Powell Hall underwent a remarkable transformation from exam hall to Jazz club last week, as the fifth annual evening of Jazz & Swing took place on Sunday evening. This very popular concert attracted a sell-out audience, who were seated at round tables and enjoyed wine and cheese as pupils performed a superb and varied programme. 
Our hosts for the evening were Grace Shaw (R, Y13) and Alex Procter (E, Y12), introducing each act as they came on to stage. There were numerous solo and small-group items, including a version of Four by Laylah Scott (R, Y12) and strong performances of Gershwin items by Mollie Richmond (R, Y12) and violinist Alex Barker (H, Y13).

The latter item was at the very end of the first half and the audience were particularly generous in their recognition of the virtuosity on show. Meanwhile, Hannah Page (L, Y13 and Head Chorister) demonstrated her fantastic versatility by singing a sultry cover of Dirty Dice by Katie Melua, ably backed by Sarah Long on the trumpet.
Many of our ensembles were involved, including four of our choirs. The Girls’ Choir sang a sad but beautiful version of Since you left me, which was in complete contrast to the boys’ bluesy Stray Cat Strut! Our brass, woodwind and string ensembles all featured too, as did both of our soul bands: Will Player’s (SH, Y11) lead vocals in a funky cover of Superstition by Stevie Wonder were most commanding; Georgie Richmond (R, Y9) led the ‘Soulettes’ as they performed Rollin’ in the deep.
At the heart of it all, though, were the Swing Band led by Mrs Susan Doherty. They opened both halves of the concert and brought it to a close in sensational style with the well-known Benny Goodman number, ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’.  

Harry Bolton (SH, Y11), Grace Shaw and Hannah Page all joined the band as vocalists, and were rightly met with great acclaim. The band’s pianist, Toby Randall-Paley (H, Y13), has featured prominently in all of the Jazz & Swing concerts, and his arrangement of C Jam Blues was a fitting final flourish.

Grace Shaw (U6, R) who compered the evening, said: “I was surprised and honoured when asked to compere for Jazz and Swing – the first thing that entered my head was what an amazing job Jeremy Cowen did last year – he set the bar very high.

It was the first time I have ever hosted or presented so was a new and very exciting experience for me. Alex was a great partner and we had lots of fun preparing for it – and we had such a responsive audience on the night. The evening has a great vibe because everyone knows the songs and performers, and so really get into the swing of the evening.  

It’s one of my favourite nights of the School year and it’s impossible to single out one performance as a favourite but I always love Will Player’s performances, and it was great to hear some of the Upper Sixth soloists who will leave this year.”

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