John Wilson Orchestra, with Gary Williams - The Standard review

John Wilson Orchestra and Gary WilliamsLive! On the Park, SW1 3 out of 5 stars Review by Jack Massarik

The men in black live on!

Back in the Fifties, when Saturday nights witnessed a million slow-dancing courtship rituals at the local Palais, every town had bands like this. John Wilson, one of those retro young men who wears a black tuxedo as comfortably as pajamas, wants to bring them back.

Among the 17 men in black dusting down their Hollywood scores so stylishly last night were a few strong jazz soloists, notably trombonist Mark Nightingale and saxophonist Andy Panayi, but the emphasis was on a tight ensemble sound, complete with unison breaks for the saxes or trombones.

Hipper arrangements included Sixteen Men Swingin', a Basie favourite by Ernie Wilkins, and a speedy version of Hello Young Lovers, sung Sinatra-style by Gary Williams. Music to Watch Girls By also got the ring-a-ding-ding treatment from Williams, for whom an OBE must mean the 01' Blue Eyes slot in a Rat-Pack tribute show. Indeed, with so many Frankophiles around, the time has surely come for Las Vegas to host an annual convention for them, Elvis style. A Sinatrathon.

Until then it's too early to talk about a danceband revival, but there's something very British about obsessive young men playing quaint old music. Remember the Trad boom?

View the complete Reviews archive »