The Swingaroos Territory Band

NYC's Swing-Era Territory Band

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The Swingaroos give their regards to Broadway at Florida Studio Theater

"The Music of the Night" showcases tight arrangements that come off like a well-oiled machine.

Written by Marty Fugate for Sarasota Observer (

August 8, 2018

The super-synchronized Big Band sound ruled American pop music in the 1940s. The only problem? Big Bands were too big (and too pricey) for smaller clubs and dance halls. Smaller “territory bands” arose to fill in the gap — ensembles of less than 10 musicians. These not-so-big bands had a big sound. (A decade later, rock 'n' rollers would follow in their musical footsteps.)

One contemporary territory band is still touring — The Swingaroos. Kimberly Hawkey is the sizzling lead vocalist. Assaf Gleizner plays the piano and arranges (and sometimes composes) the tunes. Bassist Nathan Yates Douglass, saxophonist/clarinetist Daniel Glaude, trombone player Steve Morley and drummer Uri Zelig bring it all together.

A different iteration of this ensemble last swung by the FST Cabaret in 2015. They’re back this summer, and putting swinging spin on Broadway showtunes.

The Swingaroos kicks off its first act with a Roaring Twenties rendition of Youmans and Caesar’s “Tea for Two.” The band quickly changes gear to its signature Swing, in arrangements of compositions by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart; Jerome Kern; Oscar Hammerstein; Cole Porter; Irving Berlin; George and Ira Gershwin; Johnny Mercer; Harold Arlen and others.  

Hawkey is a great singer, and knows how to turn up the heat on the torch songs. But every musician gets a turn to shine. They prove their virtuosity in blistering drum solos, soul-melting sax, machine-gun trumpet, blissful bass and lightspeed piano riffs.

In the second act, the band slides into an easy New Orleans groove — and edges closer to the 21st century, with sprung-rhythm arrangements of John Kander and Frank Ebb’s “Cabaret,” Stephen Sondheim’s  “Old Friends” and the titular “Music of the Night” by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The band also delivers a purely instrumental rendition of Frank Loesser’s “Guys and Dolls”— the kind of musical strut you’d hear at a second line parade. “The 11 O’Clock Number” is the penultimate song — an original composition that Hawkey and Gleizner wrote in 2018. After finally reaching this century, the show tumbles all the way back to the dawn of the last one. George M. Cohan’s “Give My Regards to Broadway” is the final song — a golden oldie he penned in 1904.

Bottom line?

The Swingaroos will put a smile on your face. Their sound is lush and dense; their tight arrangements come off like a well-oiled machine. Swing is supposed to sound that way. I realize that. But I dig who they are now, not their imitation of the past.   

Hey, I wish they’d done a Swing arrangement of the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the UK,” just for giggles. But that’s just me.

Great music has no expiration date.

Nostalgia aside, this is a great band.

BWW Review: THE SWINGAROOS, MUSIC OF THE NIGHT at Florida Studio Theatre

Written by Carolan Trbovich for

July 29, 2018  

Florida Studio Theatre opened its second show of the Summer Sidekicks Cabaret Season with The Music of the Night, featuring the multi-talented swing/jazz sextet, The Swingaroos.

With brick walls, wooden staircase, rounded-out stage, posters from Cabaret and Follies shows, and the intimate feel of a New York supper club, the John C. Court Cabaret was a perfect venue for the showmanship and tribute to jazz and Broadway presented by one of America's favorite swing bands, The Swingaroos. Creator, multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Kimberly Hawkey pulled together an remarkable team of immeasurable talent in Nathan Yates Douglass (upright bass/vocals), Daniel Glaude (reeds), Assaf Gleizner, (musical director/piano), Steve Morley (trumpet), and Uri Zelig (drums). Each one brought their unique set of talent and personality to the stage. Their musicianship shines and their camaraderie onstage is delightful to watch.

Assaf started off playing a little soft shoe version of "Tea for Two" from NO,NO NANNETTE. It got jazzier as the rest of the band descended the staircase and added dimension to Rodgers & Hart's "Manhattan". Clever dialogue is woven between songs as Ms. Hawkey and crew take you on a journey from 1925 to the present with some of the most beloved and iconic songs from jazz and Broadway. "Ain't Misbehaven", "You're the Top", "Come Rain or Come Shine", "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever", and "I Got Rhythm" were just a few of the numbers in Act 1 that got the "swing treatment", which had the audience's toes tapping and heads bobbing to the big band sound that filled the theatre. Ms. Hawkey picked up the banjo and joined in with her band on, "Blue Moon".

