Friday, 2 March 2012

Northamptonshire County Youth Big Band: haters, kiss my brass

Big bands? Jazz? This is what we expect from the life long rock 'n' roll and modern music fan of Northampton. But I think you'll find I specialise in good music and I think you'll also find that this is a certified tune. Our awesome county big band of between 11 and 21 packed their bags and went off to perform in the city of Gwent in south-east Wales. Seventeen (if I've counted correctly) trumpeters, saxophonists and trombonists were taught about the South African genre of Township and then went on to freestyle in that style with Gwent's own youth jazz band for a whopping seven minutes in front of a live audience. That is some skill.

For anyone who doesn't know, Township is a century old genre from the slums of South Africa. It takes jazz and then gives it that party, carnival flavour in the way only Africa can. It's roots, soul, reggae, funk, RnB, dancehall and just has that irresistable get-up-and-dance rythmic groove. The Grammy award winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo are famous for this kind of music, featuring on Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes from Paul Simon's greatest ever album Graceland. And these two bands have captured a snapshot of it brilliantly. Powerful stuff, eh.

I mean the bands aren't suddenly banging away at the steel pans, picking up penny whistles, producing afrobeat, house or some sort of wacky garajazz but this is a big expirement for anyone who's used to stricking up the old John Coltrane number and I admire them for it, especially jamming for that long and it just being improvisation (I'm out of breath after about three puffs on a kazoo). The backing band did a great job and hats off to Percy Pursglove for that outstanding piece of conductorship and getting such an incredible sound out of them.

Ugh, this has got me so in the mood for carnival. We need to get something going here; we've got our Townshipped-up big band, there's the local reggae stars Celtic Rasta, we must have someone able to play the steel pans and then if you get one of a local Afro-style rapper or two like Lickle J, Hussla D, another one of the Jah Troopers or even MC "I feel good, good, good" Rumpus then you've got a serious crew coming on here. And Ill Murk's always doing one obscure collaboration or another so if he's gonna be in this virtual collective then we're laughing. We. Need. Township. Back. In. Northamptonshire. NOW!!!

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