REVIEW: Is Big Band music making a comeback?


“They say Big Band is making a comeback” said band leader Chris Dean as the Syd Lawrence Orchestra opened at Lighthouse Poole last night. Although the night wasn’t a sellout, it was perhaps surprising to see not just the old-guard die-hard Big Band fans, but also younger music fans eager to taste the spine tingling delights of what must be one of the top big bands in Britain today.

The evening opened with a bang with the 16 piece band ripping through Glenn Miller’s Caribbean Clipper at a pacy rate of knots.

The two hours of Big Band classics breezed by as the audience were treated to all the traditional favourites including Charlie Barnett’s Skyliner, Bossa Nova (better known nowadays as the theme tune to Austin Powers), St Louis Blues and of course Little Brown Jug which featured three different trombone arrangements.

As well as the expected traditional ‘show tunes’, the band also trod a more modern path with a very moving and accomplished trombone solo of Lionel Richie’s ‘Truly’ which made the hairs on the back of my head stand on end.

No Big Band would be complete without a talented singer to trot out some Sinatra favourites and band leader Chris Dean didn’t disappoint, especially when he sang ol’ blue eyes lesser known hit ‘Let me try again’ -sung with such poignancy that it bought a lump to the throat.

But Dean was perhaps overshadowed on the night by upcoming vocalist Lucy Merrilyn, making her debut with the band at Lighthouse, Poole. Merrilyn’s sultry tones came across beautifully as she put her own stamp on tunes such as ‘Sentimental Journey ’ and ‘Blue Moon’. Expect to see her name popping up more regularly over the next few years.

Worthy of credit too were Trumpeter Chris Stead who put in a decent shift performing several solo pieces and saxophonist Adrian Wilkinson who performed an excellent rendition of ‘Begin the Beguine’

And of course no feast of Big Band music would be complete without ’Moonlight Serenade’ which evoked the nostalgic feelings of an era long since gone and capped a wonderful performance by Chris Dean’s Syd Lawrence Orchestra

The orchestra will be returning to Dorset on February 27th 2020 at The Tivoli Theatre in Wimborne. Tickets can be purchased here



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