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Istanbul has long been considered as being the gateway between East and West, a two-way portal for the exchange of goods, peoples and cultures. Once at the crossroads of Roman influence and home to many diverse ethnic traditions, when that great empire shrank, certain cultures grew to dominance, others were displaced, migrated or dispersed. Among these dispersed peoples, we find European Jews and other tribes which can be loosely grouped as Roma or Gypsy, often leading itinerant lives, fiercely independent and fiercely protective of their historic origins and culture.
Whereas Western European music, strictly governed by the Church of Rome (and of course Constantinople up until the incursion of Islam), developed along well-defined and well-documented lines, the diverse musical culture of the Eastern fringes retained many links with older traditions, so that to modern-day Western ears this music sounds at the same time exotic as well as strangely familiar.
Find a range of Eastern European Bands at Hop Till You Drop
Just as the classical Latin of Biblical times has evolved into the similar yet distinct modern ‘Romance’ languages found in Western Europe, so it is with the development of musical culture. Eastern European music sounds different because it developed in different regions and within different cultures, yet taken as a whole it shares certain fundamental features which make it recognisable and accessible to Western listeners.
The instruments nowadays played in a typical Gypsy or Jewish Klezmer ensemble are instantly recognisable – it is the idiom of the musical genre and style that is distinctive. Accordion, clarinet, violin, guitar, double-bass and piano frequently appear, much as they do in the popular and folk traditions of the West. Perhaps the only ‘alien’ sound unique to the culture is that of the cembalon, a hammer-dulcimer forerunner of the piano.
As with the music of other displaced peoples the world over (Afro-American Blues, Portuguese ‘Fado’ etc), Gypsy music reflects a deep-rooted melancholy which characterises much of the repertoire – songs of yearning for home, searching for something lost, a quest for identity. However, this definitive mood is regularly interrupted by bursts of fantastically joyous, fast and frenetic celebration music, as exciting and uplifting (and danceable) as any to be found around the globe.
As in certain other traditions where music is learnt aurally, passed on from player to player without reference to a standard written version, individuality in performance is a defining element in Roma and Gypsy music, with a strong emphasis on variation and improvisation, making each rendition to a significant extent unique, as in Western jazz.
Gypsy and Klezmer bands will readily switch from playing attractive, atmospheric background music as accompaniment to a formal meal or drinks reception, to an engaging, interactive performance of more up-tempo music for dancing later on.
At many events, a compact ensemble will perform background music for the earlier part of proceedings, sometimes playing their instruments acoustically, and then augment with further musicians (often including drums) and amplify their sound to achieve a full-on dance-band impact. Naturally, this highly-adaptable arrangement is ideal for a whole range of different social events.
The development of Eastern European music in some ways parallels that of the West, in other aspects has diverged over the intervening centuries. Whereas Western art music fairly rapidly became a literate culture, evolving, progressing and changing in a highly visible way, music in the East continued as a predominantly aural tradition and so developed along different, more organic lines. Shared instrumentation and regular dance-forms bring the cultures closer, but the instantly recognisable idiomatic and stylistic differences give Eastern European music its attractive, exotic quality and appeal.
Evocative and nostalgic to listen to, irresistible and effervescent to dance to, a Gypsy band will present a flexible, adaptable performance well-suited to entertain guests at almost any social event, from weddings and private parties to corporate functions and public festivities.
Both the camera and the microphone loved that consummate performer, Frank Sinatra. His velvet-textured larynx and unique romantic style won him worldwide acclaim, coupled with the notoriety of the celebrity lifestyle he led and the ‘Ratpack’ company he kept. Along with Fred Astaire, he was Hollywood’s leading man of the Swing Jazz era.
A hard act to follow, equally difficult to emulate. However, with his ‘Salute To Sinatra’ Gary Grace offers the next best thing in a magical tribute to the great entertainer.
Find out more about booking Gary Grace Frank Sinatra Tribute Band for your wedding.
With 30 years’ performance experience in the music industry, Gary has built a reputation as one of the most highly-regarded popular singers in the UK. Natural vocal ability, an affinitive gift for mimicry and a magnetic stage-presence all combine wonderfully in this homage to his principal hero.
This is splendid entertainment for a wedding reception party. You can expect to hear all the iconic swing jazz classics in an uncannily pitch-perfect replica of Sinatra’s interpretations of ‘My Way’, ‘Mack The Knife’, ‘The Lady Is A Tramp’, ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ – the list goes on.
