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Jazz is the Thing with 'The Sultans of Swing'

With the help of modern swing groups like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies and the Brian Setzer Orchestra, there's a whole new audience for the great dance music of the 1930s and 1940s. The latest entry into the dance band craze is David Berger & "The Sultans Of Swing."

David Berger wrote it, and now at age 50, he's fulfilled a lifelong dream of conducting his own big band recording of "Ya Gotta Live It," from his new CD "Doin' The Do."

Berger didn't exactly grow up during the swing era, but that didn't keep him from delving into the music of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Johnny Hodges and much more. Berger says swing's timeless appeal has a lot to do with rhythm and romance.

"It was great music then, he said. "It makes you feel great. It's positive, happy music. And it makes your body want to move. And the whole idea of dance is the romance that's missing in today's life."

David Berger teamed up with veteran lyricist Jon Hendricks on two of the album's 13 cuts. Berger explains how one particular collaboration came out sounding like an old Lambert, Hendricks & Ross tune. He said, "The one tune I did with Jon called 'How To Get You Out Of My Heart,' the first time we wrote it down. So, I wrote this tune and John wrote the lyrics and I went over the lyrics and changed a couple of things with him, and during the first rehearsal we read it and I was amazed. It didn't even sound like my tune. It sounded like Lambert, Hendricks & Ross."

David Berger & The Sultans Of Swing with "How To Get You Out Of My Heart," features Jon Hendricks' daughter Aria on lead vocals.

When David Berger isn't swinging with his 16-piece dance band, he arranges music for the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Berger was conductor and arranger of the Orchestra for six years before turning the job over to jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. Berger says Lincoln Center's ever-growing jazz department prides itself on the preservation of swing.

"What Wynton and I were very concerned about," he said, "was that there would be a whole generation where this music would not be played. And if that happened it would be impossible to get [it] back. [In] every generation we lose something. You gain something and you lose something. But if there's an entire generation that does not address this music then it can't be passed on."

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