1. You Took Advantage of Me
2. Black and Tan Fantasy
3. Don’t Get Around Much Any More
4. Always and Forever
5. My Man Bill
7. Take the A Train
8. Bye Bye Barnet
9. Latin Schizophrenia
10. Central Park West
11. Twist of the Wrist
Those of us who care about these things worry about the future of
both big bands and jazz in general. On the one hand, the amount of
radio exposure they get is minimal and, on TV, almost none at all.
On the other hand, many of the jazz artists themselves are concerned
with strange sounds, which most jazz aficionados wish they would not
associate with our great music.
What a great relief therefore to listen to this band of young musicians
from the Midlands, tackling a difficult book of arrangements from
most of the world’s greatest writers. They play them all well and
in a very musical way. Musical Director John Ruddick and his wife
Nichola put an enormous amount of work into training and managing
the band and this CD is a credit to their hard work.
Track 1 is the Rob McConnell chart that many big bands have tried
and given up on, but MYJO float through with seemingly consummate
ease: an excellent selection as a starter track.
It was great to hear a youth band playing Duke Ellington. This arrangement
of Black and Tan Fantasy by Bob Florence is very "Ducal"
and catches the spirit of the music very well. Jonathon Radford’s
trumpet solo is outstanding. Another Jonathon, Warburton this time,
plays the bass bone on the Tom Kubis arrangement of Don’t Get Around
Much Any More and he plays it very well. The performance of the
band is just as good; the overall sound is top class. I particularly
liked the sax soli on this track, which is beautifully played.
Pat Metheny is not one of my favourite composers, but the Bob Curnow
arrangement of Always and Forever which features trumpeter
Sally Erskine on flugel, is very well played by both soloist and orchestra.
It is a ballad arrangement of a piece that lacks the benefit of a
MYJO has always performed the difficult Rob McConnell charts with
style and confidence, and My Man Bill is no exception. They
often use this arrangement as a concert starter; I would always want
to start with something much easier (and slower), but that is not
the John Ruddick way!
The maestro himself is featured on the next track. Stardust
is such a wonderful tune and I count myself very lucky to have heard,
on many occasions, John’s superb trumpet playing close to. The arranger
is Sammy Nestico and as always very musical.
Bob Florence is another of the world’s outstanding arrangers for
big band. This version of Take the A Train is like no other
I have ever heard. The solos are all good: I particularly liked the
muted trumpet. The band again interprets another difficult chart with
confidence and a great deal of skill.
A composition by a MYJO old boy Kevin Wedrychowski, who is also a
fine trumpet player, follows. It is called Bye Bye Barnet and,
as John Ruddick says in his sleeve note, Kevin writes uncluttered
charts of real style.
This album certainly contains the work of all the top arrangers.
Frank Mantooth wrote Latin Schizophrenia and said it was one
of the most difficult pieces he had written, which I am sure is true.
That just makes this performance by MYJO all the more remarkable,
as they handle it with ease! This track has two fine solos from Percy
Persglove on trumpet and Richard Jones on piano.
Central Park West is a John Fedchok chart of a John Coltrane
composition and it features tenor player Mark Fletcher, who gives
a very strong and interesting solo performance. Twist of the Wrist
is a more recent Rob McConnell composition, in the tradition of great
big band writing, with many different sounds including some shimmering
flutes. It is also a fine solo vehicle for lead alto sax, Andy Isherwood
(and a strong tune!).
Which brings me back to my starting point. When I was starting to
play, many years ago, there was nothing like MYJO in which you could
learn your craft and I am certain I would have been a much better
musician if there had been. The future of our great music is in the
safe hands of John and Nichola Ruddick and this band of great young
You can buy a copy of this outstanding CD from MYJO by phoning (0)1675
442050 or email John.Ruddick@btinternet.com.
Support this magnificent organisation, they deserve your support.