A dreary December evening was much enlivened by the superb acts on display in the Memorial Hall. The Big Band, directed by Alex Arkwright, provided an energetic opening, with a driving and dynamic rendition of Sir Duke. This featured the brilliant Freddie V (Re), who provided a punchy solo on the tenor sax. The rhythm section of Molly D (L6) on piano, Lanre A (U6) on the kit and Tommy W (L6) on bass then had their moment to shine in What is Hip?, a complex Tower of Power number which featured several excellent solos. Things then calmed down a little, with an evocative and gentle (but never sluggish) version of Lil’ Darlin, featuring a smooth solo from Gully W (U6) on the trumpet. The Big Band ended their slot with a big, boozy, brassy rendition of Play That Funky Music, which brought the first part of the evening to a close.
After a short change over, Monty P-P (U6) gave a Buddy Rich-esque performance of Engine Room on the tom-toms. This was followed by a thumping and jolly Brass Ensemble rendition of Chris Hazell’s Kraken, which concluded with brief but bright solo from Jack H-S (Re) on the trumpet.
The Jazz Quintet then provided something of a change of season: their rendition of August One was distinctly summery – a welcome break on a cold, damp winter night. Their well-blended sound was helped along by some superb drumming by Monty P-P and a strong piano line by Molly D.
The lights then dimmed and the Wind Orchestra assembled on stage. They began with a bold rendition of Himes’ Barbarossa, which clipped along in a Germanic, military fashion. The narrator, Nigella B (L6), then joined them onstage, ready for their performance of Ghosts. This was a selection of four movements from Stephen McNeff’s nine-movement set of variations, beginning with The Haunting. This was paired with the chilling passage recounting the arrival of Marley’s ghost from A Christmas Carol, which heightened the already deeply creepy sound. A section from Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black preceded The Gray Lady: this began with a strong impression of malevolence, but the later flute passages were tinged with sympathy, highlighting the basic tragedy of both stories.
The Dog of Godley then brought forth a sense of urgency and panic, heightened by the superb account of the appearance of the hound from Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic The Hound of the Baskervilles. The tense, throbbing drum line was particularly effective. A sharp contrast was provided by the finale: a plaintive performance of Chorale, after a reading of Kipling’s The Way Through the Woods, in which the ghosts of the stories – and the fears of the audience – were laid to rest.
Graduate Assistant, History