Wow. That was amazing. Last Friday (31st January 2014) I had the privilege to lead Cambridge University Jazz Orchestra (CUJO) in a performance with multi award-winning jazz vocalist Liane Carroll at West Road Concert Hall in Cambridge. The house was packed, Liane was incredible and we got a standing ovation!
My co-director Chris McMurran and I had first thought to invite Liane to guest with us back in August of 2013, as we prepared for a new year of CUJO. Every year, CUJO works with one top UK jazz musician for a special gig at West Road in January/February. Previously we’ve had the likes of bassist Laurence Cottle (see previous posts here and here), Stan Sulzmann (sax), Gareth Lockrane (flute) and Steve Waterman (trumpet), so inviting a vocalist was a departure for us, but one which really paid off! As well as her immense abilities as a vocal performer and improviser, Liane brought her skill as an entertainer, her sense of humour and her great energy, to everyone’s great delight, not least the band! We were also able to perform pieces written by her, or in versions she has recorded, arranged for big band by Malcolm Edmonstone, Jorg Achim Keller, myself and Chris.
The gig was packed with memorable moments, from the funny to the tender. Highlights for me included hearing my brand new arrangement of Liane’s beautiful composition “Dublin Morning” performed live for the first time, witnessing a concert hall full of people sing Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” and playing an impromptu duet version of “My Funny Valentine” with Liane. Not to mention Ben Jones’ (alto sax) comedy entrance, Liane’s jokes and taking pictures on stage, some fantastic soloing from members of CUJO… All in all it’s an experience that will linger long in my memory.
So thanks to everyone who came to see the concert (especially as the weather was horrible), to CUJO for playing their hearts out and to Liane for being an inspiration and a pleasure to work with. I’ll leave you with a few more excellent shots by Johannes Hjorth.