There was an exuberant and theatrical vibe at the Queen Elizabeth Hall for Chineke!’s most-recent outing; this time the emphasis was on jazz. The curtain-raiser was Aaron Copland’s Music for the Theater (1924), a zany caper in five movements and here showcasing the outstanding talents of trumpeters Gabriel Dias and Jay Phelps, and the ensemble of eighteen captured the rapidly changing moods of knockabout humour and pathos with precision and swing. George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue followed, in its original scoring for Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra. The bravura clarinet opening yowled through the hall, Mariam Adam setting the standard for an impassioned and impeccable account, infused with soul, and in which Stewart Goodyear thrilled with improvised and embellished cadenzas.
Julian Joseph’s Carry that Sound encompasses the musical language of symphony orchestra, big band and chamber ensemble with impressive writing for strings and an irresistible sax trio. Rushing violins underpin punchy melodies for clarinet and trumpet and the dramatic use of percussion and timpani rolls brings the work to a dramatic close. Chineke! performed with enormous verve and energy; and the Weill (Suite from The Threepenny Opera), with its jazz and cabaret references, linked well to what had gone before. Parody and humour were also to be found in Jacques Ibert’s Divertissement, of contrasting moods and French sophistication, and with a surreal piano cadenza from Zeynep Özsuca.