Review: NYJO Swing Band at The Hoste

The NYJO Swing Band mixed enthusiastic and creative performance with a varied and often surprising setlist to give Bruce Lindsay and many others a great night out

The National Youth Jazz Orchestra can take different forms: the full-on 20-plus orchestra, the nonet, the septet. It was the septet, in the guise of the NYJO Swing Band, that took to the stage of the Hoste Arms in Burnham Market on 27 November to perform two excellent 45-minute sets that had the audience on-side from the first number. A superb set list, mixing old favourites with lesser-known but no less enjoyable numbers, formed a solid foundation from which the seven musicians built a highly enjoyable show, eventually encouraging many audience members to fill the dancefloor and bust a few moves of their own.

The six instrumentalists started the evening with a short set including Duke Ellington's Limbo Jazz. The energetic opening trio of tunes soon established the band's credentials - a tight, punchy, unit that clearly enjoyed playing these classic tunes. David Dyson's enjoyment was especially notable: he's a drummer whose love of the music shows in his facial expressions as much as it does in his dynamic playing. There are obvious similarities with Phronesis drummer Anton Eger, although Dyson doesn't quite match Eger's sartorial flair.  

Vocalist Jessica Radcliffe joined the band for the second half of each set. During her first number Radcliffe seemed a little nervous but she soon settled those nerves and by the time she started her second number, The Man That Got Away, she was in confident form, taking command of the stage and projecting her voice and her personality through the room.

Pianist Rupert Cox began the second set, his solo creating an untypically restrained and meditative atmosphere. It was a (presumably deliberate) musical sleight-of-hand, setting up our expectations for a slow and downbeat ballad - for those expectations were cheerfully exploded when the rest of the band kicked off a suitably jaunty arrangement of Irving Berlin's Puttin' On The Ritz. Another rather unexpected tune followed, a slow tempo and flowing rendition of Charlie Parker's Barbados, before the band returned to Basie for Splanky (written by Neal Hefti) and Jumpin' At The Woodside. Radcliffe's return was greeted warmly by the audience and included possibly the finest number of the evening: I've Got The World On A String.

The NYJO Swing Band concert was one of a series of "jazz plus dinner" concerts promoted by JBGB Events at the Hoste (an inn for many years, which kindly provided my overnight accommodation, it was once a regular haunt of Lord Nelson). A country hotel in north Norfolk may not seem like an obvious place for such a programme but Burnham Market, close to Sandringham on Norfolk's Royal Coast (or "Chelsea On Sea" as the area's also called) is a popular leisure destination. The response from the almost full house suggests that there's a definite interest in jazz: an interest which the NYJO Swing Band's hugely enjoyable performance can only have increased.

Information about future Hoste Of Jazz events can be found at the Hoste Arms website or the JBGB Events website.

Photos by Bruce Lindsay

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