Millennium Eagle Jazz Band – Jazz on a Sunday
Reporter: Tony Sheldon
Date online: 16 December 2010
Blow, blow, thou winter’s wind. Did someone talk about global warming? It was certainly a night for Good King Wenceslas, but thirty one hardy souls braved the weather to be entertained by the Millennium Eagle Jazz Band.
The Midlands band’s last gig of a curtailed tour, travelling down from Barrow after their previous gigs at Carlisle and Edinburgh had been cancelled.
The Mayfield club deserved great credit for clearing the snow from the 300yds open road which runs to the club from Keswick Street. IT was just a great pity that the boiler ‘packed up’ but the Millennium’s hot jazz left everybody with a warm feeling.
To ease journeys of the band and audience the gig was re-arranged into two sets for a earlier finish and there was an abundance of coffee at hand.
Off to a nice start with “One Sweet Letter From You” teenage drummer Jack Cotterill was brought into play in “Original Dixieland One Step”.
Leader and reedsman Matt Palmer took the first vocal “When I Grow Too Old To Dream” then used his clarinet to good effect, then interplay with bass player Brian Lawrence in “Kansas City Man Blues”. Lawrence also had some solo time on his new electric bass which looked like nothing I had ever seen before.
Stomping down the river with Jelly Roll Morton’s “Steamboat Shuffle”, the mood changed as trombonist Andy Holdorf vocalised with “Always”, the tune being directed by Palmer’s soprano sax and Pete Brown on trumpet.
Palmer announced the sad passing of one of Britain’s finest clarinettists, Monty Sunshine, and played a tribute solo of one of his compositions “Hush-A-Bye”. Sunshine was one of the original Chris Barber Band in the 50s and 60s, a giant of the traditional Jazz scene.
“Mam’s Gone, Goodbye” a good old southern tale of lost love was told through te vocal of Palmer with Holdorf interjecting with a trombone solo.
“Candy Lips” from tunesmith Clarence Williams led to the spiritual interval number “Let The Light from This Lighthouse Shine on Me” (why do they have such long titles?). Banjoist Chris Etherington led the vocal, clapping and tambourines were in abundance, and the frontline blasted away to the finish.
A shortened interval brought the band back with “Chatanooga Stomp” all on full power.
Pete Brown got his seasons all wrong as his trumpet and vocal gave us “April Showers”. A neat arrangement for clarinet and sliding trombone drove along “Sidewalk Blues”, leading to Etherington with vocal and banjo, backed by muted trumpet and trombone. Striding to the ‘mic’ but looking nothing like 20s diva Bessie Smith as he regales “You’ve Been a Good Old Wagon”.
“Hawaiian War Chant” gave the opportunity for Cotterill’s intricate drum solo, whilst “Trombone Slide” brought the dual trombones of Holdorf and Brown into play with neat cameos for banjo and bass.
The entertainment continued in classical mode with Mozart’s “Goodnight MY Sweet Prince” with Etherington’s banjo and Lawrence’s bass prominent, then dredged the depths as Palmer admitted “My Little Bimbo down on the Bamboo Isle”.
The soprano sax of Palmer paid a further tribute to Monty Sunshine with one of this favourites “Petit Fleur” the Sidney Bechet composition, Cotterill adding sympathetic cymbals as the tune came to a close.
“Let the Rest of the World Go By” brought out the ‘Glee Club’ talents of Brown, Etherington and Palmer with Palmer even changing from clarinet to sax as the song moved along, then contrasting dramatically with Jelly Roll Morton’s “Blackbottom Stomp” all the edgy nuances and breaks as it went full steam ahead.
The end was nigh and the band played out with “Show Me the Way to Go Home” and it was out into the snow and ice.
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