Monday, October 26, 2009


at the Civic Theatre


That inspirational jazzman Jeffery Wilson brought the Hertfordshire Youth Jazz Ensemble to the Civic last Sunday.
They'd had little more than a day to prepare 60 minutes of superb jazz, including African influences, funk – Critical Mass, with a promising alto sax solo – and a lovely Autumn Leaves from the rhythm section, fronted by Christopher Valentine on trombone.
The main work was the UK première of Wilson's own Young Person's Guide to the Jazz Orchestra. Confidently and engagingly narrated by saxophonist Charlotte Briant, it explored the individual voices in the jazz family, from the kitchen to the tailgate trombone, in a suite interspersed with a star studded roll call of the great and good of this “crude, decadent and syncopated” world. Musically, the most memorable movements were Bubsy Blues for the saxes, the jazz waltz Four Times Three for the trombones, and the gospel inspired Calling for the full band, encouraged by Wilson's vocal, skat-ish, direction.
The young people in HYJE come from all over Hertfordshire, and range in age from 13 to 18; their achievement was impressive – as Jeffery said, they are committed and full of energy. I hope he brings them over the border again …

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