.”  —David Boling, guitar (Atlanta, GA), 2008/10/2

“Playing with the Swingtet is a remarkable experience. The quality of the arrangements and the musicians make it one of the gigs you can always look forward to playing. Solomon as a performer and bandleader is a cut above the rest when it comes to everything from taking care of the musicians he hires, to making sure that every dancer goes home happy (and tired!).”  —Matt McCarthy, trumpet (Orlando, FL), 2008/10/4

“I really dug the group. It takes an extreme caliber of musician to play music that he has not seen before let alone together with 9 other musicians. The music selection was incredible, complete with rare charts that a lot of dancers may not have heard before. It helps the musicians enjoy the gig when they are not only playing cool music, but the dancers love it too: the best of both worlds, so to speak. Solomon definitely has his act together, being a superb musician with a strong sense of tradition, and he’s not a bad guy either.”  —Joe Albano, saxophone (Boston, MA), 2008/10/6

“Playing with Solomon Douglas’s Swingtet was a true musical treat! With a bandleader this talented and organized, it’s going to be easy to please. Innovative within the realm of well schooled tradition, this band is servicing swing dancers, musicians, and appreciators, keeping the sound of swing alive.”  —Jeff Ratner, bass (New York, NY), 2008/10/12

“I have worked with Solomon on several occasions now, and he always manages to put together excellent bands. His book is challenging, yet playable. And the swing dancers always seem to have a great time. I look forward to working with him again in the future.”  —Todd Motter, trumpet (Atlanta, GA), 2008/10/27

“The real deal—all the charts are true to the style and spirit of the music. Solomon is a brilliant arranger with the ability to present the music with eight pieces, yet sound like the original bands. The dancers went NUTS because the music recaptured the way it sounded in the swing era.”  —Vinnie D'Agostino, saxophone (Atlanta, GA), 2008/11/6

“Good times and great oldies! It was a pleasure to play with Solomon Douglas and the group of guys he gathered for the gigs. It is rare to have such a great audience and it is even more rare to get the chance to re-create a unique part of American Culture. Great arrangements and great players! Solomon, you are the king of the swing dance scene and I'd be happy to work for you anytime!”  —Geoff Henderson, bass (Nashville, TN), 2008/11/12

“I enjoyed the gig, especially because the charts are chosen from the best bands, arrangers and composers of the time. There was a real commitment to quality and respect for the music and the tradition, both in the arranging and performance.”  —Don Aliquo, saxophone (Nashville, TN), 2008/11/10

“I had a great time playing with your band at the Wrigley Mansion. The charts were excellent, the arrangements sounded bigger than just 4 horns. The fact that everything was done on computer made the gig easy to read and a pleasure to play. I hope that when you come back to Phoenix, you’ll call me again.”  —Bruce Gates, trumpet (Phoenix, AZ), 2008/10/27

“I love playing with your band. I’m so happy Pete Petersen referred me to you. I like your choice of tunes and the respect you give to the reproduction of classic swing music. It’s fun to see young folks out there dancing their tails off keeping a true American art form alive. I hope to get to travel with you some more. Also, the band members you choose are a joy to play and hang with. And you....I’ve never met a Canadian I didn’t like and you are no exception! Keep on swingin’.”  —Geoff Cooke, bass (Seattle, WA), 2008/11/19

“I didn’t know what to expect when I got the call from Solomon. I’d been referred by a good friend, an amazing guitarist, and Don Aliquo would be playing the other sax. That made me want to do the gig. Google Don, check him out. He’s amazing, and he always comes prepared. It makes all the difference to play with great players. You get all the colors out of the music, all the shapes, all the moods, everything that makes music real. Still, there’s a sameness to most big-band gigs. Most of the arrangements are conventional, safe, sanitized readings of 1940’s top-forty dance tunes. This couldn’t have been more different. What Solomon has done is to take the best of the Count Basie book and arrange it for four horns. This highlights the sculptural quality of Basie’s compositions. With smaller forces, the emphasis is on line, on counterpoint, on swing. It’s like Basie was playing his later compositions with his earlier band. It works. These arrangements accomplish something that is nearly impossible. They are respectful, even reverent, in their attention to line; yet they are original in sonority. You get the impression that this guy has found his way into William Basie’s head. There’s nothing mystical about this. That is the job of a good arranger, nothing more. But you’ll rarely hear it done so well. If you love jazz, if you love good arranging, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

