In The Band: Callum Au (trombone/euphonium, left) leading Chris Eldred (piano); Laurence Ungless (bass/bass guitar); Jon Russell (guitar); Ed Richardson (drums); Freddie Gavita, Tommy Walsh, George Hogg, Henry Armburg-Jennings (trumpets); Ross Anderson, Robbie Harvey (tenor trombones), Barry Clements (bass trombone/tuba); saxophones: Tommy Laurence & Simon Marsh (tenors), Lucas Dodd & Jim Gold (altos), Richard Shepherd (baritone), Pete Long (tubax/flutes).
Set 1: Gentleman Jack (Callum Au) [intro: Chris (Hammond mode); solos: Lucas & Freddie then trading 4s & 8s; soli: tpts + tmbs a capella; coda: Ed]
The West Side Story Suite (Leonard Bernstein) – 1) Something’s Coming [solos: Tommy, Callum then duetting] ~ 2) Maria [theme & solo: George (flgl)] ~ 3) Cool [intro: Ed; theme: Richard; soli: sax section; solos: Robbie, Jim, Ed] then Chris segue to ~ 4) Somewhere [theme: Callum; solos: Pete (tnr flt), Callum] then Pete (tnr flt) segue to ~ 5) America [intro: Ed, Pete (tubax); solos: Jim, Henry (flgl), Chris + George duet, Ed] then Chris (elec pno) segue to ~ 6) Tonight [intro soli: tpts/tmbs section a capella then Chris; theme: Callum, Simon + Pete (picc) duet; solos: Simon, Jon].
Set 2: On Stage (Callum Au) [intro: Chris; solos: Henry, Simon] : Beloved (Freddie Gavita) [feature for Simon] : Roots (Gareth Lockrane) [intro: Laurence (bs gtr) joined by Chris (elec pno) then Pete (flt); solos: Tommy, Jon, Robbie, Tommy] : Wave (Antonio Carlos Jobim) [feature for Jon] : Barker Is Willing (Callum Au) [feature for Jim; solos: Chris (elec pno), Jon, Laurence (bs gtr), Ed] : Bird One (Callum Au) [solos: Pete (tubax), Lucas, Jon] : September In The Rain (Harry Warren) [feature for Callum; intro: Ed; soli: sax section] : Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Ralph Blane/Hugh Martin) [intro: Chris a capella; theme: Freddie (flgl) + tmbs + Pete (alto flt); solos: Pete (alto flt), Callum; coda: Pete (alto flt)].
All arrangements were by Callum Au.
Jottings: The Manor debut of talented composer, arranger and trombonist Callum’s eponymous big band also served as a dress rehearsal for an album being recorded the following week, principally to feature Callum’s interesting re-imagining of some of his favourite music from Leonard Bernstein’s classic West Side Story.
The range of instrumentation assembled to do justice to Callum’s vision included the purveyors of some of the lowest notes ever to have been experienced at The Manor – Callum’s euphonium, Barry’s tuba and Pete’s tubax (effectively a contrabass baritone!) all contributing sonorous sounds to suitable effect during the session.
The six-part West Side Story Suite itself demonstrated Callum’s undoubted mastery of big band arranging, his skilful textural interweaving of the various elements of the well-known themes, in either main or supporting roles throughout the suite, being done to delightfully subtle effect. The arrangements, which included some intricate soli writing for the saxes – Cool – and trumpets/trombones – Tonight – also left plenty of space for the featured soloists, in particular Tommy’s tenor on Something…, George’s flugelhorn on Maria, Pete’s tenor flute on Somewhere and Jim’s tenor on America.
Highlights of the rest of the concert included: Lucas (left) and Freddie going head to head on Gentleman…; Simon’s feature on the World Première of Freddie’s beautiful Beloved; Henry’s solo on On Stage; Jon’s delightful bossa nova feature, Wave; and Pete’s tubax on Bird One and his alto flute on Have Yourself…, whilst, in addition to their respective soloing, Chris, Laurence and Ed provided a solid basis for the band all afternoon.
Callum’s big band album is being released at the end of January – on the basis of this rehearsal, it should be great!