The Lindy returning with Big Slick Band
by David Renzi
On Jan. 15, the night of the first performance, Dan Terry’s Big Slick Band should sound big and slick. On Jan. 5, the day of the first rehearsal, it sounded like this:
The hole in on the third beat…don’t screw it up…three from the end you’ve got to give a down beat…when she says wet…you know, Tommy, that’s how you got fired from Caesars…
Let’s do it at the top once more…that hole is in the third beat, not the fourth…yeah…you told me the third beat…no I didn’t…
Is there a baritone part for this one? Is there a guitar part for this one? Are there only three trombone parts on this one?
To those questions, no, yes, yes.
First rehearsal, huh?
“First one, yeah,” says Dan Terry, puffing on a cigarette during a break. “Don’t say this is the first rehearsal. This band’s been in existence for ion years.
And for the next eight Sundays, it will be playing from 8 p.m. to midnight at The Shark Club. By then, it’s certain to be slick – slicker certainly. It’s big already – 20 pieces including Terry.
The first Sunday it will be bigger with singers Gina Eckstein (Billy’s daughter) and Dan Arcotta, included in a salute to the big band era. Amidst the music will be a “Lindy” dance contest.
“Yeah the Lindy’s the hottest,’ Terry said. “On Sunday night every club in New York just jammed with people doing the swing dancing, which is the Lindy. I figured since it’s so hot there, we’d try it here.”
Terry knows that people from the big band era will comprise a large segment of his audience but, based on sightings at the Disneyland ballroom, he’s certain young people will attend.
“To them it’s a new dance. It’s what mom and dad used to do,” he says. “There’s a whole lot of touch dancing they haven’t seen. When we get them in here, they usually come back. They become fans. But we’ll be doing everything from the fox trot, the waltz, the Latin things and swing things.”
Some gimmicks also are in the works, such as a “name that band” segment that will test the collective memory of the audience.
“I’m going to do a lot of the presentations made famous by (Count) Basie, (Duke) Ellington, Glenn Miller, Les Brown, Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey,” Terry says. “Things they made famous like ‘Take the “A” Train,’ “One O’Clock Jump,’ ‘Moonlight Serenade,’ ‘Opus No. 1.” We get a lot of requests for those.
“We’re also going to light the band and the stage, like they used to do in the old days. There’ll be risers, We’re going to look like a band should look on the bandstand.”
During breaks Larry Taylor, the disc jockey-emcee on big band dance nights at the Gold Coast, will spin records in addition to being an announcer.
For Eckstein, who will perform Sunday only before resuming with her trio, this is a return to her roots.
“This is how I started out with my father,” says Eckstein, at 29 the youngest of Billy’s seven children.” It’s been a while since I’ve been with a big band. I haven’t done this is so long.”
Ten years to be exact.
“I started out traveling with my father. For three years we worked with big bands, trio and symphonies, so I got a lot of exposure. I’m an R&B singer, really, but I started out singing a lot of standards.
Eckstein, sitting on a couch in the lobby at the Shark Club, looks over her shoulder at the big band and says of her father, who led one of the best in the 1940s, “he would love me doing this.”
And so would Terry, but he’s not lamenting – or procrastinating.
“I’m in search for a girl singer,” Terry says. “I’m going to do a search for a singing sweetheart for the band. If anybody’s interested they can contact me through The Shark Club.
Terry also wants the band to dress right in the spotlight. “We’re going to be dressed in dark suits, white shirts and black ties, although I’m toying with the idea of putting on Shark suit.”