Sinatra’s extensive back-catalogue is eclectic and varied in style, making his music ideal accompaniment to different stages of a wedding celebration. Laid-back soulful jazz during the champagne reception or formal meal can make way for more high-energy, up-tempo arrangements for dancing later on.
If unalloyed Sinatra isn’t quite enough, Gary Grace can widen his repertoire to include other artists of international repute, such as Tony Bennett, Nat ‘King’ Cole and Matt Monro, in his ‘Tribute to the Kings of Swing’ show.
Wouldn’t it be absolutely incredible to have your all-time favourite band come and play at your wedding reception? Unfortunately, unless you are either related to or can number Mick or Keith or Paul (or even better, Simon) among your close friends, or you are quite obscenely loaded anyway, this is and will remain purely a pipedream.
However, you could have the next best thing. There is a growing number of high-quality, authentic-sounding Tribute Acts operating across the UK, paying faithful homage to the music and replicating the stageshows of iconic international superstars of the recent past.
Find out more about booking a tribute band for your wedding
The musicians in a tribute band strive to express their shared passion for a particular recording artist’s or band’s music by diligently replicating their performance as accurately as possible. Naturally, all of the most popular hits will be covered, together with some of the less well-known items selected from the original’s back-catalogue.
In most cases, in purely musical terms it can be difficult to separate the replica from the real thing, and occasionally the tribute band’s performance even exceeds the original. Shut your eyes and suspend your disbelief – perhaps Elvis has not yet left the building after all!
Minute attention to detail in every aspect of a tribute act’s performance is a critical part of their artistic approach. Everything will be accurately replicated, from the sound and stage-lighting to the costumes, makeup and hairstyles. The musicians will act completely ‘in character’ and choreographed dance-routines and general movement will also be closely observed, so that the overall effect will sound and look uncannily like the original.
To complete the effect, you could ask your guests to come to the wedding reception in appropriate ‘period’ dress to involve them interactively in the theme – most tribute acts welcome audience participation!
The style of live music you choose for your wedding reception will effectively create the atmosphere and set the tone of the proceedings, so it’s vitally important to choose wisely. However, identifying music that both reflects your personality and simultaneously appeals to your guests’ varied tastes can present a bit of a conundrum.
Careful consideration is required to reconcile these and other factors, and you may well need to compromise to an extent; it’s probably diplomatic to aim to keep everybody happy at least some of the time.
Find out more about booking a live band for your wedding.
Much more effectively than a disco or other recorded music, a live band can set the scene from their very first chord, so it’s important to choose a style of music that will create exactly the atmosphere you want through careful selection of repertoire and tempo.
For instance, if you’re after elegance and sophistication, then a string quartet or piano trio might fit the bill, mixing classical pieces with lighter, more popular items. If you imagine your guests would enjoy an evening of dancing but aren’t likely to be too keen on popular modern chart hits, then a classy swing jazz band playing all the favourites from Hollywood’s golden age would conjure up a suitably vintage ambience.
For something a little more exotic with a timeless feel, a Caribbean steel band or perhaps a Brazilian salsa troupe would add a colourful element of spectacle as well as performing exciting, danceable music, or there’s always an Indian Bollywood band if you’re looking for a vibrant, spectacular stage-show as the highlight of the evening’s entertainment.
It’s your wedding and you (or Daddy) are going to be footing the bill, so of course you should be allowed to choose your favourite style of musical entertainment. But do include your guests’ potential enjoyment as an important influential factor in your decision. Remember, pleasing all of the people some of the time should ideally be your main aim.
Your wedding is anticipated to be the most special day in your life, and naturally the ceremony is central to it. Irrespective of whether you are planning to marry during a church service or elsewhere in a civil ceremony, live music can play a significant role in creating a real sense of occasion.
Consider carefully how much and at which points before, during and after the ceremony you would like to have music played or sung. Talk to the vicar or registrar to help establish where and when music would be most appropriate, and take advice from the musicians who will be performing, as their experience in these matters may be invaluable.
Find out more about booking live musicians for your wedding.
To settle the atmosphere of growing anticipation during the anxious minutes as the guests assemble in expectation of the (fashionably late) arrival of the bridal party, a selection of calm, contemplative music will be a welcome distraction, soothing nerves and disguising coughs and whispers.
