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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Durham University Big Band @ The Jazz Café - June 15

(Review by Lance/Photos courtesy of Ken Drew.)
If I thought the Bold Big Band were loud at the Dun Cow on Tuesday, DUBB, in the Jazz Café's upper room, made them seem like a string quartet. This is no reflection on either band but on the dimensions of the room. The Dun Cow had more space for the sound to travel and the chat level of some of the infidels in the audience also absorbed the band's decibels with a few decibels of their own. At the Caff, the sound was trapped and the audience a more attentive one. The main thing about both gigs was the sight of so many young musicians playing, so brilliantly, the music we love.
There was also an aura of sadness at both gigs as, being the end of term, several of the key players are departing for pastures new.
Tonight saw final appearances from alto/soprano saxist Dan Garel and drummer Tristan Bacon. Star players both, their departure akin to that of a Newcastle United Number 9 (Jackie Milburn, Super Mac, Alan Shearer etc.) leaving/retiring.
Both players let fellow band members and fans know what they were losing in no uncertain terms - particularly on Caravan, a Callum Au arrangement. 
There was a fine smattering of solos throughout with trombonist Patrick Morris kicking things off on Just Friends. Big fat sound. Frontman Zach Fox followed up on tenor and Garel began his long goodbye...
NYJO's Mark Armstrong, who'd, last week, put the band through their paces at a Durham workshop charted A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square and the band did him and the song justice.
Vocalist Evie looked good and sounded good (after some mic. adjustments) on Cheek to Cheek. Trumpet solo (Matt Clark) also impressed.
Point of Departure was in a more contemporary vein. Garel on soprano soloed and exchanged fours with trumpet (again M.Clark).
Eleanor Rigby featured Alex Flanders on flugel and Evie returned for I Can Do Better, She can, but tonight, on this number at least, it was a losing battle with the wall of sound behind her.
Rob Singleton fared better, but only just, on a rocky number that I failed to catch. Good voice and a mover too.
A shorter second set included a Shorter (Wayne) composition - Footprints; Robert Glasper's Let it Ride with Evie in good voice and Zach blowing some gutsy tenor; Singleton sang I Won't Dance à la Frank and finally (well almost finally) Evie sang the most amazing hip-hop vocal on Diddy-Bop and Dan blew as if there was no tomorrow.
Personnel listed is an educated guess.
Zach did namecheck everyone but, as he did it almost as fast as they played the Love For Sale encore my pen couldn't cope with it.
A superb evening by a superb band - let's see what next year's crop comes up with. It won't be easy...
Lance.
Dan Garel, Laura Buckingham alto; Zach Fox, tenor; Matt Shaw baritone;
Louis Clayden, Alex Flanders, Honor Hornsby, Matt Clark trumpet; 
Patrick Morris, Jordan Wiseman, Tommy Wise trombone; 
Tom Burgess guitar; Danny Booth piano; Dylan Purches bass; Tristan Bacon drums; 
Evie Hill, Rob Singleton vocals.

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