Last Blast

The final concert of The Echoes of Ellington Orchestra.

Echoes of Ellington, the swing orchestra beloved by Lindy Hoppers, made its farewell appearance at London's 100 Club on Thursday 19 October 2000. Dancers turned out in force to hear the band one last time, and the audience was swelled by friends and relatives of the musicians, as well as bandleader Pete Long's new employer Jools Holland.

The orchestra played 24 songs across three sets, and included many of the dancers' favourites. In particular, Ron Leslie put in his requests with Long, and the first set started with Suddenly It Jumped. Long then invited Ron to the stage in order to count in Let's Get Together at his preferred tempo.

Echoes of Ellington
Trombones to the fore in Echoes brass section
Echoes rhythm section Eyes to the score for the Echoes rhythm boys

For one last time, Pete Long told the long and rambling story about subway train polarity exchanges, as a preamble to Take The A Train. The song itself featured some stunning sax by Iain Dixon and a fine vocal by Patti Revell. This was a night for great bonhommie, and the only danger of falling out came from Mrs. Revell's dress.

The clarinet trio had a final run through The Mooche, a slow and sultry blues, before pianist Don Innes had his moment in the spotlight with Duke's first composition Soda Fountain Rag. Mrs. Revell returned for The Camping Song aka Caravan, before the first set closed with Such Sweet Thunder.

Ron Leslie and Becky Crane
Ron Leslie and Becky Crane

Don Innes' piano opened Perdido for the second set, joined by Pete Long's soaring and weaving clarinet, before Mike Lovatt added some powerful trumpet. Patti Revell sung I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues, followed by a lively C Jam Blues, and the orchestra closed the second set with the Ellington arrangement of Stompin' At The Savoy. This prompted a mass Shim Sham, with all the dancers lining up against the back wall, causing chair-bound patrons to strain their necks as they turned round to see the action.

Saxophonist Jay Craig joined the band for the final set, hot foot from another engagement that night. Fellow sax player Colin Skinner played a stunning instrumental version of Prelude To A Kiss, before Patti rejoined the troops for her rendition of Bli-Blip, another dance favourite, and stayed for I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good). It was back to the dance floor for Satin Doll.

And so to the final number. Mood Indigo has always possessed a melancholy feel, and here it added to the poignancy of the occasion. On the stroke of midnight, the song, the set and the orchestra ended. The crowd and stomped and shouted for more, like a frenzied stomping shouting thing, but it was not to be. Pete Long was off the bandstand and away.

Patti Revell
Patti Revell gives a skin-tight performance

When Swing Time caught up with Pete afterwards, he was in conversation with Jools Holland. How did you enjoy the gig, Jools? "We made the last half-hour, and it was excellent, really good" said the famed ivory-tinkler. "You know", he added, "not only are they great musicians, but they play from the heart, they play with real heart". Pretty rich coming from the person causing the break-up of the band! (Kidding!).

With Stacey Kent's solo success probably meaning the demise of Vile Bodies, this is not a good time for lovers of big band swing. With only James Langton to carry flag, future nights like this will be few and far between. But tonight belonged to Pete Long and The Echoes of Ellington Orchestra, and tonight as with every night, they gave of their best. No hat or stuffed dog for the farewell, but plenty of memories of great swing and good humour.

The full set list for this final evening for Echoes of Ellington was:

First Set Second Set Third Set
Suddenly It Jumped Perdido Rockin' In Rhythm
Let's Get Together Morning Glory Cottontail
Take The A Train Clementine Prelude To A Kiss
Lost In Meditation Snibor Bli-Blip
Johnny Come Lately I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)
The Mooche C Jam Blues Satin Doll
Black Butterfly Stompin' At The Savoy Mood Indigo
Soda Fountain Rag    
Such Sweet Thunder    

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