In 2009, Graham Hawthorne, (Drums, Leader, Arranger), finished a year long world tour with Art-pop legend David Byrne. Finding himself home and without any immediate musical projects, he decided on a lark to put together a Big Band just for FUN. His roots were in Big Band and Jazz, and in the early days of his career he had worked with Jazz legends such as Ira Sullivan, Jon Hendricks, Dave Leibman, Randy Brecker, Hubert Laws. But that was long ago, and his career took a different path as he became one of the most in demand musicians in New York with credits as diverse as Paul Simon, Beyonce, Harry Belafonte, Suzanne Vega.
It had long been his feeling that much of modern Jazz music had lost touch with the real essence of early Jazz, which was above all POPULAR MUSIC. - Entertainment; music for feeling good, dancing, toe-tapping, singing along and romancing.
So, he called up a bunch of like-minded friends and The HSO was born.
Because it was just for FUN, the band began by playing speakeasies once every few weeks in Hawthorne's Harlem Townhouse - literally speakeasies; Dancing, partying and illegal booze in a NYC apartment. To the complete shock of everyone involved, the scene blew up. Attendance went from 50 people at the first gig, to more than 100 a few months later, with a line down the block and another 50 people being turned away. That may not sound like a lot of people, but when you consider that the 700 square foot apartment was fully furnished and the band was 13 pieces...., well you can just imagine the heat that was generated.
After another long European tour in 2010, Hawthorne came back to find more interest than ever from the fans of the HSO. There was no choice but to find a bigger venue, but where? He didn't want to spoil the special vibe that had been established by the shows being almost private. The publicity had been exclusively word-of-mouth and a small email list.
After trying a few places that were just OK, they found a place every bit as hip as the townhouse - A beautiful stone room in the basement of St George's Church in Gramercy Park, literally called The Cave at St. George's. This has been the HSO's preferred performance space since 2011, and it is an awesome venue - small enough to be intimate, but still large enough to accommodate almost twice as many people as the townhouse; and what cooler venue for a speakeasy than a CHURCH?! Happily they have the right to serve booze.
The band keeps it's exclusive reputation by playing only in very select venues and private parties. This enables them to keep tight controls on quality, presentation, repertoire, and personnel.
With it's commitment to bringing you the great American songbook in a fresh, exciting, and yet classic way, The HSO will put a smile on your face and a lightness in your step.
Saturday Beatles Brunch