THE SWING THING - BBC JAZZ MUSIC BIG BAND DOCUMENTARY FILM

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Documentary telling the story of swing, an obscure form of jazz that became the first worldwide pop phenomenon, inspired the first ever youth culture revolution and became a byword for sexual liberation and teenage excess well before the Swinging Sixties.

In the process, swing threw up some of the greatest names in 20th century music, from Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington to Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra. The film uses archive and contemporary accounts to shed light on why it endures today.

The Swing Thing is a 90-minute film tracing the story of swing music, from the jazz clubs of the 1920s, through the heady days of the Rat Pack and Sinatra to modern stars like Harry Connick Jr and Michael Buble.

Swing sparked a youthful cultural revolution eighty years ago and went on to produce some of the most iconic stars of the 20th century: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Today it is still topping the charts and remains one of the longest-lived and most successful forms of popular music.

As the band leader Artie Shaw said, “Swing is a verb, not an adjective” It is something you do. An action, a rhythm, an energy, an attitude. Swing is the thing which, for over 80 years, has created the greatest singers, musicians and records and which simply refuses to go away.

Narrated by Kenneth Cranham, The Swing Thing combines commentary and archive footage of some of the finest swing performers and performances of all time. It also examines the impact swing music has had on American society: as a youth movement, a force for sexual liberation and a challenge to the country's racial divide.

 


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