Act 2 brought some costume changes as "Cabaret", "I Could Have Danced All Night", "If I Loved You", and "Music Of The Night" were highlighted. Throughout the evening, time was given for each member to solo their work in the spotlight. This further confirmed the band was not just awesome together, but each was an accomplished performer in their own right. Their "The 11 o'clock Number" was delightfully funny and made for a great segue to their final song, "Give My Regards to Broadway".

Music Of The Night is jammed packed with standards from Kander & Ebb, Rodgers & Hart, Irving BerlinCole Porter and the Gershwins. This is one of the most entertaining shows you will see with top-notch musicians, who can also sing well and harmonize together. Ms. Hawkey's stylish essence makes her a charming chanteuse to front her band. She has a beautiful voice and a range that is a gift for the music of the night. (And she has Natalie Wood's dark, sparkling eyes.) Mr. Douglass was quite the crooner on the bass while singing, "Come Rain or Come Shine", finishing with a hauntingly soulful touch on the harmonica. The ridiculous amount of notes streaming from Mr. Glaude, switching from sax to flute and back again was amazing. Equally amazing was Mr. Morely's trumpeting skills. I don't think either musician missed any note very written. Mr. Zelig was impressive to watch as he showered his drum set with the passion of every beat. Mr. Gleizner held it all together as the musical director and pianist showing his sweet personality and musical acumen for swing. Bravo all!

The Music of the Night runs through August 19, 2018 at the John C. Court Cabaret. For more information on Florida Studio Theatre and their upcoming shows, visit For more information on the Swingaroos, visit

Swingaroos put a spin on Broadway

Written by Susan Rife for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

July 15, 2018

The swing group returns to Florida Studio Theatre with ‘The Music of the Night’ featuring original arrangements to Broadway hits

The program given to audiences as they enter the Court Cabaret at Florida Studio Theatre might not be an exact representation of what they will hear from the stage.

“The Music of the Night,” performed by the Swingaroos, will get around to that “Phantom of the Opera” hit, but it may take a few measures into the tune before the audience recognizes the grandiose melody by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

“We do our own version of ‘Music of the Night,’ but not one that audiences have ever heard before, unless another swing band has done it,” said Kimberly Hawkey, who fronts the Swingaroos. The song will start in 1920s style, said Hawkey. “Part of the fun is going to be the audience reveal. It’s just done in a different style.”

In short, “we Swingaroo-ify songs,” said Hawkey. “Our focus is on good songwriting and good lyrics and songs that people have a connection to. If you have a song that’s well written, you can pretty much do anything to it. You can turn it into a ballad, you can turn it in an uptempo song.”

The show showcases songs from the 1930s and ’40s, all set to a swing beat, in the first act, and will move into contemporary musical theater songs in the second.

“The first part of the show is mostly the classic jazz hits from Broadway musicals, and the second half is a very fun potpourri of more modern classics, from the golden age of musical theater,” Hawkey said.

The Swingaroos last played at FST three years ago, just a couple of years after its establishment in 2013. Hawkey had won a cabaret swing competition in the East Village, and among the prizes was the use of a theater space to do her own show. She’d become enamored of the music of the ’30s and ’40s and researched Hollywood movies of the era with an idea of creating a show of all swing music.

“It felt really good in my voice,” she said. “I could sing it with ease. And it was music to dance to and music to enjoy.”

The recent explosion in swing dance popularity among millennials has switched up the band’s audiences a bit. In Sarasota, the Swingaroos expect a “listening room” based on their earlier gig. “A lot of people will probably be tapping their foot and nodding their head,” to such tunes as Cole Porter’s “You’re the Top” (a “burning fast version”), Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies,” and songs by Fats Waller, Kander and Ebb, and Rodgers and Hart.

“People do dance a lot at our shows,” she said.

The band has added bassist/vocalist Nathan Yates Douglass to the lineup, which also includes Daniel Glaude, music director/pianist Assaf Gleizner, Steve Morley and Uri Zelig.

