The Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra, for many years a strong developer of musical talent, brought their collective and individual abilities to a show that featured many classics from the big band songbook.
The ensemble, under the direction of Dr John Ruddick MBE, played long and complicated pieces giving plenty of room for both tight ensemble playing, as well as some stylish playing from many of the musicians.
With pieces that ranged from numbers such as I Can’t Believe You’re in Love With Me, Imagine What a Change Will Do and Cruising for A Bruising, the first half contained a lot of variety and some imaginative arrangements.
During the second half we heard the more ambitious Bye Bye Barnett, which fused the chord of Bye Bye Blackbird with a new tune, while Low Day was a tone poem with plenty of mournful brass at the start, before a change in pace bought the mood and the tempo up.
The playing from all of the members – and particularly the rhythm section and keyboards – was exemplary throughout, with the level a testament to the amount of time that bands like this have to put into their music to keep it to a high standard.
The evening was finished with a reading of local composer Nick Dewhurst’s Heatwave, sounding different with its big band sound than it does in a smaller ensemble.