Monday, February 14, 2011

Concert Review - Big Band 89

Big Band 89 – conducted by Andrew Read
Kulturhus Borne – 13 February 2011

On arriving in the Netherlands some 6 months ago I was pleasantly surprised to find the Big Band scene alive and well. I would appear the every city, town and village has at least one big band either amateur, semi-pro or professional. Big Band 89 falls into the amateur category however based on their performance in Borne last Sunday one could have easily thought this not to be the case.

The concert comprised two sets of mainstream big band repertoire drawn largely from the 40’s and 50’s. The concert opend with Neal Hefti’s “Splanky”. I missed the tutti into that was replaced here with a welcome speech. The band picked up the tempo in the second piece Choo Choo Ch Boogie made famous by Louis Jordan and featured a strong trumpet solo from Marco Wind. Vocalists Wilma van Diepen and Henk Bleumink provided a well balanced vocal set including a duet arrangement of “I thought about you”. The highlight of this set was Quincy Jones beautiful ballad “Quintessence” featuring alto player Willy van Diepen. Van Diepen displayed great sensitivity and inventiveness in this piece and his sound reminded me of the Phil Woods original.

The Second set was opened with an arrangement of “Fever” sung by Wilma van Diepen (are they family?). In this piece band displayed a wide range of dynamics providing a strong accompaniment for the vocals. The vocal block was followed by a strong rendition of “Sing Sing Sing” made famous by Benny Goodman and featured drummer Jan ter Maat in a solo the Gene Krupa would be proud of. Vocalist Henk Bleumink provided a rendition of Mack the Knife switching between English and German lyrics. Personally I would have preferred a pure English rendition however judging by the applause, the public would probably not agree with me on this point. The show closed with a great rendition of the classic “In the mood” leaving the packed house screaming for more.

Big Band 89 performed with passion and energy throughout this concert and displayed a true affinity with the style. I do have to admit that I didn’t know what to expect Sunday not having heard this band before, however any preconceived doubts I may have had were quickly dispelled. Judging by the sold out hall, I am now convinced that the great American big band tradition is alive and well and living in the Netherlands. I hope to hear more from this band in the future.
Johan van Deeg

more informantion about Big Band 89 at


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