During the twenties and thirties, America’s music came of age in dance and jazz. Dances like The Black Bottom, The Shimmy and The Charleston seemed somewhat uncivilized and, therefore, were desirable to the young. Yet it was also an era of sweet romance, which is reflected in melodies like "Dream Kisses," "A Precious Little Thing Called Love," and "Beloved."
The West End Jazz Band has, for the past 34 years, recreated the classic music that typifies the twenties and thirties using original arrangements and instrumentation that is true to the style of the era. The band was organized by Mike Bezin, who had a great love for early jazz but was tired of hearing the same traditional tunes played by other jazz bands. The repertoire of West End consists of a broad representation of the music of this golden age, hot and sweet dance and jazz. Featured are the pure jazz numbers, the nonsense songs, the up-tempo tunes and also the beautiful ballads. This was the type of music for dancing and for those zany times when youth ran wild and made whoopee; songs such as "Hop Off," "Stockholm Stomp," and "The Charleston;" and the beautiful ballads like "Whose Honey Are You" and "Stardust." Their book is full of great standards, obscure songs, as well as a number of straight dance medleys and waltzes that reflect the romantic and sweet side of that era.
West End has been invited to some of the most prestigious jazz festivals, played concerts throughout the United States and has also toured Europe twice, which included an important week-long engagement at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Nice, France. The band has recorded seven CDs and makes an annual train trek with private cars to the Blue Lantern, an historic dance hall on Hudson Lake, Indiana, where Bix Beiderbecke played for a summer engagement 1926. Also, they have regularly played the Sunday Jazz Brunch at the celebrated Milk Pail near Elgin, Illinois for over 12 years.
Most of the members of West End are from the west side of the Chicago area, from which the band takes its name. Mike Bezin is the leader and plays cornet. Leah LaBrea, "The Windy City Songbird," plays banjo and guitar. John Otto is on alto sax and clarinet. Other members are Mike Walbridge on tuba, Frank Gualtieri on trombone, and Andy Schumm on drums.
Come enjoy the nostalgic and danceable music of The West End Jazz Band.