Sunday, 13 March 2011
Dormando and Nebraska Glenn were aware of the dangers. A night out rousting the clean streets of Sidmouth could pacify a heart to dormancy if you weren't on your guard. A respectable Regency front could tempt a naive tourist into reasonable thoughts of retirement oblivion. Georgian gateways beckoned lesser men to the big sleepover. These guys were too young for that. Too young in this town anyway.
It was Friday night at the Manor. A Pavilion better known for Murder Mysteries and sweet sherry supped over dry lips during interludes that could last forever if you didn't hear the bell knelling for the second half. Dormando and Nebraska Glenn would risk it all to hear AJ.
Both had worked with the jazz man back in the day and heard him play his horn: sweet trumpet and valve trombone, gold light bouncing from their dancing notes. Al took his own long walk years ago but the Band still carries his name, and tonight these two guys would pay homage to old times and good music played live and true, whatever the perils.
The stage was set in more than one way this night, and there it was, black on white, a silhouette chipped and scored in places, but AJ's three-piece with flairs still fronted the band's music sheets as if Al was there, orchestrating Miller, Basie and Ellington into the 21st century and for a clientele where some will have dabbled in the dark past of the early 20th. Dormando and Nebraska Glenn felt the flush of youth like bloodied anachronisms tattooed on smoothish cheeks.
And when the band played, the music united all of them. Ghosts of ballroom dance floors and late night radio swirled from the Big Band's wall of sound, wrapping the audience in a veil of timeless musical haunting. Hearts would flutter, and some might stutter - the risks, the risks - but D and G gripped the worn velvet arms of their seats and stayed alive, alive to the memory of AJ and the great songwriters of standards that defied time like so many present this night.
Dormando and Nebraska Glenn had been linked by the likes of Ten Wheel Drive and East of Eden but tonight it was AJ's Big Band and a sonorous Sidmouth supporting their musical partnership. Friday nights would come and go and many would have their other dangers, but surviving Sidmouth had been one to mark on the chalkboard of life's many surprises, and D and G weren't ready to see the dust fall for some time yet. No way.
[To hear the band in its current incarnation, check out AJ's Big Band - Fascinating Rhythm, with the superb vocals of Paula Mitchell - www.ajbigband.co.uk]