Bill Ashton's Graduates @ The Manor – 21st October 2012

Bill Ashton's Graduates @ The Manor – 21st October 2012

In The Band: Bill Ashton directing Jamie Salisbury (piano): Dave Foster (bass); Tommy Emerton (guitar); Darren Altman (drums); Tom Walsh, Alex Maynard, Louis Dowdeswell, Reuben Fowler, James Copus* (trumpets); Martin Gladdish, Callum Au, Mat Walton, Chris Valentine* (tenor trombones) Ben Bouzan (bass trombone); saxophones: Alyson Cawley & Tommy Laurence (tenors), Sam Mayne & Simon Marsh (altos), Richard Shepherd (baritone); Rosie Stano (flute); Lorraine Craig (voc). (*Set 2 only)

Set 1: NYJO (Eddie Harvey) [solos: Richard, Callum] : U-Turn (Steve Titchener) [solos: Tommy L, Tom W] : Polka Dots & Moonbeams (Johnny Burke/Jimmy Van Heusen, arr. Bill Holman) [feature for Martin] : La Muchacha Do Colombia (Martin Williams) [solos: Tommy L, Callum, Tommy E] : He’s Just My Bill (Jerome Kern, arr. Mark Nightingale) [feature for tmb section; solo: Callum] : Another Always (v) (Bill Ashton/Tony Charlesworth, arr. Chris Smith) [Lorraine (voc); no solos] : When Love Is Lost (v) (Christine Denmead, arr. Evan Jolly) [Lorraine (voc); solo: Reuben (flgl)] : Sir Johnny Comes Marching Home (Trad, arr. Evan Jolly) [solo: Sam]

Set 2: Slow Boat To China (Frank Loesser, arr. Martin Williams) [feature for Alex & Louis] : (Nice To See You) Back Again (Sir John Dankworth/Dave Lindup) [feature for Richard] : Lisson Groove (Evan Jolly) [solo: Callum] : Gentle Jim (Allan Ganley) [solos: James, Dave, Tommy L, Alyson] : Much Too Much (v) (Bill Ashton, arr. Chris Smith) [Lorraine (voc); solo: Martin] : Where Is The Music? (v) (Jack Long/Keith Kitchen, arr. Chris Smith) [intro: Richard (flt) & Jamie; Lorraine (voc); solo: Sam] : Penny (Evan Jolly) [solos: Alyson, Rosie] : Never The Twain (Matt Wates) [duet feature Sam & Simon] : Castles In Spain (v) (Paul Higgs/Derek Pascoe) [Lorraine (voc); solos: Reuben (flgl), Alex & Louis (hi-note tpts].

Jottings: After a trial run here in July 2011, Bill Ashton’s Graduates was officially launched at the inaugural Privett International Jazz Festival in Hampshire last month.

Over 47-odd years NYJO – playing under Bill’s benign direction – has been the gateway into the business for an immeasurable number of musicians. The music pad built up during that time is a unique record of work written and arranged for, and by, some of the pre-eminent jazz talent currently active in Britain; the Graduates band has been created specifically to keep this pad active, by performing its numbers live.

Bill Ashton's Graduates @ The Manor – 21st October 2012It was an especial pleasure to welcome Lorraine back to The Manor – it’s been quite a while since she’s appeared here and her brace of vocals in each set served as a reminder of just what we’ve been missing. Reuben’s flugel counterpoint on When Love…, Martin’s assured trombone solo on Much… and the lilting flute and piano intro to Where…? by Richard and Jamie, followed by Sam’s attractive alto solo, showcased Lorraine’s singing to perfection.

Other highlights included: Richard and Callum soloing on Eddie Harvey’s chart of NYJO’s rarely-heard, eponymous signature tune; Martin’s sumptuous trombone feature Polka Dots…; Sam roaring through Evan Jolly’s tribute to Sir Johnny Dankworth; Alex and Louis duetting on the front mic on Martin Williams’s arrangement of Slow Boat…; Tommy ‘Lee’ Emerton’s guitar work on La Muchacha…; and Alyson’s (left) tenor contributions to Gentle Jim and Penny.

The encore – the Paul Higgs/Derek Pascoe homage to Chick Corea, Castles In Spain – signalled the opportunity for Lorraine and the band to go for a final, vigorous Catalan workout; wonderful stuff!

Review: Steve Harris/Ian Fielding : Photos: Chris Glass