Arts and Entertainment

Swing into spring with the Federal Way Symphony

Eric Likkel is an active woodwind player in the Seattle area, featured locally on the radio and on stage. - Courtesy photo
Eric Likkel is an active woodwind player in the Seattle area, featured locally on the radio and on stage.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Set your clocks because it is time to swing into spring with the Federal Way Symphony’s upcoming “Swing, Jazz and Blues” concert.

This performance will take audiences down memory lane with toe-tapping, finger-snapping rhythms of music that developed in the 1920s, and matured in the 1930s with artists like Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Benny Goodman. Some moments of history are recorded in books, movies and on TV. But some moments that mark important memories can be observed right here in Federal Way. We can experience and get a glimpse of the past by attending a Federal Way Symphony performance.

By the early 1940s, swing and big band music were the most popular musical styles in the U.S. In fact, during the 1920s, ‘30s and early ‘40s, there were numerous dance halls in the Federal Way area. Generally, these were on one of several lakes that were usually part of a park or a resort. Many residents might remember clicking their heels at such dance halls as the Spanish Castle, the Century Ballroom, Star Lake, Steel Lake, etc.

No matter where you danced, this crackerjack music appealed to teenage and young adult jitterbuggers who worshipped their favorite bands and songs.

In contrast to smaller jazz combos where most of the music is improvised or created spontaneously, music by big bands (which typically consist of 10 to 25 musicians) is highly arranged. The orchestration is also slightly different than in other types of jazz. Strong clarinet and saxophone instrumentalists often take the lead lines with dazzling offerings of a strong rhythm section of bass and drums.

The “Music of America” performed by the Federal Way Symphony Swing Band at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6, at St. Luke’s Church is right on the musical charts by featuring Seattle woodwind player Eric Likkel. Likkel is known locally, both on the radio and stage with Origin Records jazz recording artists, the Earshot Jazz Festival, Ballard Jazz Walk, the Lynden Music Festival and the Smiling Scandinavians. He will thrill the audience by navigating orchestrations with a cocktail of musical favorites.

A riveting rhythm section plays a strong anchor for a swing band, and who else could provide the sharp and crisp delivery with plenty of chutzpah other than Federal Way Symphony percussionist Todd Zimberg? He is refreshing to watch and captures the moment with dynamite and energetic spark. Under the direction of Maestro A. Brian Davenport, Zimberg has held the timpani chair with the orchestra since 1990. He also keeps busy working with the Island Jazz Quintet and his commitment to recording and club dates.

The generational clock is grounding another revolution. It is time to “swing into spring” with the Federal Way Symphony as it provides an opportunity for both young and old alike to hear music popularized by the swing band era. A swing revival occurred in the 1990s, and the symphony is only making sure that people who love this musical style can see it up close and personal in 2011.

For more information regarding the “Swing, Jazz and Blues” concert, contact the Federal Way Symphony at (253) 529-9857 or visit

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