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Space Age Music Maker

Don Swan

  • Born Wilbur Clyde Schwandt 28 June 1904, Manitowoc, Wisconsin
  • Died 23 July 1998, Miami, Florida

Perhaps the best Anglo Latin musical talent next to Cal Tjader. Swan--his stage name--attended the University of Chicago and studied composition under teachers with formidable names like Sigvart Holland and Emil Soderstrom. Swan worked with a variety of big bands and worked as an arranger for touring shows, including Bob Hope's. In 1940, he began working with Xavier Cugat, beginning a long and successful career in Latin music. He arranged for Cugat off and on for the next 20 years, and came into demand among big band leaders in search of Latin composition. He composed and arranged cha-chas, rhumbas, mambos, boleros, and other pieces for acts ranging from Freddy Martin to Skinnay Ennis.

In 1957, Liberty Records signed him to a multi-album contract, and Don produced some of the best selections of Latin music from the space-age bachelor pad era. With the success of his Liberty albums, he took a road band on tour, appearing in Los Vegas and New York. He also wrote a number of instructional books, including Cha Cha for the Hammond and Tango for the Spinet, before retiring in the mid-1960s.

  • Mucho Cha Cha Cha, Liberty LRP-3001
  • All This and Cha Cha Too, Liberty LRP 3068
  • Hot Cha Cha, Liberty LRP-3114/LST-7114
  • Latino!, Liberty LRP-3123/LST-7123
  • Latino!, vol. 2, Liberty LRP-3161/LST-7161

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