Reformed in 2002 by the late Jim Marshall, the 17-strong band has really taken off and now travels to perform outside Caithness including taking part in the BBC National Big Band Competition. The repertoire includes Ellington, Basie, Dorsey and Glenn Miller.
The Jazz Exchange weekend came to a rousing climax on Sunday night with the Caithness Big Band in their brand-new scarlet stage gear giving a very polished performance which met with the warmest audience response. During the interval there was quite a lot of re-arranging on stage as the music stands disappeared, the Steinway was moved into position and microphones were set up. The second set began with NYJOS giving a performance of some of the numbers they had played the night before, but unlike then, by now the local musicians had had the opportunity to meet the NYJOS band members and had spent the day working with them so the vibe that was buzzing around the room was one of familiarity, friendship and mutual interest. As a result the young musicians really sparkled during their solos and stretched themselves to the full.
Then the high point of the evening arrived with everyone on stage creating a 23-piece Mega-Band. They played a couple of numbers they had prepared earlier at the all-day workshop including Dizzy Gillespie’s “Birks Works” featuring all musicians in a kaleidoscope of trios, duets and solos. This pushed participants to the full as, suddenly on cue from leader Malcolm Edmonstone, they each had to join in and improvise on time to keep the music flowing. Then in true show-biz style they played their way off-stage and around the foyer, returning full-throttle to take a final bow.