BWW Review: Stratford Summer Music puts on a Fun Night of Jazz with John MacLeod's REX HOTEL ORCHESTRA

BWW Review: Stratford Summer Music puts on a Fun Night of Jazz with John MacLeod's REX HOTEL ORCHESTRA

On Friday evening, BWW had the pleasure of taking in some fantastic live jazz music as part of the Stratford Summer Music Festival's cabaret series. The venue was the always-enchanting Revival House, and on stage was John MacLeod's Rex Hotel Orchestra featuring vocalist Carol McCartney.

After a brief hiccup caused by a storm related power outage, everything got underway and the packed audience was treated to some wonderful jazz standards being performed by a glorious full orchestra.

Throughout the evening, John MacLeod, who served as both band director and a trumpeter, introduced various members of the orchestra-usually those who we were about to hear from in the form of a solo in the next number. On one occasion, he introduced a member of the trumpet section who had once been a musician for the Stratford Festival. At MacLeod's urging, he began performing the all too well know fanfare that patrons hear before a show at the Festival Theatre. He then ended it with a quick, improvised jazzed up version. These fun moments were sprinkled throughout the evening. It was clear that both MacLeod and vocalist Carol McCartney knew the band well. The fun-loving camaraderie was between everyone was a delightful added element to the evening.

A few songs into each set, Carol McCartney was invited onto the stage to sing with the orchestra. With standards like 'Just You, Just Me', 'Just Friends,' and 'Day in, Day Out' McCartney's gorgeous voice and MacLeod's hopping band had the audience tapping their feet and cheering for each featured soloist.

One number that was of particular interest to the Stratford crowd was 'Half the Fun'-which was written by Duke Ellington as the theme for the play Antoni and Cleopatra when he wrote a suite for what was then the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in 1957. Featuring a sultry alto saxophone solo by John Johnson, and feeling like it almost belonged in a Bond movie, this number was a memorable one.

Revival House is a great venue for big band music, now more than ever because modifications have recently been made to improve the acoustics in the room. The acoustics were excellent, so this has clearly paid off.

All in all, it was a fabulous night of music, and the audience (made up of a variety of age demographics) seemed to enjoy it thoroughly.

If you want to see more of the Rex Hotel Orchestra, they perform at the Rex Hotel on the last Monday of every month from September until June.

For more information on the various performances continuing to take place as part of the Stratford Summer Music Festival, check out their website at:

https://stratfordsummermusic.ca/page.php?id=3&name=home.php

Photo Credit: Rex Hotel Orchestra and Stratford Summer Music Festival

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From This Author Lauren Gienow

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