22 August 2008

The Cantina Band: The Swingtips - Roswell (2007)

I've not seen much in writing by Star Wars fans or critics suggesting that the Galaxy Far, Far Away was a precursor to our own. Most of us think of it as a kind of parallel universe, one that could be or might have been, but which has no connection to our own (except, of course, that it is entirely the product of the imagination of beings of ours).

The liner notes for the 1997 Special Edition release of the Episode IV soundtrack, though, suggest a rather amusing relationship, in which beings of the Star Wars universe discover an artifact from our own. Describing the concept of the Cantina band, the liner notes mention "several creatures in a future century finding some 1930's Benny Goodman swing band music ... and how they might attempt to interpret it".

The story of how the Modal Nodes found 20th century American sheet music may be best left to comic book or novel writers. I'm here now to tell you about a 6-piece band out of the US southwest that found the Modal Nodes. The Swingtips were founded in the mid-90's by saxophonist Kregg Barentine, whose jazz credentials include playing with two of America's greatest legacy big bands, The Glenn Miller Orchestra and The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. For the Swingtip's third album, 2007's Roswell, the group recorded a rockabilly tinged version of The Cantina Band, complete with honky-tonk piano. Imagine The Brain Setzer Orchestra while you're downloading it here.

The Swingtips are still actively touring and may be coming to a venue near you soon. Check their website for a complete schedule, links to purchase cds and downloads, a video clip, and more audio samples.