CAMBRIDGE GROOVE ORCHESTRA - CITYWIDE
CAMBRIDGE GROOVE ORCHESTRA
Jesus Green must be one of the densest playgrounds in Europe. Hectare for hectare there is more social contact here than St.Mark’s Square.. Summer means knots of post- exam youngster huddled round guitars, trysts between couples both trying to speak English to each other, T’ai Chi, football, hockey school runs and races and a skateboard park .
And music. On Sundays in the season, bands traditionally entertain a deckchair- based crowd, and on their latest foray, the complex rhythms of the Cambridge Groove Orchestra created a superb soundscape. To judge from the audience response, they have instant appeal. Walking slap bang into this swing outfit on a sunny afternoon is a confrontation with a virtual wall of jazz sounds.
They are a dream of a band – big bold and brassy - literally - six saxophones four trombones and four trumpets - and a spirit of uplifting razzamatazz . Amateur does mean someone who plays for love of the art and Cambridge Groove Orchestra fit that definition. They are super well -equipped to handle the demands of outdoor community performance; babies might yell, friends chat on, even Fair music blast out but the Cambridge Groove Orchestra play on. A large audience listened rapt at their last gig in mid-June in a long double set on Jesus Green . It featured no fewer than twenty four fully orchestrated numbers.
And there’s more. Singers. Sometimes a rare breed but here they lend personality to the whole performance and frame their own slots with long band riffs in the classical jazz band style.
Cool vocalist Chloe looks and sounds as if she stepped out of a Paris St. Germaine jazz club in the era of Juliette Greco . Her opener ‘Almost like being in Love’ emerged effortlessly from a smooth contralto voice and she warmed up the atmosphere later with a sultry ‘Fever’ without over-doing the eroticism. Her version of ‘But not for Me’ was pure Judy Garland .. A good female vocalist like this always lifts a band out of the ordinary and Cambridge Groove Orchestra have two. Julie, with a gutsy big belting style, gave us - possibly predictably - ‘Big Spender’ and a nuanced ‘Evergreen’ in more muted mode. Julie closed the first set with an exuberant ‘Get Happy’ and the audience did just that. Greg the band’s male crooner is an entertainer to his fingertips, singing ‘Bad Bad Leroy Brown’ for an opener and ‘Minnie the Moocher’ to close, both delivered with sassy fun.
Lindy hoppers hopped, children danced, one couple tenderly smooched. This was music for the love of it and the audience relaxed in response.
The Cambridge Groove Orchestra may proudly play for pleasure – rehearsals are only fortnightly, but what is so surprisingly attractive is the professional nature of this under- lauded outfit. Between them they must clock up hundreds of years of good solid knowledgeable music making. Band organizer Gavin is superbly in charge from piano and the entire sonic impact is underscored by a brilliant bass, Alan and Neal’s resonant drums. Mike, a sleek guitarist helps the unity of the sound and conducts the entire enterprise. A joyous noise , this band is destined for more acclaim and certainly deserve it.
The Cambridge Groove Orchestra is poised to perform at two more large community events before the end of the summer; Cambridge Big Weekend 7th Julyt on Parker’s Piece and the Lode Beer Festival, Monday 27th August at Lode.