The Glenn Miller Orchestra
Directed by Ray McVay
Barbican Hall, London
Monday 30th, January, 2002
“Good clean fun” doesn’t mean boring. It means enjoying yourself in a way that leaves you lighter and uplifted. My normal inclination is towards Russian melodrama. I cannot, however, resist swing and Lindy Hop. So last night was the perfect night out: hand-jiving to the tunes of The Glenn Miller Orchestra at The Barbican. There are no original members left, but Musical Director Ray McVay has met and worked with them all and knows what he is about.
Whenever I hear a great orchestra or band I want to see dancers perform alongside. So I was thrilled with the large expanse of unused stage in front of the big band was used to great effect by four members of the Jiving Lindy Hoppers. I was even more thrilled when they came down in to the auditorium to select members of the audience to lead or follow, as the case may be, to “Little Brown Jug.” The sound of Glenn Miller, whether it be music he composed or music he arranged, is phenomenal and it united those who were so frail that they had practically to be carried to their seats with those so young that their parents had to teach them the rudiments of hand-jiving. All ages, all classes, all nationalities. A truly great evening. It made me want to rush along to Oxford Street’s “100 Club” for a hop and a jive. If you do not know this place I recommend that you try a Monday evening. Every jiver and hopper in London and beyond comes out of the woodwork from 9pm for a drink and a dance to a different live band every week. You need not be a dancer either to enter or to enjoy.
Having dancers on stage, if good, can really enhance what is primarily a concert. The Barbican does it well. Rostropovich conducting Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” while soloists of the Lithuanian Ballet performed earlier this year did not in any way detract from the orchestra assembled for Rostropovich’s 75th birthday celebrations. I am looking forward to JazzXchange performing with Wynton Marsalis and The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in Barbican Hall on 27th January, 2003.