Don Neely's Royal Society Jazz Orchestra

 Critic's Comments


"The best band of their type in the world ... The Royal Society is solid, tight, brilliant ... It is at once a first-rate dance orchestra, a fine jazz ensemble (with strong soloists) ... Carla Normand is the band's perfect singer ... a bright, sure-pitched gem of a voice."

 - Phillip Elwood,

 San Francisco Jazz Critic



Herb Caen, Carla Normand, Don Neely

"Excellent ... Splendid ... First Rate ...   Fine ... Wondrous"

 - Herb Caen,

 San Francisco Chronicle



"Royal Society is a class act in every way ... Among the high spots, Frederick Hodges continues to knock me out with his dead-center replications of the technically demanding novelty-rag-infused white pop piano licks of the twenties. Multi-instrumentalist Neely is not only a strong soloist but also an engaging vocalist, evoking various period male singers from Ted Lewis, Rudy Vallee on up ... Carla Normand's complete grasp of the idiom and just right pipes are impressive as always ... possessing impeccable diction, accurate pitch and a voice that has just the right blend of warmth and cutting edge ... Carla is always a pleasure to hear"

 - Tex Wyndham,

 American Rag




Gerald Nachman

Entertainment critic -

San Francisco Chronicle


"Lovingly and precisely recaptures the sound in a irrepressible, irresistible style ... Neely deserves a national medal ... for preserving this music with such affection and accuracy ... the whole idea soars when Normand steps to the mike and, in her lithe ... voice, sings "Get Out and Get Under The Moon" (which is so Etting-ish it's spooky)"

- Gerald Nachman,

 San Francisco Chronicle



"It would be difficult to select a highlight from their program because each of the numbers was different and filled with zest. They seemed to have captured the best ... of the big band era, keeping the audience interested in not only what was being played but in what they were doing as well."

 - St. Louis Dispatch



"The best band of their type in the world...The Royal Society is solid, tight, brilliant ... It is at once a first-rate dance orchestra, a fine jazz ensemble (with strong soloists) ... Carla Normand is the band's perfect singer ... a bright, sure-pitched gem of a voice."

Phillip Elwood

 Jazz Critic

San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Examiner




Don Neely and the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra and their smaller ensembles of the San Francisco Bay Area affectionately and authentically recapture the excitement, charm, and romance of the celebrated music originating from the 1920s and 1930s - often known as the Jazz Age and early Swing Era.  The Roaring Twenties, the decade when George Gershwin was the toast of New York with his famous jazz inspired piano concerto "Rhapsody in Blue," and Fats Waller wowed the world with his great pianistic artistry and iconic song "Ain't Misbehavin,' and Louis Armstrong played with King Oliver in Chicago. The decade of the 1930s during the Great Depression when Cole Porter wrote his unforgettable hit "I Get A Kick Out of You." It was a time of immense creative flowering which ushered in an extraordinary renaissance of music and art.

Neely and his talented crew of talented vocalists and soloists are dedicated to preserving and performing the music from that artistic renaissance. Players are elegantly spotlighted on each song, and their thrilling solos make 
 

the music come alive with spine tingling Jazz Age feeling. Speaking of chills, when singer Carla Normand steps into the spotlight her expressive and lilting style reveals the melodic and lyrical heart and soul of the song, whether it's a snappy swing number or a smoldering torch song. Our smaller ensembles play Romantic Background Music ideal for cocktail parties, weddings, and elegant soirees, and of course play their signature vintage jazz and swing.

San Francisco is famous for many things. One of them is the City's vibrant and varied jazz scene, with history going back prior to the turn of the last century with Ragtime, played in the red light district of the Barbary Coast. Jazz, and eventually Swing spread to the speakeasies, swank hotels, theatres, and night spots, and continues today. The Royal Society Jazz Orchestra lovingly specializes in the hot jazz that was the rage of the Great Gatsby Era of the 1920s, and the exciting swing of the 1930s exemplified by such artists as Benny Goodman whose music ignited a musical craze.


Don Neely's Royal Society Jazz Orchestra Gatsby Summer Affair, Oakland, Carla Normand performing 1920s jazz for art deco society, vintage western swing, bob wills texas playboys, speakeasy jazz, flappers, roaring twenties, san francisco chronicle

Don Neely's Royal Society Jazz Orchestra

"Lovingly and precisely recaptures the sound in an irrepressible, irresistible style ... Neely deserves a
national medal ... for preserving this music with such affection and accuracy ..."

- San Francisco Chronicle




Don Neely, leader Royal Society Jazz Orchestra

"perfect in capturing the full essence of the past ... the band plays with an effervescence ... Neely' s group really has the sound down pat ... Carla Normand' s voice is akin to singers of that period - Leah Ray, Helen Rowland and Annette Hanshaw as examples. Normand is really the find."

 - Rapport,  Contemporary guide to Books Art & Entertainment,

 Los Angeles




   

"Capturing the feeling, phrasing and intonation of bands that recorded over fifty years ago is not easy, as is proven constantly by contemporary ensemble that try. But the R.S.J.O. is more successful and versatile ... placing its primary emphasis on the spirit of the originals, not on slavish, note-for-note accuracy."

 - John S. Wilson


Don Neely
Bandleader, arranger, reed player,
songwriter, vocalist


Carla Normand, Singer "...Normand is a bright, sure pitched gem of a voice...is the band's perfect singer (with her Depression-era inflections) She sings Ruth Etting better than Etting; and there are touches of Libby Holman, Mildred Bailey, Annette Hanshaw and Ethel Waters in Normand' s voice, too.Her years of working with the Royal Society band have taught her how to sing within an instrumental ensemble, not merely in front or 'on top. of' an accompanying group."
- Phillip Elwood,
Jazz Critic
San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Examiner
 "...the whole idea soars when Normand steps to the mike and, in her lithe voice, sings "Get Out and Get Under The Moon" (which is so Etting-ish it's spooky)"
- Gerald Nachman
San Francisco Chronicle


"Carla Normand has a warm, rich voice and sings in a boldly confident style ... all of which she delivers with awareness of the lyrics and the nuances of the composer' s craft."

 - Jazz Journal International,

 Great Britain

Carla Normand - Vocalist

 

We invite you to experience the scintillating sounds of 1920s Jazz and Big Band Swing
in San Francisco, played by The Royal Society Jazz Orchestra and our smaller ensembles.


Don Neely's Royal Society Jazz Orchestra with Carla Normand and Frederick Hodges


"the R.S.J.O. has matured and developed a tough, elegant art moderne surface to their work-they sound remarkably like a big-league hot dance band ... Neely is excellent at reconstructing reed styles of the day, especially on clarinet and alto ... the craftmanship here is excellent, and the music is consistently interesting, imaginative and varied. Don Neely has organized a highly entertaining show ... Carla Normand ... has clearly listened to the great song spinners, Lee Wiley, Mildred Bailey, Billie Holiday, et al.- and absorbed

 

their intuitive approaches to phrasing and intonation. Only a handful of stylists survived the test of time, and she has paid close attention to their work, continuing the tradition respectfully but with fire and personal elegance ... She sings with confidence and elan and projects a solid feeling of mastery over the songs."

 - William J. Schafer,

 Mississippi Rag,

 Jazz Critic