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Review of Olly J Wedgwood Concert & Album 'From The Heart'

Superb – It’s only a matter of time!   Funky melodies, passionate ballads, Latin rhythms and beautifully crafted songs performed by Olly the Soul Jazz Boogie Band -  Based in Addlestone nr Weybridge Surrey

Olly Wedgwood has been playing with the Oxford Jazz Quintet, Jamie Cullum’s previous group before he rocketed to stardom (playing as Jamie Cullum's replacement on piano and vocals). Can Olly J follow in Jamie Cullum’s path and make it big with his versatile range of upbeat jazz, soul & funk together with engaging ballads & mainstream pop?

 

Although he plays concerts in 30,000 seater stadiums, Jamie Cullum is still honouring commitments to play at weddings & other private bookings made before he shot to fame and the people who made these bookings just can’t believe their luck!

 

Well I felt the same, turning up to a small intimate concert at The Riverhouse Barn in Walton Surrey, expecting to be pleasantly entertained, but no more than that. To my delight, I was blown away by a superb performance of quality musicianship and entertainment.

I had never seen Olly play live before and didn’t expect such a treat. The concert was to launch his new album ‘From the Heart’. Like most of the audience, I had never heard any of the tracks before and even star names have trouble commanding the attention of their fans with a whole album of new material.

Right from the start Olly showed that he is more than a talented musician and composer; he is an entertainer who thrives on live performances with his outgoing personality.

Listen to Olly's First Album "Just Friends" Listen To " From The Heart"

A special mention must be made for the superb musicianship of Olly’s friends – the band played the challenging set not just faultlessly but brilliantly – so tight and together with lead guitar, sax, clarinet, flute, bass & drums playing off each other, with short jamming spells to show their individual talents.

The set started up-tempo with the ‘upstream’ section of the album, nicely leading to the ‘interlude’. The second half ‘downstream’ - more mellow, chilled out music and then brought to a lively finale with some Latin American Calypso style songs and upbeat funk.

The set kicked off with ‘Everything I Need’ the first track from the album which has a funky intro and backbeat, exquisite rhythmic vocals and superb sax and trumpet licks – nicely into the grove, an impressive start indeed!

The album then goes a few more notches up-tempo with ‘Your Smile’ which lifts your spirits, and that’s precisely what it’s about - a celebration of how great you can feel when there’s someone special in your life to give you support through good times and bad. Again very rhythmic throughout, It features an impressive guitar solo and leaves you feeling upbeat and optimistic. Play this at home and you’ll find you get the housework done in half the time!

Showing their versatility, Ollie and friends gave solid performances of jazz & blues standards ‘Blue Skies’ (Irving Berlin made popular by Robin Williams & Eva Cassidy) and God Bless The Child (Billie Holiday).

This led into Olly’s next original composition, ‘Walking’ which is track 3 on the CD, another upbeat optimistic song with impressive scat vocals. I challenge you to keep still when you listen to this.

The set moved on to a lively version of Sweet Georgia Brown (in New Orleans style) and an enchanting version of ‘Nature Boy’ (Nat King Cole, David Bowie, Celine Dion) which Olly really put his emotions into. You believed the words were heartfelt ...”the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is, just to love and be loved in return”.

‘Freedom Dance’ (track 4 on the CD) was another surprise for the audience as Olly left the keyboard half-way through this number to demonstrate he has rhythm in his feet, as well as his voice, with a tap dancing ‘duel’ with the drums.

Behind the fun there’s a serious message in the lyrics of ‘Freedom Dance’, inspired by Amnesty International observing that in many countries just speaking the truth is breaking the law and can get you locked up. But if you’re non-political don’t be put off, the lyrics are meaningful but nothing’s rammed down your throat and you will be entertained by this number which is the last upbeat track on side one. Featuring punchy sax & trumpet interplay and rhythmic acoustic guitar and bass solos leading into that tap & drum ‘duel’. It was a brave thing to do, but I’m glad to report that far from being a gimmick the tap & drum routine is not just a triumph in the live performance but also works very well when listening to the CD.

On to the track which takes us from the upbeat (‘Upstream’) section of the CD towards the mellow (‘Downstream’) section called ‘Interlude’. It ‘s an instrumental which shows yet another side of the musicianship of Olly J & his band. This instrumental is no time filler; it is part of the album and live set on merit. Featuring wonderful flute & percussion throughout, it represents the journey of a river from the bubbly, fast upstream, to the gentle ballads ‘downstream’ as the river widens. A lovely track to make the transition,

Our tasty starters were followed by some desert in the shape of ‘Tutti Frutti’, a highly original version of the Little Richard Rock n Roll number performed in scat style, apparently one of Olly’s trademark songs at his gigs.

The second set was kicked off with ‘From The Heart’, another new song (track 6 on the CD). It’s about unattainable love - a devoted servant’s longing for the ‘princess’ he serves. It develops beautifully and has delicious sax and acoustic guitar supporting the quality vocals and piano playing of Olly.

We were then treated to an impressive jaz piano solo, with improvisation in the middle, titled ‘Sway’, followed by ‘What a Difference a Day Makes’ which developed from a slow intro into a samba style.

