Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Henley Rotary Club

AN audience of almost 200 people enjoyed a feast of music and fish and chips at the club’s 10th annual jazz night held at the Christ Church Centre on Saturday.

The Paul Sykes Big Band, based in Camberley, is said to be one of the best big bands in the South.

They are led by trombonist Paul Sykes, who brings his worldwide experience to leading this talented 17-piece band (including their sound engineer).

All the musicians were in evening dress, with Paul distinguished by a white tuxedo, and this added to the stylishness of the evening.

After opening with Strike Up The Band, they later played Cole Porter’s Begin The Beguine, which featured the five-strong saxophone section, while Henry Mancini’s Too Little Time (the theme from The Glenn Miller Story) featured Paul himself.

The three guest artists were the hugely experienced Jenny Howe, who first sang with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and is now a voice coach on The Voice and The Voice Kids, the club’s own Ken Fitt and legendary vibraphonist Alan Grahame.

Jenny sang two numbers in the first half, returning in the second half for Someone To Watch Over Me and Sway, which she introduced by revealing that she was born in Cork.

She joined the whole ensemble for the rousing final number, When The Saints Go Marching In.

Ken had been largely instrumental in arranging the content of the concert as well as selling most of the tickets and he was featured (with Alan) in two numbers in the first half, playing his clarinet.

In the second half, he reprised his great success last year when he sang the Frank Sinatra classic That’s Life to a standing ovation.

This year the appreciation was no less enthusiastic, although the applause was accorded almost equally to his musical director, Alan, who conducted the number with immense energy and verve. Alan himself played his vibraphone with great aplomb on several of the numbers, jumping from that to his various percussion “toys” at the drop of a hat.

Meanwhile, the band carried on with various other well-known numbers, including Henry Mancini’s The Pink Panther, featuring Jonathan Lewis, one of the five saxophonists who also led in other numbers as well as being responsible for some of the musical arrangements.

The almost obligatory rendering of In the Mood featured Stuart Henderson on trumpet.

After the enthusiastic reception for When the Saints Go Marching In, Ken paid tribute to Paul and the band for coming.

Club president Maria Bunina reiterated this, while also thanking the audience and the three guest artists, to whom she made presentations as well as handing a bouquet to Ken’s wife, Gloria.

Maria added thanks to those Rotarians and partners who had assisted during the evening, particularly the three members who had driven to collect the 200-plus fish-and-chip portions from Twyford.

Appreciation was also accorded to treasurer David Rusman for his organisation of the bar and secretary Phil Fletcher who, with his helpers, ran the raffle.

The organisation of the evening had been in the hands of the president-elect Peter Thomson and foundation committee chairman Dennis Craggs.

Maria mentioned that proceeds from the evening (estimated to be in the region of £1,700) would be donated to Rotary charities.

She indicated that donations totalling more than £11,000 had been made by the club in the year 2016-2017 to about 20 local, national and international charities, with particular reference to the Rotary Foundation, Rotary’s own international charity, whose aim was still for the eradication of polio from the world.

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