Oh, I almost forgot. This was a dance gig. A room full of Vanderbilt students, dancing their asses off to music as old as their grandparents. This stuff has a beat. It brings back an era when jazz was music for the body as well as for the mind. Again, you might never hear it done so well. Bring a date and some comfortable shoes. If you think you don’t like jazz, you’ve never heard it done like this.”  —Bob Bowers, saxophone (Nashville, TN), 2009/6/6

“It is always a pleasure to work with Solomon. He is very professional, his book is arranged well and the music is very fun to play. The band in Phoenix the other night was a very good band with some of the best players in the area.”  —Eric Rasmussen, saxophone (Phoenix, AZ), 2009/3/3

“I had so much fun and the bread didn’t suck either! ;-) What a wonderful book you’ve put together. I felt like I was channeling Freddie Green, Fred Guy and all the other six stringers from that era. Next time you’re in town, I’ll be available. Guaranteed.”  —Bob Patterson, guitar (Orlando, FL), 2009/3/23

“I’ve played in a lot of smaller swing bands that try to do what big bands do, and Solomon’s Swingtet blows them all away. From the stellar arrangements, to all of the hand picked musicians that are equally great soloists in this century or the last, I could play in this band every weekend and still look forward to the next gig.”  —Greg Garrett, trumpet (Portland, OR), 2008/11/19

“The band is good, the players are all top-notch, the arrangements work well, and of course playing to an enthusiastic crowd is always gratifying to any musician.” —Dennis Haldane, trumpet (Seattle, WA), 2009/7/21

“It’s a very fun and unique book that swings in a variety if different ways; the jobs are very danceable situations and everybody seems to have a great time!” —Bob Frankich, saxophone (Chicago, IL), 2009/7/10

“I had a great time playing with you the other night. Your music rocks, and you are a true professional. If you ever need a guitar player again, please look me up. Any time, any day. It was a blast Solomon.” —Brad Jones, guitar (Denver, CO), 2008/8/10

“Thanks for the gig Solomon! You have a great book that’s very easy to read. It’s fun to play! Lots of great tunes! Thanks for coming into town and letting me play with you!” —Paul Brewer, saxophone (Phoenix, AZ), 2009/8/4

“’Twas indeed a pleasure to work for/with Solomon. His book is challenging, varied, well written and fun to play, and it is a great jazz history refresher course. I was pleased that he made it a point to tell the dancers where and from whom the music originated. Education is obviously part of his mission ... from which we all benefit. Solomon is a solid leader, be it the Swingtet or a small group. He is clear, precise, demanding, musical, and on top of that a fine gentleman.” —Dick Goodwin, trumpet (Columbia, SC), 2009/9/15

“It was a pleasure working with you. It was nice to read music (especially as challenging as the music we played) and feel absolutely at ease while doing it. It’s not the music that I normally play, but the band was swinging and it was hard not to swing so hard! Thanks for being so professional and I apologize for being able to do the next show in Knoxville, TN. I wish you all the luck in the world! Hope to work with again in the future.” —James Ackley, trumpet (Columbia, SC), 2009/9/14

“In my 52 years of playing this was one of the most, if not the most, relaxed, thought-out playing experiences I’ve had. The bandleader is a perfect gentleman, excellent bandleader, and has a firm grasp on what he needs to do to make it all happen in a friendly, cooperative, and all-inclusive way. What a total complete pleasure. All gigs should be run this way.” —Bob Delich, drums (Albuquerque, NM), 2009/10/25

“Solomon Douglas is a very professional musician who definitely has it together. He is a pleasure to work with, and his arranging is top notch.” —Lee Taylor, saxophone (Albuquerque, NM), 2009/10/26

“Your arrangements did a great job of making us sound like a full sized swing orchestra. The band sounded great and Kim Massie was fantastic.” —Chris Fagan, saxophone (Seattle, WA), 2009/11/9

“Beyond being a great pianist, Solomon is a great bandleader. He’s a straight shooter and always comes through with great players and great repertoire. Playing in the Swingtet is always a pleasure.” —Nathan Vetter, trombone (Seattle, WA), 2009/11/8

“Solomon's love and dedication to the spirit of this era of music is inspiring. Authentic and well-crafted arrangements, always with top-notch players that have delved into the roots of the music. The energy onstage is apparent and reflects back and forth with the dancers!”  —Quinsin Nachoff, saxophone (New York, NY), 2010/6/23

