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Born This Day
Louis Armstrong and Steve Andrews.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Schmazz presents the Jonathan Silk Big Band @ The Black Swan - July 28









(Review by Lance/Photos courtesy of Ken Drew.)
The ethereal, tentative, probing, opening bars confirmed, what the pre-concert blurb had hinted at, that this was to be no powerhouse "hit him in the slats Bob"* big band but more of a contemporary jazz orchestra approach. Not that it was without excitement although some wag sitting at the back, stage whispered "I thought they were still tuning up!" - he left shortly after! It was complex and cleverly arranged without seeming to have been arranged at all. Section pitted against section, not in the traditional call and response format but rather like a 20th century symphonic work whereby contrasting melodic lines complemented each other. Dissonant at times? Yes, but dissonance has come a long way since the Peanut Vendor.
The addition of tuba added extra depth, as it has done in the past with various legendary ensembles including Miles Davis, Gil Evans and John Dankworth, making for a fuller ensemble sound
Tenor saxists Fleming and Wright slugged it out, Adam Chatterton, cucumber cool on flugel, Tom McNiven blew trumpet like he does when let off the leash in the SNJO, Silk played a major part as leader, composer/arranger and drummer - he kicked off the second set with an extended solo that showed us what he could do with a pair of sticks but, in the main, contented himself with meaningful support. Guitar, keys, bass (guitar and upright) kept us in the present whilst Mikey Owers, who I'm reliably informed has replaced Ryan Quigley in Brass Jaw, excelled on trombone. Not many trumpet players could replace Quigley so for a trombonist to get the gig speaks volumes.
Talking about volumes...
The lack of microphones made many of Silk's announcements inaudible to those of us sitting in 'the gallery'.  The absence of mics also presented problems for the sax soloists - particularly when the band were riffing behind them. Baritone sax (Maddock?) the most notable casualty.
The personnel given below is what was advertised, however, Phil O'Malley played some cracking trombone solos so he too was in there sliding - clarification needed. 
A quite memorable occasion.
Lance.
John Fleming, Mike Fletcher, Adam Jackson; Chris Maddock, Joe Wright (reeds); Mike Adlington, Adam Chatterton, Matt Gough, Tom McNiven (trumpets); Richard Foote, Kieran McLeod, Mikey Owers (trombones); Andy Johnson (tuba); Tom Ford (guitar); Andy Bunting (keyboards); Nick Jurd (bass); Jonathan Silk (drums).
"Hit him in the slats Bob" the legendary instruction Mrs Fitzsimmons is reported to have shouted to her husband during Bob Fitzsimmons' world title fight with James J. Corbett which, interpreted, meant "Hit him in the guts".

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