If it ain’t got the swing, jazz icon Duke Ellington would have told you, it really don’t mean a thing.
That twang of strings, those booming drums, and those burbling trumpets are almost hallmarks of an era of classical jazz. All of this and more comes in the strappy package that goes by the name of Royal Crown Revue (RCR).
As the US band livened up the Rithmo Club on Tuesday night, the audience could not help swaying and clapping along. More talented spectators broke out into dance, goaded by the swinging rhythms and smooth vocals.
RCR has earned their place amongst music royalty. The band that first made its appearance in 1989 in the Los Angeles underground scene has also performed with legendaries such as James Brown, Gene Simmons and Bette Midler.
Before becoming the lead vocalist of Kiss, Simmons, who always wanted to front a rhythm and blues band, reached out to RCR, bassist David Miller told Daily News Egypt. During the making of his reality show “Gene Simmons Family Jewels he recorded three numbers with the band in November 2007.
RCR also toured with Bette Midler on her final tour, and front-man Eddie Nichols worked out a dance routine in which the two performed together. Trumpet player Mark Pender also once performed with Midler on the “Late Night Show with Conan O’Brian.
The band’s catchy tunes have also burst in to many on-screen soundtracks including one of the signature tunes of Jim Carrey’s hit movie “The Mask, called “Hey Pachuco!
“Pachuco is a respectful slang for Mexican-American, Miller explained. The song was written by RCR frontman Eddie Nichols about the Zoot Suit Riots during World War II in which Mexican-American military men were targeted by white sailors.
While RCR goes by the rhythm and blues label, they also easily segue into swing, rock and roll. The band shows up dressed to the nines and with some of that classical old-time American swagger.
The line-up at Rithmo began with “Swinging All the Day but soon went into blues. An octet of pros, the music produced by RCR is flawless and never skips a beat.
With the jazz classic “Sunny Side of the Street, some in the crowd broke into extemporaneous dancing, and Nichols equally peppered the song with impromptu lyrics, “The side of the street that’s sunny goes along with “In English, all that crap is funny.
Female vocalist Jennifer Keith looked like she stepped right out of a vintage magazine onto the stage, a large blue lily adorned her hair as her classic voice crowned the music. She sand the drugged-heavy number “40 Cups of Coffee, lulling the audience in with her voice, and then picked things up with her sprightly rendition of Peggy Lee number “It’s a Good Day.
Be-bop is perhaps the trickiest twist of jazz to perform, and RCR managed it to perfection with their performance of Dizzy Gillespie classic “Salt Peanuts.
The brass players in the band breathed out tunes from their instruments until their faces were crimson. Royal Crown Revue is a true-blue American band that brings feel-good melodies from the 40s to the 60s back into your blues bar.
Goaded on by audience approval, the RCR played one classic after another; as jazz should be played, in cozy dim light and late into the night. Don’t let them go without a good listen.
Royal Crown Revue perform at Sawy Culture Wheel’s River Hall, March 12, 7:30 pm. For more information, visit www.rcr.com.