Wychavon Festival of Brass Concert with Brett Baker
Norbury Theatre, Droitwich
29th March 2014
This highly entertaining concert represented a new venture for the ever innovative organisers of the Wychavon Festival of Brass supported by funding from Droitwich Spa Town Council, as part of their drive to promote and finance the popular Wychavon Entertainment Contest later this year.
It certainly succeeded in whetting the appetite, with Jaguar Land Rover on fine form under MD Dave Lea, as they provided an eclectic programme of high class playing which fully engaged the audience throughout.
Opening with the up tempo theme to the classic 1960’s series ‘Stingray’, they followed with Leslie Condon’s ‘Celebration’, chosen to highlight the 25th anniversary of their respected MD’s association with a band that also celebrates its 70th birthday this year.
The traditional ditty ‘Bobby Shaftoe’, cleverly arranged by Chris North was a neat change of style, before guest soloist Brett Baker showcased his fizzing technique on‘Fantastic Polka’ in a rendition the great Arthur Pryor would have been proud of.
Jerome Kern’s sentimental ‘All the Things You Are’ was a lovely counterpoint from the Black Dyke star, with Jaguar continuing the lyrical theme with ‘Somewhere Out There’ before rounding the half off with Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s ‘Home Of Legends’.
After the interval, more memories of the silver screen with ‘The Magnificent Seven’theme tune - although on this occasion flagged up as the ‘Magnificent Two - with comedy duo of flugel Andy Bates and soprano Darren Lea enacting a western style shoot out, armed only with instruments and some high powered, automatic long range water pistols!
Barry Gott’s ‘Lightwalk’, was bubbly and catchy, with Brett Baker taking the central flugel jazz lead with effortless aplomb - a tasty aperitif for the main course of Erik Leidzen’s classic ‘Concertino for Band and Trombone’, played with supreme tonal command and control, especially in the deeply affecting opening bars.
He finished with Mark Freeh’s arrangement of Barry’s ‘You Only Live Twice’ - much appreciated by the knowledgeable audience.
Brett remained on stage and sat in with the remaining pieces of, ‘The Circus Bee’march (taken at a fair old buzzing pace), the lovely ‘Swedish Hymn’ and Dan Price’s‘An American Tale’, with a much demanded encore of ‘Show Me the Way to go Home’ as one by one the whole band returned - completed by Darren Lea as a curmudgeonly caretaker with brilliant comic timing.
It rounded off a fine evening - full of top class playing from a band that knew what its audience wanted and gave it to them in spades.
The enterprise of the Wychavon Festival of Brass in staging such an event to promote and help fund its Entertainment Contest should be applauded too.