At a given signal, a fanfare and march are perfect to announce the bridal party and accompany their procession up the aisle. Perhaps you have a special piece in mind for this – discuss possibilities with the musicians beforehand, and don’t forget to inform the vicar or registrar of your choice, as there may be certain restrictions as to what music is deemed suitable.
In a typical C of E marriage service, hymns or psalms (and occasionally anthems) are sung as a regular part of proceedings. In a civil ceremony where religious music is not permitted, instrumental items or secular songs can be effectively substituted at corresponding points.
Music is appropriate in all cases during the interlude for the signing of the marriage register (which often takes quite a few minutes) before another fanfare-like piece can triumphantly announce the newlyweds as they are presented to their family and friends as man and wife.
The above-mentioned fanfare-like piece can be quite pivotal, as it simultaneously signals the end of the religious and/or legal aspects of proceedings and the beginning of the informal, celebratory elements of the occasion.
Where possible, it would be an excellent idea for the musicians to relocate outside (weather permitting) in order to sustain the cheerful atmosphere and entertain your guests with a further selection of light-hearted music while champagne is sipped and the photographs are taken.
Live music can play an important central role in defining, accompanying and announcing the various unfolding stages of a wedding before, during and after the actual ceremony.
Consult with the musicians in order to establish where and when you want music to be performed, and discuss your choice of musical items with the vicar or registrar to make sure of their approval.
If appropriate and logistically feasible, ask the musicians to stay on after the ceremony to entertain your guests for a while during the drinks reception. Above all, enjoy your wedding, enjoy the atmosphere, and enjoy the music!
Trad Jazz is an ideal style of music to add a celebratory atmosphere to a wedding reception party, especially outdoors, and as their name implies, The Al Fresco Trad Jazz Band are ideally suited to such an occasion.
Their lively, swaggering renditions of all the well-known classics of the genre performed in authentic New Orleans fashion will readily bring a smile to lips of all ages.
Find out more about booking Al Fresco Trad Jazz band for your wedding.
The instruments that make up a traditional jazz band are entirely acoustic, and therefore not reliant on any electrical power source or other equipment. This allows them to switch locations with ease, even performing a strolling serenade when required to add novelty to the occasion.
Eye-catching sousaphone or tuba pins down the bassline and the beat, with banjo adding further harmonic texture and rhythmic punctuation. Meanwhile, trumpet, trombone and clarinet strike up a merry conversation in an interweaving melodic topline.
With a combined wealth of music-making experience built up over a number of years, The Al Fresco Trad Jazz Band have developed a 200-strong repertoire of well-known jazz standards and popular tunes, all presented with the consummate musical skill and panache of seasoned performers.
However, if you have a specific request for a tune they don’t regularly play, they will be happy to learn and perform it specially for you; assuming it’s in a suitable style and they are given sufficient notice, they’ll give it their best shot!
For a garden party or similar, the musicians can dress appropriately in traditional style, with striped blazers, bow ties and straw boater hats to help set the scene. For a more formal event, however, they are happy to appear in evening dress or similar smart attire; you can discuss dresscode with the bandleader beforehand.
No matter if you’re looking for background music to create a light-hearted, cheerful ambience during the champagne reception, or for more energetic tunes for dancing later on in the evening (or perhaps both), The Al Fresco Trad Jazz Band have the know-how, musical skill and experience to deliver on all fronts. Looking good and sounding great, their musical presentation is sure to delight your guests and enhance your wedding celebration.
The Mississippi Delta, where French and British cultures blend with African and Creole, is acknowledged as the birthplace of what has become known as Trad Jazz. An amalgam of blues and gospel hymns with European dance-tunes and song models, this idiosyncratic style of musical delivery appears to emerge in the popular marching church bands, especially in and around New Orleans, towards the end of the 19th century.
Trad Jazz fuses the hopelessness of the blues with the triumphalism of gospel, all wrapped up in an exciting, life-affirming march-rhythm with much interweaving melodic improvisation over the principal theme. As the 20th century dawned, the lyric message gradually became subordinated to the purely musical aspect, as the Dixieland marching bands highlighted instrumental development at the expense of vocal performance.
Find out more about booking a Trad Jazz band for your wedding.
