Sarah Ellen Hughes Big Band @ The Manor – 27th January 2013

Sarah Ellen Hughes Big Band @ The Manor – 27th January 2013In The Band: Sarah Ellen Hughes (vocals/flute, right) leading Rob Taggart (keyboard); Chris Allard (guitar); Ryan Trebilcock (bass); Darren Altman (drums); Anna Hughes (& voc), Lee Vivian, Henry Armburg-Jennings, Steve Pretty (trumpets); Maddie Dowdeswell, Andy Watson, Ross Anderson (tenor trombones), Andy Lester (bass trombone); saxes: Erica Clarke & Matt Wates (altos), Frank Griffith & Richard Shepherd (tenors), Anna Wisdish (baritone).

Set 1: Too Close For Comfort (v) (Jerry Bock/Lawrence Holofcener/ George Weiss, based on arr. by Patrick Williams for Patti Austin) [Sarah (voc); no solos] : Midnight Sun (v) (J Francis Burke/Johnny Mercer) [intro & solo: Anna H (flgl); Sarah (voc)] : Never Will I Marry (v) Frank Loesser, based on arr. by Cannonball Adderly) [Sarah (voc); solos: Frank, Rob] : Wait And See (v) (Dennis Ogden/Bill Ashton, arr. Paul Higgs*) [intro: Sarah (voc) with Chris a capella joined by Matt (flt) & Frank (clt); solo: Erica] : Nica’s Dream (Horace Silver) [intro: sax section; theme: Sarah (flt) & Henry (flgl); solos: Henry (flgl), Rob, Darren, Sarah (flt) over massed woodwinds; coda: Sarah (flt) & Henry (flgl)] : Gone With The Wind (Allie Wrubel) [soli intro: tmb section; solos: Andy W, Ross, Darren; coda: Andy L] : Someone (v) (Bill Ashton, arr. Evan Jolly*) [Sarah & Anna H (voc duet); soli: sax section].

Set 2: But Not For Me (v) (George & Ira Gershwin) [Anna H & Sarah (vocs) duet; solos: Chris, Rob, Ryan, Darren] : Jingle Bells (v) (James Lord Pierpont, arr. John Clayton Jnr. for Natalie Cole) [Sarah (voc); solos: Lee, Richard] : Here’s Hoping (Sarah Ellen Hughes) [solos: Chris, Henry (flgl); soli: sax section + Sarah (voice)] : Sunday Samba (Sarah Ellen Hughes) [intro: Rob; theme: Anna H (flgl) & Sarah (flt); solos: Sarah (flt), Matt, Darren, Andy L] : Someone To Watch Over Me (v) (George & Ira Gershwin, arr. Miles Collins*) [intro: sax section; Sarah (voc) over muted tpts; no solos] : I’ve Got Just About Everything I Need (v) (Bob Dorough) [Sarah (voc) with Chris; soli: sax section; solos: Chris, Henry, Matt, Andy W] : A-Tisket, A-Tasket (v) (Van Alexander, based on arr. by Chick Webb for Ella Fitzgerald) [Sarah (voc); band (vocs); no solos] : A Little Blues (Sarah Ellen Hughes) [intro: Sarah (voice) with Steve & Ryan; solos: Sarah (voice), Frank (clt) with Ryan & Chris, Richard, Steve & Lee trading 8s and 4s].

(All arrangements by SEH, except where noted* : denotes Quartet number)

Jottings: Sadly, this was the swansong for Sarah Ellen’s unique-to-the-Manor band, which had been originally put together purely for our benefit; the session therefore attracted a host of top-line musicians to play the well chosen, and mostly especially arranged, programme – as a result, a very appreciative audience were treated to two tremendous hours of superbly played big band jazz.

Highlights included: Anna’s flugel accompaniment to Sarah Ellen’s vocal on Midnight Sun; Frank’s Cannonball Adderley-esque accompaniment to the Nancy Wilson vocal stylings on Sarah Ellen’s kicking arrangement of Frank Loesser’s Never …; Chris’s sympathetic guitar accompaniment to the a capella vocal intro to Wait…, on which Erica essayed a delightful solo;  the evocative and bravura re-working of Horace Silver’s Nica’s Dream; and Sarah’s and her sister Anna’s instrumental duet feature Sunday Samba, with a wonderful alto solo by Matt.

Writing/arranging mentions must also go to: the unusual, but very effective, voice (as opposed to vocal) parts on Here’s Hoping and A Little Blues; a plangent Gone With The Wind, which featured most of the trombones, both collectively and individually; and Sarah Ellen’s spirited interpretation of Bob Dorough’s little-heard I’ve Got…, which also gave Henry and Andy W a share of the solo spotlight.

A word also for the rhythm section: in addition to their solos, Rob, Chris, Ryan and the inimitable Darren provided driving contributions to the band’s dynamic all afternoon.

Review: Steve Harris/Ian Fielding : Photo: Chris Glass