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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.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Customs House Big Band with Ruth Lambert @ All Saints' Church, Cleadon - Dec 3

(Review by Russell)

If it's the first Tuesday in December (it was) you can be sure Peter Morgan's sleigh will be parked up outside All Saints' Parish Hall (it was). Inside, not one but two, Christmas trees decorated the stage leaving room for the Customs House Big Band's rhythm section and little else. The horns (all thirteen of them) assembled on the floor. Band vocalist Ruth Lambert sat to one side waiting to be called to sing a selection of songs which, due to the time of year, would likely as not include some Yuletide favourites. 

Minutes before the advertised 7:30pm started someone noticed that there wasn't a licensed bar. What?! Whoosh! A mass exodus of punters made for Cleadon's nearest corner shop. Minutes later folk staggered in carrying bottles of plonk, bottles of beer, nibbles, the works...this was more like it!

If you like classic Basie-Nestico charts (who doesn't?) then the Customs House Big Band is the big band for you. Gerry Mulligan's Young Blood opened the concert with Jim McBriarty (tenor sax) and Alan Marshall (alto sax) leading the way. Quincy Jones' The Witching Hour (arr. S. Nestico) heard once more from McBriarty with veteran Mick Hill contributing a measured, muted trumpet solo. Nestico's Groovin' Easy gave guitar ace Bradley Johnston a first opportunity to shine and, as ever, BJ's volume control was spot on - we expect nothing less!

Ms Lambert had been sitting down for too long. Up she stepped with a sparkling Lullaby of Birdland which unexpectedly featured a short scat section (!) followed by Sway. RL would later return to the stage. 

Nestico's The Joy of Cookin'How High the Moon? as an instrumental with Lambert sitting on the sidelines (!), then our vocalist got to her feet to sing one of her favourites - Teach Me Tonight. More Nestico (MD Morgan likes his Nestico) with Traces then a potentially dodgy Darby and Jones' favourite - When You're Smiling - largely avoided ill-advised populist participation!

The interval - plonk, beer, more plonk, more beer, a squillion raffle prizes, then...from All Saints' kitchen - sarnies, pies, mince pies. If you insist! Another bottle of beer opened to wash it all down!

Second set. Well, it's that time of year. Jingle BellsOh Come all Ye Faithful...look, resistance is futile, altogether now...Silent Night. And, importantly, this wasn't some tedious, carol singing group knocking on doors, this was the Customs House Big Band's jazz arrangements of your festive favourites. 

Ms Lambert, this year without a Santa outfit, sang Norah Jones' Don't Know Why, the band got stuck into some more first rate festive arrangements (Hark! The Herald Angels Sing) and our band vocalist hit the jackpot with a teasing Santa Baby. The Customs House Big Band visits Cleadon year after year and, thankfully, there is no reason to think things will be any different next year.        
Russell   

Peter Morgan (MD); Bob Temple, Mick Hill, Ken DeVere, Alan Catherall (trumpets); Dave Brocklesby, Gareth Weaver, Mike Fletcher, Keiran Parnaby (trombones); Alan Marshall, Kim Skerritt, Jim McBriarty, Chris Kaberry, Josh Bentham (reeds); John Stephenson (piano); Bradley Johnston (guitar); Ron Smith (bass guitar); Abbie Finn (drums); Ruth Lambert (vocals)

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