“It was great to play for a band leader who provided clear charts and clear direction. That made it very enjoyable to play for a room full of dancers.”  —Marko Gazic, guitar (New York, NY), 2010/6/23

“It is wonderful to hear the great swing tunes once again under the relaxed leadership of Solomon Douglas. Watching the young people, especially, enjoy this music is a compliment to the ability of Solomon to call the tempos accurately. His choice of musicians only adds to the sound and the style of his arrangements.” —Chic Sperell, drums (Philadelphia, PA), 2010/3/3

“Just wanted to thank you for a great night. Love your writing! Very playable and it’s amazing how much sound you get from four voices. I am so happy to see this music carried on by the next generation. Lots of talent in your band. Please call me again.”  —Mary Lou Newnam, saxophone (Philadelphia, PA), 2010/9/19

“Thank YOU Solomon... You know its always a very special night when I get to play in your band. I always get goosebumps...REALLY! Makes me feel blessed to have moved to NY. Thanks for calling me!”  —Brandi Disterheft, bass (New York, NY), 2010/12/7

“Solomon, want to congratulate you on your adventurous material. Playing a Mingus tune for swing dancers and having them enjoy it! It was refreshing, challenging and great fun to play your book. Thanks for the work.”  —Paul Lines, drums (Los Angeles, CA), 2011/6/26

“I've been playing in swing bands for a long time but I've never seen swing dancers get more excited than when I play with Solomon Douglas. He has a unique ability to know exactly what dancers want because he is one of them. Besides (composing & arranging for and) leading and playing piano in his Swingtet, Solomon is an accomplished dancer and dance instructor. This is truly music (created by a dancer) for dancers.

Need a swing dance band? Hire Solomon Douglas and your dreams will come true!”  —Dan Kerlin, saxophone (Los Angeles, CA), 2011/7/18

“As a particular partisan of the classic band sound of the 1930s, I'm very pleased to have been included as a player with the Swingtet. Solomon has a great selection of tunes, with intelligent arrangements, and he always hires fine musicians. He clearly is a dancer himself, because he knows the right tempos to call. And, as basically an acoustic guitarist, it's wonderful to play for someone who values the rhythm guitar sound as much as I do...more than rare these days!”  —Tony Marcus, guitar (San Francisco, CA), 2011/6/27

“I had heard of Solomon Douglas and his [great] arrangements and band before, but It wasn't until I played with him to really understand what he's doing. Swinging in the tradition of the the greats with authenticity! This band is not to be missed.”  —Sam Rocha, bass (San Francisco, CA), 2011/6/27

“First, let me say that I had a lot of fun playing your book. Great arrangements, and the players were all "top notch"! When you called me for a swing date, I had an entirely different expectation. But your job was truly a unique experience. And the dancers were such a joy to watch. Every one of them knew what they were doing. I was transported back to another era. Good luck to you, and thanks!”  —Mike Carnahan, saxophone (San Diego, CA), 2011/6/27

“Solomon Douglas's Swingtet is a perfect presentation of swing music. He hires great musicians who really bring the charts to life in a way that is not only danceable but artistic and fun to listen to.”  —Beth Goodfellow, drums (San Francisco, CA), 2011/6/27

“Working with the Solomon Douglas Swingtet is a pleasure. The musicians are always top notch players. His music is challenging and gratifying at the same time. I've never played on a band that draws better dancers than the Solomon Douglas Swingtet. The dance floor is packed from start to finish!”  —Lee Elderton, saxophone (San Francisco, CA), 2011/6/28

“Solomon, terrific job arranging the music, the gig was a blast! Thank you for helping keep this music alive and for passing the torch to a new generation of swingers.”  —Brad Steinwehe, trumpet (San Francisco, CA), 2011/7/2

“Playing with Solomon's Swingtet was one of the best dance gigs I've ever had the pleasure of playing. His professionalism as a bandleader, high standards, tight arrangements, and ability to read a crowd are unparalleled. As a bandleader, it was great to get to learn some secrets of the trade from one of the true maestros on the swing scene. Thanks for the opportunity Solomon!”  —Erik Jacobs, trombone (Rochester, NY), 2012/7/16

“Fantastic charts and elite musicians made for a great day. Your vibe on the gig is also very relaxed and fun but focused. I had a great time and hope to play your book again!”  —Evan Dobbins, trombone (Rochester, NY), 2011/7/12