Drummer Cliff Longhurst has played with Matt Monro, Frankie Laine, Bert Weedon , Anne Shelton, Helen Shapiro, Nat Gonnella, Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent (among many others) and has toured with Herb Miller (Glen’s brother) — in addition to working as musical director for several well-known television shows. His JAZZ KNIGHTS ORCHESTRA came to Staines this week to put on a fantastic spectacle at the famous Riverside Club.
The orchestra delivered power and determination as they put on an extraordinary performance that rewarded us with the sounds & moods of Woody Herman’s big band era — the 1930s and 1940s.
Starting with a complicated arrangement of “The Good Earth” composed by jazz trumpeter Neal Hefti, we were treated to a golden syrup of sax and beautifully chromatic trumpet — the ambitious number was endowed with attitude, passion and enormous scope.
Herman’s “The Preacher” was a cluster of sound textures with an excellent solo by Nick Charles.
Richard Rodgers’ “Sound of Music” found on Herman’s “My Kind of Broadway” was a first-class re-telling with zestful vibraphone and potent walking bass.
The 15-piece Jazz Knights also treated the audience in Staines to lighter pop numbers such as “Killing Me Softly” [Charles Fox] and “Light My Fire” [the Doors] and a wondrous version of the Beatle’s “Hey Jude.”
The stand-out number was, perhaps, the band’s touching rendition of Sid Tepper and Roy C. Bennett’s romantic “Red Roses for a Blue Lady” made famous by singer Vic Dana. This nostalgic piece had a full-on big-band ‘feel’ with rattling rhythms from Longhurst himself and some articulate trumpet.
This was a joyful evening of swing-era jazz, a little bebop, gentle fusion and sophisticated pop — brilliantly polished, propellant and propulsive — yet relaxed in all the right places.
Thanks again to the Staines Riverside Club for hosting another unforgettable evening.
Words & Images : @neilmach 2017 ©