Tim Garland's Northern Underground Orchestra

DAVID WAKEFIELD Norwich Arts Centre

DAVID WAKEFIELD

Norwich Arts Centre

“We're having an absolute ball on this tour,” declared Tim Garland - and that was even before this terrific gig kicked off. And it transpired that we, the audience, had quite a ball, too.

Garland, multi-reed expert and project leader extraordinaire, heads a number of ensembles, but none, surely, better than this punchy 14-piece outfit that proved to be right on the money for its precision playing of some outstanding arrangements.

Much of the material was taken from the band's new album, Due North, and the opening number, Richard Iles's Toon Town, got the evening off to a rip-roaring start.

The standard never dropped, with tight ensembles, fine soloing and, suitably for Halloween, a touch of humour with musicians vying to introduce suitable “quotes”.

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The solos came thick and fast with Gwilym Simcock, Andy Schofield and Paul Booth showing their paces, and virtuoso guitarist Mike Walker hitting John Scofield heights on Terminal X. Soul diva Hannah Jones proved to be the vocal icing on the cake.

We don't get many top-class big bands in Norwich, and this is one that should return as soon as possible.