NYJO @ The Manor – 16th September 2012

In The Band: Bill Ashton directing Chris Eldred (piano): Rob Luft (bass); Michael De Souza (guitar); Max Mills (percussion); Scott Chapman (drums); Alistair Martin, Jacob Phillips, Louis Dowdeswell, Adam Chatterton, James Copus (trumpets); Daniel Higham, Maddie Dowdeswell, Chris Valentine, Tom Green (tenor trombones) Pete Whitehouse (bass trombone); Anna Drysdale (French horn); saxophones: Simon Marsh & Jim Gold (tenors), Lucas Dodd & Phil Meadows (altos), Chris Whiter (baritone); Rosie Stano (flute). Kim Smith, Layla Lei & Louise Balkwill did the singing.

Set 1: Honeysuckle Chris (Fats Waller, arr. Mark Armstrong) [feature for Chris; solo: Scott] : One Tree Hill (Steve Titchener) [feature for Simon] : He’s Just My Bill (Jerome Kern, arr. Mark Nightingale) [feature for tmb section; solo: Tom] : Almost Like Being In Love (v) (Frederick Loewe/Alan J Lerner, arr. Chris Smith) [Kim (voc); solo: Simon] : A Foggy Day (George Gershwin, arr. Steve Titchener) [solos: James (flgl), Jim] : As Close As You Are (Tubby Hayes) [solos: Simon, James] : You’d Think I’d Learn (v) (Bill Ashton & Christine Denmead, arr. Josh Daniels) [Layla (voc); solo: Lucas] : Looking Back (v) (Christine Denmead/Derek Goome, arr. Mark Nightingale) [Layla (voc); soli: sax section]

Set 2: Don’t Mention The Blues (Mark Nightingale) [feature for Chris; soli: sax section] : Are We Nearly There Yet? (Callum Au) [feature for Michael; solo: Phil] : Abbey Gale (Evan Jolly) [solos: James (flgl), Rosie; duel; Scott & Max] : My Romance (v) (Richard Rogers/Lorenz Hart, arr. Callum Au) [intro: Chris then Michael; Louise (voc); solo: James (flgl)] : Penny (Bill Ashton) [solos: Jim, Rosie] : No Moon At All (v) (David A Mann/Redd Evans, arr. Dave Foster) [intro: Rob; Layla (voc) accompanied by Michael & Chris; solo: Simon] : If There’s A Shadow Of Doubt (v) (John Dixon/Bill Ashton, arr. Steve Hill) [Layla (voc); solo: Jim] : Never The Twain (Matt Wates) [duet feature for Lucas & Phil]

Jottings: NYJO’s first post-Proms performance here established that, even with a number of personnel changes – Michael, Alistair, Jacob and Adam all making their Manor debuts – the band’s signature sound remains readily identifiable.

NYJO’s extensive back catalogue also provides a wealth of good music to plunder, a lot of it written by alumni of the band – Steve Titchener’s One Tree Hill (originally entitled With One Voice in reference to Unison, the trade union who sponsored the band for a while, back in the day) and his assured take on A Foggy Day being cases in point.

Mark Nightingale contributed the evocative …Bill, a mellow feature for the trombone section, as well as a couple of demon workouts for the sax section in Layla’s vocal Looking Back and Chris’s keyboard feature Don’t Mention…, whilst Chris Smith arranged Almost…, which Kim – a vocalist with the Wigan YJO who impressed on the band’s recent appearance at the eponymous Jazz Festival – really did proud.

Just about the only numbers not composed or arranged by ex-band members – although they NYJO @ The Manor – 16th September 2012were written specifically for the band – were As Close…, a Tubby Hayes original which allowed the ever excellent Simon and James to share the solo spotlight, and Matt Wates’ Never…, which offered the top-of-their-form altos, Lucas and Phil, the chance to demonstrate their solo and duetting prowess.

This concert also saw Rob making a first public appearance on bass (after discarding the sixth string as being “…unnecessary”!) and Rosie (left) making a belated return on flute, providing a solo on Penny, a tune dedicated to Bill’s new whippet…

Review: Steve Harris/Ian Fielding