Big band fills Sidmouth theatre with swing and jazz

LOVERS of the Glenn Miller sound, hits of the swing era and smooth jazz, were treated to a thrilling evening at the Manor Pavilion Theatre, when Devon-based A.J’s Big Band made its sixteenth visit to Sidmouth.

The capacity audience, which had been promised swinging arrangements and cool vocals, were certainly not disappointed.

The accomplished 17-piece, led by saxophonist Ken Parr proved, once more, that it is indeed one of the South West’s premier big bands.

From their feet tapping opening piece, South Rampart Street Parade, through to the Miller classics In The Mood, director Ken Parr introduced numbers with his relaxed and humorous style.

His explanations of songs and arrangements helped blend the programme seamlessly and provided the all important personal touch that bonds audience and musicians together.

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Each section of the band showed its expertise with fine playing throughout including some excellent solos from Beer-based Chris Gradwell.

The band has a driving rythmn section whose drummer Andy Miller was superb when featured on Sing Sing Sing.

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Special mention must be made of A.J’s outstanding vocalist Paula Mitchell. She enthralled the audience with such hits as Blue Skies, The Look of Love and Old Black Magic as well as no less than five costume changes.

A concert highlight was her rendition of The Nearness of You, accompanied by virtuoso pianist Colin, also her husband.

All in all, a great night out for big band enthusiasts. For those who missed this treat, A.J’s will be back at the Manor Pavilion next year. Andrew Early

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