On 3rd May the Band returned to St Mary’s parish church in Aylesbury for the first of our own concerts there since 2008. Entitled Swing into Spring the programme consisted of arrangements of swing and big band music from many decades of the 20th century. Robert Russell Bennett’s Suite of Old American Dances isn’t perhaps swing, but the first two movements (Cake Walk and schottische) served to illustrate some of the roots of the music that developed into swing. The 1920s were the era of Dixieland, and the band played Dixieland Festival a medley of tunes including I Found a New Baby, Baby Won’t You Please Come Home, Cornet Chop Suey and When the Saints Come Marching In.
No concert of music from this era would be complete without music by George Gershwin, and the programme included Strike up the Band and the Overture Crazy for You. A medley of songs by Cole Porter, including Night and Day and Begin the Beguine was followed by Birdland by Josef Zawinul. The score for the revue Sophisticated Ladies was woven from the music of Duke Ellington, and the band played an arrangement by John Cacavas including Caravan and Mood Indigo. Two items featured soloists from the Band. John Dablin, clarinet, played Golden Wedding arranged by Johnny Jones based on the Woody Herman number, and Erica Miller, alto saxophone, played Harlem Nocturne.
For something a little different the band also played a recent arrangement by Rob Wiffin called Swing, Swing, Swing, which cleverly combines Sing, Sing, Sing (written for Benny Goodman by Louis Prima) with It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t got that Swing by Duke Ellington. The programme also included St Louis Blues, Soul Bossa Nova by Quincy Jones, and Easy Does It by Rob Wiffin.
The music of Glenn Miller will always evoke the wartime era of the 1940s, and what better finale could there be than Warren Barker’s arrangement In the Miller Mood, which includes Moonlight Serenade, Little Brown Jug and Anvil Chorus, to bring the concert to a foot-tapping close.
But not quite. The small but appreciative audience demanded an encore, and the band obliged with Puttin’ on the Ritz by Irving Berlin. This was a long concert and hard work for the band, but enjoyable too.