Pizza Express All Stars
DAVID WAKEFIELD Norwich Playhouse
> Norwich Playhouse
If you like your jazz familiar, easy-going and varied, then look no further than this band. Led by British tenor-sax legend Tommy Whittle, and with a nice mix of youth and experience in the ranks, the All Stars laid down an evening of pure enjoyment on Friday.
Anyone expecting a programme of churned-out standards would have been disappointed, for here was a line-up willing and able to play in a number of styles – a mini Count Basie band in Jive At Five; a re-creation of a Benny Goodman small group for clarinettist Julian Marc Stringle's featured number After You've Gone; and, best of all, echoes of the Louis Armstrong All Stars in Royal Garden Blues, all played with a freshness and verve that delighted the audience.
Also in the front line were trumpeter Enrico Tomaso and, standing in for Roy Williams, Chris Gower, a player who shares the same nimble fluidity on trombone. Driving the band were Allan Ganley (drums), Len Skeat (bass) and, on piano, Martin Litton, displaying the two-fisted technique that has made him one of the most versatile players on the British scene. Singer Barbara Jay (Mrs Whittle!) joined the band for several numbers.
The Pizza Express branding has long been associated with jazz. They make excellent pizzas – the jazz is even better!