Battle of the Big Bands: Eyal Vilner joins WBGO's Bill Daughtry on Afternoon Jazz

May 21, 2018

Big band leader and multi-reedist Eyal Vilner is facing a mighty challenge: how do you write a chart for three separate large ensembles — over 50 jazz musicians in total — for this Saturday's night blowout event Intrepid: Battle of the Big Bands, on the flight deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

The Israeli-born, New York-based big band leader joins WBGO’s Bill Daughtry on Afternoon Jazz to ponder what that gargantuan act entails. He also brings his own large ensemble into our studio to give us preview of this annual swing dance party, which occurs during Fleet Week at Pier 86 in Midtown Manhattan.

Vilner's big band consists of many heavy hitters in New York City’s bustling traditional jazz community, including singer Brianna Thomas. His cohort joins the George Gee Swing Orchestra and the Artie Shaw Orchestra on the quarter-mile-long flight deck for a vintage swing dance showdown.

Expect New York’s diehard swing dance community to show up in appropriate attire — and if you go, don’t forget your dancing shoes. WBGO Members are invited to be a VIP guest for these highly anticipated proceedings, which include special seating and wine, bubbly and cider tastings. For more information, WBGO Members should call 973-624-8880 ext. 232

Below, watch Vilner and company perform "It Don't Mean a Thing (If it Ain't Got That Swing)."