NYJO @ The Manor – 11th December 2011

In The Band: Bill Ashton directing Chris Eldred (piano): Conor Chaplin (bass); Rob Luft (guitar); Scott Chapman (drums); Olly Sarkar (percussion); James Copus, Jacob Phillips, Louis Dowdeswell, Jeremy Fry, Harrison Cole (trumpets); Barry Clements (bass trombone), Pete Whitehouse, Callum Au, Ross Anderson, Raphael Clarkson (tenor trombones); Anna Drysdale (French horn); saxophones: Jim Gold & Shahan Miran (tenors), Lucas Dodd & Simon Marsh (altos), Chris Whiter (baritone); Helen Wilson (flute). Jessica Dowdeswell & Barry Venn were the vocalists.

Set 1: Gentleman Jack (Callum Au) [intro: Chris E in ‘Hammond’ mode; solos: Jim; soli: sax section; coda: Scott] : Here’s That Rainy Day (Jimmy Van Heusen, arr. Phil Woods) [feature for Lucas] : Abigail (Evan Jolly) [intro: Callum + Helen; solos: Harrison, Helen; coda: Scott & Ollie duel] : September In The Rain (Harry Warren, arr. Callum Au) [feature for Callum; soli: sax section] : He’s Funny That Way (v) (Charles N Daniels/Richard A Whiting/William P Ashton, arr. Callum Au) [intro: sax section; Jessica (voc); solo: James] : Wait And See (v) (Dennis Ogden/Bill Ashton, arr. Paul Higgs) [intro: Rob; Jessica (voc) over Helen; solo: Simon] : That Old Black Magic (v) (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer, arr. Billy May) [Jessica (voc); solo: Shahan]

Set 2: He’s Just My Bill (Jerome Kern, arr. Mark Nightingale) [intro: tmb section with Helen (flt) a capella; solis: sax & tmb sections; solos: Callum, Scott; coda: Chris E] : Embraceable You (George Gershwin, arr. Kenny Wheeler) [feature for James (flgl)] : Something’s Coming (Leonard Bernstein, arr. Callum Au) [intro: Scott with various reeds + Rob L; solos: Callum, Jim, Rob; coda: Callum + Jim duet] : Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (v) (Ralph Blane/Hugh Martin, arr. Callum Au) [intro: Chris E; Jessica (voc); solo: Callum] : Let It Snow (v) (Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne, arr. Callum Au) [Jessica (voc); soli: tmb section; solo: Simon; coda: Conor] : Feeling Good (v) (Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley, arr. Mark Armstrong) [Jessica (voc); solo: Rob] : Winter Wonderland (v) (Felix Bernard/Richard G Smith) [Jessica + Barry (voc duet); solos: James, Harrison] : Much Too Much (v) (Bill Ashton, arr. Chris Smith) [intro: Jessica (voc) with Conor, then with the rhythm section; solo: Raphael].

Jottings: With two appearances at The Manor in December, this was NYJO’s opportunity to try out some of the numbers programmed for the band’s New Year residency at Ronnie Scott’s (2nd/3rd/4th January) and finish with a few seasonal songs.

Standouts among the former were: Callum’s brand new composition Gentleman Jack – written as a tribute to Jack Thirwell, a former trombonist with the Ted Heath Orchestra; his wonderful arrangement of – and feature on – September In The Rain, receiving its World Première; and his intricate re-working of Something’s Coming from West Side Story, which gave both Jim and Rob extended solo opportunities.

Also from the Ronnie’s set list was: Kenny Wheeler’s beautifully written Embraceable You chart, which was a feature for James’s fluent flugel playing; Feelin’ Good, the Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley standard from The Roar Of The Greasepaint…, which Jessica attacked with aplomb and Rob soloed on delightfully; and He’s Just My Bill, a trombone section feature on the Jerome Kern classic by Mark Nightingale.NYJO @ The Manor – 11th December 2011

Some of the Christmas songs were also from the pen of the prolific Mr Au, and these gave the band and Jessica (joined, for one song only, by Mr Venn) an excuse to don the Santa hats and make merry.

But the highlight of the afternoon had to be Lucas Dodd’s (right) outstanding alto feature on Phil Woods’ arrangement of Here’s That Rainy Day, originally written for the Clark Terry Big Band and sounding as fresh today as it must have done way back then…

Review: Steve Harris/Ian Fielding : Photo: Alan Tagg