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Bebop Spoken There

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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Customs House Big Band with Ruth Lambert @ All Saints' Church, Cleadon. December 7th.

Peter Morgan (MD & bass trombone), Ruth Lambert (vocals), Paul Riley-Gledhill, Michael Lamb, Ken de Vere, Kevin Eland (trumpets), Gareth Weaver, Chris Gurgi-Smith, Michael Fletcher (trombones), Jill Brett & Elaine Willis (alto saxophones), Alan Marshall & Tom Quillian (tenor saxophones), Bill Brittain (piano), Roy Willis (guitar),Tom Pattison (bass), David Francis (drums) The Parish Hall of All Saint's Church in Cleadon can best be described as ''homely''. In the Late 2010 Ice Age it was a pleasure to be seated with a warming cup of coffee amidst baubles and tinsel. The stage was somewhat crowded before the band assembled. Two Christmas trees flanked the rhythm section resulting in the other band sections having little option but to set up on the floor of the hall.
The opener, In the Mood, did just that - it got the audience in the mood. Now this isn't usually a tune I'd wax lyrical about, however, on this occasion you should have heard the trumpet section - wow! They were on the money from the off.
Basie's Ya Gotta Try is a tune to talk about (make that any Basie tune). Tenor duo Alan Marshall and Tom Quillian traded on this one and it was but a taste of things to come. Tunes came thick and fast.
The introduction of vocalist Ruth Lambert raised the temperature to Fever pitch. Lambert's versatility was evident with a change in tempo on a beautiful reading of Embraceable You. An instrumental version of Stardust, a favourite, apparently, of altoist Jill Brett, was given a different treatment by the band in that it was taken at a brisker tempo. Do I hear cries of sacrilege? I think I would agree!
Now then, talking of taking things at a lick, Old Man River was just the business. It flew with drummer David Francis in command throughout - great stuff. Witchcraft demonstrated the band's excellent ensemble playing with Jill Brett featured. The inevitable intrusion of all things festive into the world of big band jazz closed out the first set. My Bah Humbug tendencies were about to be exposed but I need not have worried. MD Peter Morgan produced Stan Kenton's arrangement of Twelve Days of Christmas. This was more than alright! This was typical SK, full of strange, colourful voicings. An hour had flown by.
It was time for mince pies, wine and other delights. Interval raffle prizes were numerous and I won one!
Second set highlights were many. Tuxedo Junction featured the brass muting and plunging with Bill Basie Brittain and Roy Freddie Green Willis prominent as tenor man Tom Quillian scorched a bluesy solo. Messrs Brittain and Willis came up trumps again on Jersey Bounce as trumpeter Kevin Eland fired an exhilarating volley into the stratosphere.
Ms.Lambert returned to the stage to sing some Cole Porter. Microphone fixed on stand, Lambert looked a million dollars, the epitome of the big band era singer. Night and Day (what a tune!) and My Heart Belongs to Daddy were a delight, so too, Almost Like Being in Love with singer and band at full tilt.
Big band composers/arrangers were included in the set list - Bill Holman (Bright Eyes), Gordon Goodwin (arr. O Tannenbaum) and the Customs House Big Band's very own Bill Brittain (arr. Let it Snow).
To conclude, two other vocal higlights - Lambert sang Santa Baby (afterwards she asked me if I'd enjoyed it. Ruth - that really is a silly question!!!) and for an encore belted out Alright, Okay,You Win. The latter had me thinking that Lambert duetting with the late, great Joe Williams would have been something else!
Peter Morgan's band has developed into a most accomplished outfit and if there is more to come then big band fans are in for a treat. The next opportunity to catch the band is on Tuesday 1st February at the New Crown Hotel in South Shields. It is an open rehearsal session starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is free and the beers aren't too bad at all. The band's next concert performance is on Thursday 10th March at Blaydon Jazz Club. Check with Bebop Spoken Here nearer the time for details. Russell.

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