REPORT: Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly at Milton Court

Giles Thornton directing The Nightfly at Milton Court

Donald Fagen’s Nightfly in concert
(Milton Court. 25 September. Report by Sebastian Scotney)

To hear that upward-swooping exclamation “OOOHH MIAMI!, (at [1:20] of Walk Between Raindrops HERE) from Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly, delivered by massed, mixed, mic’ed voices left a strong impression on the mind’s ear.

It also served as a reminder of  how far this project has matured and grown since Thursday 24 March 2011. On that night, with the the graphite and glitter barely dry on the page, Malcolm Edmonstone‘s performing edition of Donald Fagen’s Nightfly received its first small-band outing at the recital hall of the Guildhall in pre-Milton Court days. (Here’s a report of that wonderful night. Who did wear those bright pink shoes?).

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Since then the work has grown to XXXL proportions. It is now scored for full big band, with no fewer than eight guitars at one point, under expert guidance of Stuart Hall. And last night was used as a first outing for the Guildhall’s Jazz Department’s first-year students, cleverly giving them the opportunity to perform in front of a sizeable audience. The album performance was expertly compered by Scott Stroman, conducted by Giles Thornton, and preceded by seven instrumental combos, each outfit performing a number inspired by some aspect of the 1982 album.

For an audience it was a great occasion to be reminded of the treasures in that album,and also to marvel at the astonishing standards that students now arriving at conservatoires have already reached. And props to combo-leader Gareth Lockrane who used his opportunity as an interloper at GSMD to allow a student to take the limelight: Jay Verma‘s piano interlude made quite a few jaws drop.

Seen through the eyes of these Guildhall first year students, whatever else the future holds, last night  seemed like “a glorious time to be free.”

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