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England's premier swing band
Maybe you think playing a penny whistle is kid's stuff, but for Big Six horn player Al Nichols, mastering the tiny flute-like instrument has been an important part of his job. The young Brit and his big-beat combo from London hit Hollywood this month as part of their West Coast tour of America, supporting their second CD We the Boys Will Rock Ya!
The plaid-loving sextet break all the rules when they make music: they are roots-rock revivalists, creating an infectious blend of swing, guitar rock and doo-wop that gets audiences out of their chairs. In fact, no one sat down at all when the group played The Viper Room a few weeks back. Versatile, surging rhythms are The Big Six's signature sound, and when bandmates Nichols and baritone sax player Nick Lunt traded licks onstage, everyone was digging all the animated fun.
Something of a "supergroup" in its own right, The Big Six is made up of members from some of swing's most extraordinary bands: The Big Town Playboys (who backed Jeff Beck on his Gene Vincent tribute record), The Stargazers (who are quite the chart-makers over in England), King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys and Sugar Ray's Flying Fortress. You'll never find them dressed in anything but their matching plaid suits, which have garnered them the nickname "The Tartan Noise Boys." Their very cool version of T. Rex's "20th Century Boy" is always a showstopper, and went straight to number one last year on England's independent R&B charts.