Tony Jacobs and his indispensable pianist Jim Barry celebrate the great American and British songwriters. We’ll let the following reviews of this unique show speak for themselves…
It has been said of some of today’s so called superstars, that they know the music business from A to B. With Tony Jacobs and Jim Barry, one can confidently add the other 24 letters.
On December 8, when most of us would have been happy roasting chestnuts on an open fire, Tony and Jim introduced us to an evening of time honoured musical treasures in their own inimitable style, from an age when jazz was king and Tin Pan Alley meant something other than a refuse-strewn thoroughfare in a down-trodden City. With access to an encyclopaedic knowledge of the life and times of the music business, Tony turned the coolness of the evening into a heart-warming stroll down memory lane, arm in arm with a Who’s Who of musical dignitaries.
Harry Lillis Crosby, Danny Kaye, Walter Huston, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Al Jolson, Bob Crosby, Fred Astaire, Ethel Merman, and many more, intermingled with anecdotes and all time classic songs, proved ample reward for those who braved an arctic winter’s evening to attend.
As an unashamed devotee of letting bygones be preserved, there is little room for the word nostalgia in the Jacobs vocabulary. Great songs are great songs, and it matters little that most were spawned in the ‘twenties and ‘thirties. One might even add, so much the better.
Examples such as, Top Hat White Tie And Tails, Isn’t It A Lovely Day?, It Had To Be You, Swanee, Blue Moon, The Best Thing For You, September Song, Smile, Making Whoopee, The Ugly Duckling, Cheek To Cheek, Where The Blue Of The Night Meets The Gold Of The Day, Sweet Sue, and a host more, proved that given the Jacobs treatment, what one hears is what the composers intended. But hey, what’s new?
Going together like fish go with chips, or, more appropriately, like Hope goes with Crosby, Tony and Jim gelled in a way that was almost telepathic. For them, familiarity breeds contentment. Hope, by the way, was labelled by Tony, along with Astaire and Walter Huston, as being amongst the great singers, an accolade with which only the tone deaf could take issue.
Jim’s piano interludes included Mel Torme’s Christmas Song, I’m Getting Sentimental Over You, Silver Bells, Leroy Anderson’s Forgotten Dreams, Winter Wonderland, Sleigh Ride, and a boogie-woogie accompaniment to Chattanooga Choo-Choo, that alone, was worth the entrance money.
Tony, the one man brass section, showed his trumpet prowess on Tiger Rag, Georgia, (a tribute to Nat Gonella) and the Harry James favourite, You Made Me Love You.
As musical entertainment goes, this was the perfect prelude to Christmas and an early present gift wrapped with care. Tony Jacobs and Jim Barry are committed to what they do, allied with a craft and sincerity that is all too rare these days. That, as they say, is entertainment.
South Wales Big Band Society