This month’s Manilow TV is my favorite of all the network specials that we did.
It’s called “Big Fun on Swing Street” and it’s very hard to find. It aired on CBS on March 7, 1988, a couple months after we released the “Swing Street” album.
Bruce, Jack and I wrote a concept hour for the show. That kind of thing hadn’t been done on television for many years.
We created a fictitious street called “Swing Street” based on West 56th in New York. The street was filled with jazz clubs specializing in different styles of music.
I was lucky enough to get some of the greatest musical talent to join me. Dianne Schuur, Gerry Mulligan, Carmen McRae, Tom Scott, Stanley Clarke, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Full Swing and the late, great Phyllis Hyman.
My own wonderful band members were featured too. Bud Harner, John Pondel, Ron Pedley and Dana Robbins were all there.
You can tell it’s my favorite Special by just looking at the roster of musical talent that I got to work with.
Steve Binder directed and Garry Kief produced. Steve, by the way, directed my first TV Special and won an Emmy for it.
We wrote a killer song for Phyllis Hyman and her bass playing “boyfriend” Stanley Clarke. They knocked out of the park.
At the “ Le Blue Smoke” club, Dianne Schuur and I duet on “Summertime” and she sings and scats her exciting way through “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” and I do “When October Goes” and “Black And Blue” with Phyllis Hyman.
August Darnell (Kid Creole) tears it up with me on “Hey Mambo”.
We take the viewer to “Adam and Eve’s Paradise Café” where we meet Evie who runs the place. We all convince her to sing a song with me that she used to sing with her late husband Adam. We’re accompanied by my “road” rhythm section and by the Baritone Sax legend Gerry Mulligan
The big ending happens at the “Savoy” where an “All Girl Orchestra” plays the club’s theme song as the entire cast sings and dances to “Savoy”. We all pour out into the street as the song and the show winds down.
Gerry and I come back and do the wonderful “One More Time” as the credits roll.
I’ve had many moments in my career that I’m proud of, and this show is definitely one of them.
Hope you love it as much as I do.