ON Saturday February 10, St Helens Town Hall reverberated to the sound of some of the finest big bands currently playing around this part of the UK.

This Big Band Festival was organised by the St Helens based Jazz Pack and it certainly succeeded in giving our townsfolk an all too rare opportunity to see and hear real musicians playing real music, live.

To the older ones in the audience it provided a change to bathe in nostalgia in recalling those halcyon days of Woody Herman, Artie Shaw and Ted Heath and to the younger folk it presented an occasion to experience the exciting sound of 18 plus players swinging their way through many well known (from the pens of Berlin, Gershwin etc) and some lesser known worthy numbers.

In addition to our own Jazz Pack, the Stockport big band New Lights, the professional sounding Ground Zero from Birmingham and the Manhattan Sound big band were welcomed guests at the Festival whilst Haydock jazz cornetist Stephen Chadwick led his quartet through some inspiring improvisations between the big band sessions.

I'm sure I speak for a whole lot of people in the audience in thanking Sean Fenney and his fellow organisers from Jazz Pack. Long may this type of Festival flourish.

By Fred Matthias