Friday, January 23, 2009



Lunchtime concert


Brightening up a dismal Friday lunchtime, Brentwood School Big Band made one of their eagerly-awaited visits to Chelmsford Cathedral. As their fans will be aware, this very professional outfit has been around for a quarter of a century under the inspirational leadership of their founder and director David Pickthall.

Their repertoire ranges from echt big band jazz – Ellington's Don't Get Around Much Anymore, with George Baxter on baritone – through Bacharach – This Guy's In Love With You, a lovely danceband sound – film scores – Monty Norman's James Bond, with its instantly recognisable guitar figure [Ben George] – to the title track from their latest CD, Santana's “Smooth”.

A favourite of theirs, and mine, which they've been programming for decades, was Hamlisch's evocative The Way We Were.

All beautifully played, with real style underpinned by solid technique. Nowhere more so than in Artie Shaw's Clarinet Concerto, wonderfully played by Ryan Sees with Matt Birkett's pin-sharp percussion. It made a great climax to a varied set, though of course they had to play an encore, a brilliant tour of Birdland.

This, apparently, is the Big Band's favourite concert hall in the whole county, so the capacity audience can confidently look forward to a return gig next season.

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