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Bebop Spoken There

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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.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Echoes of Ellington Orchestra: "The Classical Duke Ellington" @ Cadogan Hall, London - September 8

(Review by Lance).
When I heard that Pete Long (pictured) and the Echoes of Ellington Orchestra were, thanks to Long's musical imagination, visualising how Ellington/Billy Strayhorn may have scored Gustav Holst's the Planets Suite in the manner that they did with Peer Gynt and the Nutcracker Suite, I had to be there. After all, wasn't a segment of Jupiter - The Bringer of Jollity my old school hymn? Not that it brought much jollity to Form 4T back in the day. However, in the hands of maestro Long and baritone genius Craig, there was much jollity indeed.
The whole suite was, without doubt, a triumph for both the arranger and the star-studded band of instrumentalists and, of course, The Jazz Repertory Company.
After the appropriately named Blues in Orbit, featuring some Quentin Jackson-like plungering from Chris Traves we entered the Solar System proper with Mercury - The Winged Messenger portrayed by the flugelhorn of James Davison followed by Venus - The Bringer of Peace. Simon Marsh's sweet and sumptuous alto very much in the Johnny Hodges' mode.

Mars - The Bringer of War was quite amazing with Louis Dowdeswell making like Cat Anderson way out in space. However, that wasn't all. Whilst 'Cat' was up in the stratosphere, Long instructed the audience to boo on cue. The cue being to boo after he struck a large bronze gong. Presumably as an anti-war (any war) protest.

The Asteroids featured Callum Au and Alex Garnett who took on the roles Britt Woodman and Paul Gonsalves would have played had this been an actual Ellington performance. Frankly, if I'd closed my eyes I'd have sworn it was!

Saturn - The Bringer of Old Age was a showcase for Joe Pettitt who isn't old at all.

Jupiter - The Bringer of Jollity, I've already mentioned, suffice to add that if they'd played this version at school assembly every morning I'd never have been late again!

Uranus - The Magician featured pianist Colin Goode, a magician in his own right in the way he brought Ellington the pianist to life, although not without some Strayhorn and even a suggestion of Monk. Long had some problems pronouncing the title of this one (no surprises).

Neptune - The Mystic. Long was that mystic and, needless to say, there was more to it than just some fine clarinet playing.
Holst's original score contained a section for a women's choir and, not having room on stage for a women's choir and a 16 piece band, not least for both group's safety, Long recruited all the females in the audience to sing a D-natural whilst he and the rhythm section weaved their mystical magic. The ladies did and, in truth, they all seemed to be in tune as they maintained that D-natural throughout!

Now, as The Planets was composed in 1918 and Pluto had yet to be discovered poetic licence was called for. An unrecorded 1944 composition from Strayhorn, Le Sacre Supreme was uncovered and retitled Pluto - The Gatekeeper and, keeping the gate, was Ryan Quigley who demonstrated his incredible technique. It had been a long time coming but it was worth waiting for.

We thought it was all over but no, on came Minnie Forrest, a stunning coloratura, who gave a short wordless vocal rather like Kay Davis with Ellington back in the 1940's.
Quite something.
Of course, without Richard Pite on drums, none of the above would have meant a thing - Sam Woodyard lives.
----- 
Prior to The Planets, the first set featured the band recreating movements from Peer Gynt and the full Nutcracker Suite. They did them proud but space prevents me from elaborating further.
I must also apologise for not getting the full personnel. The second alto/clarinet player John's surname escaped me. He looked very young, but an extremely able player, and the fourth trumpet player I didn't catch at all - it wasn't Nathan Bray (he was at Ronnie's with Guy and Georgie.
Lance.
PS: Good to chat to the chap sitting next to me who turned out to be pianist Phil Phillips who lead the band at The Talk of the Town nightclub on the corner of Leicester Square/Charing Cross Rd. for many years. What stories he must have - but it was only a short interval!
Pete Long (clarinet/MD); James Davison, Ryan Quigley, Louis Dowdeswell, ? (trumpets); Chris Traves , Callum Au, Andy Flaxman (trombones); Simon Marsh (alto/piccolo); John ? (alto/clarinet); Alex Garnett, Paul Nathanial (tenors); Jay Craig (baritone); Colin Good (piano); Joe Pettitt (bass); Richard Pite (drums) + Minnie Forrest (voice).

2 comments :

Anonymous said...

Craig Wilde (trumpet) and Jon Shenoy (alto, clarinet)

Lance said...

Wild not Wilde!
Jon Shenoy: I actually gave a semi-rave review to "Framework" an album of his that I reviewed in March this year.

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