?The Notorious B.I.G. Band' (more commonly known as ICU Jazz Big Band) graced the stage of dBs club tonight to a sizeable audience including, most notably, Richard Dickins (Imperial College?s Director of Music and conductor of the Symphony Orchestra).
The big band has forged quite a reputation for itself over the past few years. So much so that one of their gigs last year, ?Swing When You?re Minging?, was chosen as the best night at ICU by London Student. With such a reputation, the Big Band has seemingly built up quite a following. I don?t think a single gig that I?ve attended over the past few years could have been described as empty. Continuing in what is becoming a tradition, the cabaret style layout of dBs was full to the brim with people.
For those that were enlightened enough, there were some familiar favourites, which certainly seemed to be welcome returns to the Big Band?s set list. With the assistance of the vocalists Ruth and Henry the band managed to perform songs made famous by the likes of Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and B.B. King along with a range of purely instrumental and less well know tunes.
Perhaps the highlight of the evening was Andy Thorpe?s Blues Band. The band (a small collection of members of big band) played in the second of three sets from the Big Band members. The music was much more blues orientated than the Big Band and played with guitar and bass with brass accompaniment. The band was obviously well received by the crowd and I don?t think I have ever seen quite so many people obviously enjoying music for a long time.
The big band may be enjoying such success at the moment because they play accessible music. Whilst one might not necessarily recognise all the tunes, you?d be hard pushed to not recognise something as the band plays songs such as ?Live and Let Die? (of Bond fame). The music doesn?t require you to understand the intricacies of improvisation or any demand intense concentration to enjoy the music (although the more attentive amongst the audience might have spotted the odd quote of the traditional Cornish tune, ?The Floral Dance?).
Having sat through three sets, lasting three hours there were still cries of ?encore? at the end, and Mission Impossible rounded off the evening. It was certainly a good evening and whilst it may not have been the Big Band at its best it only gives all the more reason to attend the next Big Band gig to see, what I?m sure, will the be the band on top form once again. I think few in the audience would complain about the Big Band?s performance and it could be said that the Jazz Big Band truly represents value for money given that entry is free.
The Big Band?s next gig is on Tuesday 16th December at the Reynolds bar in Charing Cross Hospital. 8pm Onwards, entry is free. I, for one, will certainly be attending.