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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.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Strictly Smokin’ Big Band @ The Millstone - March 29

(Review by Russell). 
Easter weekend yet the band was just about at full strength, a testament to the commitment of those involved. A three-horn trumpet section plus two top-rank trombone deps, otherwise this was the A-Team ready to go on this the Strictly Smokin’ Big Band’s monthly public rehearsal night. No time to waste as MD Michael Lamb counted them in on Mexicali Nose (from Buddy Rich’s Big Swing Face) followed by Sammy Nestico’s arrangement of Hayburner. A cracking start and it’s a free admission night down at the Millstone!

A three-flute intro courtesy of Messrs Rangecroft, Robinson and Summers encouraged Alice Grace to confide: My Heart Belongs to Daddy. A nice arrangement with Steve Summers’ alto burning it up in advance of a Latin-feel trumpet part for Gordon Marshall. Band vocalist Grace hung around long enough to run through Teach Me Tonight. In fact, there was much more of Ms Grace with her side-kick F’reez elsewhere. An uptempo Beautiful Love, Angel Eyes with Paul Gowland’s breathy tenor, then a new chart – One Note at a Time – from the pen of American Doug Beach.
The SSBB’s pad is nothing if not varied. The reeds excelled on the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis number Groove Merchant as did ex-pat American trumpeter Pete Tanton and the SSBB’s ‘go to’ trombonist David Barnes. More vocal excellence from Alice Grace on Cole Porter’s You Do Something to Me, then a short interval, time for a natter – ‘hello’ to Brian, Jimmy, Jamie, Michael, Pete – and another pint of the Millstone’s tip-top, hard-to-find Bass.

A rip-roaring Ol’ Man River resumed hostilities with bandleader Lamb showing the way with a bold, assertive trumpet solo. More from Lamb as Alice Grace returned to ask How High the Moon? Band participation enabled our vocalist to engage in a fun call and response section on Ella’s early chart success A Tisket A Tasket. Neal Hefti then Rodgers and Hammerstein: Flight of the Foo Birds and My Favorite Things, the latter benefitting from Michael Whent’s in-the-pocket bass line and perhaps the solo of the night from Keith Robinson blowing some incisive alto.

The incomparable Alice Grace returned to see out the night singing Alright, Okay, You Win and an intriguing new chart – to these ears – from Dane Veronica Mortensen of guitarist Ole Frimer’s tune Not Just a Date. Mortensen has worked extensively with small group and big band, notably Aarhus’ Klüvers Big Band. Check out Mortensen’s work, and check out the Strictly Smokin’ Big Band’s gigs – the next public performance is a late Sunday afternoon session at Hoochie Coochie on April 22. 
Russell.                            
Strictly Smokin’ Big Band: Michael Lamb MD, Pete Tanton, Gordon Marshall trumpets; David Barnes, Mark Ferris, Chris Kurgi-Smith, Laura Davison trombones; Jamie Toms, Paul Gowland, Steve Summers, Keith Robinson, Laurie Rangecroft reeds; Pawel Jedrzejewski guitar; Graham Don piano; Michael Whent bass; Guy Swinton (drums); Alice Grace (vocals).

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