Brass with class

by Louis Barfe

If Radio 2 bosses don’t give Sara Cox the breakfast gig when Chris Evans pops off to become a born-again virgin at the end of the year, they need their bumps feeling. On their recent form, it’s possible they’ll give the job to someone completely unsuitable like sooty and sweep or one of the clangers, moonlighting.

One of their more lamentable recent decisions, which I believe I’ve talked about before, is ‘resting’ the organist entertains and listen to the band. There was always something reassuring about them just being there. However, on the loss of Frank Renton, I am mollified slightly by Radio 2’s new series, Top Brass (Tuesdays, 9pm).

In this show, Australian multi-instrumentalist James Morrison introduces the latest sounds in brass. If this sounds arch, it’s not meant to. There are many great ensembles playing everything from Adele to Zappa on their tubas, often in a rollicking New Orleans-style, and it’s great to hear them showcased on the wireless.

Unsurprisingly with Morrison – a man who sometimes works with a trombone in one hand and a trumpet in the other – hosting, jazz was well represented, too. The London horn sound covering caravan, as well as some 1938-vintage blasting from the Duke Ellington band. The first show also featured the superb trumpeter Enrico Tomasso talking about his hero, Louis Armstrong.

I was very taken with the none-more-modern sounding closer, by the superbly named No BS. In the wider world, this phrase means something else, but here it denotes the absence of a baritone sax.

I can’t fault this show at all. It’s perfectly Reithian, educating and entertaining, exactly what radio 2 should be doing.

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