Walsall Jazz Orchestra
Walsall Jazz Orchestra

The Walsall Jazz Orchestra opened an afternoon of big band music when they appeared aas part of the 2024 Lichfield Jazz and Blues Festival.

With some of the finest improvationary and jazz musicians on the local scene, their set consisted of music by the likes of Charles Mingus, Pat Metheny and Kenny Wheeler, as well as some well chosen arrangements of original music written by members of the orchestra.

Mingus’s Nostalgia in Times Square was a strong opener with some good soloing from saxophonist Sam Rodgers and trumpeter Nick Dewhurst. It’s Just Talk by Pat Metheny with its detailed brass backings and changing moods was another fine showcase, while Solstice – an original by the group’s pianist Tim Amaan – moved from different moods, from the piano motif that opened the piece to the solos that peppered the second half.

The guitarist Rick Sanford had some time in the spotlight during Mixolydian Soul Frog, with a swaying funk rhythm and expansive soundscape.

Opening the second half was another Tim Amman piece, The Devil is the Detail, the many different parts showing how well drilled the orchestra are.

Steely Dan’s Kid Charlemagne were another opportunity for the guitars and keyboards, while the almost hymnal Gentle Peace by Kenny Wheeler featured some softly delicate playing from the ensemble and showed why they are so well admired.

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