The Swingaroos Jazz Up The Summer At Florida Studio Theatre

June 26, 2018

Written by Broadway World News Desk 

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) opens its second show of the Summer Sidekicks Cabaret Season, The Music of the Night, featuring the gifted jazz and swing sextet, The Swingaroos. Called a "Stellar group of musicians" and "Impressive" by Jay Handelman of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, The Swingaroos bring their swingin'est versions of songs embraced by the worlds of theatre and jazz alike to the John C. Court Cabaret starting July 17. The Music of the Night runs through August 19. Single tickets are available by calling the FST box office at (941) 366-9000 or at

An all-new show, The Music of the Night, includes hits by the Gershwins, Cole PorterIrving Berlin, Rodgers & Hart, Kander & Ebb, and many more-all performed with a swing-inspired twist. With a touch of 30s and 40s flair and bold arrangements, The Swingaroos lend a spirited voice to the most-cherished American songs and personalities of the past century. Audiences will hear songs from as far back as the 1900s-"Give My Regards to Broadway" is featured-as well as songs from contemporary musical theatre.

"The Music of the Night is a fresh, new twist on Broadway," shared FST Associate Artist Catherine Randazzo. "They're going to throw in some of the more modern songs from Broadway and put a nice older twist on them so they feel like they still come from the swing era." FST's Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins added, "The Swingaroos have such a great sound-it feels like the old bands [of the 20s, 30s, and 40s] but at the same time it's very new. They've got a great interpretation [of the music]."

The Swingaroos' frontwoman Kimberly Hawkey created The Music of the Night specifically for the band. "You'll hear hits from the past century, but never exactly how they've been done before," Hawkey said. "We like to mix and match styles in an unexpected way. You can still sing along [to a song], but there will be a twist to it. We may change the tempo or make a current hit sound like it came from the 1920s. However, we won't change songs just for the sake of messing with it. It has to feel right musically, and it has to match our storytelling."

Starring in The Music of the Night are Nathan Yates Douglass, Daniel Glaude, Assaf Gleizner, Kimberly Hawkey, Steve Morley, and Uri Zelig. A newcomer to FST, Douglass (Bass and Vocals) will sing alongside Hawkey in several musical numbers. "He is a fantastic singer in the style of the great crooners. I'm pleased that he'll be joining me onstage for some duets," shared Hawkey.

Assaf Gleizner joins as Musical Director and pianist. Gleizner has worked both on and off Broadway as a composer and Musical Director. A multi-instrumentalist, Glaude (Reeds) has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Birdland, The Blue Note, and the Gershwin Theatre. Another newcomer to FST, Morley has studied with some of jazz's top teachers, and earned a master's degree in Jazz and Commercial Music at the University of Miami. Zelig (Drums) has worked with jazz legends like George Cables and Bill Crow, and currently holds the lead drum chair in several Off-Broadway productions.

After being away from Sarasota for three years, The Swingaroos are looking forward to their upcoming return. "We've made some long-lasting friends and fans from our first run. I think they appreciated seeing a full band onstage," shared Hawkey. "Many audience members greeted us after the show and told us their own stories about songs we played on stage. Some had parents or relatives who were in famous swing bands, and some remember hearing the tunes when they were kids. I think they'll especially enjoy this summer's cabaret, since they are so many recognizable songs in it."

from July 17 through August 19 in FST's John C. Court Cabaret, The Music of the Night is an all-new cabaret featuring The Swingaroos' swingin'est version of musical numbers embraced by the theatrical and jazz worlds alike. Single tickets are available by calling the FST box office at (941) 366-9000 or at

theatre review: THe swingaroos at Florida studio theatre

Aug 28, 2015

by: Marty Fugate Staff Writer, Sarasota Observer (

The Swingaroos are swinging and singing at Florida Studio Theatre. Based on the name, one might think the six-piece is a touring Australian swing band. No, mate. They’re also not an ad-hoc band assembled for a revue. They’re an actual, factual band on tour from New York City. And they can definitely play.

Kimberly Hawkey is the high-octane lead singer; light-fingered Assaf Gleizner plays the piano and arranged the tunes. Saxophonist/clarinetist Daniel Glaude, trombone player Nat Ranson, bassist Oliver Watkinson and drummer Uri Zelig add to the musical stew and keep it cooking. But it’s not all swing in the pot.

They’re a swinging band, but not a swing band. The Swingaroos cover American pop standards from 1930 to 1945—or recreate the sound with original tunes penned by Gleizner.

