Mark Dobbin reports on Jools Holland & his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra – Cambridge Corn Exchange, 4 Nov 2006

Artist Visiting Cambridgeshire
Jools' 16 piece orchestra may well be touring under the ‘rhythm and blues' banner, but there was something for all audience tastes, both standing and seated, during a versatile, breezy 125 minute set.

Holland's boogie-woogie keyboard skills came well to the fore early on, for the thrilling Beat Route and Bumble Boogie, while the band - trombones, saxophones, guitars, drums, Jools' piano and more - rounded up on rousing jazz standard Tuxedo Junction. Called back for an encore, legendary Jamaican trombonist Rico Rodriguez was even persuaded to sing some reggae.

Country music, plus Ray Charles, was regularly referenced. Why not incorporate both? Guest vocalists Ruby Turner and Lulu gave powerful and emotional interpretations of Take These Chains From My Heart and I Can't Stop Loving You from Charles' early -1960s venture into country. Lulu inevitably finished her spot with a belting version of the Isley Brothers Shout, where it all began for her - with a No.7 UK hit - 42 years ago.

Louise Marshall, first guest singer on stage, is neither as well known as the above two ladies, nor the star-studded line-up she joins on Jools' R&B Orchestra's latest CD Moving Out to the Country - including Tom Jones, Bob Geldof, KT Tunstall, Solomon Burke. But as the keyboard player said in his introduction of the young performer: 'You will be hearing a lot more of her.' Marshall won the audience over immediately with a highly individual interpretation of Patsy Cline's country classic Sweet Dreams.

Jools Holland's R & B Orchestra, with vocalists old and new, are polished and professional; Jools meanwhile has been around long enough to be both perfect front man, plus knowing when to pull out all the musical stops.

2006 Copyright © Moving Tone Ltd.

Writer: Mark Dobbin