Savannah Jazz Band - Jazz on a Sunday
Reporter: Tony Sheldon
Date online: 06 March 2012
The weekend of Sunday 5 February brought ice, snow and fog. By Saturday night the M62 from Yorkshire had become an accident waiting to happen and the road to the Castleton Sports Centre and car park was knee deep in snow which made the visit of the Leeds/Bradford band White Eagles very doubtful. A phone call to the band leader Dave Kendall confirmed the inevitable, and the Eagles would have to fly over another day.
Perhaps the disappointment of a missed ‘fix’ whetted the appetite of the fans and the centre filled up for the visit of the popular Savannah Jazz Band on 19 February.
Led by drummer John Meehan with fellow originals Brian ‘Sam’ Ellis on trombone and Tony Pollitt on double bass. The Savannahs work the UK with great regularity and have built up a fan base of their own.
In November last, Jazz on a Sunday lost one of their long-time regulars Ron Waddleworth, and this gig was chosen for his memorial concert. Jazz classics are usually the order of the day and with powerful cornettist Bill Smith leading the front line there are always delights-a-plenty.
Highlights of the first set included multi offerings in “Buddy’s Habit” and “When my Dream Boat comes Home” sung by Smith with Roger Myerscough’s sax and Ellis on trombone, and in memory of Ron Waddleworth, the band finished the set with a blistering rendition of “Dippermouth Blues”.
Blues, rags and classics all featured in set two with a fine arrangement of “Strutting with some Barbeque”, and a melancholy “Creole Love Call” with neat duos of clarinet/trombone and the rhythm section integrating with a background muted cornet. Sandy Brown’s plaintive “Nothing Blues” brought the set to a close with Smith’s rasping harmonica and Myerscough’s driving sax. With a gospelling front line of Smith and Myerscough in “Sure to Need Him Now”, the final set got underway.
Myerscough led the audience in “Slow Boat to China” and Smith’s vocal and harmonica powered the spiritual “Lord, Lord, Lord” with the integral banjo of Louis Lince fusing the rhythm.
Drummer Meehan hit the skins as the vocals of “Ice Cream” raised the roof and the band played out with “Going Home” as the night air beckoned.
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