The Benny Goodman Sextet. Revisited.

Tonight brought us a very pleasant surprise. We’ve just come back from a concert at the ever-amazing Sage, which was a recreation of the Benny Goodman Sextet – or at least of some of its various iterations.

I’ve learned not to expect too much from this kind of affair – it’s so rare to hear modern line-ups doing justice to this material, but in this case we were pleasantly surprised.


In fact – make that pleasantly astounded.

The line-up was an incredible selection from this weekend’s Whitley Bay Jazz Party – Matthias Seuffert made a perfect Benny Goodman, with Rico Tomasso channelling Cootie Williams on trumpet, the wonderful Keith Nichols, who brought the group together, was on piano, Raymond Graisier seemed intent on giving Lionel Hampton a run for his money on vibes, Martin Wheatley took the guitar, Henry Lemaire the bass & Richard Pite doing his very best Gene Krupa on drums (he apparently does own a set of Gene Krupa’s brushes, although the ones he was showing off tonight looked a little too new to fit that bill)

The music was just sublime, and incredibly danceable – the band were swinging like crazy, and had I had any equipment capable of recording it, I would have sorely been tempted to do so, just to be able to DJ some of their pieces at a later date. As it was, I had to content myself with one slightly ropey photo. They played a huge selection of favourites, including on of the most exciting renditions of Tim Tom Special I’ve ever heard… a fantastic My Daddy Rocks me, Flying Home, Air Mail Special… the list goes on (and yes, they did finish with Sing Sing Sing, and yes, leaving my own prejudices against the song aside, it was a great rendition).

Lovely presentation too – lots of jokes, some in-jokes (they were assuming a knowledgable audience), and some lovely informative snippets to go with it.

My only gripes were that it was a sit-down concert with no dancing space, and that the group had no CD for sale – unsurprising, as they’d only assembled for this concert, but I’m allowed to want…. so no sound-bytes to go with this post.

A great evening, all in all. Now I’m hoping for more concerts like that one.

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