Singin & Swingin
Put a guy with a great voice and an irrepressible sense of humour in front of a microphone with a big band and hear the musical sparks start flying. This album features some of the great songs of the 20th century and some of Alan's own compositions - a mixture of styles and sounds but all designed to be sung and swung. To Alan Western life is a song - here's a guy with a keen sense of humour who loves music, puts every ounce of energy into his performances and sings his heart out. Alan has a sensuous voice, sometimes husky, sometimes pure, sometimes brash, sometimes tender but always packed with emotion - a voice which demonstrates musically what the love of life and the joy of living are all about. The Alan Western Jazz Orchestra lead by Paul Gibens, showcases the talents of some of Australia's dynamic jazz musicians and provides an out and out, solid swinging sound - a great backdrop for Alan's voice and style. When the beautiful and brilliantly talented Melissa Western stops by for some guest appearances the mix is complete. Melissa shares the same love of jazz and sense of humour as her father and the chemistry between them is obvious on 'You Make me feel so Young'. Especially check out Melissa's version of 'Cry me a River' and Alan's version of 'Every Day I Have the Blues' ( if anyone has the blues every day it certainly ain't Al ! ). Alan's years in Show Business have provided him with a wealth of experience as an entertainer. His stylish vocals, bright personality and good humour appeal to audiences everywhere. Current Projects * Featured vocalist and compere with the 17-piece Alan Western Jazz Orchestra * Decahedron 10-piece Jazz Show Band * The Brisbane Big Band; 14-piece Jazz & Swing Band * The Singin' & Swingin' Band; 10-piece Show Band * The Collection; 5 - 6-piece Cabaret Band. Cabaret Major venues: * Savoy Hotel, London * Oberoi Hotel, Colombo Sri Lanka * Jupiter's Casino, Gold Coast Australia * Hilton Hotel, Brisbane Australia * Riverstage, Brisbane Australia * Spiegeltente, Brisbane Australia * Brisbane City Hall plus numerous appearances and residencies in Cabaret, Clubs and Hotels throughout the UK and Australia. Theatre Lead roles in Oklahoma; Finian's Rainbow; Kiss Me Kate and South Pacific for Brookdale Operatic Company UK The King & I for Deseret Theatre Company Australia Television Drama * Colditz - Yorkshire Television UK * The Nearly Man - Yorkshire Television UK * Conjugal Rights - Yorkshire Television UK Cabaret * Stairway to the Stars - Channel 9 Australia * New Faces - Channel 9 Australia * Conway Country - Channel 9 Australia * Extra - Channel 9 Australia Radio * Late Night Listening - Piccadilly Radio, Manchester UK * Carols at the Cove - Radio Hope Island, Australia Recording Singin' & Swingin' first major CD recorded January 2004 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ MY LOVE AFFAIR - WITH MUSIC My musical career started at a very early age - in fact my birthday, the 22nd November - happens to be St Cecilia's Day, the patron Saint of Music! As a small child I loved to sing and one of my earliest recollections was standing on a chair at parties singing the latest Sinatra song. My dad was Welsh and sang in a London Welsh Male Voice Choir. Eventually he got the choirmaster to train my boy soprano voice. I won the silver medal in the first music festival I entered, singing 'Oh, For the Wings of a Dove'. He taught me all the breathing exercises and techniques for preserving the voice, which is probably why I'm still singing today, many years later. When my voice broke I began singing with London dance bands. In my late teens and early twenties my favourite haunts were the dance clubs around London's Soho area. Two good things happened there - one was learning about the music business from some of the resident professional musicians and getting a few gigs with them, the other was meeting Rowenna, the girl who eventually became my wife. My first really professional cabaret engagement was at 'Young's Chinese Restaurant' in Leicester Square. I remember singing 'Pepito', a Spanish pop song hit at the time, in Spanish, to an audience consisting mostly of Asian tourists, who looked blank. Their understanding of English was bad enough, let alone Spanish ! It was a wonderful training ground for any young entertainer and I learned how to work with the audience and not to them. With my feel for Latin music I graduated to working with a rumba band at the Savoy Hotel, and mixing with the upper-class customers, whose requests for songs were usually accompanied by a 5 pound note - nice work if you can get it! Once I got offers to work the lucrative club scene in the North of England I decided to throw caution to the winds and 'go pro'. At 24 years of age I thought the world was my oyster, resigned my job, bought a big second-hand American car and set off for the wild and woolly Northern club circuits, working up to four half-hour spots a night in the hundreds of clubs which flourished in the North of England. Although I used Manchester as a base I'd sometimes find myself doing a Saturday night gig in a South Wales miners