Category Archives: Jazz Booth

Profiling Jazz

Tomfoolery play for Sibson launch

Yesterday afternoon saw the launch of the Sibson Building, the University’s newest addition to the Canterbury campus, and the joint new home shared by Kent Business School and the School of Maths and Actuarial Sciences. The musicians of General Harding’s Tomfoolery were in action for the second time in less than a week, entertaining the guests at the reception held before the unveiling of the plaque formally to open the new facility.

A great afternoon for everyone involved; the players particularly enjoyed themselves, channeling their inner Blues Brothers whilst playing some vintage jazz for the assembled guests. Tomfoolery will be back in action on Monday 5 June in Five O’Clock Stomp in Colyer-Fergusson Hall as part of Summer Music Week; admission is free, details here.

Well-met by Moonlight: vintage jazz next week

Fresh from the success of its lunchtime concert last term which had people on their feet dancing in Colyer-Fergusson Hall, General Harding’s Tomfoolery, the vintage jazz orchestra, is back in action next Friday night.

The 1930’s style dance band will unveil a whole new repertoire on Friday 19 May, as well as favourites from its previous gigs; together with the close-harmony singers, The Minervettes, the players will unveil an evening of vintage swing classics alongside forgotten gems from the Golden Age of Dance Bands in Moonlight Serenade: an evening with GHT.

The ensemble has continued to delve deeply into the treasure-trove of archive repertoire that was bequeathed to the music department back in 2005 by the Ken Lewis Dance Orchestra, a dance band active throughout the South East from the 1950s to the 1970s. Original band-parts crackle with renewed vigour as tunes such as The ContinentalOn The Street Where You Live and Pennsylvania 6-5000 dance off the music-stand in rehearsals, alongside tunes from slightly off the beaten path, such as Button Up Your Overcoat and Zambezi. And of course, Glenn Miller’s signature tune, Moonlight Serenade, will be a part of the programme that night too…

Tickets are only £5 a pop for what promises to be an energetic trip to a bygone era – dancing-shoes are essential, cloche hats optional! Find out more here.

Image Gallery: A Feelin’ You’re Foolin’ with General Harding’s Tomfoolery

(Straw) hats off to the member of General Harding’s Tomfoolery and the Minervettes, for their recent, storming lunchtime concert in Colyer-Fergusson Hall. The thirteen-piece dance orchestra, performing from original sheet-music from the 1930s, 40s and 50s delivered an energetic performance that had people dancing along.

We were particularly delighted to welcome to the gig Maureen Morgan, wife of bandleader and founder of the Ken Lewis Dance Orchestra, George Morgan, whose generous bequest of all the sheet music from the original dance orchestra allows us to breath new life into the original band-parts.

Tomfoolery will be back in action on Friday 19 May in an evening performance; bring your dancing-shoes!

Images © Kester Campbell / University of Kent

More Tomfoolery as the jazz band returns

Cometh the hour, cometh the jazz musicians: the stars have aligned, and this year the twelve-piece dance band, General Harding’s Tomfoolery, is back in action.

02-first-rehearsal-newThe group was originally formed in 2013 to breathe new life into a set of dance-band musictomfoolery_2013 originally bequeathed to the Music department by the Ken Lewis Dance Orchestra. The original folders of music contain vintage original copies of pieces from the 1930s through to the 1950s, including swing classics such as Tuxedo Junction and American Patrol, brittle with age and with faded Sellotape sometimes holding the fragile pages together. The group gigged throughout the year, including a memorable afternoon which had Colyer-Fergusson Hall filled with people dancing along.

tomfoolery_sheetmusicThe band has returned with faces both old and new, bringing together undergraduate and postgraduate musicians from a variety of subjects from both the Canterbury and Medway campuses, and is busy rehearsing for its first gig on the foyer-stage next month, Weds 14 December. We had a mock-up yesterday – leaving space for a drum-kit, not one but TWO bassists, and a couple of additional brass instruments – to check we can all fit on the stage. Who knows…

tomfoolery_stagechecktomfoolery_logoBring your dancing-shoes on Weds 14 December at 1.10pm, when Tomfoolery will play a festively swinging set to get people In The Mood for the Big Band’s seasonal favourite, the Christmas Swing-along, at 5.15pm later in the day. More details here.

