Peter Bacon reports:
This, annnounced this morning, from the Royal Albert Hall:
“A host of special guests have been announced for Guy Barker’s Big Band Christmas, as the bandleader’s festive showcase returns to the Royal Albert Hall for the fourth time.
“The show is part of Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall, a genre-spanning season that also includes pop, soul, carols, classical, gospel, film music and ballet.
“Once more, Clare Teal will be on co-hosting duties, as Guy and his band spotlight genre standards and jazz-infused Christmas classics with the help of vocalists Kurt Elling and Vula Malinga, as well as clarinettist Giacomo Smith and Kansas Smitty’s. Another guest will be announced in the run-up to the show, with further surprises on the night.
“Guy said: ‘I’m really excited to be bringing the Big Band Christmas back to the Royal Albert Hall, along with some very special guests and, of course, 38 wonderful musicians. Kurt Elling is one of the greatest singers of all time, and when we worked together at the Lincoln Center earlier this year and I heard that voice again, I knew I had to have him back for the show at the Hall. We’ll be joined by Vula Malinga, an amazing vocalist I have worked with many times, and a real showstopper. And we’ll play with the Smitty’s, one of my favourite groups to have arrived on the scene recently, and whom I find incredibly inspiring.’
“Lucy Noble, Artistic Director of the Royal Albert Hall, said: ‘Guy’s Big Band Christmas is one of the highlights of our year – a spectacular celebration of jazz music featuring one of the world’s finest, tightest ensembles. We can’t wait to welcome Guy and these celebrated stars to the Hall for a night of unforgettable music.’
“The special guests include Grammy Award winning jazz vocalist Kurt Elling, and Vula Malinga, whose famous collaborators include Basement Jaxx and Quincy Jones. Kansas Smitty’s House Band, who took their name from their own bar, have played shows all over the world, including monthly gigs at Ronnie Scott’s. Their self-titled debut album was released to widespread acclaim in 2014.
“The Big Band Christmas debuted at the Hall in 2016 and has become a perennial festive favourite, featuring guest performances by the likes of Adrian Cox, Soweto Kinch and Vanessa Haynes – who brought down the house with an Aretha Franklin tribute. Last year, Paloma Faith was the big surprise on the night.
“Guy Barker’s Big Band Christmas is at the Royal Albert Hall on Thursday 19 December.
“Christmas at the Hall runs from Tuesday 3 to Tuesday 31 December, with special appearances from Emma Bunton, Trevor Nelson and Hollywood composer Michael Giacchino.
“The season also includes three jazz shows in the Hall’s intimate Elgar Room, as part of the Late Night Jazz strand, including A Swinging Christmas – featuring Joanna Eden and the Chris Ingham Quartet – a set from the Shirt Tail Stompers, and Jason Frederick Cinematic Trio presenting their tribute to the music of TV composer Vince Guaraldi.
“A theatrical show for kids, The Legend of the Jazz Penguin, which combines live music, puppetry and plenty of audience interaction, is on Friday 6 December.”