SWISS JAZZ ORCHESTRA – Gala Night feat. Sandy Patton (vocals)

The Swiss Jazz Orchestra (www.swissjazzorchestra.com) exists now for 10 years (they will celebrate this on January  17, 2014) and they hold a regular Monday night from October to May at the Bierhübeli in Bern (www.bierhuebeli.ch). Once per month they invite a soloist for the Gala-Night and this time it was Sandy Patton, who is quite famous here in Bern since she was professor at the Swiss Jazz School and the Bern University of Arts from 1993 to 2011.

Sandy being a celebrity and the perfect timing for a Monday night just before the Christmas holidays packed the concert hall and Sandy and the Swiss Jazz Orchestra did not disappoint the crowd.

The program was compiled out of Sandy’s personal favorites including “Come Fly With Me”, “Just Friends”, “Smile”, “Shiny Stockings”, “Lush Life” or “Get Happy” and the band was swinging perfectly. It was a real Gala Night bringing back the great days of Big Band music.

Sandy Patton had the time and space for improvising and we heard her unique voice singing, scatting and improvising with this great orchestra in the background.

Also, the band itself is made out of excellent jazz musicians and every register got the chance to show its skills in soloing, especially memorable was Philip Henzi on piano on the song “The Island”.

The band played two sets and while the first set was quite nice and very well played, the second set really showed a much more relaxed band enjoying the evening with these great timeless arrangements.

And then came the encore: It had to be a Christmas song, obviously, and Sandy Patton and the rhythm section alone played a marvelous  “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and this was for me somehow the best moment of this concert because it showed where Sandy Patton is really strong: when playing with a combo. This little piece gave her voice the room it needs to show all the little nuances she is able to do.

The evening ended with the blues “Alright, Okay, You Win” which brought everybody into a “shuffle” mode to swing us through the night or just back home.

What a great night to start the holiday season…

 

The Whitfield Family Band at Marian’s Jazzroom

Saturday afternoon is the time where Marian’s Jazzroom
(www.mariansjazzroom.ch) has its special concerts for so called “JBC”-members. JBC stands for Jazz&Blues Classics and is a membership where you pay once per year a certain amount (I got this membership from my wife as a Christmas present for the last two years) and you have free entry for all regular concerts plus a Saturday afternoon member show, where you can bring three more people for free to the concert.

This week the Mark Whitfield Family Band played in Marian’s and my wife and my youngest two daughters joined me for the concert and we all enjoyed it very much.

Let me explain why: Mark Whitfield brought his two sons Mark Whitfield jr. on drums and David Whitfield on piano plus the “adopted” bass player Yasushi Nakamura to Bern and they had a lot of fun playing together.  Especially the two Mark Whitfields in the band seemed to know exactly what the other one is going to play, so they laughed and smiled at each other and they pushed themselves again and again.

Mark Whitfield sr. was also proud of his other son Davis. His piano playing was not so extroverted as Mark jr. on the drums, but also very present and he got the chance to play a very sophisticated solo on Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood”.

But the real fun for the band lied in playing with a lot of speed and a lot of action. Mark jr. and Mark sr. really loved to go this way and the rest of the band followed them knowing that this is the right thing to do.

As said before, we all enjoyed this concert very much, the children since there was a drummer who loved to play and smile a lot and the rest of us because the band was really good.

The biggest surprise for me was Mark Whitfield jr. on drums.
If you have a chance to see him, do that, because he is such a fantastic drummer and he was so connected with the other people in the band that this really showed what jazz is all about: rhythmic and improvised contemporary music.