The tempo was upped for the third day of the Music Festival, and its fourth concert with the arrival in St Anne’s of the fabulous Ulster Youth Jazz Orchestra. This band, under the direction of Ken Jordan is about to celebrate 25 years, but as with our choirs, there is a steady flow through of young people. They are old friends of the Cathedral having played here on number of occasions – principally on Culture Night each September.
If the Ulster Youth Jazz Orchestra, which sets Culture Night alive in St Anne’s, was playing to a more moderate-sized audience last night, it made no difference to the verve and energy that we are accustomed to expect from so talented a bunch of young musicians – all instrumentalists, and two doubling as vocalists.
The titles of pieces alone: “You are the sunshine of my life”, “Haven’t met you yet”, “Here’s to Life”, “Don’t know why” …. bring a smile to one’s ears – as one of the great comedians once said – as jazz engages every part of an audience!
But there is a smoothness to an operation like this jazz orchestra too; a kind of sophistication that is comfortable with itself – and infectious – as soloists complement the big band sound that in its own way carries the wave of energy onwards. The informal moments of changing instruments and the occasional slips were all part of what makes an evening like this feel-good and entertaining – in other words not tipping over into being too slick. Altogether a great addition to the Music Festival and a real contrast to what has been – and what is yet to come…..