The Band: Bill Ashton directing Sandy Suchodolski (bass guitar); Scott Chapman (drums); James Larter (percussion); Chris Eldred/Rob Barron (keyboard); Jon Russell (guitar); Nick Walters, Laura Jurd, Rob Greenwood, Matt Roberts, Jacob Phillips (trumpets); Barry Clements (bass trombone), Mat Walton, Callum Au, Alex Paxton, Ivan Wade (tenor trombones); Anna Drysdale (French horn); saxophones: Lucas Dodd & Olli Nezahti (altos), Tom Stone & Ben Mallinder (tenors), Abe Mennen (baritone); Katie Hayes (flute). Noemi Nuti and Barry Venn* did the singing.
The Music: Going Dutch (Chris Smith) : Polka Dots And Moonbeams (Johnny Burke/Jimmy Van Heusen) : La Muchacha Do Colombia (Martin Williams) : In A Daze (Matt O’Regan) : I Wasn’t Looking For Love (v) (Ashton/Denmead, arr. John Clarke) : The Girl You Almost Love (v) (Ed Randall, arr. Callum Au) : Barker Is Willing (Callum Au) : Neale’s Yard (Martin Williams) : A Foggy Day… (George Gershwin, arr. Steve Titchener) : Putney Vale (Tom Stone arr. Callum Au) : Lisson Groove (Evan Jolly) : Sidewalks Of New York (Charles B Lawlor, arr. Gareth Lockrane) : I Was Hoping (v) (Bill Ashton, arr. John Clarke) : As Long As There Are Summers (v) (John Gummer/Bruce Baxter, arr. Paul Hart) : Let The Good Times Roll (v*) (BB King)
The Gig: A warm, sunny day saw the band making their monthly appearance here with a familiar line-up, apart from trumpeters Nick Walters, Matt Roberts, Jacob Phillips and flautist Katie Hayes who were all making their Manor debuts.
The concert featured the usual musical mix of ‘standards’, compositions/arrangements by some of NYJO’s illustrious alumni, numbers written by current band members, Bill Ashton songs and, today, a couple of other song-writers’ efforts. There was also a bit of rock ‘n’ roll thrown in for good measure!
Polka Dots And Moonbeams has, in Bill’s opinion, one of the best tunes and some of the worst words of any ‘standard’, which is why this performance was a purely instrumental feature for Callum Au (left); Chris Eldred provided the delightful piano intro.
Gershwin’s A Foggy Day… is, in Steve Titchener’s arrangement, a much less gloomy prospect. After the ensemble intro and a tricky sax-section soli, debutant Nick gave us a storming trumpet solo; Tom Stone was the other soloist.
Sidewalks Of New York, sometimes known as East Side, West Side, is one of the oldest numbers in the NYJO pad: Charles Lawlor originally wrote it back in the 1800’s. Special guest Rob Barron provided the extended piano introduction, whilst Gareth Lockrane’s arrangement heavily featured the sax section and gave Olli Nezhati both solo and coda honours.
Ex-NYJO trumpet player Chris Smith’s Going Dutch, written for a tour of the Netherlands sometime in the 1980’s, is a tune featuring, and equally shared (see what he did there?) between, the two tenors. Tom and Ben Mallinder successfully took on the task, alternately duetting and trading fours for the duration; Scott Chapman sneaked a drum solo in towards the end.
BBC Big Band saxophonist Martin Williams, a one-time resident of the NYJO tenor chair, contributed two numbers to the programme: La Muchacha Do Colombia is a fast little Latin number which, after Barry Clements’ opening bass trombone salvo, gave Tom, Callum and Laura Jurd (flugel) ample opportunity to strut their stuff. Scott and James Larter provided a fascinating drums ‘n’ percussion interlude near the end.
Martin’s second, Neale’s Yard, was a fast-paced piece he wrote for ex-NYJO flautist Alison Neale. Last month at The Manor this was performed as a flute duet. This time around it was a feature for James on vibes (right), initially duetting with Jon Russell’s guitar, then giving us a virtuoso solo and finally performing in a threesome with Jon and Chris – cracking stuff!
Matt O’Regan, a former NYJO pianist, wrote In A Daze on the chords of Days Of Wine And Roses. It was a front-mic feature for Laura on flugelhorn (left), although along the way the sax section had another soli and Chris also squeezed in a solo.
Trumpeter Evan Jolly provided the final alumni offering, the jazz/funk Lisson Groove being primarily a feature for the trombone section. Callum and Alex Plaxton took the solo honours and Scott managed to fit in a little drum break in the closing stages.
Callum and Tom were the two current band members whose numbers were included in this concert. Barker Is Willing saw Lucas Dodd (left) take on Callum’s tribute to former altoist Ed Barker and try and make the tune his own. The introduction was by the whole band, with a duetting piano and guitar prominent in the mix; Jon and Lucas then duetted to great effect before Lucas broke free, his solo underscored with hand-clapping by the rest of the band.
Putney Vale is a tenor ballad feature, which Tom bequeathed to Ben whom we’ve only previously seen on baritone. The trombone section introduced the number, and Jon had a solo towards the end.
During the afternoon Neomi Nuti (right), who made her debut here last month, sang four numbers. A couple, I Wasn’t Looking For Love and I Was Hoping, were written by Bill and arranged by John Clarke; in the first Tom had a solo and in the second Rob Greenwood, Olli and Chris all had a knock.
Of the other two songs, one, The Girl You Almost Love, was a ballad written by Ed Randall, a college colleague of arranger Callum whilst the other, As Long As There Are Summers, was a ballad arranged by Paul Hart: Lucas soloed on the former and Tom and Lucas had solos during the latter.
The concert finished on a determinably up-tempo note, with a rousing vocal rendition of B. B. King’s Let The Good Times Roll by sound engineer Barry Venn. Everyone entered into the good-time spirit of the thing, with some superb ensemble playing: Callum provided a roaring trombone solo, Tom a convincing slice of rock ‘n’ roll sax, Jon a blistering guitar contribution and Matt some stunning trumpet before Barry took it to the big finish.
It was an uplifting end to a great afternoon of music – thanks NYJO!
Review: Steve Harris/Ian Fielding : Photos: Bill Ashton