The New Columbians are being assembled by Edinburgh-based pianist Tom Finlay, who grew up in Cowdenbeath and whose father, Jack, played saxophone in the original Columbians, a dance band which played village halls and hops throughout "the Kingdom" during the 1930s and 1940s. "I had this old photograph of a dance band, the Columbians, and my father played in it," says Finlay.
He showed the photograph to his regular bassist, Ricky Steel, who revealed that his uncle, who ran a well-known music shop in Leslie, had been the pre-war band's pianist.
The Columbians dispersed when Finlay's father and other members went off to war, but when Finlay showed Assembly Direct's Roger Spence the old photograph, they decided to try and recreate the sound for at least a one-off event during the festival. As well as Finlay and Steel, the New Columbians include trombonist Phil O'Malley, who emerged from the Fife Youth Orchestra, BBC Big Band drummer Tom Gordon, who hails from Glenrothes, and singer Angie King – "She's got a strong Lancashire accent," says Finlay. "But she lives in Methil and she's a Fifer at heart."
They've also recruited Fife trumpeter and bandleader Billy Hunter and are bringing from Blackpool the veteran, Lochgelly-born clarinettist Jimmy Thomson, who played with such established big band names as Cyril Stapleton and Joe Loss.
The sound that once quickened pulses in village halls in Falkland and Colessie will ring out once again at Beath High School in Cowdenbeath on 5 February. And the emphasis will be on dancing, playing standards by Glen Miller and contemporaries for quicksteps, foxtrots and rumbas, with the help of a regular ballroom dance group that meets at the school. "The arrangements we've dug up aren't entirely from that period," Finlay admits, "but it's the type of thing the old band would have played."
You're unlikely to get a quickstep out of the Norrbotten Big Band, the renowned jazz orchestra from Sweden's Arctic province, directed by New York trumpeter Tim Hagans, which is among the festival's bill-toppers. The band also features drummer Peter Erskine, who made his name with fusion outfits Weather Report and Steps Ahead, and plays Dunfermline's Carnegie Hall on 5 February, along with the Ulf Wakenius Quartet and Brian Kellock with Julian Arguelles. Hagans will also direct his big band's associated Arctic Youth Orchestra in a concert with the Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra, the highly productive education initiative run by Richard Michael.
Another formidable Scandinavian outfit at the festival, which is based at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews, but with outriding events elsewhere in Fife, is the Frederik Nordstrom Trio, including renowned bassist Palle Danielsson, while waving the trad banner is Acker Bilk.
As well as pianist Kellock – who also plays a Django Reinhardt centenary concert with Swing 2010, home-grown talent includes singers Carol Kidd and Angie King, Colin Steel's Stramash, the Fife Jazz Orchestra, Blues'n'Trouble and Dumfermline's own rising double bass star, Calum Gourlay, with his quintet.
For further details, see www.fifejazzfestival.com
The Frederik Nordstrom Trio also plays The Lot, Edinburgh, on 4 February, while the Ulf Wakenius Quartet plays the same venue on 6 February