ICS: BBC Big Band 14/11 – The Review

In the first of our International Concert Series, bringing premium professional ensembles to our very own Johnson Hall, the BBC Big Band arrived at Millfield for what was a truly memorable day of music.

The experience was particularly memorable for the members of the school Jazz Band, who had an afternoon rehearsal with Barry Fogie, the charismatic director of the ensemble. He worked with band on two pieces which the band were currently working on, ‘Blue Skies’ and ‘Skyfall’. With great energy and wit, Barry shared his valuable experience with the ensemble. He worked particularly closely on tightening the rhythm of the band and challenged the group to take more risks and to explore new jazz concepts. The session was a fascinating insight into the workings of a professional big band and the ensemble’s sound was greatly improved for the experience.

As the evening drew in, a sold-out audience, including many of the members of the Millfield Jazz Band, filled out the Johnson Hall as Fogie was joined by the BBC Big Band for the performance. From the very start, the audience knew they were in for a treat – performing some big band classics from the era of Goodman, Basie and Ellington, the tight and bright horn section worked perfectly with the driving rhythm section. Some of the most memorable moments were provided by the outstanding solo work of the ensembles – particularly impressive was the work of Anthony Care on the vibraphone and Howard McGill on the Clarinet.

The concert looked to celebrate the infamous divas of the big band world, performing songs by the marvellous Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Billie Holliday. For this concert, the ensemble was joined by the outstanding Claire Martin OBE, who treated the audience to some outstanding vocal work. The tone and quality of her voice, combined with her sheer enthusiasm for the music, was absolutely outstanding. Particularly memorable was her performance of ‘Cheek to Cheek’, backed with remarkable subtlety by the ensemble.

After closing the set with a barnstorming performance of ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’, featuring the outstanding drumming of Matt Skelton, the audience rose to their feet to applaud the ensemble after a concert that will live long in the memory. The night was a stunning success, kicking off the 2017/18 International Concert Series in the best possible way. We are looking forward to more of the same with the arrival of Gould Piano Trio on March 1st 2018. Check out more details of the performances here.

The Millfield Music School Blog provides a fantastic insight into the musical life of Millfield School – from upcoming performances to concert reviews, insights into the music performed and details of the International Concert Series, keep up to date with everything throughout the year at: www.millfieldmusic.com

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