Jools' party time at the Regent

Jools Holland and His Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, Regent Theatre, Ipswich, October 28.Each year Jools Holland makes a pilgrimage to the Regent Theatre and always brings with him a party atmosphere and more than a little magic.

Jools Holland and His Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, Regent Theatre, Ipswich, October 28.

Each year Jools Holland makes a pilgrimage to the Regent Theatre and always brings with him a party atmosphere and more than a little magic. After umpteen years on the road with his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra his infectious enthusiasm for good-time boogie woogie music remains undiminished.

Jools is clearly a hugely talented pianist and favours fast-paced boogie, blues and jazz tunes but the real delight for audiences is the dazzling amount of talent in the rest of the orchestra. Each member gets his moment in the spotlight and right from the off the aim was clear - let's entertain the audience.

Indeed Rhythm and Blues Orchestra is so vast now that it was hard to accommodate everyone on the Regent's modest stage. Tributes to Count Basie, Fats Waller as well as self-penned boogie instrumentals had the capacity crowd up on their feet and dancing in the aisles.


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Jools' taste has always been on the eclectic side and if last year he leaned a little more towards country this year it was blues and jazz which dominated the set which meant there were solos aplenty for the horn section and former Ipswich-based guitarist Mark Flanagan - Jools' long-term sideman.

But along with the dance numbers there were a sprinkling of soul numbers, a dash of ska and some good old fashioned rock'n'roll.

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Vocally Jools was supported by a trio of fantastic singers - newcomer Louise Marshall, soul diva Ruby Turner and the ever-youthful Lulu. Of the three it was sad to say that Lulu was the disappointment of the evening - she only sang four songs (one of which was Shout) and appeared to be under-rehearsed, losing her way in Willie Dixon's blues anthem I'm Ready. She timed her entrance into the second half of the song badly, coming in just as Jools well-drilled nine-piece horn section blasted into their solo section.

Not even the leather-lunged Lulu can out-sing a wall of brass as they take flight.

Apart from that hic-up Lulu was as entertaining as ever, but considering the showmanship and dedication that Ruby and Louise displayed, her appearance was fleeting and perfunctory. She was the only person not to return for the two encores.

In contrast Ruby and Louise appeared to be having the time of their lives - trading verses during the encores having already performed a half dozen songs in the middle of the set.

There was no speeding train video this year but the video coverage on the rear projection screen was far more sophisticated giving the audience close-ups of the featured performers and of Jools' amazingly dexterous hands.

I have no doubt that Jools will be back next year and I will be there once again. It's a winning formula and I am sure he could have played all night and no-one would have left before the end. Hopefully Sam Brown will return next year and Lulu will be given a rest.

Andrew Clarke

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