Review: Jools Holland with Ruby Turner and Marc Almond, Ipswich Regent, November 2
Jools Holland, Britain’s boogie king, had a packed theatre up on its feet dancing and singing along as he and his powerhouse 20-piece Rhythm and Blues Orchestra gave a dazzling display of musical virtuosity.
The evening was a non-stop mix of glorious instrumentals and classic blues and swing numbers. Jools is a very engaging host and had the audience in the palm of his hand from the moment he came on stage, sat down at his piano and started pounding out an infectious boogie which was then picked up by members of his orchestra as, one by one, they joined him on the band stand.
Jools is not a man to hog the spotlight and he generously provided moments for all his band members to shine. Each solo was followed by a name check which is why the majority of his orchestra members have a long history with Jools.
The evening was more instrumental heavy than usual with Jools paying tribute to Lionel Hampton among others and provided a wealth of big band swing numbers which made perfect dancing music. Jools received a loud cheer from the wonderfully responsive audience when he removed his jacket and braces mid-way through the evening. He laughed: “That is the right response but I am stopping there. This is to allow me to flail my arms about and exercise my boogie muscles.”
Jools also included some wonderful blues – one a tribute to Big Bill Broonzey and a more recent piano blues co-written with Dr John. The Rhythm and Blues Orchestra has a wealth of vocal talent at hand including Mabel Rae and Louise Marshall on backing vocals who both had their own solo spot before Marc Almond came onstage to perform a mini-set which featured big band arrrangements of Say Hello, Wave Goodbye, a soul medley and a fantastic re-worked Tainted Love.
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If Jools is something of a musical evangelist then he has a perfect partner in the gospel-voiced Ruby Turner who delivered an uptempo end to the evening which came to a stunning crescendo with a solo-filled boogie-version of Peace In The Valley.
Jools may be an annual fixture at The Regent but he and the band always provide a joyous, party atmosphere and the music is never anything but sensational.
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