20 years young
Saturday night’s Jazz Concert brought about the annual transformation of the Assembly Hall into Exeter’s top night spot. With professional lighting and a crew of pupils on the sound desk, coupled with delicious refreshments provided by the school’s catering team, the ideal environment for a great evening’s entertainment was created, under the supervision of Mr Bowen, who first staged the event more than 20 years ago.
The music was provided by the many jazz, swing and funk groups which rehearse regularly throughout the school year, and also included a duo of talented Lower Fifth pupils from Mr Painter’s Rock School.
The full big band sounds were delivered by Jazz Bands 1 and 2. Big Spender opened the concert followed by Mission Impossible – with 5 beats in the bar a tricky choice, but under the steady guidance of director Mr Painter, successfully performed by Jazz Band 2.
Jazz Band 1 enjoyed two sets featuring 8 numbers, ranging from classic swing numbers such as Porter’s I Love You, to funky Us and Dawg House, and then the bossa Black Orpheus. As well as really tight big band ensemble playing, a large number of the band were able to take solo slots within the various numbers. Jamie's rich trumpet tone in Black Orpheus and Will's great vocals in I Love You were particular highlights.
Blue Note and Birdland are smaller groups of largely Middle Fifth musicians. With Mr Tamblyn’s support, they prepared Mercy, Mercy, Mercy and Sack o' Woe respectively, incorporating some excellent solo improvisation. The communication within the groups as they played was also impressive – beyond their love of music the friendship and mutual support shone through in their performances.
Rock School meets every Wednesday after school and is an opportunity for pupils to explore rock and pop styles and form their own bands. Representing them at the concert were Jessica and Rachel, whose vocal, guitar, violin and piano expertise was fully on show within their selection of Only Human and Sam Smith’s I’m Not the Only One.
Swunkette, featuring vocals from Tabi and Beth, performed Bad Self Portrait and Like a Star. The band created a smooth and easy sound and a great laid-back feel, perfect for the summer evening heat of Saturday.
The concert closed with Swunk’s second set, enabling musicians Charlie, Matt, Will, Evan, Charlie, Ed and Mark to demonstrate their talent playing as a unit and individually within improvised solos. With each piece featuring solos from most of the band (with Matt impressively alternating between guitar and trumpet) there was lots to enjoy, although there perhaps was a touch of sadness as the concert marks the final jazz performances at Exeter School of those Upper Sixth members of the band who have provided jazz inspiration and leadership to younger pupils throughout their time at school.
Our final concert of the academic year is still to come, in the form of the summer Chamber Concert, this year at Crediton Parish Church. Starting at 7.30pm on Saturday 7 July, tickets are available for this via box office or on the door.