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Monday, May 13, 2019

Keswick Jazz & Blues Festival: Keith Nichols Orchestra + Harlem Meer Cats - May 10

The Theatre by the Lake's idyllic setting by Derwentwater is home to Keith Nichols' many concert presentations. At this year's festival, Nichols applied his 'classic jazz' era expertise to a three-concert series - Ellington in Harlem (Friday), his Ragamuffins' outfit (Saturday) and the Festival Orchestra's grand finale (Sunday).

One Night in Harlem transported a near full house to Duke Ellington's late 20s/early 30s stomping ground as Nichols painted a picture of the Cotton Club days with Cotton Club Stomp (no.2) an appropriate opener. The veteran band leader commands the respect of (and works with) the very best musicians and with the likes of Tom 'Spats' Langham and Enrico Tomasso in the line-up, the evening couldn't be anything other than a resounding success. 

Black and Tan Fantasy, Langham's vocal on In My Solitude and, unsurprisingly, It Don't Mean a Thing with the orchestra in top form, made this an evening to remember. 

Earlier Ned Bennett's six-piece Harlem Meer Cats (including trumpeter Ben Cummings, pianist Colin Good and drummer Nick Ball) set the ball rolling with a similarly fine selection of Ellingtonia.   
Russell

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