The music scene of Cayman is as wide as the range of nationalities that live here.
Latest to set feet to tapping are the Cayman Swing Kings, a constantly-evolving lineup who play Big Band music. Think Glen Miller, Count Basie and Duke Ellington, advises the band’s Keith Millar.
“It’s a standard big band, so 17 players in total,” he said. “Four trumpets, five saxes, four trombones and the rhythm section comprising of piano, bass, guitar and drums.”
The band was formed in early 2012, he added, and has been getting together regularly ever since. Its genesis was based on a lack of opportunities to play swing style, he said.
“I love playing big band music and there was nowhere available on island to do this.
“It took a while, but eventually I pulled together a number of musicians on the island who also wanted to play this type of music for fun, and the Cayman Swing Kings were born. We are made up of all types of enthusiasts and play mainly for our own enjoyment.”
Millar says it’s great fun, challenging and a good social event all bundled up together.
“We have teachers, surgeons, pastors, bankers, accountants, professors, internationally renowned musicians and opticians, to name but a few of the backgrounds that go into the eclectic mix of the Cayman Swing Kings. Every member brings their own special part to the whole that is the band.”
The group rehearses every two weeks or so, but doesn’t play as often in public as it would ideally like. However, the live element is secondary in many ways to the fact that it brings people together.
“The band is primarily a community band for like-minded folk to get together and make music. As you can imagine, with everybody in a day job already, it can be tricky to get 17 people together in the one place, but we do get to gig as often as we can,” Millar said.
“There is no regular venue, but we have played charity events and for fun. We have a Facebook page where you can keep up with our calendar and find out where we will be playing next.”
One memorable gig does stand out, though.
“We played on top of a boat for the Parade of Lights a couple of years ago and it was great fun,” said the musician.
“We were hidden from the audience by a tarpaulin and when we sailed by it dropped down and we started playing. It was very different to the normal gig and went down well with the crowd.”
Although there are no solid gigs planned at this stage, Millar points out that “the year is young,” so watch this space. The future, he says, holds many possibilities.
“We have no ambition other than to make music for our own enjoyment. If we can get out to bring this to the community, then all the better,” he said.
“If we are ever lucky enough to get any donations to the band, then this is spent on music, which is then available to any school on the island to use if they have a big band that wants to play.
“That way we are a useful and productive part of the musical community here on the island and hopefully can help young Caymanian musicians gain access to the big band repertoire.”
Follow the band at https://www.facebook.com/TheCaymanSwingKings.