Thursday, 16 September 2021

That lingering 'Memory of You'

Jazz at Christ Church / Reading Road, Henley / Saturday, April 1

FOR the ninth consecutive year, the Rotary Club of Henley-on-Thames held a jazz concert at the Christ Church Centre in Reading Road, Henley.

The evening attracted an audience of 150 who enjoyed a feast of music from about 20 musicians, led by Prudence Sharp’s Gentle Jazz big band, with special guests Alan Grahame, Ken Fitt and Hazel Pollard.

Legendary vibraphone player Alan Grahame also acted as compere and conductor and, during the evening, we heard him playing his percussion “toys” in various numbers, including Duke Ellington’s Caravan.

Although for me we did not hear enough of his vibraphone, he was a genial commentator, describing Manhattan, which the band played featuring two trumpets, as “the Bronx’s Eel Pie Island”. The Gentle Jazz band, led by Pru Sharp, played all the numbers you might expect — such as Bare Necessities, Alexander’s Ragtime Band and In the Mood — while she and her four fellow saxophonists featured in a boisterous rendering of Won’t You Come Home, Bill Bailey?

Vocalist Hazel Pollard exhibited a beautiful timbre to her voice for her solos, including When You Wish Upon a Star and How High the Moon, while she showed her power in Almost Like Being in Love from Brigadoon.

Ken Fitt, who had been largely instrumental in arranging the musical content of the evening — and selling most of the tickets — is a much-loved honorary member of Henley Rotary Club, also a Paul Harris Fellow. His contribution throughout the evening was immense, both with his clarinet and his vocals — probably the biggest cheer of the evening coming when he sang the Frank Sinatra classic That’s Life.

There were so many other well-known numbers, too numerous to mention, but we remember the rhythm section’s rendering of Benny Goodman’s Memory of You with Ken on the clarinet and some great flugelhorn playing by one of the trumpet section.

President Lionel Scott thanked the musicians, the audience and members of his club, led by vice-president Peter Thomson, who had assisted in staging the evening and, together with several helpers, serving the fish-and-chip supper.

The proceeds of the evening, including those of a raffle, will be going towards Rotary charities.


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