The "swing" revival in popular music in the late '90s was tailor-made for Broadway revivalists, always looking for a way to put dance onstage, so it's no surprise that somebody (actually, a large group of people, by the list of producers) put a musical revue called Swing! on in the fall of 1999. But like the "swing" revival it references, Swing! contains a lot of music that would not have been called swing during the Swing Era. The music neo-swing bands play usually sounds like what was called jump blues in the late '40s and early '50s, rather than the swing of the '30s and early '40s, and the same is true of much of the music here. When swing classics are selected, they are usually barnburners like "Sing, Sing, Sing" and "In the Mood." The show also features ballads that were popular during the Swing Era, such as "I'll Be Seeing You" and "Blues in the Night," as showcases for singer Ann Hampton Callaway, who is one of the best things about the production, but then Laura Benanti comes on singing "Cry Me a River," a song from 1955 that has nothing to do with anyone's definition of swing. The nine-piece Gotham City Gates, acting as orchestra and getting a few instrumental numbers of their own, feature enough electric guitar playing to be more reminiscent of Brian Setzer than Benny Goodman. Okay, so Swing! isn't exactly authentic, but it is lively, and the performances are often winning. The show is designed to show off the kind of flamboyant Lindy Hop dancing that has become popular all over again in recent years. On disc, that element is missing, but the mixture of music and the work of the singers is often very effective. Callaway is outstanding, as always, and Benanti and Everett Bradley also shine on occasion. Swing! may not be the show, or the CD, for anyone who actually remembers or is familiar with real swing music, but as an update meant to stir the dancing feet of the neo-swing generation, it's an enjoyable effort.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann