Jools Holland

UEA LCR. With that familiar smile fixed in place, Julian Miles Holland turned to the packed Norwich crowd and exclaimed: "You lot just want to boogie.

Jools Holland, UEA

With that familiar smile fixed in place, Julian Miles Holland turned to the packed Norwich crowd and exclaimed: "You lot just want to boogie."

And boogie we did. It was the start of an electrifying encore series that concluded a pressure cooker set by one of Britain's most talented contemporary musicians.

Jools would never make the finals of Pop Idol. He's short, slightly overweight and well past 43, and would never claim to having the sparkiest voice on the bonfire.


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But he's an incredible presence, fantastically gifted as a pianist, both as an improviser and an organiser. He pulls his big band — now 17 strong — together like a maestro, all of them individually skilled soloists and collective team players.

The pressure cooker simmered away throughout a set packed with blues, big band, b-bop and swing, colours of every shade and masters of everything.

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The lid came off in the encore with the rousing I'm In A Dancing Mood and slowed again with Sam Brown's delectable Valentine Blue.

When Jools' purple braces finally slipped down the smile broke again across that pale face and the master organiser converted his ecstatic crowd into four harmonic vocal groups, which he described as the Four Tops and manipulated into performing some highly passable harmonies.

He walked off, jacket over shoulder, beaming brightly as a Catherine wheel — just like his audience. And he's back again tonight with another UEA sell-out gig. What a star. What a night.

James Ruddy

 

 

 

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