Jools Holland brings his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra to Hastings

Jools Holland
Jools Holland

Pianist and presenter Jools Holland plays the White Rock Theatre, Hastings, on Wednesday, June 5 (7.30pm).

He will be joined by his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra featuring Gilson Lavis with guests Pauline Black and Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson from The Selecter.

The guest vocalists will be Mabel Ray, Ruby Turner and Louise Marshall.

Jools says: “We’ve got a whole big band, which is unusual. It’s not just a horn section, it’s a whole five saxophones, three trombones, three trumpets, organ, singers and all of that. Drums, guitar, bass, led by the piano. And that is the same configuration that people like Count Basie or Duke Ellington would have had. So it’s a big configuration, a very dynamic configuration, because when all the horns play, it’s like a really exciting thing, and as well as playing our own modern things, we’ve got things from the past just boogied up a little bit more, like Lionel Hampton stuff or ska music.”

It’s fun but being a bandleader is no easy task and it requires constant coordination.

“It’s important to hear everybody’s voice in the orchestra,” Jools explains. “Each person has a solo, even if it’s only a short solo, so you’re aware of who everybody is. It also means that as the set goes on, there’s always something new happening. If there’s not a new guest coming on, there’s a soloist who you haven’t seen. Sometimes if I change things around at the last minute, it gets all that out, so you then have to get somebody out to do a solo on something that they wouldn’t have done, and it all becomes a bit of a complicated system of pointing. I look like a bookmaker on a track, tapping my shoulder and holding three fingers up and all of that.”

“I’ve learned a lot by looking at old films of people that had big bands,” Jools adds. “Like that the soloist had to come to the front to do their solo, otherwise you didn’t notice that they’d done a solo sometimes.

“And of course a lot of the great bands that I liked, the earlier ones, were led by piano players, whether it was Count Basie or Duke Ellington, or Lionel Hampton on the vibraphone.”

Tickets from £40.50. Call the box office on 01424 462288,