Ray Gelato’s Giants join South Coast Jazz Festival

Ray Gelato
Ray Gelato

Ray Gelato’s Giants provide the finale for this year’s South Coast Jazz Festival at Shoreham’s Ropetackle.

They will be teaming up with festival organiser and jazz singer Claire Martin who will guest with them on Sunday, January 29.

Ray and Claire will be bringing with them a shared musical history. They have been working together for a while, touring their A Swingin’ Affair show.

“This isn’t that show, though,” Ray specifies. “She will be doing a couple of guest numbers with my seven-piece. I have worked with Claire for many years. We officially decided to get together to do a show about two years ago.

“It meant we could do something different. I don’t think there are many boy-girl vocal duets going around. It is something from the past. We brought it up to date. We both like swinging music. We both love the American songbook. We both believe in giving people that come to see us a great time. It was a nice little thing to do. We did an album together.

“It’s simple. You can do anything you like as a duet. You just do a few harmonies, and we have got a few favourites. And I wrote a few songs for the album as well.”

Contrasting voices are the key: “It’s just male and female voices. She is a real singer. I am the foil. I don’t consider myself a vocalist in her league at all!”

As for Ray’s band, they have been going since 1995. Of the originals, Ray is the only one left: “People go on to do other things, which is great. You have got to keep things fresh. The longest-staying member has been with me for 15 years now. Half the band has been there at least ten years, and we have got a couple of new people, and that keeps it all new. It is important. If someone gets fed up or wants to go and do something new, you have got to change things around. Some people stay a long, long time, and that’s good, but what we have got now is a really good mixture of the old guard and the new guys.

“The music is what we call jump music. Late 40s, once the big bands had finished, you had all those jumping combos. I call it jazz for the people. It is less involved than bee-bop. We have got some really nice arrangements. We do everything, Louis Jordan, Count Basie, some originals, a great mixture of stuff.

“And it is great to be involved with the South Coast Festival. We don’t play around that area very much. It is good to be involved.”

South Coast Jazz Festival:

Thursday, January 26: J-Sonics and Alec Dankworth, Spanish Accents, Neil Godwin’s Golden Oldies .

Friday, January 27: Zoe Rahman and Dennis Rollins’ Funky-Funk; Well Versed – Tools Of The Trade.

Saturday, January 28: Jim Mullen Organ Trio and Sarah Jane Morris; Jazz For Juniors Workshop.

Sunday, January 29: Ray Gelato’s Giants featuring Claire Martin.

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