Swing Speak 9:30 p.m. New Year's Eve Maggiano's restaurant, Tysons Corner
Feel free to sing in the manner of the holiday chestnut, "What are you doing New Year's Eve?" If Old World Italian food and swing music sounds like a good combination, then Maggiano's in Tysons is planning a party with you in mind. The jazz quartet Swing Speak will play, and the restaurant, which offers a nostalgic atmosphere of red-checked tablecloths and family portraits reminiscent of pre-World War II Little Italy, will serve a menu of southern Italian recipes.
"It's our fourth New Year's Eve there," Swing Speak's Steve Wolf said. "We've had a good run with them." As he tells it: "Maggiano's draws some of its own crowd, but we seem to draw a lot of our swing dance crowd as well. For that reason the music tends to be dance-oriented in that vein."
It's a rich vein that Wolf and company have mined to great success for the past eight years, ever since the four respected Washington sidemen, after decades of backing local and national performers, decided to get some limelight for themselves as Swing Speak.
Bassist Wolf has been in the D.C. area scene since the late '60s and performed throughout the United States and Europe with such area favorites as Tom Principato, the Nighthawks, Catfish Hodge and Deanna Bogart, plus such national artists as Chuck Berry, Doctor John and sax man Clarence Clemons of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. Saxophonist Bruce Swaim moved to the D.C. area from North Carolina in 1981 and first played with Wolf when they backed the late guitar legend Danny Gatton. His résumé lists performances with, among others, the Spinners, Millie Jackson and Martha Reeves & the Vandellas. Tim Ford, keyboard artist and vocalist, was a member of Easy Smith's group for 12 years and performed at two special Christmas concerts with trumpet master Wynton Marsalis. Drummer Barry Hart's solid sense of rhythm earned him gigs with the likes of the Tommy Dorsey Band, Lou Rawls, the Drifters, and Little Anthony and the Imperials.
While the group's early repertoire centered around swing standards, it now includes the full range of American jazz, extending to Latin and rhythm & blues. The band has a catalogue of hundreds of song titles, from big band and jazz standards to Motown and rock classics. When Swing Speak(s), it's a festive sound, a worthy way to welcome the new year and a great way to work off the calories from a big Italian meal. Nuovo Anno Felice!
Maggiano's is at 2001 International Dr. in the Tysons Galleria. For this New Year's Eve event, there is special dinner seating at 9 p.m. and a cover charge of $35 per person in addition to food and beverage costs. Corks will pop at 11:30 p.m. for toasting, and the house bubbly will pour freely for all guests until the 1 a.m. closing. Dinner reservations are required for seating (there's also a bar area). Call 703-356-9000.
Make a New Year's resolution to support local music -- and to send your LIVE suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.