Music in the Park: Swinging to the beat of Swing Inc.

Memorial Park jumped, jived and wailed to a musical performance by Swing Inc. at last weekend's Music in the Park.

Dennis Kaye, leader and owner of Swing Inc., assembled the band in 1998 when the popularity of swing experienced a revival and “young kids started dancing to swing again.

“I think this is the first time that kids are dancing to the same music as their parents and their grandparents,” said Kaye. “That's the special thing about swing; it unifies people.”

Kaye has been playing swing music for over 30 years and formed Swing Inc. with former bandmates he worked with throughout his long career. Only nine people performed at the Music in the Park event, but the entire Swing Inc. is rather large with three people filling each seat. The number of members playing is adjusted accordingly to meet the demands of the event, usually performing with anywhere from six to 17 pieces.

The warm summer air couldn't have been better for an evening of cool jazz. Small stations covered the field as local families stretched their limbs and sprawled out, setting up blankets, lawn chairs and even portable buffet tables with some sizable toys for the tots. Once comfortable, they lounged on the grass, just taking in the music.

“We've come almost every weekend since Music in the Park started,” said Jennifer Cilla, eating with her mother, father, grandmother, and nephew while waiting for her sister and brother-in-law to arrive. Her party encompassed four generations. “It's so relaxing,” commented Ester, Cilla's grandmother. Denise Gomez, Cilla's mother, agreed. “I love the family atmosphere,” she said.

Then, with the number “Hot Hot Hot” the band encouraged audience members to get up and dance. In an instant, a dance line formed and began snaking in and around picnic groups, collecting new members. Not to be left out, the brass members of the band hopped off the stage and paraded into the crowd, playing and dancing about. After that, the front of the stage was never without a dancer.

“Anywhere with music, I've got to dance,” said Emma Mulligan, a La Cañada resident who could be seen dancing to almost every number. “I love Music in the Park. I even go to the Glendale one on Wednesdays.”

To get the kids involved, Swing Inc. brought along a mound of inflatable instruments placed to the side of the stage inviting anyone interested to grab one and play along. The instruments were a hit; whether as pretend musical instruments or as soft blunt objects, the kids loved them.

The La Cañada High Key Club continued their fund-raising efforts selling root beer floats to raise money for future community service projects such as the reduction of global warming.

“Global warming must be eradicated!” affirmed Christine Sun, secretary of the Key Club.

“Reducing global warming has been a key issue we've been working on,” said Julie Yu, president of the Key Club. “We've been taking small steps toward changing the community such as informing people on the consequences.”

Swing Inc. has performed all over the Los Angeles area including West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, West Covina and Redondo Beach. Anyone who would like to book Swing Inc. can contact Dennis Kaye at (818) 790-JIVE.

The next concert in the series is Sunday, Aug. 17, at 6 p.m. featuring the LCF Community Band.


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