Peter Ripper Benefit Night

The stars turn out for the invalided saxophonist.

   Stars of the contemporary jazz and swing scene turned out on Thursday 6 January 2005 at London's 100 Club to raise money for one of their number, Peter Ripper. The sax player, a regular in Pete Long's ensembles, has fallen and become paralysed. Fortunately, the diagnosis is good for him to be up and about by the end of the year .

Early arrivals were treated to The Alan Grahame Quartet, providing some nice vibes sounds (or as Mr Long called it "the haunted radiator") to start off the evening. Pete Long was moving among the crowd, selling raffle tickets with a difference. The difference was that there was a draw for a winner, but no prize. But as it was all going to a good cause, no one seemed to mind.

The Ray Gelato Giants were next to take the stage, opening with a breakneck version of Basie  classic Air Mail Special. Ray was fought every inch of the way by Alex Garnett. It was then time to slow things down with My Kind Of Girl, which had the added distraction of Pete Long shouting some improvised back up vocals.

Ray then delivered a medley of Louis Prima songs with his own backing singers, the rudely-named Butt-Tones. Other selections included a sublime version of When You're Smiling and an Illinois Jacquet number dedicated to journalist Peter Vacher. They closed their set with Oh Marie, another Prima prime cut.

With a shout of "Be quiet you rude bastards!", Pete Long announced the opening of the second half starting with Gillespiana. Pete Long was now directing from the front, and led the band through a selection of Dizzy Gillespie standards, beginning with Our Delight, followed by the equally challenging but danceable Emanon.

It was a delight for the dancers who turned up on the night. Surprisingly, there were not many. Where else could you get so much good live music - and donate to a good cause?

Richard Shelton
Is it Frank? Richard Shelton as Ol' Blue Eyes
Patti Revell
Behind the hair, Patti Revell sings Ellington

It was then time to introduce some of the guest vocalists for the evening. Peter Swan sang Nice 'n' Easy and The Lady Is A Tramp. He was followed by Richard Shelton, who was ably backed by Echoes of Ellington as he launched into the Frank Sinatra songbook, opening with a raucous version of Luck Be A Lady Tonight. This is from Guys 'n' Dolls, which is returning to the West End with Ewan MacGregor. This part of the show closed with a sensational salsa/samba version of My Way.

The final part of the evening kicked off with Take The 'A' Train, as  Echoes of Ellington rolled into action in their own right. A delightful vocal by Patti Revell came complete with call and responses from the rest of the orchestra. The set included a quite sensational version of Perdido, featuring Bruce Adams on trumpet.

The evening ended with Clare Teal on stage, belting out some lovely jazz and swing numbers. Simon Wallace took over the conducting duties, and led the band into Messing With Fire, an uptempo, brassy swing number, before asking to Teach Me About Love

Pete Long wound up the show just before the witching hour, leading the orchestra into a brief but shambolic version of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's sign-off piece, Goodbye. A great night's music and entertainment - and let's hope we see Peter Ripper back on the bandstand before 2005 is out.

2005 Andrew Winton.

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