Saturday, 8 December 2018

REVIEW: MUMS Big Band Concert - The Martin Harris Centre, Manchester.


As a contrast to last month’s recital by their Wind Orchestra, Manchester University Music Society (MUMS)’s Big Band concert, also at the Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall, was much more relaxed, so much so that they didn’t even have a programme (so apologies for any errors in the song references or players’ names). With colourful casual attire, it has to be said that it was much more like a series of jam sessions.

Made up of eight ‘tunes’, led by Johnny and Raden (apologies for the misspelling, if that is the case), the 18-strong band performed pieces from a variety of composers from all across the globe. Although one, which they had “found on the internet”, by the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra, left much to be desired and, frankly if that they were playing what was written, it needs throwing away! This was the second piece, after ‘Choo Choo’ which featured solos from saxophonist Emily and trumpet player Olly, both of whom also featured throughout the night.

Then we heard ‘something a bit different’ and welcomed a smaller band, led by Louisa on soprano saxophone, along with a fellow saxophone player, and Olly on muted trumpet. ‘Coley’ by Joshua Blackmore followed featuring solos by Emily, Sam, David and Louisa, before ‘The Guinness Spot’ by guitarist John Schofield which started very nicely. Then ‘Frob’ which was described as “the most contemporary” of all the night’s pieces, featuring Harrison on saxophone.

Drummer Nate Smith’s ‘Skip Step’ had been rearranged by keys player Sam and featured Matt (double bass), Harrison (Sax), Johnny (guitar) and David (vibraphone), along with Dexter using what is known as the most versatile instrument, the voice, making interesting noises with his voice and hands. We concluded with ‘Do It’, which was the best choice of the night and accommodated the old big band tradition of introducing the band members.

Whilst I stand by my common statement that I admire anyone who can play an instrument competently, especially those who can perform alongside others and still focus, I was left somewhat underwhelmed tonight.

For further details of their future concerts, visit: www.mumusicsociety.co.uk

Reviewer - John Kristof
on - 6/12/18

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