Brighton Festival Review – Music: New Regency Orchestra at Brighton Dome

They smashed it!

Only formed in 2021, the New Regency Orchestra came, saw and conquered their biggest gig so far at Brighton Dome on Sunday night for Brighton Festival.

Since their formation, only one year ago (how have they been so productive in such a short time?!), this very large group of 20 talented jazz and Cubano musicians have been namechecked by BBC6 and Jazz aficionado Gilles Peterson amongst other luminaries for their hard-blowing style for hard times.

This formidable yet cheerful mix of  jazz and Latin music talent was a very welcome addition to this year’s festival. As the doors opened to the venue, it seemed like it would be a quiet night, but in true Latino fashion, as the band took the stage, a sudden surge packed the audience and the dance floor out to capacity.

Taking the stage in their vast and talented numbers, and wearing a very cool ensemble of 70’s themed band t shirts, NRO, conducted by Nathaniel Cross and supported by album notes by loquacious multi-instrumentalist Crispin Spry Robinson, performed hits from the work of Machaito including his key album from 1957 Kenya, and Dizzy Gillespie’s Tin Tin Deo.

Much of their inspiration comes from the groundbreaking venue, the Palladium Ballroom, a New York City night club which opened in 1946, and which began the US mambo craze as well as featuring all the greats including Chano Pozo and Machito.

Offering up a sizzling mix of Jazz and Latin from the 50s to the 70s, the audience shed their very British reserve, and encouraged by two charismatic dancers (formerly of the Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba) accompanying the band, let our hair down after two long years of isolation.

Encouraging us to get involved, there were lots of opportunities for audience call and response “Ya basta llego”, and the background explained to much of the music, as well as some great solos from the ensemble.  I haven’t danced so much in years. This big group is going to get bigger!

The band is curated by DJ/compiler Lex Blondin, founder of Hackney’s much-loved underground venue Total Refreshment Centre and now the popular Church of Sound night.

Full line up:
Conducted by Nathaniel Cross
MD/Congas : Crispin Spry-Robinson
Piano/ Arr : Eliane Correa
Percussions + Vox : Flavio Correa
Double Bass / Synth bass : Frank Portuando
Timbales : Ernesto Marichales
Trumpet : Yelfris Valdes
Trumpet + Vox: Eikel Venegas
Trumpet + Vox : Rolando Domingo
Trumpet : Jay Phelps
Saxophone : Tamar Osbourne
Saxophone : Christian Pacheco
Saxophone : Richie Garrison
Saxophone : Josephine Davies
Trombone: Rosie Turton
Trombone : Landy Diaz
Trombone : Joe Bristow

New Regency Orchestra is part of Brighton Festival 2022, running 7 – 29 May

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