Hear the Future! – East London Creative Jazz Orchestra & Barbican Young Orchestra

Der Schauspieldirektor – Overture
Die Zauberflöte – Ach ich fühls
Die Entführung aus dem Serail – Welche Wonne
Romeo and Juliet – Fantasy Overture

East London Creative Jazz Orchestra

Sophie Bevan (soprano)

Barbican Young Orchestra
Edward Gardner

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: 3 July, 2011
Venue: Barbican Hall, London

This was indeed a “celebration of young talent” – a sneak hearing of the musical future. It started just outside the Barbican Hall with Future Band, suggesting a Miles Davis-like coolness under its flute-playing lady director. Then, inside the Hall, East London Creative Jazz Orchestra played for an hour or so, these youngsters, aged thirteen to eighteen, setting feet tapping and fingers moving in empathy. Over-amplification aside, these musicians impressed with their confidence and enthusiasm, rising to solo occasions with aplomb – not least the chap on an orange trombone (that’s ‘in colour’ rather than ‘sponsored by’) – such keenness nurtured by Paul Griffiths and Ed Puddick. Some of the numbers were created by the current group. All suggested a real understanding of individual and collective style – the many solos delivered with aplomb and an outreach that remained with integrity to what was happening around these ‘stand and deliver’ opportunities bursting with confidence.

Some numbers were created by the current group and all were enthused with creativity. Of the established numbers, Mary Lou Williams’s Walkin’ & Swingin’ was the hit of the set, nicely swinging, unforced and old-world. Also a treat was the encore, a Duke Ellington piece of distinction. During the performance, two members of Jazz at Lincoln Center joined in the fun and set the Gold Standard. Reginald Thomas did some gentle directing and duo-pianism while Terell Stafford hoovered up roulades of notes on his trumpet with unflinching virtuosity. Their presence can only have been inspiring. Bid farewell to was bassist Nathan Thompson (one of the leaders), he’s “leaving the country”. His solo, full of artistry, also sounded mushy through the microphone and loudspeakers. But, on a high note, and there were many of those, this was a vivid and compelling presentation.

Turning on a sixpence, and to the other side of the same coin, the Barbican Young Orchestra gave its fourth consecutive appearance. Having inaugurated and inspired, Sir Colin Davis has now stepped down. Sir Nicholas Kenyon is the constant with this initiative and Edward Gardner has now stepped into the conducting breach. Young is the word; you can apply to BYO from aged eight. As for the jazz, the classical stuff found a playing-together that was impressive – although this shouldn’t always be taken as ‘unanimity of ensemble’ as us critics sometimes heave off the jargon shelf, and tuning was raw – but there was real spirit here, Mozart’s Overture to The Impresario fizzing along, Gardner making no concessions. Sophie Bevan delighted in the contrasting Mozart arias, touching in The Magic Flute excerpt and a little breathless in the Seraglio snippet. Romeo and Juliet (desert-island Tchaikovsky) was remarkably cohesive on the conductor’s part and gamely battled and romanced by the youngsters. A contrabassoon had been something of a red herring so far, signalling an encore. It was the Overture to Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmilla, Gardner choosing a considerate tempo for both the music and the players, details often ridden roughshod over here in notable relief. A word to sum up the evening? Inspiring.

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