A star cloth twinkled behind a classic line up of jazz virtuosi at the Peel Centenary Centre. This was a classy setting for an evening of hot jazz and cool blues all in the New Orleans’ style. The packed house of jazz fans of all ages was fairly buzzing with anticipation.
The band opened with, ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’, and immediately the format was apparent. Trad Jazz is one of the most democratic of formats as everyone gets a solo in almost every tune and it was easy to see that the musicians were enjoying each other’s skills as much as the audience. An easy atmosphere of bonhomie and humour settled over the proceedings as everyone relaxed into an evening of deceptively easy going music.
The band, consisting of: muscular trombone, sinuous clarinet, sonorous cornet, (preferred to the trumpet as it has a more authentic ring in this style of music), lyrical piano, liquid bass and syncopated but classily understated drums, twined their musical lines together to the point where nobody was actually playing what you were hearing, the whole was much greater than the sum of the constituent parts.
The musicians were all stars in their own rights, but shone even brighter due to their associations with Kenny Ball, Acker Bilk, Chris Barber and ‘Humph’ himself. They told tales of musical giants in an offhand and humorous way which spoke of years of camaraderie and shared love of the music.
Hit followed hit: ‘Midnight In Moscow’, ‘Bona Sera’, ‘I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter’, ‘Misty’, ‘Mood Indigo’,’ Muskrat Ramble’ and ‘Stranger on the Shore’, to name but a few. Each was immaculately presented in a highly disciplined but artfully skilled way which kept the audience bopping in their seats and calling out for more.
Colin Woods, Zoltan Sagi, Mike Cotton, Graham Woodhouse, Richard Burns, John Benson and the able crew at The Centenary Centre transported Peel, ‘Way Down Yonder To New Orleans’ – and that’s jazz.