In The Band: Bill Ashton directing Sean Whittle/Tom Cawley* (piano): Loz Garrett (bass); Jon Russell (guitar); Darren Altman (drums); Chris Valentine (percussion, set 2); Robby Robson, Dave Malkin, Alex Maynard, Ben Godfrey, Henry Spencer (trumpets); Rhys Smith (bass trombone), Natalie Witts, Jonathan Hill, Martin Gladdish, Zebedee Tonkin (tenor trombones); saxophones: Ed Barker & Simon Meredith (altos), Tommy Laurence & Richard Shepherd (tenors), Alyson Cawley (baritone); Sarah Ellen Hughes (flute/vocals).
Set 1: When You’re Ready (Evan Jolly) [intro & theme: muted tpts then Simon & Alex; solos: Richard, Robby; coda: as intro] : Embraceable You (George Gershwin, arr. Ken Wheeler) [feature for Robby (flgl)] : La Muchacha Do Colombia (Martin Williams) [intro: Rhys; solos: Ed, Martin, Sean, Darren, Ed] : Slow Boat To China (Frank Loesser, arr. Martin Williams) [duet & individual feature for Alex & Ben; soli: sax section] : Going Dutch (Chris Smith) [intro: Darren; solos: Richard & Tommy, then alternating & trading 8s & 4s; coda: duet] : Let’s Settle Down (v) (Bill Ashton) [intro: Jon, then with Sarah Ellen (voc); solos: Robby, Simon] : Teach Me Tonight (v) (Gene De Paul/Sammy Cahn, arr. Simon Lewis) [Sarah Ellen (voc); no solos] : Don’t Mention The Blues (Mark Nightingale) [feature for Jonathan; soli: sax section]
Set 2: Never The Twain* (Matt Wates) [feature for Ed & Simon] : As Close As You Are* (Tubby Hayes) [solos: Richard, Henry, Loz] : L.B.G.* (Cole Porter, arr. Alan Hare) [feature for Tom; intro: rhythm section] : He’s Just My Bill (Jerome Kern, arr. Mark Nightingale) [intro: tmb section with Sarah Ellen (flt) a capella; solis: sax & tmb sections; solo: Martin] : I Wasn’t Looking For Love (v) (Christine Denmead/Bill Ashton, arr. John Clarke) [Sarah Ellen (voc); solo: Richard] : Castles In Spain (v) (Paul Higgs/Derek Pascoe) [Sarah Ellen (voc); solo: Alex] : Lisson Groove (Evan Jolly) [solo: Jonathan] : They Can’t Take That Away From Me (v) (George & Ira Gershwin, arr. Quincy Jones) [Sarah Ellen + soundman Barry Venn (voc duet); no solos]
Jottings: Over the last 40-odd years NYJO’s influence on British jazz has been all-encompassing – it’s rare to host a big band at The Manor without one or more of its members having, at sometime in their past, played under Bill Ashton’s direction.
This unique session comprised an entire band of ex-NYJO players, and generated a good vibe from the outset. So great was the atmosphere that drummer Darren was heard to remark: “I keep expecting to wake up any minute and find this has all been a dream!”
More Bobby Ewing moments included: Robby’s lilting flugel feature on Kenny Wheeler’s Embraceable You; a signature drum solo (“…firstly power, then finesse…”) from Darren on La Muchacha…; delightful duetting from Alex and Ben, and Tommy and Richard, on Slow Boat… and Going Dutch respectively; and Tom’s tricky keyboard feature L.B.G., Alan Hare’s take on Cole Porter’s Lady Be Good.
The classy trombone section rocked steadily on Jerome Kern’s He’s Just My Bill, whilst Sarah Ellen was in fabulous form, giving Simon Lewis’s arrangement for Clare Teal of Teach Me Tonight a suggestively Cert. X interpretation, and the Paul Higgs/Derek Pascoe homage to Chick Corea, Castles In Spain, a vigorous Catalan workout.
Review: Steve Harris/Ian Fielding : Photo: Chris Glass