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April 15, 2006

Swingles reunite

Dispatch from Toby "Swingle" Hug

A normal Sunday night in a traditional pub in Central London. Were you to look through the stained glass windows, nothing would strike you as unusual; a merry bunch of people from all ages having a good time and enjoying their ale - until suddenly sixteen of them crowd in one corner and there is an eerie silence. An older gentleman hums quietly a note - and the group breaks into a rendition of Country Dances, a breathtaking a cappella medley of American folksongs! We are actually witnessing a gathering of one of the world's most distinguished a cappella groups - the Swingle Singers! And the elderly gentleman is none less but Ward Swingle himself, founder of the group and five-time Grammy Award Winner!

The reason behind the gathering? The release of a "new" Swingles album. Actually there is nothing new about it, it was recorded at the legendary Village Gate nightclub on a US tour in fall 1982 and was intended for release - but then the masters went missing. Now, almost 25 years later, the masters have been located, successfully transferred to CD and finally released. The launch party for "Live in New York 82" included all the singers from that period, the current group members and other ex-Singers who were involved in the process of the album release. Kym Amps, second soprano in 1982 came all the way from Spain and Ward Swingle, now in his late 70's travelled together with his wife Francoise from his home near Paris to celebrate this occasion. And what a celebration it was! Many singers hadn't met before and finally could put faces to names, now-tenor Richard Eteson and Ward held speeches and it was to be a happy and long night!

To mark this launch, the Swingle Singers have put together a web site where you can read the full story and listen to some of the tracks from what was the group's first ever live, and first ever a cappella album. This was in 1982 when none had heard of Vocal Percussion or Vocal Bass Lines (Simon Grant providing both at the same time) - this is cuttting edge a cappella of it's time!

Posted by acapnews at April 15, 2006 12:08 AM