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Review: The Newport Jazz Festival Tribute - The 1950s

Review from our Cadogan Hall show for the London Jazz Festival - a great London concert theatre show, suitable for jazz festivals around the world. 

The audiences of the Jazz Repertory Company do not differ greatly from the audiences of classical music and indeed in their response to what’s on offer. The latter, too, know what to expect, have heard it before, probably on record and are generally as well informed as the former. So what’s the point of coming to hear exactly what they expect? In both cases it’s the pleasure of hearing superb musicians giving immaculate performances of music which they love.


But there are one or two major differences. In the case of the Jazz Repertory Company’s bands, they are brought together for a few performances and are then individually scattered to the winds to play wherever inducement takes them - their audiences are loyal to the idea, not the bands. While the originators of the music belonged to bands which had probably been playing the same or a similar repertoire for weeks or even months, had fanatical partisans and were well bedded in.


Classical orchestras don’t play the same repertoire night after night, but they too stick together for sometimes years with a conductor who gives them a recognisable sound. Their audiences, or a large part of them, are loyal to an orchestra and its conductor as well as to the music.

While the appeal of both types of music is undeniable, there is one characteristic their audiences don’t share, and that is that the Jazz Repertory Company’s does not replenish itself and inevitably diminishes all the time.  Could it be that which is part of the appeal. “We love the music, we know it pretty well, we think, but we may not get another chance to hear it?”


Go and hear it the next chance you get, whatever age you are. Its memory will add joyous years to your life.   Dick Laurie, Hot News International 

Review: Peter Vacher On The Newport Jazz Festival


With Long’s opening clarinet cadenza duly done, trumpeter Ryan Quigley made the first of a number of impressive incisions, soaring high over a crunching trumpet section, the band bounding in with gusto. ‘High Society’ gave trumpeter Rico Tomasso his head, especially so on ‘Now you Has Jazz’, Louis-like for sure, but couched in his own heart-felt manner, trombonist Ian Bateman on song alongside, with Long similarly fluent.


Tomasso-Bateman- Long, the last of these three on tenor, then gave Blues Walk a cheery going-over before pianist James Pearson essayed Blue Monk, momentarily allowing us to picture its composer from Stern’s film before Georgina Jackson reminded us of Anita O’Day’s impact with Sweet Georgia Brown/Tea For Two. Then followed more Louis from Rico, then Dizzy’s formidable Cool Breeze and Manteca as dealt by this terrific ensemble, Quigley and fellow-trumpeter George Hogg making high notes seem easy. Then came Hall’s finisher. He looked triumphant and so he should but then that goes for the whole presentation.   Look for this package to live again - it was that good. 


Review by Peter Vacher, London Jazz News

Drummer/impresario/historian Richard Pite’s ingenuity and enthusiasm know no bounds, it seems. Fresh from presenting a well-received London Jazz Festival  programme celebrating Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman’s New York heyday just days before at the same venue, here he was back in this uplifting space to recall the 1950s Newport Jazz Festivals, again to a full house of highly appreciative listeners.


The premise here was simple enough: recreate Duke Ellington’s 1956 Newport Suite, factor in Cole Porter’s music from the movie High Society, move on to photographer Bert Stern’s evocative documentary Jazz on a Summer’s Day, leap forward to the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band and their 1957 Newport Jazz Festival offerings and conclude matters with Duke’s immortal Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue.

Well, simple to say perhaps, but mightily challenging to accomplish. It needed a cast of, not thousands, but certainly twenty, all hand-picked to suit and a level of commitment that allowed the proceedings to move well beyond pastiche and on to creative replication. This was epitomised when tenorist Mike Hall, given the unforgiving task of recreating the seminal Paul Gonsalves solo on Diminuendo &Crescendo chose not to chase a note-for-note duplication but to give its unrelenting surge a twist of his own, with Pete Long’s superb orchestra in full cry behind him. Earlier, young altoist Simon Marsh had evoked the memory of Johnny Hodges on Jeep’s Blues with due care and attention before the band essayed the multi-part Newport Suite.

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