Jazz review: The Jazz Bar Big Band

The Jazz Bar Big Band Jazz Bar****

If there's one thing the Jazz Bar is lacking in it's chairs. The Big Band's 17 members take up almost a third of the pews set out within this popular basement bar. However, given the amount of onlookers in at last night's regular Monday soiree, not even an extra two dozen seats would have been suffice to seat everyone.

Regular followers of this popular evening now have to jockey for position to catch a view, nab any spare seat they can. For amongst those who came to see the JBBB get their groove on, Asian jazz fiends, curious American tourists, and even Latin lovers were making themselves heard (and seen).

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Kicking off with their signature tune - Dick Clark's very hip, very happenin' Bandstand Boogie - there was a distinctive Spanish theme amongst the Big Band's set, namely Los Gringos: a swinging slice of salsa that would have no doubt seen some Lindy Hoppers take to the floor had there been enough space to swivel one's behind. Equally evident during Count Basie's Roseland Shuffle (named after the quirky converted ice rink in New York, and also the venue that marked a considerable turning point in Basie's career), Closely Dancing's slightly spaghetti western sound, on the other hand, conjured up images of mean, whisky-swilling hombres in some Wild West saloon.

All very good, all very nice. What made yesterday evening's show that wee bit better than previous JBBB outings, though, was that the musicians appeared to feed off and respond to the audience's uplifting energy. Naturally, a band ought to be able to put in a workmanlike performance whatever the weather. Still, when you have an audience this enthusiastic, the performers - especially the soloists - responded ten-fold.

To single anyone out wouldn't be fair, so let's just say everyone was on form despite the occasional bout of confusion and the odd scrap of sheet-music slipping off the music stand. The big question though, is how will the Jazz Bar cope once the Fringe starts and even more people want to pop in a look? Who knows? But it'll be fun finding out.