Lichfield Blues and Jazz Festival Concert Review – Walsall Jazz Orchestra

In their history, The Walsall Jazz Orchestra have become one of the leading Big Bands in the local area, taking in some of the most talented musicians, and producing concerts that blend advanced music making skills with an audience friendly style. With a sound that blended pin sharp brass, orchestral flourishes, and a dynamic rock backing the Walsall Jazz Orchestra treated their large audience to an afternoon of exciting jazz and improvisation when they played at Lichfield Blues and Jazz festival.

Featuring more than twenty musicians on stage, and instruments that ranged from saxophones, trumpets and trombones to guitar,bass, drums and keyboards, the Walsall Jazz Orchestra played a range of music from composers such as Don Elilis, Chick Corea, Charles Mingus and compositions written by members of the ensemble.

Starting with the long form composition Spain, by Chick Corea, a lesson in creating a soundscape as it is in music making, the ambient mood changing with each additional brass crescendo or piano chord, they then played One For Dennis, by orchestra member Nick Dewhurst, written for Dennis Rollins, a buoyant mood, and exciting and expertly handled soloing meant this piece was an early highlight.

The mood changed for the much more sombre Nostalgia in Times Square by Charles Mingus, which allowed for some fine, and appropriate soloing from saxophonist Sam Rodgers and pianist Tim Amman. A second Nick Dewhurst original, SkyRocket with an insistent beat changed the feel of the room, Ray Golson’s Killer Joe was another brooding piece that the ensemble delivered well.

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