Transported from Menston back to the 1960s, when I set up my first business venture in Soho, London, the ‘Board’ (all two of us) met on the first floor of an Italian restaurant right opposite Ronnie Scott’s club in Frith Street. Sitting at ‘our’ table by the open window twice or more a week we heard the best of jazz for free, though we could not resist often wandering over into the club itself before the night was done.
It was not only the music at St Mary’s Menston on 9 May which transported me back to those days, but if ‘free’ was a bargain at that time then the £5 ticket for the ‘Spirit of Madiba’ concert, paying tribute to Nelson Mandela, was – for someone who winces at the price for a decent seat to see/hear Opera North at the Leeds Grand – a steal.
The concert was organised by St Mary’s Menston and the Leeds Youth Jazz and Rock Orchestra (LYJRO) to raise money for the Menston school’s Bambisanani Partnership project, a unique partnership with Mnyakanya High School situated in one of South Africa’s poorest rural areas, and for the intended trip to Africa this year by the LYJRO.
St Mary’s jazz band and the LYJRO provided the jazz but this was augmented by wonderful singing from several soloists and groups including the Madrigals, music from the school’s Senior Choir, Pop Choir, musicians and singers from Benton Park and Cardinal Heenan, and even a St Mary’s ukulele band,
Hopefully the pictures below (click on any one to begin a slide show of them all) gives something of the flavour of a magnificent evening – superb music and a wonderful atmosphere. The concert has become an annual event so if you missed it this year make sure you do not in 2015!