Gareth Lockrane Big Band, Pizza Express, London


I caught this outfit – same line-up, slightly different personnel – at the same venue – Pizza Express – in April 2018, or eighteen months ago, whichever is the greater, and everything else was much the same – same SRO, same well-drilled aggregation, same excitement that only a big band can generate.

And this is a big band, let’s have no mistake about that: 19 musicians, just a tad bigger than what most of us long-in-the-toothers think of as a big band, e.g., Harry James, Woody Herman, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller – when, that is, they were not supplemented by strings.

Gareth appears to have settled on a line-up that works for him, one that he is comfortable writing for – five saxes, four trumpets, four trombones, piano, bass, drums, percussion, guitar plus himself on the flute family.

Whilst they did open with the title track from their album Fist Fight At The Barn Dance, which was featured last time around, the round dozen two-set programme included new material such as the ballad Memories Of The Wide Screen, and I Remember The X Men, two nods to Gareth’s other love, cinema. Also new were Roots and The Dark Swinger.

I have, of course, no idea whether the audience were, like myself, repeaters, or first-timers but whatever, they enjoyed it to a fare-thee-well and I think you would have, too, had you been there.

The Gareth Lockrane Big Band: Pizza Express, Dean Street, London W1. Sunday, 6 October 2019.