In The Band: Bill Ashton directing Chris Eldred (piano): Grant Russell (bass); Rob Luft (guitar); Scott Chapman (drums); Ollie Sarkhar (percussion); Jack Coward, Nick Mead, Tommy Walsh, Tom Dennis (trumpets); Barry Clements (bass trombone), Ross Anderson, Callum Au, Alex Paxton, Dave Horden (tenor trombones); saxophones: Jim Gold & Laura Parker (altos), Michael Underwood & Chris Whiter (tenors), Charlotte Beatty (baritone); Andrew Tyler (flute). Billie Wackrill was the vocalist.
Set 1: Oh, Lady Be Good! (George Gershwin, arr. Mark Armstrong) [solos: Chris Whiter, Alex, Tommy, Scott] : Rosie A (Anthony Adam) [feature for Rob] : La Muchacha Do Colombia (Martin Williams) [intro: Barry; solos: Callum, Jim, Tommy, Scott/Ollie] : He’s Just My Bill (Jerome Kern, arr. Mark Nightingale) [intro: tmb section a capella; solos: Chris Eldred, Callum; soli: sax section] : Let’s Settle Down (v) (Bill Ashton, arr. Evan Jolly) [intro: Rob with Billie (colla voce); solos: Jack, Jim] : I Thought I Was Through With Love (v) (Bill Ashton, arr. Paul Higgs) [Billie (voc); no solos] : My Old Man (Fred W Leigh/Charles Collins, arr. Bill Charleson) [solos: Mike, Chris Eldred; soli: sax section].
Set 2: All Of Me (Seymour Simmons) [feature for Chris Eldred] : Easy Livin’ (Ralph Rainger, arr. Martin Williams) [feature for Callum] : It Ain’t Necessarily So (George Gershwin, arr. Callum Au) [intro: Chris Eldred (org); solos: Tommy, Jim, Scott] : Another Always (v) (Tony Charlesworth/Bill Ashton, arr. Chris Smith) [verse: Billie (voc) with Chris Eldred; solis: tmb + sax sections] : Thought I’d Ask (v) (Bill Ashton, arr. Bob Dowell) [intro: Chris Eldred then Billie (voc) with Chris Whiter; solo: Rob] : My Romance (v) (Richard Rogers/Lorenz Hart, arr. Callum Au) [intro: Chris Eldred then Billie (voc) with Rob; solo: Tommy (flgl)] : Barker Is Willing (Callum Au) [feature for Jim] : Let There Be Love (v) (Lionel Rand/Ian Grant, arr. Callum Au) [intro: Chris Eldred; Tommy + Billie (voc duet)]
Jottings: NYJO resumed their Father’s Day tradition (last year this gig was depped out to NYJO2…) with another superb concert of mainly lesser-played numbers from its vast library – some even had a discernable, if tenuous, ‘Dad’ connection!
Making their Manor debuts were Dave on trombone, Jim and Michael in the sax section and Andrew on flute – and it was good to see long-time absentee Laura back, albeit as lead alto rather than in her more usual baritone chair.
Billie (right) chose to sing a quartet of Bill’s inimitable songs, plus a couple of standards, for this session. We hadn’t heard I Thought I Was Through With Love – Paul Higgs’s amalgam of reggae and be-bop inspired by Bop Swap – for a very long time, whilst Billie’s vocal interplay with Chris Eldred and Rob, on Another Always and Let’s Settle Down respectively, was a delight. The concert closer was a nice surprise too – Tommy joining Billie to duet on the Nat Cole classic Let There Be Love, with Chris Eldred being George Shearing for the intro.
La Muchacha… is one of NYJO’s most oft-performed numbers at The Manor but, despite this, it provided a lovely Latin showcase for the instrumental talents of Callum, Jim and Tommy, with Scott and Ollie duelling through its call-and-response coda.
Other highlights were: some wonderful soli passages by the trombones and saxes on He’s Just My Bill; debutant Jim’s classy contributions to Let’s Settle Down and It Ain’t Necessarily So, which led to him being featured on Barker Is Willing; and, as ever, some exquisite guitar work by Rob on Rosie A and My Romance.
Review: Steve Harris/Ian Fielding : Photo: Bill Ashton