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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Northern Monkey Brass Band @ Ushaw Durham Jazz Festival. August 26

(Review by Russell/Photos courtesy of John Marlor)
A Buddy Bolden blast heralded a new jazz festival in County Durham. New Orleans, Louisiana to Ushaw College, Durham. Jazz, a common language, the music lives on!     
The inaugural Ushaw Durham Jazz Festival started in true festival style with Graham Hardy’s Northern Monkey Brass Band. The Tyneside-based trumpeter sat high in the gods of the Exhibition Hall – the site of a chapel dating from the early 1800s – poised,   ready to declare the inaugural Ushaw Durham Jazz Festival well and truly ‘open’.      
The Exhibition Hall, a theatre for all kinds of performances, welcomed the first of the weekend’s festival goers to Ushaw College. Once seated, Hardy blew the first notes, a host of heads turned, looking up at ‘Buddy Bolden’ Hardy. Fellow trumpeter Alastair Lord, to Hardy’s right, replied, piercing sunbeams streaming through the stained glass windows behind him. Trombone and tuba, awaiting the call in the stone floor corridor, joined the procession to the stage. The Northern Monkey Brass Band, respectful of the heritage, yet of today, mixed it up with theme tunes known to all: The A Team and Star Wars. The region’s heritage took its place alongside N’Awlins with Hardy announcing the band would ‘New Orleans it up’ on an original take of Waters of Tyne. Second line respect and abandon.
The all-action ’bone man David Gray gave it a blast on Monkey Blood with the depping Rob Walker enjoying himself with just a snare drum to hit, getting into the spirit with an always encouraging Brendan Murphy accenting this way, then that, on bass drum.
Band leader Hardy arranged St James’ Infirmary Blues. The band marched out and along the corridors of Ushaw College. The audience could do but one thing…join them! In the absence of a parade marshall, this was a DIY affair. Ushaw reverberated to the Northern Monkey sound, long-gone senior clergy looking down (dis?) approvingly from their gilt-framed portraits hanging from the erstwhile seminary walls. One wag was heard to say: It’s a lang walk!  On returning to the hall David Gray and tenor man Jamie Toms ripped into the band’s finale: Superstition. A fine start to the first Ushaw Durham Jazz Festival.
Russell.      
Graham Hardy (trumpet), Alastair Lord (trumpet), Jamie Toms (tenor saxophone),
David Gray (trombone), Mark Ferris (trombone), Phil Rosier (tuba), Rob Walker (snare drum) & Brendan Murphy (bass drum)        

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