The carefree sound of a Trad Jazz Band has long been associated with festivities of all kinds, and conjures up a sunshine, carnival atmosphere with the vivid imagery of the New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations. What may have originally started out as solemn spiritual music to accompany a funeral procession finished up as the joyous soundtrack to a tickertape parade.
Sousaphone or tuba pins down the bassline, banjo or piano fills in the rhythmic and harmonic texture while trombone, trumpet and clarinet carry on a frenetic counter-melodic conversation over and around the main theme. The overall effect is a lively, uplifting and irresistible fusion of rhythm and melody – contagiously cheerful and eminently danceable.
Expect to hear immediately-recognisable classics such as ‘When The Saints Go Marching In’, ‘Swanee River’ and ‘Georgia’ as staples in the repertoire, which were readily adopted and adapted into later jazz developments like swing, bebop and mainstream as the 20th century progressed.
The instruments of a Trad Jazz Band are generally acoustic and easily portable, allowing the ensemble to perform a picturesque strolling serenade, absolutely perfect for an al fresco drinks reception. This brings the music to your guests in a delightfully informal, interactive way and can really help create a relaxed, celebratory atmosphere.,/p>
Many bands can come colourfully attired in what has become traditional ‘uniform’ for Trad Jazz – striped blazers, bow ties and straw boater hats, which adds an iconic touch of charming authenticity to the overall spectacle.
Want to spice up your wedding reception with some happy, jaunty music to create a relaxed atmosphere for your guests to enjoy? A strolling Trad Jazz Band playing a swaggering mixture of classic tunes from the popular, jazz and blues repertoire will bring that summery, strawberries-and-cream, ‘Henley Regatta’ magical ambience to your celebrations.
Most people will have attended weddings or parties where a live band has performed as part of the evening’s entertainment. It’s something that’s easy to take for granted, especially when everything went smoothly and the celebration was a huge success, with the music contributing much to proceedings.
Now it’s your turn to organise the live musical entertainment for your very own wedding reception. How do you set about it, and what can you reasonably expect from the wedding band?
Communication is the key – discuss everything in detail with the bandleader well in advance so everyone is clear about the performance requirements and other logistical aspects of the event.
Find out more about booking a live band for your wedding.
Experienced wedding musicians tend to work around a basic outline of the evening’s proceedings when planning each performance, tailoring their sets to suit the timescale and other constrictions. In terms of performance duration, most bands will be happy to play for 2 hours or perhaps more within a 4-hour period, split into 2 or 3 sets with breaks in between, but this is generally negotiable with the bandleader.
Professional bands usually come fully equipped with PA, and some can supply lighting rigs and a dancefloor if required, so all they will need is a reliable power source and enough space for them to set up and perform – a stage is always welcome.
In terms of dress, most bands have a clear idea of what they are comfortable wearing for performances; depending on the style of music they play, some may have a set uniform or even characteristic costumes. However, most musicians will be happy to fit in with any dresscode you require, so once again, discuss this with the bandleader beforehand.
The bandleader will be able to advise how long it will take the musicians to set up equipment and prepare for their performance, and how much room they will need to operate effectively. This varies according to the type of music and the size of the band – an acoustic ensemble such as a string quartet will only need a few minutes to prepare and tune up, whereas a large pop or swing jazz outfit with full PA and lights might require a couple of hours, and a lot more room.
In terms of repertoire, most bands will be happy to tailor their setlist to accommodate reasonable requirements. Again, speak with the bandleader about any specific requests you may have, for instance, the choice of music for the First Dance. Given enough time, many bands will be prepared to learn a special piece for your special occasion.
A specialist wedding music agency will be able to give invaluable and pertinent advice on the specific style of music you choose, as well as recommending a comprehensive range of professional bands in your area or from further afield.
Above all, they will be able to offer some level of guarantee of the performance quality and reliability of the musicians you engage – it is in their interest to represent or recommend only high-quality professionals. Set out in a legal contract between you and the bandleader, this affords you extra security and peace of mind.
Although generally working from a standardised performance plan, most bands will be happy to adapt this to fit in with your specific requirements wherever possible, including details of timings, dresscode and repertoire. The key to successful communication is your contact with the bandleader, who will be able to advise and negotiate on all aspects relating to the band’s performance.
A specialist wedding music agency is well-placed to offer general advice and expert guidance in your choice of musicians, and can reasonably guarantee a high standard of performance supported by a professional contract, so you can relax in confident anticipation of a memorable highlight of your wedding celebration party.