Southampton Youth Jazz Orchestra (SYJO) with Courtney Pine at Turner Sims Concert Hall

Courtney Pine

Courtney Pine

First published in Music Reviews Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Feature Writer

SYJO was welcomed on to the stage by a delighted, near sold-out audience on Saturday night.

While the chance to see British jazz legend Courtney Pine might have been the draw for some, it was clear that SYJO have a following in their own right and one they very much deserve.

For the first half of the evening the stage was entirely theirs, led by infectiously enthusiastic director Dan Mar-Molinero.

The orchestra worked their way expertly through works by the likes of Duke Ellington, Maria Schneider and Dizzy Gillespie.

The orchestra was very tight with some stunning solos.

A highlight was Transit, which started mournfully before becoming light and joyful, with the orchestra’s energy filling the room. Special mention must go to trumpeter Frank Heather for his amazing solo.

Another delight was the lively Galang, while Part One finished with Ooh Bop Sh’Bam, which SJYO will be playing for the prestigious Essentially Ellington festival in London, where they will be one of just 11 groups out of almost 60 selected to perform.

Courtney Pine took to the stage for Part Two.

This featured Pine’s own pieces, arranged by Mar-Molinero.

Pine admitted that he doesn’t normally play with people he doesn’t know but explained that he believes it is important to work with young people.

But he and the orchestra, joined by DJ Tom Roberts, bounced off each other as if this was familiar territory.

His first solo, with incredibly fast finger-work and seemingly without taking breath, was met with rapturous applause.

One of the treats of the second half was Don’t Explain, featuring the earthy vocals of Kate MacDonald.

But the highlight was Pine insisting on the audience joining in and singing back his notes to him, while the orchestra also did the same, during a lengthy but energising version of 37th Chamber.

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