Swing Shift Jazz Orchestra (SSJO) was founded as the Eugene City Dance Band in 1979, dedicated to providing live big band jazz in Eugene, Oregon. Now entering its fifth decade of operation, SSJO is inspired by the music and driving beat of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Bill Holman, and Woody Herman to name a few. The band's five saxophones, eight brass and 4-piece rhythm section are today’s version of hard-swinging, big band jazz.
In addition to its numerous appearances at The Eugene Celebration, SSJO has performed at festivals throughout the Northwest, including the Jazz at Newport festival (now The Oregon Coast Jazz Party) and the Siletz Bay Music Festival with jazz legend Ken Peplowski. SSJO is also one of five resident companies of the Wildish Theater in Springfield where they perform an annual 4-concert series. The 17 band members consist of professional musicians, music educators, and serious hobbyists. Nearly all of the musicians perform with or lead other bands. SSJO plays regularly for benefits, dances, weddings and gigs at area nightclubs and has 12-15 performances per year.
Swing Shift Jazz Orchestra has performed in concert with an array of international jazz artists including flutists Hubert Laws and Holly Hofmann, clarinetist and saxophonist Ken Peplowski, saxophonists Karolina Strassmeyer (Diva), Pete Christlieb (Tonight Show and Bill Holman), Bill Ramsay (Count Basie), Richie Cole (Buddy Rich), Dick Oatts (Village Vanguard) and Eric Alexander, trombonists Andy Martin (Bill Holman) and Michael Davis (Rolling Stones), trumpeters Bobby Shew (Buddy Rich), Jim Rotondi (Lionel Hampton and Ray Charles), and Mike Vax (Stan Kenton), pianists Mike Wofford (Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn), Ross Tompkins (Tonight Show), Kenny Drew, Jr., and George Colligan, vibraphonist Chuck Redd, drummers Jeff Hamilton (Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Ray Brown Trio, Oscar Peterson Trio, Diana Krall), Gary Hobbs (Stan Kenton) and singers Darmon Meader (New York Voices), Greta Matassa, Cami Thompson, and Halie Loren. SSJO also has featured local artists Shirley Andress, Shelley James, and Sherry Alves.