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Review: A Tribute To Jazz At The Philharmonic

Reviews from our Cadogan Hall and London Hippodrome shows and other London concerts, theatre shows, and jazz festivals around the world. 

A Tribute to ‘Jazz at the Philharmonic’ 
(Cadogan Hall. Review by Peter Vacher).


How’s this for a plan? The Jazz Repertory Company and  Richard Pite’s aim was to recreate Jazz At The Philharmonic in facsimile form, using the best local talent, and thereby to pay due homage to these ground-breaking shows and incidentally, their instigator, Norman Granz. Those of us old enough to remember a time when such all-star US troupes came into town, sweeping all before them, Oscar and Ella at the forefront, might have given Pite’s dream short shrift but he has form when it comes to this kind of adventure. More to the point he has a retinue of able players and vocalists who can, momentarily, take you back to a time when a package show like JATP could offer you all that was best yet sometimes vainglorious about this music.


The avuncular Pite, split in two as part-time front-man and drummer, had badged the show as a 70th anniversary celebration and programmed it to follow JATP’s time-honoured routine. Thus pianist Nick Dawson, with bassist Joe Pettit and guitarist Nigel Price, opened as representing the Oscar Peterson Trio and my, what a fist they made of it. Dawson played like a man possessed, his keyboard dash and flow of ideas on Honeysuckle Rose like OP on fast-forward. The trio stayed on [with drummer Elliot Henshaw added] for Nicola Emmanuelle’s all-too short Ella-inspired set, this singer’s vibrato wider than Ella’s, her tonal warmth a delight and swing savvy uppermost on It’s Alright With Me. And with me, too. 



Tenorist Pete Long, with Pite on drums, and Dawson rallying round, then offered their version of the Gene Krupa Trio, all spirited fun.  Georgina Jackson was then given the perhaps unenviable task of evoking Billie Holiday in a three-song mini-set, with an augmented band. Nicely done,  and her innate jazz feeling and sheer vocal élan won the day.


 And then came the first half closer – The Three Tenors, that’s Long, playing himself this time, Ray Gelato and Dean Masser, all three ‘Brylcreamed and smartly-suited’, as Pite put it, again with the masterly Dawson,

Price, (whose every solo was a startler), Petit and drumming dynamo Henshaw. Bristling, hard-swinging, surging, big-toned, competitive, the dictionary can hardly do it justice, what with Henshaw’s tireless drive and the rhythm section’s vital swing. Each man on song, trading choruses, eights, fours, riffs, you name it. What a joy. 


The second half was made over to the ‘Jam Session’, with the Drum Battle between Pite and Henshaw for starters,  trombonist Callum Au, trumpeters George Hogg and Tommy Walsh added to the ensemble. There followed the Ballad Medley, each player heard in turn, major-domo Long on clarinet, all of this delirium culminating in the Trumpet Battle on Sweet Georgia Brown. Here Hogg’s classy structures emerged a tad ahead of Walsh’s high-altitude forays, both young men compellingly good, as were, well, every one of them.  Pite’s beatific smile throughout said it all as did this audience’s cheery approval. Quite a celebration and quite a show.

Review: Lance On A Tribute To Jazz At The Philharmonic

I didn't believe in reincarnation - not until yesterday afternoon that is when Cadogan Hall was transformed into the Shrine Auditorium, LA and the above star-studded line-up was brought back to life and playing better than ever!


Buddy and Gene having a drum battle, three tenors honking and squealing selling excitement by the second. The trumpet battle - was it Shavers and McGhee or Roy and Dizzy? They played fast and loose with Georgia Brown she was never sweeter until these guys "kissed" her and sent her, and us, home with a smile on her/our face.


Of course  it wasn't all wham, bang, thank you mam! we had a seductive ballad medley, vocals by Nicola Emmanuelle as Ella and Georgina Jackson as Billie.   The Peterson trio, as seen through the eyes of Nick Dawson (pno), Nigel Price (gtr) and Joe Pettitt (bs), opened the show with introductions from Richard Pite as Norman Granz and later as Gene Krupa.


Pete Long, Ray Gelato and Dean Masser blew a rousing, was it, Billie's Bounce? that turned into a Pier Six brawl with the tenor players slugging it out for chorus after chorus then 8's and 4's and 2's.


Interval time and I thought it can't get any better than this but it did!  Richard Pite and Elliott Henshaw recreated the drum battle, Dean Masser blew Body and Soul which segued into Callum Au playing I'm Getting Sentimental Over You and Tom Walsh blowing I Can't Get Started.

Pete Long was now on clarinet - not an instrument I associate with JATP - and he sounded good maybe Buddy De Franco did a stint with the Granz circus?

Perdido, maybe it included Mordido and Endido, had everyone going for broke and the only causalities were the audience whose blood pressure and adrenalin flow must have hit the ceiling! Long reminded the worshippers of how the old JATP audiences were unrestricted in their  applause and, if they didn't quite reach the heights of those wild hipsters, some of whom would eventually desert jazz for Rock and Roll, the mature misters and missus' present did their best. My larynx was most certainly in overdrive!The Blues kept the tradition going although I had hoped that Dawson and Price would do a take on the legendary Cole/Paul choruses.


The final trumpet battle 'twixt Tom Walsh and George Hogg meant the concert ended on a high and I use the word intentionally. Top C was merely the starting point for these guys and I've been on a high ever since!


Review from Be-Bop Spoken Here


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