Friday 16th & Saturday 17th December 2023
GOSFORTH CIVIC THEATRE
If it's the week before Christmas there's is only one place to be and that's Gosforth Civic Theatre. As Lindisfarne did at Newcastle City Hall back in the day, the Strictly Smokin' Big Band's Christmas shows have become something of an institution. Two sold out nights, this Friday evening concert the first of them. Glittery tops, appalling Xmas jumpers, Santa Hats, yep, it's that wonderful time of year.
Opening with Big Band Treasure Chest, from the off the SSBB hit top gear - sections, soloists, nothing left to chance, this is the big band to hear. The horns soloed, they're so good, but we know that. Guitarist
Pawel Jedrzejewski cranked it up a couple of times, a fuzz/Cry Baby/Wah-wah/whichever pedal rocking the joint. Great fun! Trumpets and 'bones immaculate, the rhythm section just the kind of rhythm section many a big band can only dream about, handled the material with consummate ease, ranging from a couple of Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Charts (JALCO bassist Carlos Henriquez's a rrangement of We Three Kings), a WDR Big Band chart, and, of course, the seasonal offerings.
And then there were the vocalists. Yes, vocalists plural. The wonderful Alice Grace, nursing a sore throat, battled on as the true professional she is, however, helping out in the vocal department, Mr Graham Don. If pianist Don
sings Merry Christmas Baby at the SSBB's second sold out night this evening (Saturday), the audience is in for a treat. The wonderful Alice Grace returned to the stage for the finale, it gets you every time, altogether now...Last Christmas. Russell