A love supreme: happy birthday John Coltrane

Happy birthday to the jazz giant and saxophone colossus, John Coltrane, born today in 1926.

john-coltrane-757011Legendary sideman, bandleader, endless searching to break new ground, Coltrane’s long shadow reaches beyond his untimely death from liver cancer at the age of forty, and embraces his time as sideman with Miles Davis to his own groups with figures including McCoy Tyner, Eric Dolphy, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones to his increasingly experimental work with Pharoah Sanders, and late recordings with his second wife, Alice, as pianist.

Difficult to choose a commemorative listening track, but I’ve gone with the opening to 1964’s Crescent; an exploratory, questing opening leads into a slow, stately articulation of the melody, punctuated by uneasy rumbles on kit, before stepping off into a brisk swing, fistfuls of McCoy Tyner’s colourful chords underpinning a bold, expressive improvisation from Coltrane that typically grows more expansive as it unfurls.

Happy birthday to a jazz great.

Christmas Swingalong brings the term to a festive conclusion

Colyer-Fergusson Hall was packed to the rafters yesterday evening, for the now traditional Christmas Swingalong featuring the University Big Band. Led by a charismatic Ian Swatman, the band launched into a festive programme of popular favourites, including a sassy rendition of Santa Baby from our very own Music Administrator, Sophie Meikle, who sashayed from the percussion section forwards to deliver a teasing performance. Elsewhere, first-year Doug Haycock crooned his way through Nat King Cole’s The Christmas Song, and saxophonist Peter Cook joined Sophie later on to sing Baby, It’s Cold Outside, in which both singers were clearly having far too much fun.

WP_20151216_011Interspersed with the Big Band’s light-footed jazz were communal carols from the Brass Group, standing arrayed along the front row of the choral-risers and themselves joining in the spirit of the gig with Christmas jumpers. Honestly, you’ve never seen such a vast collection of seasonal knitwear outside M&S…

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Swingin’ Sophie…!

A clearly delighted audience wouldn’t let the band depart without an encore, to which the group responded with a deft version of ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,’ before audience and performers decamped to the foyer for post-gig mulled wine and mince pies. There was even some suitably seasonal headgear being sported by some of the audience too…

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Phoebe’s hat-trick…

The Big Band’s Christmas gig is always a favourite amongst audience and players alike, with a vibrant and celebratory atmosphere drawing the department’s term of music-making to a close. It’s been a terrific term; on behalf of the team here, huge thanks to all the students, staff, alumni and external members for your commitment and participation over the course of the autumn – we couldn’t do it without you. And as the sound of the Big Band recedes into the distance, it simply remains for me to say, as the band themselves did last night; have yourselves a merry little Christmas!WP_20151216_008

In concert: Geoff Mason Quintet

Fantastic gig this lunchtime from the Geoff Mason Quintet.

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A bustling set opened with One By One, which included some fleet-footed, cascading improvisation from Simon Spillett on tenor sax. A lyrical waltz by the late Kenny Wheeler called forth some colourful piano-playing from John Horler, answered by a nimble bass solo from Tim Wells. A white-hot reading of Monk’s Hackensack saw some blistering improv again from Spillett, underpinned by  solid bass Wells, each in turn supported by some deft and inventive drumming from Trevor Tomkin.

The high-octane set came to a close with McCoy Tyner’s robust Blues on the Corner, which was greeted by an enthusiastic reception from a large audience.

Here’s the group in rehearsal earlier in the morning;

Our next unchtime concert is Weds 1 April.

Not one but two Big Bands this Wednesday

Fresh from its roof-raising gig here last Friday, there’s no rest for the University Big Band as its takes its dancing-feet down the road to St Edmunds’ School, where it joins forces with the St Edmund’s School Big Band for a rollicking night of jazz, swing and blues this Wednesday night.

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Fearless captain Ian Swatman will once more be at the helm, and vocalist Louise Cookman will return for what promises to be a lively evening; tickets are a mere snip at £7 / £5 concessions, available from the Marlowe Theatre Box Office or Canterbury Ticket Shop here.

Hold on to your hats…