Wally Fields Jazz Orchestra, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

This was a double labour of love. Just over a year ago the jazz pianist and conductor Wally Fields brought together some of the finest brass and woodwind soloists around to form a fresh Jazz Orchestra - no mean feat in itself.

Here was the Klezmer Swingers' genial maestro, recovered from his illness, kick-starting the big band tradition afresh (not least with his own spanking-new "Partizan Rhapsody" for piano and orchestra, a slightly creaky but heartfelt tribute composed for the occasion) in a concert dedicated to those few thousand Jewish fighters who courageously took up arms during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising at the onset of Passover in 1943.

Ghetto bands, as Fields reminded us, drew large audiences (including sundry German officers) in Warsaw and Krakow during the darkest 1940s. Such was the calibre of this new ensemble, you might have felt, deep in your bones, that one of the finest had been reincarnated: the Ghetto Swingers, based over the border in the Czech lands' ill-fated showcase camp of Theresienstadt, until Poland-bound transports claimed nearly all.

This was a true big band event, lovingly played, with a flood of top-notch solo front-men, a conductor (Paul Eshelby) whose trumpet solo in Louie Bellson's "Blow Your Horn" knocked the socks off them all, and - offsetting the flamboyance of pieces like "Sing Sing Sing" or the dark dazzle of Stan Kenton's "Malaguena" - an atmosphere of sombre reverie into which Fields' entire mesmerised audience seemed respectfully drawn in.

A starkish, slightly wooden acoustic at times battled with a well-managed sound system, yet the sound for the 18 blazing brass en masse was magnificent. Occasionally, Eshelby might rein in the ensemble more, to add a subtler undertow, or allow reflective solos more rubato and breathing room. But it was Fields's stylish soloists who shone through. He has signed up a young vocalist of real potential, Jenny Howe, with a rich, glowing sound and delivery that could, with time, acquire a Cleo Laine personality. Howe's stage gestures are still too contrived - she needs to free up to "fix" an audience naturally. But her firm, unfancy voice sounds just adorable.

There was much else. James Pearson's solos in Addinsell's "Warsaw Concerto" - shades of Anton Walbrook's Polish flier in Dangerous Moonlight - and Fields's own concerto were first-rate: like Harvey Brough, he is a Jacqueline Dankworth accompanist, and it showed. But it was those well-seasoned, highly professional leads - saxophonist Andy Mackintosh ("The Fisher"/"Segal Sunny Gets Blue"), Gordon Campbell ("Polka Dots and Moonbeams"), Findon again on clarinet ("Begin the Beguine") or Sammy Maine on low sax for Harry Warren's "I Know Why" - who turned this terrific concert into a real work of art.

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk