Swingin' To The Sound


Dressed smartly in black pants and white shirts, the 23 members of the Sonoran Swing Band will fill the stage of Green Valley Park this Saturday.

The band, which plays swing and Big Band favorites from the last 60 years, features two vocalists, five saxophones, four trombones, seven trumpets, piano, bass, guitar, vibraphone and drums.

"We take a lot of older Big Band tunes and blend them with new songs that have Big Band arrangements behind them," said vocalist Gary Cordell.

"It makes it a fun night."

The group, formerly called the Motorola Dance Band, was formed in the middle ‘90s from "talented Motorola employees that loved music," said Cordell, one of the band's original members.

The Motorola Dance Band played at charitable events in venues such as the Mesa Amphitheatre and the Arizona Biltmore.

After General Dynamics bought Motorola in 2001, the band lost its sponsorship.

"We went out on our own and renamed it the Sonoran Swing Band," Cordell said.

Since then, Sonoran Swing has diversified, adding members from other businesses such as airline and lending, said Cordell, who is now a realtor.

The band's repertoire encompasses five hours of music and contains songs such as "Jump, Jive and Wail," "How High the Moon," and "Kansas City."

"If we're at a concert, we'll do different songs than at a wedding," Cordell said. "We want to be able to keep the crowd entertained because they're sitting, rather than participating on a dance floor. But we hope to see a lot of people dancing in front of the bandstand."

Cordell's duets with Sonoran Swing's female vocalist might bring the audience to its feet.

"We both do individual songs as well as duets," said Cordell, who has been singing since he was 6 years old.

Featured duets include "Stormy Weather," "Over the Rainbow," "Blue Skies" and "Embraceable You."

Sonoran Swing plans its hour-long sets and practices once a week for two hours.

"When you've got five sets of music, you've got to make sure you're keeping fresh on all of the arrangements you're going to be doing," Cordell said.

Saturday's performance might also showcase several songs arranged by members of the band, Cordell said.

"Fever," a ‘50s rhythm and blues hit, is another possible tune.

"‘Fever' isn't necessarily a Big Band song, but when you put a big band behind it and put vocals to it, it really brings out a great sound for the audience," Cordell said.

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