The mix includes a blistering bluegrass attack on the traditional “Mama Don’t Allow,” a sizzling Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance No. 5” (the Brahms tune that doesn’t put you to sleep), a Better Midler-esque “America the Beautiful,” Stephen Foster’s weepy “Old Folks at Home” and I thought I caught a riff from George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

Meyer and Wolfe’s “Crazy Rhythm” and Arlen and Mercer’s “My Shining Hour” kick into true swing syncopation — a worthy take on the classics. But Gleizner and Hawkey’s original tunes all feel like old standards. “Someday Sunday Subway Boogie” has swing’s finger-popping vibe; “Grocery List” is a Duke Ellington-style litany of food-based double entendre; “Steam Train” has a shuffling, stride piano beat. Two stylistic chameleons, these kids. The songwriting duo could steal Doc Brown’s DeLorean, go back to 1940 and get on the airwaves.

There’s a loose narrative structure behind the music: The Swingaroos are getting their act together, getting ready to hit the big time in New York City. But the story stays in the background. Story aside, the performers’ raw talent and high-watt personality make the show work.

The band dynamic draws you in with all its back-and-forth reactions of patter, patois, significant looks and gags. Their garb helps to sell you, too. All the guys wear snappy fedoras, except for the Stetson-sporting trombonist. Hawkey’s poured into a spangled red dress and turns from sultry to sassy on a dime. She’s a true lead singer with real presence and substance behind the style. She has a great voice and does a wicked scat number that sounds like she’s playing the trumpet. But the level of musicianship is intimidating all around. Each Swingaroo gets a chance to show off and shine. Machine-gun drum solos, klezmer-style clarinet wailing, lightspeed piano medleys (including a four-hands boogie) and an intricate bass riff. They work nicely together and apart, these kids. 

The Swingaroos give you nothing but entertainment — and more than the empty calories of nostalgia. These young musicians aren’t serving up dead styles; they’re working within swing, stride, jump blues, or New Orleans jazz, as the case may be. And those styles are alive and well when they sing and play. 


Theater review: 'swingaroos' put a lively twist on old sounds

Aug 26, 2015

by: Jay Handelman, Herald-Tribune

If you close your eyes and just listen to The Swingaroos, you might actually think you’ve traveled back in time to a small little nightclub in the 1930s to hear a lively swing band.

The Swingaroos at Florida Studio Theatre features, from left, Nat Ranson, Daniel Glaude, co-founder Kimberly Hawkey, Oliver Watkinson, Uri Zelig and co-founder and arranger Assaf Gleizner. Photo provided by FST

Even with your eyes open and watching the six-member group on the stage of Florida Studio Theatre’s period-looking Court Cabaret, you might not wonder if you’ve done some time traveling.

The band, led by singer Kimberly Hawkey and pianist/arranger Assaf Gleizner, recreates the sounds of the past with a hip, contemporary flair and drive. They perform a mix of classic songs by Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, the Gershwins and even Brahms, with original songs by Gleizner and Hawkey that have a similar style. They often sound as if they could have been written in the 1930s or 1940s when small swing bands emerged from larger traveling big bands led by some of the biggest stars of the era.

Creating classic sounds in a modern era

Their show “The Swingaroos: Swing-era territory band” closes FST’s refreshing summer cabaret series featuring visiting artists trying out new programs and productions.

Assaf Gleizner, left, and Kimberly Hawkey created The Swingaroos, a modern swing band with a 1930s style. The six-member group performs classic songs and originals all arranged by Gleizner. Photo provided by FST

In an earlier interview, Hawkey said the FST show (running through Sept. 20) is something new for the group. It’s primarily a concert with a backstory of how the band got formed and the musicians’ dreams — cue Mercer’s song “Dream” — to make it to New York.

Fortunately, Hawkey and the group don’t make much of that story, which amounts to a line or two of supposed connective tissue between playfully arranged songs. The lines that are intended to prompt certain songs don’t make a lot of sense when you hear the lyrics of the next melody.

But none of it matter because the focus is on the music, and this is a stellar group of musicians, led by Hawkey’s strong, sometimes quirky, sometimes flirty voice. The band also features reed player Daniel Glaude, trombonist Nat Ranson, bass player Oliver Watkinson and drummer Uri Zelig.

