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Swing Swindlers

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Swing Swindlers
Swing Swindlers.jpg
Background information
OriginTallinn, Estonia
GenresSwing orchestra
Years active2004 - present
Websitewww.martsander.com

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Swing Swindlers (also known as the Bel-Etage Swing Orchestra) [1] is an orchestra specializing in dance music from the thirties and forties. The 12 to 16-member orchestra was formed by Mart Sander, singer and conductor, in Tallinn, Estonia, in 2004 [2]. The group consists of young musicians, most of them the members of the Estonian National Opera [3]. In their native Estonia, the orchestra is called Bel-Etage Svingorkester, as they were initially formed to play at the Bel-Etage variety theatre, established by Mart Sander in 2001 [4].

The Swing Swindlers attempts to recreate the sound of the thirties, using authentic recording locations and experimenting with sonic landscapes and sound equipment. In 2005, the Swing Swindlers issued an album in the UK called Five-Fifteen: A Tribute to the BBC Dance Orchestra,[5], which was nominated as Jazz Album of the Week by the Evening Standard in January 2006 [6] and earned positive reviews globally [7] [8]. Other recordings include Nüüd Lendame! (Come Fly With Me, 2005), Tantsud Tähtedega (Strictly Come Dancing, 2006), Deutsche Swingmusic / German Swing Music 1939-1945 (2006) [9]. This programme was also filmed, recreating an authentic look and atmosphere of a 1945 film, as "Musik unter Bomben" (Music under bombs, 2007) [10]. This musical short was also presented at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner [11]. The Swing Swindlers has released 12 albums of swing music and 3 albums of theatre and concert music.[12] The 2007 The Monckton Album (Divine Art Records) received the Critics' Choice Award of the year from Gramophone magazine [13] and was received very well in the English speaking countries [14], as was The Finck Album (2013) [15]. The orchestra also had success with an album Ruusuinen hetki in Finland [16].

In addition to Sander, the featured vocalists include Nele-Liis Vaiksoo, Koit Toome, Maarja-Liis Ilus, Gerli Padar and others. In 2007, Swing Swindlers performed with Mariah Carey at a concert in Moscow [17].

In 2006 and 2007 the Swings Swindlers were the official orchestra of the first seasons of Estonian version of BBC's Strictly Come Dancing (Dancing With The Stars), with Sander also hosting the programme [18]. Since 2007, the orchestra has worked in the semifinal of the Estonian Pop Idol (Eesti otsib superstaari) [19]. Some of the singers that the orchestra accompanied, including finalist Luisa Värk and the winner of the second season, Birgit Õigemeel, have since performed with the orchestra. In 2012, Mart Sander also joined the panel of judges in the program [20].

In 2012, a new line up of young musicians was formed. The band began to move away from 'swing' towards 'sweet' of 1930s. The album, Swing And Sweet was released in Estonia in August 2012 and internationally in 2015 [21]. Their most recent projects are an album dedicated to the music of the Jewish-Austrian operetta composer, Pal Abraham, and an album of Italian dance music from the 1940s [22].

In February 2018, The Swing Swindlers toured USA, as part of the celebrations of Estonia's centennial anniversary. The Mayor of Washington DC, Muriel Bowser, declared February 24th official 'Estonia Day', mentioning Mart Sander's concerts in her proclamation. [23]. On February 26, 2018, The Swing Swindlers gave a concert at the Kennedy Center, Washington DC [24]. which was streamed online globally [25].

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