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Bebop Spoken There

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Strictly Smokin’ Big Band @ Black Swan - Newcastle Arts Centre: December 20

(Review by Ann Alex/photo by Mike Tilley)
They were certainly smokingly good, firing on all cylinders, and in (not too) strict timing, as a big band needs to be. A real Christmas treat, right from the start, with a jazz version of We Three Kings right through to the final tune, which included two altos duelling and a spirited Good King Wenceslas. A brilliant way to start the Christmas break, and mostly Christmas songs in the second half.
We were sitting at a front table nearest to the stage and I was impressed by the sheer power of a big band in full action.  So this is what the Big Band Era was all about! All the soloists did their stuff well and it isn’t really fair to mention individuals.  The saxes swung wonderfully, including the baritone, especially in Sax Alley, which rounded off the first half, with saxes in tuneful harmony, then sharing a line of music between three tenors (Steve Summers having switched from alto to tenor for this Battle Royal), then jousting with each other before coming together again. The trombones featured on God Rest Ye Merry Trombones and the trumpets became flugelhorns for the American version of It Came Upon A Midnight Clear, which was introduced by the only American in the band. I actually preferred the tune from across the pond as it is more haunting than the usual tune. The drums shone on Little Drummer Boy (well he would, wouldn't he?!) with a steady background beat and the guitars and keys strutted their stuff admirably.
And the singers did well, even though two of them, Steve Morton and Belinda Voshtina, were last minute replacements.  Steve gave us a spirited Let The Good Times Roll; The Best Is Yet To Come and a yearning Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart.  Belinda shone on Jingle Bell Rock and Santa Baby. Lindsay Hannon was not only singing in the second half, but also displaying her new dress from the Artwear Emporium, a new establishment in Newcastle.  The dress, was made to measure, black, waisted, with a fancy neckline and a stunning red lining. The singing was delightful, Chuck E’s In Love; Route 66; Baby It’s Cold Outside (with Steve); then all three singers rounded off with Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.  Tunes which weren’t about Christmas included Catch As Catch Can; Have You Met Miss Jones?; Song For my Father; The Blues Machine; and The Best Is Yet To Come.
I loved this gig and so did everyone else if the shouts for more were anything to go by.
Ann Alex 
Michael Lamb (MD/tpt/flug); Pete Tanton, Gordon Marshall, Dick Stacey (tpt/flug); Matt Ferris, Kieran Parnaby, Mr John Flood, Robert ‘Pez’ Perry (tmb); Steve Summers, Keith Robinson(alt), Paul Gowland, Jamie Toms (ten), Laurie Rangecroft (bar); Graham Don (pno); Pawel Jedrzejewski (gtr); Michael Whent (bs); Guy Swinton (dms); Belinda Voshtina, Lindsay Hannon, Steve Morton (vcls). 

2 comments :

Lance said...

And don't forget you can hear them again at Hoochie Coochie next Sunday, Dec. 28, 5pm with Paul Skerritt on vocals

Patti D. said...

Oh yes - I'm hot to trot for this one - can't get enough of 'em! And what an ace gig last night - the band's repertoire never fails to amaze me!!

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