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Born This Day
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Monday, August 26, 2019

Ushaw Jazz Festival: Zoë Gilby Family Jazz All Stars - August 25


Zoë Gilby (vocals); Mark Williams (guitar); Andy Champion (double bass); Richard Brown (drums)
(Review by Russell)

A bank holiday weekend with, for once, glorious sunshine all the way. Where to take the kids? Shopping? The seaside? Nope, a sprawling country estate, that's where! No cries of: I'm bored! Can we go? Not when jazz means prizes!

Zoë Gilby's Family Jazz All Stars set up in the Francis Thompson Room at Ushaw College. Daddy...who was Francis Thompson? Er...I don't know, sit and listen to the jazz. Jazz? But I don't like...Listen, you could win a prize...

GASbook, Pannonica, Watching Sideways, there's many a string to Zoë Gilby's vocal art. To open the final day of this year's Ushaw Jazz Festival Ms Gilby brought along not just her jazz all stars, this was our APPJAG nominee's Family Jazz All Stars. We were sitting comfortably, let the story begin...

The Lady is a Tramp, the kids were diggin' it. Does anyone know what this is? enquired Gilby, pointing to one of Richard Brown's cymbals. RB looked puzzled, it was as if he hadn't seen one before and the big kids in the audience didn't have a clue. However, the very youngest knew, a forest of hands shot up keen to tell Ms Gilby that they knew the answer. And so the afternoon went on, the big kids clueless (dunce's hats donned) as the Bright Young Things (age 5-9) here at Ushaw waltzed off with all the prizes.

Juan Tizol's Caravan (RB's party-piece!) to a classy You Turned the Tables on Me, Ms Gilby's Teaching Assistants more than played the game - guitarist Mark Williams the principal (toned down!) soloist on this warm summer's afternoon. Drummer Brown and bass-playing side kick Andy Champion enjoyed the occasion (there would be little point if they didn't), sneeking in some nifty jazz chops stuff when the kids weren't looking. All the while Head Teacher Ms Gilby engaged with a room full of new jazz fans. Does anyone know what this part of Mark's guitar is called? The dunces sat mute as the smart kids piped up hoping to a win a goody bag. 

The Family Jazz All Stars' show is ideally suited to a festival audience (it's been a big hit elsewhere including the Gateshead International Jazz Festival and the London Jazz Festival) with the balance just about right - the kids vie for prizes and the big kids get to hear some jazz. Straight No Chaser, Nick Cave's Red Right Hand (one dunce thought the composer was Nick Drake!) and, to close the show, Harry Edison's Centrepiece. Day three at Ushaw was under way. 
Russell

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