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Thursday 6: Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free. OUTDOOR gig.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Darlington Jazz Festival: Durham Alumni Big Band @ The Market Square Marquee - May 5


(Review by Russell)

Sunday's closing concert at this year's Darlington Jazz Festival presented the Durham Alumni Big Band playing a somewhat unusual programme compiled and conducted by DABB 'old boy' Matt Roberts. Earlier in the year, the London based trumpeter pitched the idea to the festival committee that the ladies and gentlemen of the orchestra perform a selection of 1980s film and television theme tunes. If nothing else the market square marquee's capacity audience would be able to sing along to some or all of them! 

Roberts wanted to play a guessing game, something like Name That Tune! Your starter for ten, the first number has a sporting connection. Readers will be pleased to learn that BSH was straight in there, after two bars...Grandstand! Lots of smiling faces, tapping feet and, crucially, both the arrangement and the performance of the Alumni nothing short of sensational. Roberts' enthusiasm bubbles over at the best of times, here, he was in his element. Our MD proceeded to introduce most, if not all numbers, with 'Here's another banger!'. Much laughter in the audience and on the stand with Jonny Dunn in particular in fits at his pal's hilarious introductions. 

Here's another banger! said Roberts and once again your scribe was straight in with Ski Sunday. Bond, the name is James Bond - everyone knows the theme, this one from License to Kill featuring tenor man Alex Baker's take on Gladys Knight. Here's another banger (you get the idea)...Ghostbusters with massive vocal participation by audience and band alike and a ghostly, dancing figure in the shape of one M Roberts!  Yes, this was end-of-term stuff, fun all the way with the Alumni on top form. From this point on the guessing game would become marginally more difficult.

The Alumni's trumpet section has always been up there with the best of them and when Roberts introduced, yes, 'another banger!', a Team BSH mini-conference concluded that the Alumni can, at any one time, put out four from a pool of (at least) six A-list trumpeters. On this occasion, the section comprised Ian Robinson, Shaune Eland, Jonny Dunn and Bill Watson. Roberts mentioned Maynard Ferguson and the section looked the other way! Drawing the short straw was the man usually out front - Mr Shaune Eland. The Alumni's regular MD stepped up to nail Ferguson's top C work on an arrangement of Sesame Street.

Points scoring became more difficult, except, perhaps, for those who sat in front of the box watching children's television programmes in the 80s, with a run of CBeebies tv theme tunes. The first set had been a refreshing change and, what's more, the marquee's heating had been turned up to something like comfortable.

The second set began craftily in that Roberts slipped-in a bona fide jazz chart. Gordon Goodwin's Hunting Wabbits gave the band the chance to have a real good blow with features for Steve McGarvie (alto) and the always impressive Jonny Dunn. Roberts was in party mood alright but he took time out to talk about the work of Durham Music Service saying that for a young musician the music education available in County Durham can be 'a life-changing experience'. 

Thundercats reinstated the theme tune thread and a short (fifty seconds or so) blast of Have I Got News for You brought yet more smiles across the marquee. The DABB is a jazz orchestra so it came as little surprise that another 'jazz' number - John Dankworth's theme for Tomorrow's World - found its way into the set with Roberts joining the trumpet section to blow and blow some more. The A- TeamPopeye and Quincy Jones' Soul Bossa Nova from Austin Powers brought the curtain down on a fantastic finale to this year's Darlington Jazz Festival.        
Russell

Durham Alumni Big Band: Matt Roberts (MD, trumpet); Ian Robinson, Shaune Eland, Jonny Dunn, Bill Watson (trumpets); Andrew Kirtley, Terry O'Hern,  Alastair White (trombones); David Hamilton (bass trombone); Alex Baker (tenor sax); James ? (tenor sax), Steve McGarvie (alto sax), Kirsty Dunn (alto sax), Danielle Drew (baritone sax); Ben Connor (piano); Shaun Henderson (guitar); Mick Shoulder (bass guitar); Stephen Fletcher (drums) .

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