Many thanks for our friends at Bebop Spoken Here
for such a great review of last nights Gig. We had a hoot!
Modest one-room pub + big band = a fun night out. Arriving at the Fox, Hexham Jazz Club’s HQ, it appeared a furniture removals business was in the process of clearing the place. Hang on…it’s the band rearranging the room! The pub’s usual bay window stage area would become front row seats for the evening as the regular seating was requisitioned by the band, that’s the twenty three-strong Tyne Valley Big Band.
The TVBB is a super-sized big band varying in number from one gig to the next. This Hexham Jazz Club engagement mustered a mere nine reeds (of which seven were female!), a paltry six trumpets (five in the section, MD Dave Hignett out front) and, had space permitted, there would have been a keyboard player working alongside the band’s rhythm section. The Pink Panther for starters, a tune the pub’s resident non-jazz fan (stationed at the bar) sheepishly conceded was a canny tune. Dave Hignett suggested he may not like the rest of the evening! In the Mood (arr. Doc Severinsen) with a flurry of soloists including Andrea de Vere on tenor and Kelly Rose, alto. Ray Charles’ Hallelujah I Love Her So, featuring a trombone blast from Simon Hirst (heard recently with the Bold Big Band), could have been any old internet download arrangement but not this one. MD Hignett made use of an invaluable regional resource to challenge and stretch the band by playing an arrangement by a well-loved bandleader, composer and arranger, the late Ray Chester. The Chester family donated Mr Chester’s vast library of arrangements to Sage Gateshead with the express intention that it was to be made available for occasions such as this at the Fox.
Band singer Barbara Hignett made a first appearance singing Route 66 then Sway (the audience did, sway that is). Uptown Funk (Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars) went global and the TVBB plays the number with gusto. The band is nothing if not prepared to turn its hand to anything. From Ronson to Sammy Nestico’s Feelin’ Free featuring the muted trumpet section and You Gotta Try.
Alto saxophonist Sophie Speed was Feelin’ the Funk as were Hignett, Kevin Moore, guitar, and a riffing band. Becky White emerged from the reeds to shine on Birdland , Barbara Hignett returned to tell us it was a Hexham Winter Wonderland which brought a close to the evening, except for a poignant finale. Earlier this year the Tyne Valley Big Band lost a friend and fine drummer when, at the age of 45, Mark Bolderson died. Mark suggested to Dave Hignett the band should play Gospel. They did, Mark got to play it, and this evening’s concert ended with the band playing it. On Dec 9th (Saturday) in Queen’s Hall, Hexham, the Tyne Valley Big Band will be taking part along with many others, including the Tyne Valley Youth Big Band and the Tyne Valley Jazz Ensemble, in a concert to help raise funds for the Mark Jon Bolderson Percussion Foundation. Tickets are available from the Queen’s Hall – telephone 01434 652477.
Dave Hignett MD, Ben Chinnery, Caroline Guirr, Andrew Guerin, Nat Haslam, Deborah Smurthwaite (trumpets); Becky White, Kelly Rose, Heidi Griffin, Matt Walker, Dianne Mays Andrea de Vere, Sophie Speed, Juliet Williams, John Knapton, (Reeds); Steve Quilliam, Simon Hirst, Dave Bradford Nick Brodin(trombones); Kevin Moore (guitar & vocals); Michael Cunningham (bass); Jack Ruddick (drums) & Barbara Hignett (vocals)