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It was always going to be a tall order to repeat the impact generated the last time that the Southampton All Stars played at The Venue, Chichester – but this second visit created even more excitement.
Once again, the full 17-piece line up was in full cry, driving through classic big band scores led on by their inspirational director, Tony Linford. The power and energy were only slightly relaxed when stylish vocalist Gloria Langford was called upon to deliver her interpretations of some classic standards, including a diverting ‘Route 66’
Midway through the first set a thrilled audience, of over 400, turned their attention to award-winning trombonist Mark Nightingale as he took centre stage with some quite brilliant trombone-led arrangements. Finding time to play his name-inspired ‘Berkeley Square’ ballad, Mark closed the first set on a high with one of Mark’s own compositions ‘Destiny’.
Having heard the sheer quality of his tone, delivery and technique, it comes as no surprise that this unassuming trombonist is now firmly established on the international jazz scene regularly touring Europe, America and the Far East.
Tony Linford was back at the start of the second set, showing us how the Southampton All Stars have endured for over 40 years - with quality swing compositions and arrangements which had an enthusiastic audience calling for more.
Mark returned to finish the concert on a high in what MC Hugh Ashton described as a master class in trombone playing, set against the unique talents of one of the country’s finest jazz orchestras. Mark’s selection of tunes which had included ‘I’m Old Fashioned’, ‘Don’t Mention the Blues’ and Benny Golson’s majestic ‘Whisper Not’ illustrated his perceptive choice and range of material.
Tony was clearly delighted that the triumphant return visit of his star-studded band had recaptured the thrill and pleasure of the first time. It may not have all been classic swing music – but who knows what a third concert might have in store!