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DESIGN E DITOR’S PICKS


BIG TIME BIG BAND


DSD 88


Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. These are the generals of The Great American Songbook and big band music. Decades later, Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Bublé have been added to this list. Dallas native Hunter Sullivan is planning to have his name added to the pantheon of these legendary singers as well. Twenty years of singing and playing music has provided Sullivan a life many can only dream of. He performs between 75 to 100 shows a year and has traveled through Europe and Asia, and played gigs in New York, Las Vegas and Hollywood— where he performed for an audience of such well-known celebrities as Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, and many other A-listers. “It was surreal to play the Hollywood gigs and see the room filled with celebrities


watching us,” says Sullivan. Not bad for a musician who was not classically trained and who taught himself to play drums, guitar and piano. Sullivan’s big band, which includes 10 horn players, performs nationally and around Dallas at many special events and charity functions, including for the Crystal Charity and the Junior League. The band has also played the Sundance Square New Year’s Eve festivities and the Dallas Arboretum concert series over the past few years. “My big band is more of a Count Basie-style band. We do an eclectic mix of pre-Beatles pop with a little of a Vegas flavor, but this is not a parody or joke. It is a very deep and rich tradition that we take seriously. Our songbook covers late ’50s to early ’60s Bobby Darin, Sinatra and Sammy Davis


songs,” the bandleader says. The 14-piece band comprises about 20 percent of Sullivan’s singing work. He also has a trio that plays twice a month at the Mansion at Turtle Creek. His company secured the contract for all bookings at the Rosewood Hotels property late last year. “I was a rock ‘n’ roll singer playing gigs in Deep Ellum,” Sullivan says. “I went through a low period where I considered getting out of the biz and going back to school. I started singing at Sipango—the legendary restaurant—and within a short period of time I met my producer, Nick Venet, and we went to Los Angeles.”


In LA Sullivan met Quincy Jones, Steve Blauner and other luminaries, and within 12 weeks Sullivan says, “I went from trying to get out of the business to discovering big band and


recording an album.” In addition to that first


record, King for a Day, Sullivan also recorded a live album as a promotion for the Mansion at Turtle Creek as well as various originals with accompanying videos. “I am also always on the lookout for young artists to mentor and hopefully produce for as well,” he says.


The popularity of jazz and big band music is experiencing a swell today thanks in part to the incredible film La La Land, and the performances of bands like Sullivan’s. “We are definitely keeping this genre alive. The music is still appreciated. The music is cross generational, which is cool,” he says.


Cool. That may the best way to describe Sullivan and his bands.


huntersullivan.com


Photograph courtesy of Hunter Sullivan


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