A big sound from a small band at a nostalgic & fun-packed gig

Mark Bassey
Mark Bassey

The music of the Count Basie Band swung into the Fishermen’s Club in Eastbourne last Wednesday evening, courtesy of trombonist Mark Bassey.

It was interesting hearing the so-familiar tunes in the Basie songbook played by a quintet instead of a Big Band. All the arrangements were by Mark Bassey, and the band featured the cream of local jazz heroes: Andy Panayi (saxes and flute), Terry Seabrook (keys),

Steve Thompson (bass) and Milo Fell (drums).

From their breezy opener Flight of the Foo Birds it was evident that with material of that calibre, plus imaginative arrangements, here was one instance where size really didn’t matter.

This was a small band which managed to sound much bigger – or maybe it was just that the tunes were so familiar to us all as Big Band charts that that was what we heard.

Either way, the Count did seem to be hovering around the room, not only in Terry Seabrook’s intros and trademark Basie endings, which had been taken down note for note from the originals, but also in the exuberant spirit and swing.

All the well-known Basie tunes were there: Corner Pocket, Moten Swing, One O’ Clock Jump, Ya Gotta Try – and the interplay between Mark’s trombone and the tenor sax of Andy Panayi was a joy to hear.

There were those you couldn’t put a name to Cute and Fidgets – both of which were outstanding features for the flute), and others which Mark Bassey had dared to put lyrics to.

There was also a lot of fun, Bassey is irrepressible both on and off his trombone, even matching the flute at one time by playing it sideways. And there was an abundance of great soloing from everyone in the band.

The band’s final number was Neil Heft’s Splanky, given a funky makeover by Mark Bassey.

Basie purists might not have approved but luckily there were none of them in the Fishermen’s that night and the many jazz fans who were there roared their approval at the end of this very enjoyable, nostalgic and fun gig. Splash Point Jazz Club presents jazz at the Fishermen’s Club on the last Wednesday of each month, with an impressive programme coming up which features some of the finest musicians in the UK.

For details see: www.splashpointjazz.club

By Annette Keen