Lichfield Jazz closed their 2021 season with a performance that mixed musical fireworks and festivities to great effect.
The evening featured many festive favourites being given something of a jazz makeover, with exciting solos a flavour of 1970s police shows from the backing, and a dose of sentimentality to appeal to music fans and die-hard jazz aficionados.
The night featured a strong rhythm section of drummer Tash Buxton Lewis, double and electric bassist Tom Moore and keyboard player Tom Lindsay, as well as many other leading jazz musicians from the local scene, including saxophonists Sam Craig and Callum Roxborough, and the redoubtable Nick Dewhurst doing sterling work as always as a trumpet player and musical director.
The night started off with a revitalised Hark The Herald Angels Sing with plenty of solos, and a strong brass section, while the poppier Santa Claus is Coming To Town lifted the tempo and spirits.
White Christmas delivered slightly more slowly than the rest of the night’s music left space for some lyrical soloing, and Double Espresso – the one original of the evening – lived up to its name with a fast tempo and chord changes taking the best elements of modern jazz playing.
In The Bleak Midwinter got something of a funk workout, it’s normally more sombre mood lifted by an original arrangement. A playful Jingle Bells and lighter funk version of Christmas Wrapping opened the second half.
Beth Fisher showed her impressive vocals during He Loves Me, a song made famous by Shirley Bassey. Winter Wonderland and Angels from the Realms of Glory also received a jazz makeover.
A light-hearted Santa Baby saw a visit from the man in red himself, while I Saw Three Ships featured some fine playing.
The set closer, an arrangement of the big band favourite Peanut Vendor and Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire, saw solos from all of the musicians who played throughout the evening.
This was an entertaining night of live music, made possible by the dedication of some fine local musicians and the Lichfield Jazz team in what has been a particularly difficult few years for live music and live entertainment.