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Review: Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, Cheltenham Jazz Festival

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: May 06, 2014

By Robin Brooks

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Jools Holland at Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Picture: Pedro Brown

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Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra provided the perfect finish to a Cheltenham Jazz Festival for which the sun shone, the crowds came and the music was magnificent.

From the first it was clear that Jools and co intended to take no prisoners. He opened with a barnstorming boogie and when the full band entered the fray the result was an explosion of excitement.

A ska version of Fats Waller’s Ain’t misbehavin’ kept the pitch of proceedings in the red zone and already the seated audience in the Big Top were showing signs of wanting to take to their feet.

So they did. Marc Almond was the first guest and to the surprise of many he sang in tune. His hit Tainted Love filled the aisles with dancers reveling in the moment and relishing the nostalgia.

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Next guest on stage was Gregory Porter who was greeted with a tsunami of applause. A wonderful singer and a writer of fine songs, Gregory Porter is a prodigious talent and his versions of Let the good times roll and Chain gang proved that he delivers material that others have penned as well and he does his own.

A high spot of the evening was the duet played by Jools and his brother Chris, swapping places at the piano to play first the twiddle bits on the high notes, then the rumbling riffs to the left on the keyboard.

By now anyone who wasn’t dancing was clapping and/ or stomping their feet. The guy sitting next to me was doing both with wild enthusiasm. Unfortunately he clapped out of time and broke my umbrella which was on the floor under the seat.

But hey, what’s a £12.99 brolly from Marks and Spencer’s when you’re being entertained by the finest troupe of boogivators known to man?

Ruby Turner was next to the microphone, which she really doesn’t need. Her voice is so powerful she could stop and oil tanker and if your windows were rattling at about 10pm on Monday, Ruby was the reason.

The full cast came together for a three song encore at the end of a splendid show, which left nobody in any doubt that when it comes to rhythm and blues, Jools rules.

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