What do care-free dancers loving life for all to see, the splendiferous spontaneity of the saxophone and beloved classic songs from almost 100 years ago all have in common? Answer: jazz! Swinging at the Cotton Club is a fantastic celebration of 1920s and 30s
Bringing the sparkles to the stage, Marlene Hill treated us to her stunning, smooth, sensational singing. She brought the sass in 'No Man's Mama', but had a softer touch in 'Stormy Weather', beautifully complemented by trumpet and alto saxophone solos, with a truly gorgeous tone and incredible use of lip slurs!
The Harry Strutter Hot Rhythm Orchestra were so exceedingly brilliant that it would be incredibly difficult to pick one or two stand out songs. Their bubbly and playful personas were showcased alongside their marvellous music from start to finish. Comedic moments between band mates were charming to see, such as during the luxuriously lengthy drum solo of 'Jungle Jamboree', in which the other musicians mocked their exquisite drummer by comedically miming their boredom!
A great variety of repertoire was displayed, highlighting the versatility of the entire orchestra. Seeing the happiness of these genuine jazz lovers only enhanced the enjoyment of the audience, who could completely relax throughout. The woodwind and brass soloists made their complex playing sound effortless, yet they consistently produced beautiful melodies. The entire band left the stage during the second half to highlight Colin Good, the pianist, who seemed to be one with the piano, as his Ragtime performance captivated us all. Although all performers proved themselves to be excellent soloists, they became truly magnificent when performing all together.
Compère and vocalist Megs Etherington kept us chuckling between songs as he reminisced about the roaring 20s and the heart of jazz. He also embodied many a famous jazz singer during the evening to sing with the orchestra, a particularly suave and sophisticated song being 'Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby', in which he was joined by two dancers to add effectively subtle embellishments to the piece.
The Lindy Hop Dance Company could be best described as pure joy. They moved freely and with buckets full of personality in every single routine. Vocalising their excitement with 'hey's and 'woo's, the small but lively dancers brought their high spirits to the audience to warm up even the coldest of Thursday evenings. We were treated to the Lindy Hop, (as one would hope given their name), the
A particular highlight for me (and I believe for most of the audience too) was the 'One man dance', in which four dancers, wearing matching tails, tapped in a straight line; one behind the other. Kicking as one, stamping as one, shuffling as one, they made such a clever dance look effortless. It was mesmerising to watch them move as a unit without ever breaking apart from each other- and there I was thinking that tap dancing was hard as it is...
Sharing the stage with the enthusiastic and dazzling Lindy Hop Dance Company was astonishing tap dancer Lee Payne. Each time Lee took to the stage, his cheeky smile lit up the audience, a smile that didn't leave our faces for the entirety of his dances! For his first appearance, Lee paid tribute to the legend Bojangles and he did him justice. Oozing character with each tap of his bright red shoes, his performances were absolutely outstanding.
An evening of wondrous entertainment, Swinging at the Cotton Club exemplifies the best of