Few mediums are as good at evoking the spirit of the times as contemporary music. While this says very little about our current deficit of attention and obsession for youth, Swinging for Basie teases out the spirit, seduction and glamour of a musical genre formed from the melting pot the US in the 1930s.
Marshalling the Edinburgh Jazz Festival Orchestra, Joe Temperley guided us through a performance of numbers like Shiny Stocking, 1 o’Clock Jump and April in Paris. The show was not lacking in vocal talent, as Denis Rowland slid on in the second half with his smooth baritone. Spanning a period of twenty years from the 1930s to the 1950s, Joe highlights the show with some personal anecdotes in his distinctive accent, which sways between New Jersey and Edinburgh.
The music sparkles in this performance, and there was ample opportunity for the orchestra to show of their skills of improvisation. It’s a shame this music is so frequently condemned to old folk’s homes or gangster films; it would make a fantastic night out and welcome change from the modern take on dance music.