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In the current climate we are doing our best to keep everyone up to date. All gigs, as we all know, are off.

However, good old YouTube has plenty to offer both old and new to help us survive whilst housebound. Plus now is a good time to stock up on your CDs.

Also, keep an eye out for live streaming sessions.

Alternatively, you could do as they do in Italy and sing from your balcony.

Today

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, July 14, 2019

Denmark Street Big Band with Jo Harrop @ The Dean Street Pizza Express, Soho, London - July 13

(Review by Russell)

This was something of a treat. A day trip to London to hear Paul Burch's cracking big band working with star vocalist Jo Harrop. The Gene Krupa Story is the Denmark Street Big Band's latest project and on a warm summer's day the orchestra assembled for a lunchtime engagement at the Dean Street Pizza Express.

Soho bustled as it always does; traders, tourists, locals, some looking cool, some trying to look cool, others not so cool. The Pizza Express' basement venue offered some relief from the on-street rising mercury. Members of the orchestra arrived in ones and twos as Ms Harrop sound-checked alongside pianist Ben Croft.  

Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman, the kings of pre-war swing, this would be the fayre on offer alongside a mouthwatering selection courtesy of the Pizza Express' hard-working, efficient team. The on-stage team - Paul Burch's hand-picked ensemble - swung it from the off. Nick Charles (aka Benny Goodman), sitting to Burch's left, featured on clarinet with the lead tenor sax parts handled by the depping Alex Garnett. The Big Noise from Winnetka with a band arrangement went down a storm as did Starburst with Anita O'Day in the wings waiting her turn. 

MD Burch welcomed O'Day (aka Jo Harrop) to the stage to sing a few numbers beginning with a believable Ten Cents a Dance. Harrop took us up to the interval with some choice cuts; Georgia accompanied by Garnett's tenor sax, Boogie Blues (Nick Charles blowing alto), Memories of You (Harrop referencing the movie The Gene Krupa Story in which O'Day made a cameo appearance opposite Sal Mineo's Krupa), Drummin' Man turned the spotlight on the man behind the traps, Mr Gary O'Toole - Krupa himself would have been impressed! - and, as Roy Eldridge (aka David Mian) joined the band here at the Pizza Express, the roof came off with Thanks for the Boogie Ride and again as Harrop closed a fine first set with 'Little Jazz' Mian blowing on Let Me Off Uptown.   

The reeds blowing on Bugle Call Rag signalled the return to the stage of the Denmark Street ensemble. A band arrangement of Flying Home met with the approval of the Dean Street pizza-dining crowd as did Indiana. Thus far the principal soloists had been Alex Garnett and Nick Charles. Time for a trumpet feature on Hoagy's Rockin' Chair starring Andy Gibson - at its end cue tumultuous applause!   

And more applause as County Durham's Jo Harrop (Londoners take note, Jo is merely on loan!) returned to conclude the afternoon's set with a run of winning numbers. Tea for Two (recalling Jazz on a Summer's Day), Bolero at the Savoy, a fabulous He's Funny That Way followed by an instrumental band number (Opus One) setting up a highlight of highlights as Ms Harrop, accompanied by pianist Ben Croft, sang Skylark. If a pin had fallen the silence would have been shattered...it didn't and it wasn't. Quite simply, a wonderful moment. 

The fabulous Ms Harrop concluded her big band vocal masterclass with a double helping of George and Ira Gershwin. First, 'S Wonderful brought in by Croft's leisurely piano intro, then, with a snap of the fingers, the Denmark Street guys took it at breakneck pace with Krupa, sorry, O'Toole, soloing and Harrop word perfect. Phew! They Can't Take That Away from Me took it down and out. Calls for an encore heeded, the Pizza Express' jazz-loving crowd got Sing, Sing, Sing as the familiar drum pattern on the toms set the band off on a rollercoaster ride. It had been quite an afternoon.  
Russell             

Denmark Street Big Band: Paul Burch (MD, alto sax, clarinet); Nick Charles (clarinet, alto sax); Alex Garnett (tenor sax); Mike Rubie (tenor sax); Frank White (baritone sax); David Mian, Andy Gibson, Duncan Fraser, Sean Hollis (trumpets); Jeff Mason, Sam Sankey, Marcus Reynolds, Alan Tomlinson (trombones); Curtis Volt (guitar); Ben Croft (piano); Doug Grannell (double bass); Gary O'Toole (drums); Jo Harrop (vocals)

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