Review: Jazz Evening

Candlelit tables, low lighting and the welcoming smile of Dennis at the bar set the scene for the last hurrah of the musical term.  

With strains of The Messiah still ringing in the ears of many Marlborough musicians (who, barely 48 hours previously, had taken part in a magnificent rendition of this fine choral piece), the combined forces of Big Band, Jazz Quartet and Jazz Ensemble transported us effortlessly into a different mood and genre.

The Marlburian was at absolute capacity for this ever-popular evening – not surprisingly, given that the number of those involved in jazz ensembles has grown considerably over the past year, with involvement from musicians in the Shell right through to the Upper Sixth.  The evening’s programme opened with a set performed by Big Band under the expert direction of Alex Arkwright.  The audience were treated to slick renditions of Jay Chattaway’s Tom Cat, Neil Hefti’s Cute and Guitar Blues by Oliver Nelson, which included brave improvisations, and culminated in the much-loved and toe-tapping Stevie Wonder number, Sir Duke. 

Cue Jazz Ensemble to step into the limelight, with the omni-present support of the talented Luke Smith (CO L6) on bass guitar.  With a broad range of instruments and the dynamic guidance of Hayley Lambert, this development group of jazz musicians delivered an excellent trio of pieces, with Mighty Fine (Joey Baron) and Jeep’s Blues (Ellington/Hodges) providing upbeat rhythms in contrast to the smoky tones of the atmospheric Las Vegas Tango by Gil Evans.  If this group represents the College’s Big Band of tomorrow, the future looks very exciting indeed.

The Jazz Quartet oozed class and sophistication in their delivery with Georgia Gibson (EL U6) at the helm on saxophone, Sarah Mattinson (MO U6) on piano, George Cayley (CO U6) on drumkit and (once again!) Luke Smith on bass guitar.   What a feat that, amidst such busy schedules, the quartet provided us with three pieces that were simultaneously polished and professional, without losing the easy relaxed style of jazz – a class act indeed.

For the final set, Big Band took to the stage once again and, if anything, performed with even greater panache and verve than earlier in the evening.  Nicholas Rusinov (SU Hu) gave a very assured performance on the baritone saxophone in Mingus’s Moanin’, and raised a smile with its almost comical tones, echoed by sundry animal noises from the rest of the band!  The work of Mark Ronson featured in the following two numbers,  and the evening reached the height of its crescendo as the Jazz Ensemble were welcomed back to the stage to perform alongside Big Band for a rousing finale.

What better or more enjoyable way could there have been to end the term? Congratulations to one and all.

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