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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.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Darlington Jazz Festival @ The Forum. April 20, 2013. Day 1

(Review by Russell)
The second annual Darlington Jazz Festival at the Forum on Borough Road began with a set by the stars of tomorrow, the Durham County Youth Big Band. A jazz festival should hit the ground running and the Durham band ensured it did just that. Chuck Mangione’s The Land of Make Believe put trumpeter Tom Hill to work in the first of his seven festival appearances. Fellow trumpeter Richard Hodgson played it Cool, West Side Story-style. Just in Time (arr. Nestico) demonstrated fine ensemble work and a new chart for the band - Gershwin’s Cuban Overture - put the alto saxophonists in the spotlight. 
This year’s event had a value-added element; the presence of Julian Siegel. Yes, he performed, quite brilliantly, but he gave so much more. He had time for everyone, making himself available throughout the day. One of his engagements was to work with the youth ensemble and he challenged them to get to grips with his own composition Interlude (a Jazz Action commission for the Voice of the North Jazz Orchestra). This piece taxed the senior band when it was performed last year at the Sage. Not in the slightest deterred, the Durham Young Turks made a fine job of it! 
The weekend’s other most welcome visitor was, in fact, a homecoming for trumpeter and composer Matt Roberts. He arranged Sunny for the band and he, Julian and the band had a great time playing it! A great first set. 
The crowd moved into the bar to listen to the Shaun Henderson Duo. The Hendersons, guitarist Shaun playing a Gretsch and vocalist Tanya delivered an entertaining set of standards (Cole Porter’s Night and Day stood out), pop songs and their best number - Bonnie Raitt’s Guilty
The main hall welcomed the Leeds-based James Mainwaring Trio. The festival took a chance on this one presenting a contemporary band and it paid off. Mainwaring had visited Tyneside on several occasions and it was good to hear him in Darlington. The tenor saxophonist’s new trio made its bow at the Forum - Mick Bardon (double bass) and drummer Steve Hanley - with a typically confident performance. Original material and wonderfully deconstructed jazz standards - What is This Thing Called Love?, Solar and Now’s the Time - re-affirmed Mainwaring as a major new voice in British jazz. 
Meanwhile, back in the bar…the Debra Milne Ensemble plucked classic material from the pad and threw in one or two original tunes for good measure. Milne’s songwriting partner, guitarist Steve Glendinning, knows his way around the fretboard and impressed with frequent solo flights. Bassist Paul Grainger had it down and Rob Bates (drums) kicked things along. A Milne/Glendinning number - Don’t Come Round Here Anymore, some Jobim (No More Blues), Jordu and Miles Davis’ Four (good vocals from Milne) were but a few tunes during an entertaining hour. 
Meanwhile, back in the hall…Tyneside’s Strictly Smokin’ Big Band assembled in numbers on stage with some big hitters in the ranks. The trumpet boys hit stratospheric heights (Michael Lamb and Pete Tanton taking the solo honours), Alex Leathard played elegant trombone, Steve Summers added a touch of class to the reeds section and Keith Robinson (tenor) scored top marks on Body and Soul
The evening session got underway in the bar with County Durham’s young musicians entertaining the festival goers. The set, led by guitarist Tom Stephenson, left no one in any doubt that the future of the north east jazz scene is in safe hands. 
The main hall filled to capacity in anticipation of the evening’s main attraction - Julian Siegel with the Durham Alumni Big Band. The band opened with the Chill Factor before Siegel and trumpeter Matt Roberts joined the ensemble. A Siegel commission from Voice of the North and recorded by Partisans, Wise Child heard the genial tenor man in full magisterial flow. Roberts, the local lad made good, had been working on a Wayne Shorter-inspired project and so it was that he presented his Wildflower Suite. Soloists across the sections included the outstanding Alex Baker (tenor). Siegel’s every note oozed class, international class. The band’s commitment to the music shone through and Siegel spoke of his genuine delight at having the opportunity to work with such fine musicians. A great way to end a great day of music. Well, almost. A late night session in the bar featured Just Friends, the Jazz Tones and an array of stunning soloists. They blew late into the night.   
Russell.                          

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