Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra/Tony Jacobs, Solihull Arts Complex
WHEN singer Tony Jacobs came on stage at the library theatre, he told the audience that he felt nervous about singing with a big band and asked them to be “gentle” with him.
I think he was just kidding us. What followed was a very accomplished performance by a smooth stylist with a touch of the old-fashioned crooner about him.
Although Tony currently performs mainly with small groups, he previously spent ten years with the mighty Syd Lawrence Orchestra, an experience he surely won’t have forgotten.
Standards like Blue Moon and The Nearness of You came across well, but interestingly, given Tony’s obvious love of the Great American Songbook, it was a song composed by a non-American - Mack the Knife by the German Kurt Weill - that was the stand-out in his first set.
Highlights of Tony’s second set - during which he played trumpet (another one of his talents) - included a very Frank Sinatra-like Come Fly With Me and I’ve Got You Under My Skin.
MYJO had plenty of opportunity to show what they can do on their own and as usual they didn’t disappoint.
Musical director John Ruddick chose to play, for the first time in public, a “difficult” modern arrangement (by the late Steve Gray) of that old, sentimental song, If You Were the Only Girl in the World.
He said it needed a lot of rehearsal, and on hearing it, I can appreciate that. I think MYJO got it right, a tribute to its policy of taking on new musical challenges.
Among the soloists, tenor saxophonist Lluis Mather again impressed and so did altoist Alex Woods. Aaron Diaz stood out in the trumpet section, and newcomer Aled Walker was excellent on piano.