THE THOUGHTS OF CHAIRMAN BRUCE

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JANUARY

Full marks to the faithful few who turned out to hear Café Society on an unpleasant night which closely followed the worst weather event experienced in Kendal for very many decades. There was a definite argument for cancellation, but we decided that, on balance, it was better to go ahead and not risk disappointing fans of the band - and the band itself, who (let's not forget) travelled from as far afield as Leeds and Manchester.

Travel-weary they may have been, but it didn't show as they launched full-bore into 'Too Busy', with an absolutely characteristic mix of tight arrangement and period vocalizing at a tempo just short of tearaway  (I almost typed a different set of 3 letters at the end of that word).  The first half continued in the same vein, with jazz standards alternating with 20's rarities, most of them sung by Anthony Mason in his individual and appealing style. Contrast was provided by Willy Entwistle's gentler vocal on 'That Certain Party', and while Willy is in the spotlight it's worth complimenting him on the tricky arrangements he provides for the quartet.  And from someone who owns an alto sax but almost never plays it (one of the definitions of a gentleman), congratulations on some great work on 'Crazy Rhythm', in particular.

The second half continued in the same vein, kicking off with 'Animal Crackers' (probably the first time that tune has been aired in the River Bar) until towards the end, when Willy's penny-whistle version of 'Whistling Rufus' provided a change of sound.   Then it was back to a well-judged final three offerings: 'Tiger Rag' (with a host of key changes),' Chili-Bom-Bom' and the closing George Formby medley featuring Anthony's considerable expertise on banjo. A fun night, and it would be wrong not to mention the other two members of the quartet: Andy Henderson on trumpet, who coped splendidly with the aforementioned tricky arrangements as well as offering some interesting solos and vocals, and the essential underpinning of Colin Turner's bass saxophone - also featured in several fine solos.   Overall, Twenties nostalgia ruled OK.

We spring forward three decades on Tuesday 12th January when Paul Palmer returns with his straight-ahead, swinging Quintet.  The line-up is as before, except that drummer Jamie has left the area and is replaced by youngster Jack Davies.   Paul tells me that there will be no diminution in propulsion - and I believe him. Anyone who has heard the band before will know what to expect:  well-loved standards, touches of bossa, and several little-heard numbers selected by Paul from the huge recorded output of the era, all played with panache and feeling.





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