‘Right by Your Side’ (no 7 on the CD) came next, a nice mid-tempo number with meaningful lyrics, great rhythmic vocals and lovely interplay between piano and acoustic guitar. It’s a song you find yourself singing along to and would make a great single.

A jazz version of the standard ‘East of The Sun (and West of The Moon)’ was followed by a touch of Billy Joel – ‘She’s Got A Way’ performed solo by Olly on piano and vocals.

‘My Love’ (track 9 on the CD) has a lovely feeling of lazy summer days and a beautiful flow of rolling waves. This is punctuated with some glorious soaring electric guitar passages as the lyrics head skywards.

The penultimate song, ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ was served up in Calypso style.

Finishing off the set was ‘The Shepherd’s Song’, the last of the new compositions. It’s a story of a journey to an unfamiliar land in search of ‘treasure’ and a better life, being sent in a particular direction, being cheated and left not knowing which way to turn. Really also about the journey through life and observing that you can find real happiness by ‘following your heart’. A nice jazz influence but with a Latin flavour on the percussion. This up-tempo song had us feeling upbeat and demanding more.

We were treated to two encores, a chance to hear a second performance of ‘Everything I Need’ which was followed by a jazz rendition of the popular Gershwin standard ‘S’Wonderful’.

The quality of live performance, both musicianship and entertainment far exceeded my expectations and I realised I had attended an intimate concert by a talent who deserves to heard internationally on the ‘big stage’. Having witnessed his performance, I have developed an interest in Olly’s music and purChased the new album ‘From The Heart’ which I play over and over. I very rarely make recommendations and as a rule don’t do reviews, but felt compelled to spread the word on this marvellous talent.

Olly J Wedwood is a name you should look out for. He has music running through his veins with both his parents being very talented musicians, and his mother an author of top selling ‘Learn to play’ books. Olly started young and has had the drive to start up various bands, developing his skills not only as a musician but also as a performer and entertainer. He stepped into Jamie Cullum’s shoes in the Oxford Jazz Quintet on merit after Jamie Cullum had a lucky break (getting noticed by Michael Parkinson & Melvyn Bragg) and made it big. If there’s any justice it’s just a matter of time before Olly get’s the big break that his talent merits.

Review of concert to launch the album 'From The Heart' at the Riverhouse Barn, Walton-on-Thames Surrey. Reviewed by Chris Grace Editor of all about Weybridge website
Olly J & Friends In Concert - Saturday 7th June 2008 - Click Here
To buy or listen to tracks from Olly's new album and earlier work  Click here

The Jazz Soul Boogie Band - from Addlestone nr Weybridge Surrey & local towns
The Olly J Wedgwood
Jazz Soul Boogie Band
Olly's Band, The Jazz Soul Boogie Band is a  Top Class UK function band - live music entertainment for your Wedding, Ball, Bar Mitzvah, Party, Corporate function, Charity event, Christmas party, Birthday...
...or any event needing great music!
For more info on the Olly Wedgwood Jazz Soul Boogie Band
Click here

 

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  An Evening With Olly J
  Concert  Launching Olly Wedgwood's New CD - 'From The Heart  '
  • Sunday 2nd March 2008 7:30-9:30pm. (Doors open 7pm.)
  • Where: The Riverhouse Barn, Manor Road Walton-on-Thames, Surrey KT12 2PF
  • Price: £10 adults / £6 concessions
  • Booking: Contact booking office. Tickets are limited to 80 places, so book quickly!.
    Please mention all about Weybridge website when booking.
  • Box Office Phone: 01932 253 354
  • Email: boxoffice@riverhousebarn.co.uk 
  • Riverhouse Barn website: www.riverhousebarn.co.uk
    Funky melodies, passionate ballads, Latin rhythms and beautifully crafted songs performed by Olly the Soul Jazz Boogie Band -  Based in Addlestone nr Weybridge Surrey
  Chill out to the feel-good songs Olly has written for his second album, 'From the Heart'.  
   Funky melodies, passionate ballads, Latin rhythms and beautifully crafted songs performed by Olly and his fantastic new band!  
In concert at the Riverhouse Barn, Walton-on-Thames
To buy or listen to tracks from Olly's new album and earlier work  Click here

The Jazz Soul Boogie Band - from Addlestone nr Weybridge Surrey & local towns
The Olly J Wedgwood
Jazz Soul Boogie Band
Olly's Band, The Jazz Soul Boogie Band is a  Top Class UK function band - live music entertainment for your Wedding, Ball, Bar Mitzvah, Party, Corporate function, Charity event, Christmas party, Birthday...
...or any event needing great music!
In Concert - Olly Wedgwood Soul Jazz Boogie Band from Addlestone nr Weybridge Surrey

With over 250 well known jazz, soul and popular covers to our repertoire, we offer several styles depending on the mood you would like to create for your function. From background jazz to a full-on dance disco classics, we perform across the UK - Olly has played at over 150 functions and concerts over the last year alone!

For more info on the Olly Wedgwood Jazz Soul Boogie Band
visit the website: www.jazzsoulboogieband.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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