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Cool Jools is keyed up

JOOLS Holland's rare combination of gifted pianist, popular bandleader and eloquent TV presenter has earned him worldwide respect from fans and musicians alike.

It was no surprise then to find the Princes Hall in Aldershot jam-packed on April 17, where he performed with his 17-piece rhythm and blues orchestra.

Tickets sold out in January and the audience was anticipating a good show before Jools took to the stage.

It was immediately apparent that Jools' plan was to give us a good time and get us off our backsides.

He, for one, certainly had no intention of sitting sedately at his piano. Boogie woogie, soul, blues and ska with keyboards, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, drums, guitars and vocals was bound to get us on our feet, and his determination to wander around the stage encouraging band members to show off their individual style meant the evening was entirely unpredictable.

With every member of the band being a master of their instrument, the quality of musicianship was truly awe-inspiring, but one of the real stars of the evening was Jamaican-born virtuoso trombonist Rico Rodreguez, who gave complete authenticity to the ska music.

Sadly Jools' generosity to his fellow musicians left him little time to demonstrate his unaccompanied playing, so when he did treat us to a rare piano break it left us stunned and demanding much, much more.

During the two encores Gilson Lavis, "wild man" drummer with Jools since the 70s and the Squeeze days, gave a performance that might explain how he got his reputation, and Sam Brown came to the front to prove she can belt it out as good as any blues singer.

But we left the Princes Hall still wanting more of Jools. Which is just as it's meant to be.

If you missed Jools in Aldershot, all is not lost. He will be at the Guildford Festival on July 19 and the Guildford Civic on December 1.

Review by Jackie Larmour.


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