Webster defines a “student” as, among other things, “an attentive and systematic observer.” The young musicians in the Lancashire Students’ Jazz Orchestra — whose average age, we’re told, is fifteen — have evidently been paying close attention to their teachers, as the orchestra is much better schooled than one would expect from those who are wrestling with the basics of Jazz and learning how to work together as an ensemble. Having said that, it must be noted that they do sound like teen–age students who have plenty of rough edges to smooth before moving on to the next level. As a whole, however, the UK’s Lancashire County Council, which has supported the LSJO since it was formed in 1976, can be proud of what it has accomplished. Last Call is the orchestra’s fourth album, each one not only a benchmark but an incentive for the students to pursue a musical education, if not a career in music, as several LSJO alumni have done. The reeds and rhythm, as is usually the case among younger students, form the orchestra’s bulwark, with the brass somewhat shakier and the solos earnest but rudimentary. But as this is a learning experience, not a for–profit enterprise, everyone is happy if the students simply play as well as they can, which they assuredly do. Tomorrow they’ll play better, and next week or month even better than that. The orchestra has a vocalist, Rhiannon Banks (who doubles on percussion), and she’s heard on four numbers — “How Sweet It Is,” “As Long as I’m Singing,” “Love Takes Time” and “Birdland.” She may have a future, but the same holds true for any of these young musicians, as no one can predict what the future may hold for them — which is what makes teaching and learning so much fun. Today’s students, at least some of them, are destined to become tomorrow’s masters. Everyone has to start somewhere, and here’s a chance to listen in as a group of students takes its first tentative steps along a road that may or may not lead to musical success.
Contact:Big Band World, 3 Alston Road, Blackpool, Lancashire FY2 OTD, United Kingdom. Phone / fax 01253 596454; e–mail firstname.lastname@example.org; web site, www.bigbandworld.4t.com
Track Listing: Flight to Nassau; How Sweet It Is; A Sideward Glance; Remembrance; As Long as I
Personnel: Lawrence Williams, Rebecca Gordon, Karen Stemp, Susie Algie, alto sax; James Cruikshanks, Catherine Sewell, Adam Khomsi, tenor sax; Stephen Blythe, Vincent Tribello, baritone sax; Michael Davis, Neil Parkinson, Andrew Greenwood, Nicola Coupe, Amy Butters, James Isherwood, Colin Crook, Christopher Mather, trumpet; Alistair Sanderson, Michael Gordon, Christopher Mawdsley, David Butters, trombone; Matthew Beltcher, piano; Paul Lonsdale, lead guitar; Christopher Hargreaves, bass guitar; James Hoy, drums; Rhiannon Banks, auxiliary percussion, vocals.