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Canberra Today 8°/10° | Monday, July 4, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Big band’s birthday concert ‘electrifying’

Leisa Keen and the big band. Photo Steve McGory

Music / Blamey Street Big Band. At the Harmonie German Club, May 21. Reviewed by JOSH DAFFERN.

IT was party time in Narrabundah for the Blamey Street Big Band on Saturday night, with the jazz band celebrating its 20-year anniversary in an electrifying concert.

It was clear to see why Blamey Street has become one of Canberra’s premier big bands over the course of its two-decade career, as the group was a tight, swinging machine that kept the crowd wonderfully entertained throughout the whole night.

The finely-tuned arrangements and expert dynamics made this window into the golden age of swing a very special musical treat. The experience was made even more exciting thanks to groups of swing dancers who took to the dancefloor throughout the concert.

For roughly half the concert, the band was joined by the powerhouse singers Rachel McNally and Leisa Keen. Renditions of the classic jazz standards “Almost Like Being in Love”, “My Funny Valentine” and “The Way You Look Tonight” were made crowd favourites thanks to their dynamic and expressive voices.

The band, directed by Ian McLean, showcased a wide variety of epic big-band arrangements, from the joyous “L.O.V.E.” to the elegant “But Beautiful”. Amongst the most notable of the band’s highlights were Quinn Weber’s thrilling sax solos and the ripping drum solo from Derrick Brassington that opened up the second set.

The second set was capped off with a rousing rendition of William Steffe’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, during which the band was joined by several past members, in addition to a surprise encore performance featuring both vocalists.

The celebratory atmosphere of the concert was truly special, as was witnessing a band filled with members of such a wide variety of backgrounds. I offer my sincere congratulations to the Blamey Street Big Band on its 20th anniversary, and I look forward to seeing it continue to be an institution amongst Canberra’s jazz scene.


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