A review of the Root Ma Toot big Band at the Ironworks, Inverness on the 1st of February, 2013.
Tonight, Inverness Ironworks hosted the Root Ma Toot big Band all the way from Inverness. Classic Big Band Swing, Jazz and Jump Jive were all on show tonight from this 16 piece band, plus the singers. Is this the most performers of a band playing at the Ironworks? Can’t be far away.
The Ironworks was dressed as a smoky bar, though thankfully the smoking ban remains ever present. The band played down on the floor, with a dance floor ringed by tables. A great move to set up the venue like this. The band and the audience were as one and there was a friendly warmth throughout the night.
Tonight promised a journey from the 20s and 30s through the big band era with stop offs along way in cinematic history.
So 16 of them… 4 trombones, 4 trumpet and 4 sax with some of the sax players doubling on clarinet and flute. Add keys, bass, drums and guitar and that is one mighty sound. From the very beginning of the evening, the big Ironworks PA system had the band sounding huge and powerful with arrangements that reflected a keen sense of dynamics given the size of the band.
The dance floor was full from very early in the set, the infectious beats and rhythm proving too hard to resist. The glammed up ladies and their well-heeled gents had a great evening on the dance floor, some of whom may even rival the strictly Inverness competitors.
Remarkable that the music is, the crowning glory was the depth of singing talent on show. Des Divine, Gillian Anderson and Julie Keen lent their impressive vocal chords to a range of songs from Sinatra to Fred and Ginger to Frankie Valli.
The only distraction, for me, was the lengthy introductions to each group of songs, particularly in the first half which allowed the dance floor to empty rather than build on the momentum. It was helpful to know where the songs had come from but it felt a wee bit too much like education than fun. Nothing could really ruin the night, from the excellent arrangements to the virtuoso solo work of Roy Stevenson this was just a great show by a great band.
Root ma Toot will no doubt grace the local venues again before long and are well worth a listen – you may even end up dancing cheek to cheek!
See other articles by Jim Kennedy.