The Jive Aces with The Three Belles at Assembly George Square Gardens was one show I wanted to catch this year as somehow I always seem to miss it. The Jive Aces are Ian Clarkson – Vocals & Trumpet, Ken Smith – Double Bass, Vince Hurley – Piano , Peter Howell – Drums , John Fordham – Saxophone and Alex Douglas – Trombone, and they bill themselves as “The UK’s No 1 Jive and Swing Band”, and it is easy to see how they live up to that claim. The band are slick, very professional in their image and presentation (surprising how many similar bands are not) and over the years they have been playing together have got those jive and swing numbers sounding authentically of their period.
The Three Belles we have reviewed here for the last few Fringes, and they are one of our favourite girl vocal bands and as always, absolutely get that timing and sound right for those classic songs. Also joining everyone on stage tonight, the impressive vocal talents of Amy Baker.
Sharp band with great singers on stage, so everything is set for an hour’s classic music, and there were some great numbers in this set. At roughly an hour and with another show tomorrow (last one), I don’t want to give too much of their set list away for anyone that might be coming to the next show, but as usual, The Three Belles perfectly hit their groove with the boys in a great version of the Glenn Miller classic “In The Mood”
The Jive Aces at the beginning gave us a classic version of that Kurt Weill standard “Mack The Knife” and through the set along with their “swinging vocal ladies” produced a few surprises like the “updated” Pack Up Your Troubles/It's A Long Way To Tipperary.
The Jive Aces were in Louis Prima mode tonight with songs such as “Sing Sing Sing”, “I Wanna be Like You” and “Just A Gigolo”, so the set took on much of that light humour that Louis Prima was famous for.
This Fringe set is obviously far more condensed time wise than the band usually play, and given the time constraints I would have preferred some of the humour and light heartedness toned down a little to squeeze an extra classic number or two in, but it was a great set that captured the fun of jive and swing. The one thing of course that is obvious is that The Jive Aces are far more at home playing a venue that has a big dance floor rather than seated as this one was, and I suspect this is where the band would move into a completely different league. Vince Hurley in particular I would love to hear on a big concert piano rather than electronic keys - there is something about the sound of jive and swing that will always just be that bit extra on a good piano, but at this show that just was not a possibility.
The Three Belles still have their own show to do at St Andrew's and St George's West, George Street on 18 August...one not to miss. For more information on everyone check out their websites.
By the way folks, if it rains over the next few weeks, blame Ian Clarkson, he promised us all sunshine.
Review by Tom King