Julian Swain joins Carl Cole in a tribute to Fats Waller

“A Handful of Keys”, a musical tribute to Thomas Fats Waller, is Carl Cole’s testimonial to a legend in jazz. Waller’s music remains an essential part of African-America’s creation of one of the few genres unique to this country. Cole’s musical direction and accomplished accompaniment for NAT’s production of the classic, Ain’t Misbehavin’, gave him the opportunity to showcase his talent. Swain choreographed the show, and their close relationship began. During the past year, a professional association has developed, and they are currently working on a CD with Cole as musical director and Swain singing the songs that have become a trademark of his performances.

Growing up in Chicago, Swain, inspired by his teachers, received further instruction at the South Side Community Center, founded by Margaret Burroughs, where many of the finest artists in the African-American community had their beginnings. His long career on stage includes, choreographer/lead dancer in the Club Delisa in Chicago, the Count Basie Show at the Regal Theatre, and as a part of the famed Co Op Trio touring the country with Duke Ellington. He later founded the Julian Swain Inner City Dance Theatre, giving a host of young dancers their first opportunity to perform.

He became a familiar performer at the Clock Tower Dinner Theatre in the early ’80s, singing the songs of Fats Waller in Ain’t Misbehavin’ and continued to star until its recent closing. Waller’s music has become a permanent part of his repertoire, and with Carl Cole playing as if he were Waller reincarnated, they offer audiences magic with “I’ll Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter”, “Your Feets Too Big”, and “Ain’t Misbehavin’”.

Performing with Cole at the Jazz Society’s tribute to National Black History Month, Swain re-acquainted the audience with the music of Waller, Ellington, and Nat “King” Cole. Invited to perform with Carl Cole at the Mendelssohn Club on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m., Swain looks forward to again singing the songs so identified with his work.

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