The original songs aren’t always up to the quality of the classics in the show (maybe because they’re not yet as familiar), but they fit right in, and showcase Gleizner’s impressive ability at arranging. Just listen to the way the band plays Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance No. 5,” or the constantly shifting tempos and beats of “Crazy Rhythm” and you hear practiced improvisation and a clever ear at work.

Singer Kimberly Hawkey created the modern swing band The Swingaroos with pianist Assaf Gleizner, left. The group is performing at Florida Studio Theatre. Photo provided by FST

The band is having fun and triggering a lot of toe-tapping, and the mostly older crowd at Tuesday night’s show was singing along to the songs they knew.

Just a word of warning. Avoid, if you can, a seat close to Zelig’s drum set. Even though it’s muffled a bit by some protective sound barriers, it still can be overwhelming, making some of the rest of the music sound muffled and noisy rather than melodic and fun. After a few songs, I guess, my ears got used to it.


Florida Studio theatre announces 2015 cabaret season

April 20, 2015

The Swingaroos will perform a 5-week run of their cabaret-style show at the John c. court cabaret theatre in sarasota as part of FST's summer cabaret series

Click for full press release.

New york music Daily - Album Review

The Swingaroos Offer a Good Reason Not to Stay Home on the 17th

March 11, 2015

The good news about St. Patrick’s Day this year is that it’s on a Tuesday. Does that mean the amateurs won’t be celebrating it early this weekend, turning every bar from Hell’s Kitchen to Hell’s Gate into Hell itself? Probably not. But there will probably be fewer of them out this coming Tuesday the 17th, if you’re stir-crazy enough to go out that night. And if you end up at the big room at the Rockwood at around 10, you’ll get to see a really fun, original retro swing band, the Swingaroos. Does that mean the Rockwood folks expect lots of drunken dancing? Your guess is as good as anybody’s. More likely, it means the band is taking a gamble that they’ll be playing their irrepressibly cheery update on 30s and 40s sounds to a captive audience.

Their album All Aboard is streaming at Bandcamp. Pianist Assaf Gleizner’s stride stomp fuels the opening track, Steam Train, singer Kimberly Hawkey ably voicing a train whistle and then serving as emcee for jaunty solos by Dan Glaude on clarinet, Nat Ranson on trombone and then a scampering one from the piano.

Hawkey shows off her brassy and smoky sides on the high-spirited stroll A Walk in the Park, bassist Chris Conte adding a lively, tiptoeing solo. To the Beat! looks back to Gene Krupa and Benny Goodman. Then the band brings it down with Far Across the World, Hawkey’s expressive (and subtly droll) vocals anchored by Gleizner’s resonant chords and a balmy Glaude alto sax solo over drummer Mike Gordon’s misty brushwork

Grocery List is a funny Louis Jordan-style jump blues: “A ham, a clam, a leg of lamb, it’s just baloney,” Hawkey intones, having all kinds of fun with food innuendos – and a pretty fair impersonation of a kazoo solo. The band has just as much fun making a slowly strolling noir theme out of Brahms’ famous Hungarian Dance, with a tip of the hat to Duke Ellington. Nagasaki is the lone Roaring 20s cover here, done with a rapidfire, coy hokum blues flair.

The band follows that with the album’s best track, Shadow Man, with its Brecht-Weill style angst and Hawkey’s moody, world-weary, distantly Billie Holiday-inflected vocals. Gordon’s tapdancing drums take centerstage on the brisk I Can Take It. The album ends with a silly cover that’s infinitely better than the original, which will probably draw some chuckles from people in the crowd who were in grade school back in the 90s.

by delarue

PUBLISHED: March 11, 2015

HEY Mister Jesse Podcast Feature

#110 Hey Mister Jesse for February 2015

The Swingaroos track, "Grocery List", was featured on the February edition of the Hey Mister Jesse podcast, Hosted by DJ Jesse Miner, that serves up "tasty talk about swingin' jazz and blues .... that wil serve up a platter of swingin' music that matters to dancers". We're thrilled to have been included in their 110th episode, which is featured as part of, an online meeting-place for Swing Dancers around the globe.

Episode #110 of Hey Mister Jesse is now available to download and enjoy. February's show features new music from Michal "Peanut" KarmiChelsea Reed & The Fair Weather FiveThe Smoking Time Jazz ClubMarina & the Kats and The Swingaroos and tons of international audience feedback. (73 minutes)


Photograph by Chansoda Rouen  //  © 2019 The Swingaroos