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MATT FORD with Strictly Smokin' Big Band

Updated: Apr 1, 2023



It doesn't get much better than this. Top singer (actually two top singers) and a big band that can hold its own anywhere made for an evening that had the sold out Sage Two enraptured. They were also doing good business over in Sage One where a celebration of the words and music of Rodgers and Hammerstein was taking place. Matt Ford could have slotted in to either show with ease. I'm pleased he slotted into ours.

It was a knockout performance during which he mixed lesser known standards with some good old good ones. In the latter category I could have done without yet another version of Minnie the Moocher but this was more than compensated for by Sonny Boy. This was based around Ralph Burns' arrangement of the song for the Woody Herman Band and included on the album My Kind of Jolson. Even now, over fifty years on, I still recall the thrill I got from hearing it live at Newcastle City Hall. The out chorus where the brass move up a gear sent chills running down my spine. Matt Ford and Strictly Smokin' had the same effect! This for me was the showstopper although South of the Border ran it close.

Of course it wasn't all Matt Ford. Alice Grace was, as ever, also in good voice on So in Love, My Favorite Things, Honeysuckle Rose and in a duet with Matt on Side by Side. Graham Don impressed on Body and Soul as did Guy Swinton with an explosive intro to Spiderman.

Summers, Toms, Forster, Tanton, Parnaby and leader Lamb also had their moments.

At the end both band and singer received well-deserved standing ovations.

It had been a grand night for singing and swinging.