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Thursday, April 30

Mmm Jazz

I've always wanted to see a Big Band perform. I say always, that's, of course, an exaggeration. It wasn't something which I wanted when I was a young child. When I was quite young I wanted to be a writer, I even tried to write a joke book, with the opening lines of my introduction to the typed book of jokes proclaiming that laughter is one of the greatest gifts we have. I was, as a child, clearly a chicken-in-a-basket-ken-dodd-style showman. Anyway, I had wanted to see a big band for a while. I think I got my ambition fulfilled at the Blue Note jazz club in New York at some point at the end of 2007, but it's hard to say whether the tribute to the Count Basie Orchestra was quite what I had in my imagination when I thought about seeing a big band.

The thing about a big band, for me, is that it's meant to be, well, big. It should be so loud and uplifting and powerful that it somehow scares your primal brain at the same time as filling your head with its powerful positive energy. I wanted to experience that. It will never be the same from CD, especially when listened to the way I normally listen to music - on headphones while working, or quietly while doing something else, like driving.

Last Friday, while driving to meet my girlfriend, I heard an arts programme describing the following week's "Friday night is music night" show. This would be the Billy Strayhorn story - Billy Strayhorn wrote for and worked closely with Duke Ellington. The preview of the show sounded good, so I went out and bought tickets for the recording the following day. That's sometimes how life goes for me. I'm in so many places around the country, that I can more likely find myself in the right place at the right time.

In this case, the right place was Cheltenham, and the right time was tonight. Not only a Big Band. The was the Guy Barker Big Band AND the BBC Concert Orchestra.

We watched one hell of a show, hosted by Clarke Peters, whom I'd seen when he was in a Nat King Cole biography show, with voices performed by Michael Brandon. I hadn't really put two and two together when I listened to Jerry Springer The Opera, earlier in the day, but I had had Mr Brandon in my ears - in the role of the eponymous Mr Springer.

Fabulous performance. Exciting, enthralling. Great.

We also had some jazz audience, including the man who tapped his lip in time to the music, and the people who proclaimed "Yarr" at the end of every song. Pirates, perhaps. They were eventually hushed by the production crew, after they "Yarred" a little too soon on a few false-endings too many.

It's nice to have a night out where you'll be able to relive it on the radio the following evening.


Blogger Ashley Frieze said...

It's possible that they "yarr"ed because they are pirates.

8:49 AM  

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