Whether you’re into Shakespeare or not, he has provided the stimulus for a lot of music over the last 400 years.
But it’s not just classical composers getting in on the act. Legendary bandleader Duke Ellington produced his own twelve-part suite based on the Bard’s works, which provided the first half of a simply inspired concert.
The Echoes of Ellington Big Band was in scintillating form, producing a wonderful array of sounds and colours, and showing off the improvisatory skills of a number of soloists, all emulating their illustrious predecessors from the original Ellington band of the late 50s Even Plymouth University violinist Pierre-Emmanuel Largeron, in his resplendent jazz-spats, got to sit in for one number.
However, if the first-half material seemed less familiar, the second was something else. Here the audience was regaled with virtually all the Ellington standards that have made him a household name for big-band aficionados, all under the inimitable direction of Pete Long, whose great banter and witty repartee were only surpassed by his virtuoso clarinet playing.
Definitely one of the best gigs to hit the city for a very long time, this tremendous event also highlighted the acoustics’ greater propensity for jazz rather than classical music. And, if the standing ovations were anything to go by, the large audience also wants more of the same – and pretty soon, too.
PHILIP R BUTTALL
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