Sarah Ellen Hughes Big Band @ The Manor – 18th December 2011

Sarah Ellen Hughes Big Band @ The Manor – 18th December 2011

In The Band: Sarah Ellen Hughes (vocals/flute, centre front) & Anna Hughes (vocals/trumpet/flugel, 2nd left front) co-leading (from left) Dorian Ford (keyboard); Matt Skelton (drums, hidden); Jeremy Brown (bass); Mark Crown (set 2 only), Gabriel Garrick, Jack Davies (trumpets); Jonty Hill, Simon Walker, Mat Walton (tenor trombones); Andy Lester (bass trombone); saxes: Tommy Laurence (hidden) & Frank Griffith (tenors), Lucas Dodd & Kenji Fenton (altos), Jay Craig (baritone).

Set 1: That Old Black Magic (v) (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer, arr. Billy May) [Sarah (voc); solo: Frank] : Midnight Sun (v) (J Francis Burke/Johnny Mercer, arr. SEH) [intro & solo: Anna (flgl); Sarah (voc)] : Looking Forward (v) (Bill Ashton, arr. Evan Jolly) [solos: Dorian, Matt S] : Never Will I Marry (v) Frank Loesser, arr SEH after Cannonball Adderly) [solos: Frank, Dorian, Matt S] : Twos Hughes Blues (SEH) [intro: Dorian + rhythm section; theme: Anna (muted tpt) + Sarah (flt); solos: Gabriel, Jeremy] : In The Bleak Mid-Winter (v) (Gustav Holst/Christina Rosetti, arr. SEH) [intro: tmb section (a capella); Anna + Sarah (voc duet); solos: Kenji (sop), Jack] : Someone (v) (Bill Ashton, arr. Evan Jolly) [Anna + Sarah (voc duet) over Gabriel (muted); soli: sax section] : I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm (v) (Irving Berlin) [Sarah (voc); no solos].

Set 2: Motherless Child (v) (Traditional, arr. SEH) [intro: Sarah (voc) with Frank, Lucas + Jay (a capella); solos: Lucas, Frank] : Silent Night (v) (English lyrics by John Freeman Young, original music & arrangement by Anna Hughes & SEH) [intro: Anna, Sarah, Gabriel & Dorian (a capella vox quartet); Anna + Sarah (voc); solo: Tommy] : Sunday Samba (SEH) [theme: Anna (flgl) & Sarah (flt) with rhythm; solos: Sarah (flt), Matt S, Lucas, Andy] : Gone With The Wind (Allie Wrubel, arr. SEH) [soli intro: tmb section; solos: Simon, Jonty, Mat W, Matt S] : Ricochet (Frank Griffith) [solos: Tommy, Frank then trading 4s, Gabriel (flgl/tpt)] : Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off (v) (George & Ira Gershwin, arr. SEH) [intro: Jeremy; solos: Jay, Kenji, Lucas, Frank, Tommy, Dorian, Jeremy, Mark, Jack, Gabriel (flgl), Simon, Mat W, Jonty, Matt S; coda: Sarah & Anna (vox)] : Jingle Bells (v) (James Lord Pierpont, arr. John Clayton jnr. for Natalie Cole) [Sarah (voc + tamb); solos: Gabriel (tpt), Tommy; coda: Matt S]

Jottings: This assured session proved just why Sarah Ellen’s band always attracts such a host of top-line musicians to play her well-chosen programme. It also provided a very appreciative audience with two tremendous hours of superbly played big band jazz.

Writing/arranging mentions must go to: a lovely Gone With The Wind, which featured all the trombones, both Sarah Ellen Hughes Big Band @ The Manor – 18th December 2011collectively and individually; Sarah Ellen’s and Anna’s re-imagining of Silent Night for vocal quartet; the a capella ‘voice + saxes’ treatment of Motherless Child; and the flugel/vocal interactions of Midnight Sun.

Other highlights included: Frank’s and Tommy’s tenor duelling on the former’s Ricochet; Kenji’s silvery soprano on In The Bleak…; Jay’s beautiful baritone on Let’s Call…; Dorian’s classy keyboard on Never Will I… and Twos Hughes…; and Jeremy’s and Matt S’s (left) driving contributions to the band all afternoon.

Review: Steve Harris/Ian Fielding : Photos: Steve Harris