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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.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Durham University Big Band's Big Summer Gig @ Durham Students' Union - June 13


(Review by Russell)

Advertised as an eight o'clock start it seemed reasonable to arrive sometime around half past seven to go to the bar, take a seat and listen to a last minute soundcheck. Walking into Ove Arup's 1960s Durham city landmark building the Riverside Bar was just about full to capacity, the place rammed with students...no surprise given that tonight's venue for the end of year gig by the Durham University Big Band was Durham Students' Union. What was a surprise was the gig started at 7:30...bloody students! 

Hawaiian shirts and on stage drinks aplenty gave the game away - the Durham University Big Band guys were demob happy. Led by Zach Fox, who a week earlier received a standing ovation at his Final Recital, DUBB presented two sets of typically mixed fayre; classic swing numbers sitting alongside contemporary charts from the likes of Jacob Mann and Gerard Presencer. 


The sound balance wasn't very good to say the least. Alex Flanders, trumpet and flugelhorn, blew some good stuff yet, despite being on a mic, was difficult to hear. Similarly the excellent Tommy Wise (heard at last weekend's DJazz Festival) on trombone, Matt Bartlett, alto sax, and the main man himself, Fox, on tenor, starring on Mann's Baby Carrots. Band vocalists Evie Hill and Rob Singleton were on hand to sing a few numbers and it was Hill who closed the first set with student favourite Diddy Bop

On a night like this the bar did good business particularly with a 'big band cocktail' (comprising a long list of killer ingredients) on offer at £4.50. Would DUBB attend to the sound issues or would more important matters such as downing another cocktail take priority?

Tommy Wise opened the second set with more first-rate 'bone work on September in the Rain...the poor sound quality had yet to be remedied. Trumpeter Honor Hornsby's hurried announcements added to the less than ideal presentation...Footprints...Gerard Presencer said the diminutive Hornsby. It was, of course, Wayne Shorter's Footprints with, perhaps, an arrangement by Presencer. 

Evie Hill returned to sing Alfa Mist's Breathe featuring Fox's tenor solo with impressive work from drummer Will Elias in a rhythm section which included the equally impressive guitarist Tom Burgess. BSH first came across Elias accompanying pianist Juliane Deil at DJazz 2018, let's hear him sitting-in at one of Newcastle's spectacular jam sessions! Hill's vocal partner Rob Singleton joined her on Zach Fox's arrangement of Robert Glasper's Ah, Yeah which highlighted the arranger's command of his instrument, this evening on tenor sax although the likeable bandleader is equally adept on alto. 

Durham University Jazz Society is at the heart of student jazz activity across the city including organising jam sessions, spawning splinter groups (Jazz Soctet played DJazz 2019) and participating in prestigious masterclass events with Mark Armstrong, Jasper Høiby, Nikki Iles, Callum Au and others. The latter, trombonist Callum Au, supplied the arrangement for DUBB's splendid take on Bernstein's Something's Coming from West Side Story. Excellent ensemble work, Wise and Fox the soloists, the evening kept on getting better and better.  

Well, all good things come to an end. Rob Singleton joined the band for one last number - D'Angelo's Spanish Joint - with, belatedly, the PA finally enabling our vocalist to be heard loud and clear. Poor sound balance aside this DUBB gig was as a good a way as any to say goodbye to the 2018-19 academic year. There is a final opportunity to hear the band before the guys head off on their holidays, that's next Thursday (June 20) in a Jazz North East promotion at the Black Swan, Newcastle Arts Centre.  
Russell.

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