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 Continental, On 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.
(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!
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.
The group was originally formed in 2013 to breathe new life into a set of dance-band music 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.
The 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…
Bring 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.
Happy birthday to the jazz giant and saxophone colossus, John Coltrane, born today in 1926.
Legendary 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.
Images from some of the various events that took place from Sunday 7 to Saturday 13 June, as the Music department bid farewell to another year at the University of Kent. Photos from the Scholars’ Lunchtime Recital on Day Two; jazz on the foyer-stage on Day Three; the String Sinfonia on Day Four; the Chamber and Cecilian Choirs in rehearsal on Day 6; and the marquee reception on the final day.
Other photos from throughout the week on our Pinterest board here.
Fantastic gig this lunchtime from the Geoff Mason Quintet.
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 lunchtime concert on Weds 11 March sees trombonist Geoff Mason bring his quintet to Colyer-Fergusson for what promises to be a mouth-watering gig.
A regular with the Ronnie Scott’s Big Band, Geoff Mason is widely regarded as the leading exponent of ‘Blue Note Era’ jazz in the UK, named for legendary sound engineer Ruby van Gelder’s recordings by players such as Lee Konitz, Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard and Cannonball Adderley during the 1950s and 60s.
The quintet line-up reads like a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of British jazz, and includes drummer Trevor Tomkins, saxophonist Simon Spillett and pianist John Horler. I remember hearing a gig with John Horler and guitarist John Etherbridge broadcast on Radio 3 a few years ago that was mesmerising.
The programme promises a blend of jazz standards and bebop tunes, and will surely be a highlight of the year; the concert starts at 1.10pm, admission is free with a retiring donation.
Here’s a classic of the Blue Note sound: Cannonball Adderley as front-man to a group including Miles Davis, in ‘Love for Sale’ from the 1958 classic, Somethin’ Else. (Just look at that line-up…)
Because it does. Doesn't it ? Blogging about extra-curricular musical life at the University of Kent.