In The Band: Bill Ashton directing Chris Eldred (piano); Joe Downard (bass/bass guitar); Rob Luft (guitar); Max Mills (percussion); Scott Chapman (drums); Tom Dennis, James Copus, Louis Dowdeswell, Adam Chatterton, Becky Waites (trumpets); Chris Valentine, Pete Whitehouse, Tom Green, Maddie Dowdeswell, Daniel Higham (tenor trombones), Phil Entwhistle (bass trombone); saxophones: Riley Stone-Lonergan & Michael Underwood (tenors), Phil Meadows & Sam Glasser (altos), Jess Holder (baritone); Rosie Stano (flute). Jessica Dowdeswell, Billie Wackrill (left) and Georgina Braggins were the singers.
Set 1: April Fool (Mannie Greissel) [solos: Tom G, James] : One Tree Hill (Steve Titchener) [feature for Riley] : Sea Island Samba (Andy Vinter) [intro: Scott & Max; theme: Tom D (muted) & Rosie duetting over band; solos: Tom D, Rosie, Michael] : My Funny Valentine (v) (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart, arr. Mark Nightingale) [intro: Rob; Billie (voc); solo: Rob; featuring the tmb section] : Penny (Evan Jolly) [solos: Michael, Rosie] : Summer Sundays (v) (Bill Ashton/Christine Denmead/Steve Gray, arr. Tommy Laurence) [intro: Jessica (voc) with Rob (a capella); solo: Rob] : Castles In Spain (v) (Paul Higgs/Derek Pascoe) [Jessica (voc); solos: Adam, Louis (hi-note tpt)].
Set 2: Don’t Mention The Blues (Mark Nightingale) [feature for Chris V & Daniel; soli: sax section] : Never The Twain (Matt Waites) [duet feature for Phil & Sam] : Almost There (Anthony Adams) [feature for Rob] : Let’s Settle Down (v) (Bill Ashton, Arr. Evan Jolly) [intro: Rob; Billie (voc); solos: James (flgl), Phil] : Miss Pankhurst Protests (Alan Hare) [feature for Maddie] : Smile (v) (Charles Chaplin/Geoffrey Parsons/John Turner) [Georgina (voc) with rhythm section; solo: Riley] : I Thought I Was Through With Love (v) (Bill Ashton, arr. Paul Higgs) [Jessica (voc); no solos] : That Old Black Magic (v) (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer, arr. Chris Smith) [Jessica (voc); solo: Riley] : They Can’t Take That Away From Me (v) (George & Ira Gershwin, arr. Quincy Jones) [Jessica & Billie (vox)].
Ruislip Ramblings: This precursor of hopefully more ad hoc Sunday lunchtime concerts at NYJO’s former ‘home’ venue saw the band convene, under Bill Ashton’s baton, to once again celebrate numbers old and not-so-old from one of the most comprehensive big band back-catalogues around.
Jessica, Billie and Chris E’s girlfriend Georgina shared the vocal chair during the concert: Billie’s brace included My Funny Valentine, on which Rob played an outstanding solo, and Let’s Settle Down, to which James contributed some superb flugel. Rob was also on cracking form on Jessica’s upbeat Summer Sundays and his oft-played, but always welcome, feature Almost There.
Another soloist who also seemed at the top of his game during this concert was Riley (left) who, as well as excelling on his feature, One Tree Hill, also provided some delightfully sympathetic underpinning to Georgina’s vocal on Smile (for which Max had switched to drums) and a rip-roaring cameo on …Black Magic.
Other highlights included: Tom D and Rosie combining sympathetically on, and contributing individually to, a lively interpretation of Sea Island…; Chris V’s and Daniel’s combined feature on Mark Nightingale’s infectious Don’t Mention…; Maddie’s (left) very first front mic solo feature, playing Alan Hare’s classic Miss Pankhurst… to perfection; and Phil and Sam doing Matt Wates’ Never The Twain proud.
Unusually Chris E didn’t get a solo knock but, along with Joe, Max and Scott, helped keep the band totally together throughout the entire afternoon.
We look forward to more of the same in September.
Review: Steve Harris : Photos: Bill Ashton