Event Review: Bede’s Jazz Evening 2015


On Tuesday 3rd February, the Bede's Recital Room played host to an evening showcasing the talents of Bede's students and their capacity to impress time and again with their virtuosic musical abilities.

Organised by Head of Music Louise Morris and Music Tutor Roy Hilton, the Jazz Evening was another great success in the Bede's Music department calendar, following on from - and even possibly topping the talent exhibited in - last November's Cabaret Concert.


The evening opened with the toe-tapping Sing Sing Sing (Louis Prima) performed by the Bede's Jazz Band. This group of a dozen talented musicians have been working hard every Tuesday since the start of term preparing their repertoire, and it showed as they impressed everyone in attendance through the broad range of music they presented.

Next up, the smooth duo of James Cuxson and Johnny Connell - or JC Squared, as they style themselves - performed their first set of the evening with Spain (Chick Corea) and I Fall in Love Too Easily (Jule Styne) on bass guitar and piano respectively. This put the audience into a mellow mood before they were revitalised by the powerful vocals of Bede's 2012 Student Hero Olivia Prince-Smith, one of Bede's most talented musicians, singing Duke Ellington's I'm Just a Lucky So and So, accompanied by the Jazz Band.


This established a theme of Duke Ellington pieces: Sally-Ann Wild, a vocalist whose talents must be heard to be believed, performed the stirring songs It Shouldn't Happen to a Dream and Solitude, and her astounding ability and masterful skill only lent strength to these already-moving pieces of music, while I, in my first solo performance at the school, performed Duke Ellington and Barney Bigard's smooth and stylish Mood Indigo, a technically-satisfying piece that hopefully left everyone tapping their toes and grooving along.

All of these pieces were accompanied by some or all of the Jazz Band's musicians, yet they had many pieces of their own. From the mellow Misty (Erroll Garner) and Night and Day (Cole Porter) to the energetic Jungle Boogie (Kool and the Gang), there was something in the repertoire for all music lovers.


Many of the pieces were arranged by our own Roy Hilton, who arranged the scores of many well-known tunes, as well as his own Bede's Boogie, a piece which showcased the talents of many Bede's musicians including the young Oliver Hutchinson, a First Year pupil at Bede's with a bright future ahead of him in Music; he is already the undisputed master of boogie-woogie piano, as he proved while the Jazz Band provided their talented backing.

The Jazz Band was not involved all evening however, and many singers were accompanied by our inspirational jazz tutors.

The talented trio of Alice Potter, Ruby Moody and Rosa Witts sang Irving Berlin's 1940's classic Cheek to Cheek, one of the highlights of Cabaret which was a hit with the audience once again, while Hannah Roberts' rendition of the vocally-demanding I'm Hip by Bob Dourough provoked much admiration from the audience.


Johnny Connell and James Cuxson took the stage again in the second half of the evening for Bolivia (Cedar Walton), a performance that had us all amazed at the intricate musicianship involved.

Even the Jazz Tutors got involved, performing Funk in Deep Freeze (Hank Mobley) and Joy Spring (Clifford Brown), proving that it's not all about the pupils, even if we do have a thing or two to teach them!

The evening concluded with Leon Russell's This Masquerade, another stirring piece that Olivia Prince-Smith performed to thunderous applause, before the Jazz Band played us out.


Learn more about the Bede's Jazz Band >

Learn more about the Music department at Bede's >