club then driving half through the night to make a Sunday lunchtime show in a Newcastle working-mens club 300 miles away - happy days! If I thought I knew something about the sophisticated scene in the South of England I had to learn a lot more about the working-class attitudes and musical preferences in the North, where I was viewed as a bit la-di-dah because of my Southern accent and culture. As the old Yorkshire saying goes 'where there's muck, there's brass' and I certainly wanted the brass, if only to prove to my parents that I could make it in the showbiz life, and wouldn't have to go back to a 'proper job' to make some money. At this time I was into Pop music but with an act that was a little classier than many of my contemporaries, until I realized that I had become rather 'uncommercial' and agents didn't really know how to sell me. With an urge to be different I tried specializing in songs in other languages - Italian, Spanish, French and called myself 'Voice International' finishing off my act with a routine on bongo drums to 'El Cumbanchero'. I also started working comedy routines into my act, as comedians always got paid more money than singers, and it did increase my earnings. The bongo routines went down well, but I wasn't really vulgar enough to be a successful comedian, so I concentrated on what I was best at - singing, and started writing some songs. I had an abiding love for jazz, but jazz gigs were few and far between and paid peanuts, so there was no career path in that direction. On a gig at the famous Blackpool Tower I was asked to compere the show. I must have latched on to it well enough because they offered me two Christmas seasons and suddenly I had a reputation as a classy compere! This opened up a whole new range of opportunities, landing me jobs in many of the top night clubs in Manchester and Liverpool, and mixing with many of the stars of the day. There was some useful daytime work on TV station 'soap' programs like 'Coronation Street' and other drama productions, and I managed to get in on the scene and landed some 'walk-on parts'. Walk-ons got paid extra money by appearing in shot with the stars of the production and, although you had no lines to say, you had to be able to act. You had your own dressing room but weren't allowed to mix with the extras, who were in a communal dressing room. One of the benefits was that music journalists would see you on these shows. These people were also well connected so, if you knew the right ones you were 'in the loop, and I picked up some radio work through a music journalist as a result of a promotional recording that I did in Manchester. I was no exception to the old saying that many actors want to become singers and many singers want to become actors. When the opportunity came to work with a local operatic company in stage musicals I grabbed it and landed the leading role in my first production. This was 'Curly' in Oklahoma and I got hooked on the theatrical scene. Of all the shows I did, Kiss Me Kate was to become one of my favourites, in the leading role of 'Fred Graham'/'Petruccio' - Shakespeare's story and Cole Porter's music all combined - just wonderful. In 1980 we took the 'trip of a lifetime' to meet my wife's parents in Australia. They had never met me, or our children, so it was an important family event. We decided that, despite our comfortable life in Cheshire, we would come back and live in the Sunshine State. We emigrated in 1982, and have enjoyed our life here ever since. Shortly after arriving I gained some notoriety through one or two TV talent shows, which were running at the time. With a much smaller population than Manchester, Brisbane did not have such a wide network of clubs. Nevertheless I got acquainted with some local entertainers and musicians and started to get bookings at RSL clubs between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Another dream came true when I became resident vocalist with the Brisbane Big Band which was run by a fine musician who became a great friend - Brian Douglas (RIP), at the Brisbane Jazz Club in 1989. I built up my library of Jazz arrangements and have appeared with them regularly ever since. The spin off from this was some great gigs at leading hotels, corporate functions and private events. My other long-term residency has been as a 'founder member' and resident vocalist/compere with Decahedron, and I am very proud of my friendship and musical association with it's leader Paul Gibens. Paul has written some great arrangements for some of my compositions and was MD for my CD production 'Singin' & Swingin' in 2004. The standard of musicianship in Brisbane and the Gold Coast is first class and many local bands provide great jazz and swing music. These days I am very happy writing songs and getting to sing with many of the highly talented young musos, too numerous to mention, who are making their mark on the jazz scene here. I am now well and truly part of the jazz scene, which is something I wanted to be many years ago. It still doesn't pay big money but, hey, you can't have everything. If you want a perfect life, go and live in heaven!