It’s tough being a jazz man who has to play during an England-Wales Rugby World Cup game. But Art Themen was unfazed as he welcomed those who snubbed the pub in favour of St Giles’ Church on Saturday night.

“I think we should let the music talk,” he said. His saxophone, along with jazz trio 3BPM’s piano, drums and bass, sure had many stories to tell. The four men revisited American composer Johnny Mandel’s waltz Emily, heard in the 1964 film The Americanization of Emily with Julie Andrews. They took a detour through France with Michel Legrand’s ballad You Must Believe in Spring, and dared tackle the famous Perhaps.

“It might be cheesy,” Themen said of the latter, “but that’s the beauty of jazz: there are no pigeonholes.”

As much as he wanted to let the music talk, the 75-year-old couldn’t resist chatting to the audience between each tune, sharing little stories in a soft, deep voice. He had nothing but abundant praise, kind smiles and enthusiastic applause for Paul Jefferies, Martin Pickett and Ben Twyford, the men behind 3BPM, who were given ample time for solos.

“It’s a privilege to be playing with guys on top of their game,” he said.

An orthopaedic surgeon in a previous life, Mr Themen gave a mini lecture on the anatomy of the clarinet. The instrument has five parts, he said, and legend has it each one was created by a different man, without the five of them actually ever meeting.

He eventually updated the audience on the rugby score when he returned after the interval for a second set. His sense of humour shone through when he signalled there were CDs for sale at the back of the church. “Pretend you’re on the Titanic and spend,” he said as the audience giggled.

The show took on a more emotional tone when he spoke of his saxophone teacher, a commercial musician in Manchester who had died during the week. “I feel quite sad about it,” he said simply.

Blues, which he called “the basis” of jazz, was his style of choice to end the night. “Take off your shoes and listen to the blues,” he said before the last tune.

That night, Mr Themen and 3BPM turned St Giles’ Church into a proper jazz venue – and, as we know, Wales defeated England 28 to 25.