St Giles Church, in Oxford, was very happy to play host to a totally unexpected ‘battle of the bands’ when two swing big bands frpm Oxford and Durham universities - were parachuted in for their annual varsity ‘jazz off’.

The programme was divided into two halves, with Durham University kicking off with a cerebrally demanding repertoire delivered with the precision that makes big band jazz so thrilling.

An outstanding and soulful flugelhorn solo by the Durham band’s president revealed great beauty of tone and soul and made this an outstanding moment of calm in an otherwise somewhat frenetic programme.

The second half, performed by Oxford University Jazz Orchestra, was perhaps more accessible musically, being more mainstream, and including two outstanding vocalists, male and female, singing Gershwin and Cole Porter numbers.

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Try as I may, not to be partisan, I have to say that the Oxford band were superlative and thrilling in their outstanding precision in both the horn and saxophone sections, with some wonderful solos from outstanding musicians.

Indeed all the undergraduate players, even if they are reading subjects other than music at their individual colleges, are of an incredibly high professional standard, definitely up to that of the big band masters Count Basie and Duke Ellington, several of whose compositions the band featured, including Basie’s Lil’ Darlin, which demands absolute precision, rhythmically.

It was all a thrill!