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Thursday 6: Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free. OUTDOOR gig.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Customs House Big Band - Open Rehearsal New Crown, South Shields. October 1

(Review by Peter Ninnim).
The practice of the CHBB to open their rehearsal to their supporters on the first Tuesday of each month, is a great opportunity for all big band enthusiasts to not only hear the band but also to appreciate the painstaking way in which the Band under the direction of their Conductor Peter Morgan achieve the great results that jazz lovers hear at the band's public performances.
This Tuesday Brenda and I were the only members of the public in evidence and as usual we were made most welcome by everyone. As we had been unable to attend the last two gigs we were pleased to be there.
The evening splits into two parts. The first half allows the band to work on new pieces to the already huge repertoire, and for me this is the most interesting part. The second part is an opportunity to make requests.
The band started with Kurt Weill and Maxine Anderson's September Song. This was very much tweaking the number as it sounded pretty good immediately. This is not the dreary and weary version we are used to hearing performed by dire singers everywhere but a sparkling medium tempo swinger with an arrangement by a band member (sorry did not get the name). After a few discussions about phrasing and tempo throughout, the final version was ready for the next concert!
The band then moved on to a piece with which I was not familiar; Carmelo's by the Freeway by Bob Florence. This was at an earlier stage of development and it was fascinating to see the steady build up of the tempo and the line by line examination of the harmonies and phrasing and ensuring everyone in the band was on the same page. This is a huge piece and by the time 30 minutes had passed it was transformed; almost there! Of course in my opinion the arrival of Barry Black (drums) in the hot seat at the back has strengthened the whole band, not that there is any weakness that I can hear.
After the interval requests. My other half asked for Sweet Georgia Brown and as a result we got two versions, both great. At the end there was some discussion about the preferred version; Nestico lost! Peter Morgan selected Body and Soul (excellent) and then an up tempo version of I've Got Rhythm. We requested Kid from Red Bank which was taken at a cracking tempo and with knockout piano solo by Bill Britain. This was followed by Lil' Darlin’, a tune by Neil Hefti that I always thought was over rated and it seemed to me to drag a bit.
The last number was Benny Golson's Killer Joe which reminded me to re-visit my Art Blakey albums to see if I have it somewhere.
What a great evening!
Peter Ninnim
PS Went to Da Vinci's on Ocean Road earlier and it was first class. 

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