The barlines in John Dankworth ‘s 1950’s arrangement of Gershwin’s S’Wonderful, are quick and nimble. They flash past, like fence-posts seen from a high speed train. This action-packed arrangement was not only written for a top professional band, it was also not intended to give them an easy ride. A superb performance of it ended a great set last night by the Trinity College Jazz Ensemble at a completely packed Ronnie Scott’s.
If this chart showed off the speed and technical prowess of the Trinity band, coached and directed by Malcolm Earle Smith, the earlier part of their set had shown their ability to produce drama and contrast, consisting of characterful performances of Mingus tunes for big band, such as Fables of Faubus and Tijuana Gift Shop.
The choice of a Dankworth composition to end the set was right in every way. It also earned the loudest applause. Earle Smith prefaced the performance of this piece by paying homage to Dankworth, who had helped the band prepare for last year’s version of this gig, which included a full performance of his Zodiac Suite, and been there to hear the students perform it.
(That gig was also, incidentally, the very first gig to be reviewed on this site.)
I was not able to stay for the award of the Dankworth Prize for Composition to Matt Roberts and Yuriy Galkin by Dankworth’s widow Dame Cleo Laine and by Jacqui Dankworth. I hope that LondonJazz readers who attended the gig may be stirred to give some impressions of the compositions they heard.
The Dankworth Prize is donated by the Wavendon Foundation, the Worshipful Company of Musicians, and Jazzorg