On the first day of spring (the meteorologists will tell you it was) F’reez opened with On a Clear Day. MC Guy Swinton admitted to shamelessly nicking the arrangement from a friend of the band, Mr Anthony Strong! Our man F’reez sang it in his Nu soul-jazz style. Standard material, the band sounded good. There was little indication of things to come.
Bandleader Michael Lamb has filed hundreds of numbers in the pad. Classic charts take their place, of course, but trumpeter Lamb looks to America’s contemporary composers and arrangers for inspiration. Tim Davies, working out of Hollywood, and Denver-based Adam Bartczak two such figures. Davies’ Blacknail made things clear; this was to be an exhilarating ride in the confines of the Black Bull’s compact lounge. Fantastic playing – ensemble and soloists. Direct, powerful, an ear-ringing experience! The reed section, assembled on the floor out front, pulled no punches. Excoriating solos - all given a chance to blow the roof off during the evening – altos, sopranos, tenors, baritone anchor Laurie Rangecroft, the doubling-up soloists on various reeds including clarinet and flute.