On a balmy evening an expectant audience poured into the theatre at Sandbach School to enjoy what was to be terrific display of world class musicianship.
Following a memorable afternoon workshop with local students, Allen Vizzutti and George Shelby (the saxophonist and multi-woodwind specialist who has played with everyone from Stevie Wonder and Beyonce to Ziggy Marley and Andrea Bocelli) took to the stage with an all-star rhythm section.
The set featured standards including ‘Autumn Leaves’, ‘One Note Samba’, ‘Killer Joe’, ‘Pure Imagination’ and the classic Jackson 5 ‘Shake Your Body Down to the Ground’. The audience was spell bound; transfixed by the virtuosity as well as the subtle shifts of rhythmic nuance and colour that simply flowed out.
Following the interval Allen and George were joined by the Love Music Trust Big Band directed by Kyran Matthews. Made up of students from across Cheshire East, they opened with the classic sounds of ‘Birdland’ before George Shelby’s earthy rendition of ‘Georgia on my Mind’ nearly brought the house down.
Chips & Salsa
Having just finished touring earlier with Phil Collins it was only fitting that his next feature was one from the Phil Collins Big Band set: ‘Chips & Salsa’ was played with an appropriate mouth-watering sense of musical deliciousness.
The band feature of ‘A Night in Tunisia’ led into Vizzutti’s immaculate rendition of the Harry James ‘Trumpet Concerto’ - one which the old rascal himself couldn’t have hoped to have impressed Betty Grable better with. It was a sumptuous display.
Sandbach School student Will Dakin was then handed the opportunity of a lifetime to duet with Allen in the Gordon Goodwin feature ‘Maynard and Waynard’ - and did a great job too, as the audience lapped it up.
The evening finished with both soloists joining the band for a rousing performance of ‘The Chicken’, with every member of the Big Band trumpet section taking a turn to improvise before George and Allen finished things off in flamboyant style.
As opportunities to hear two true greats in action, and for youngsters to be well and truly inspired - this was hard to beat.