Sedbergh School music department, including staff and pupils, performed the annual Jazz and Swing concert on Sunday evening. This review comes from journalist and singer Deborah Wald. 

It don’t mean a thing…if it ain’t got that swing…but the night sure did swing for the 150+ guests at this annual hot ticket at Sedbergh. The noble Powell Hall was given a sultry, light-spangled makeover transforming it into the perfect venue for a diverse programme that ticked the boxes from the Gershwins to Paloma Faith, Duke Ellington to Duffy. 

The Swing Band, under the joyful direction of Susan Doherty, gave us swoony and effervescent standards including A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, a glorious encore of The Lady is a Tramp with soaring vocals from Harry Bolton, and Gazpacho, a lesser-known finale of full-on Latin vibrancy.

The balance between each of the sections, backed by tight drum work from Bruce Long, was spot on. A mention too, for a glistening version of My Way, apparently not beloved by Frank Sinatra, but standing ovation-worthy this night with Will Player’s delivery over the rich sounds from the band.

Choirs are having their moment in the spotlight right now and John Seymour’s work with the Chapel and Chamber choirs showed how to do it with superlatively-nuanced deliveries of Embraceable You and Every time I feel the Spirit.

Subtlety and finesse was at the heart, too, of Hester Churchouse’s mature, resonant clarinet playing of My Funny Valentine while Chloe Vigneron’s Stone Cold Sober (a Paloma Faith hit) was punchy and confident in equal measure.

As a fan of the jazz genre (who personally believes it is the most complex and intuitive musical form), it’s a pleasure to see young musicians taking it on with such joie de vivre –and in the range of ensembles –  from big band to piano and clarinet duos, choir, to soloist, trumpet and brass ensembles – it’s (high) hats off to the adventurous drive at Sedbergh to explore the jazz canon.

Follow Sedbergh: