Review – Swing with the Rat Pack

Glenroy Auditorium
21 November 2009
Conductor: Steve Miles
Guests: Douglas Kamo, Rob Enari and Kris Bate

The Rat Pack reincarnated returned to Dunedin on Saturday night as slick, smooth and funny as the original Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr and Frank Sinatra. A full house in the Glenroy auditorium loved every minute of the smooth crooning, irreverent humour and stylish moves of the local cool cats: Douglas Kamo, Rob Enari and Kris Bate.

This was an excellent concert put on by St Kilda Brass: all the great songs were there, delivered with the panache, if not quite the vocal qualities, of the original “rats”. Kamo, Enari and Bate were all over the auditorium working the audience with all the skills, humour and charm of the originals. No one was safe: audience member Avis (“Isn’t that a rental company?” quipped Kamo) found herself on stage lying across rat pack knees being serenaded in a love song. Audience participation was mandatory and great fun – a Mexican wave for That’s Amore, phonetic punctuation for Doe a Deer and finger clicking and clapping along all adding to the success of songs like My WayNew York, New York and Mack the Knife.

All credit to musical director Steve Miles whose roles included conductor, compere, singer and arranger. His idiomatic arrangements transformed St Kilda Brass into a swing big band: cornets discarded for Freddie Hubbard-style trumpets complete with screamers and fall-offs, and the middle of the band imitating saxophones. At the heart of the accompaniment was a strong rhythm section of Stuart Walker (keyboards), Ian McCabe (bass guitar) and Daniel Dance (drums) who kept up a high energy backing.

Opening each half alone, St Kilda Brass displayed quality soloists of its own with Ralph Miller giving a splendid account of the Harry James Trumpet Concerto, principal cornet John Lewis all style in Georgia on my Mindand Ted “foot-long” Pheloung delivering Just a Closer Walk with New Orleans-style jazz panache.

St Kilda Brass is to be congratulated on its innovative Southern Victorian Charitable Trust concert series. For the last couple of years they have shown that the modern brass band is a versatile and exciting ensemble that can put on imaginative programmes and professional, entertaining concerts.

Peter Adams

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