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Sunday, 5 August, 2001, 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK
Later ... with the Proms
Jools Holland
Jools Holland: A fine exponent of Boogie-Woogie piano
By BBC News Online's John Brunsdon

Jazz, pop, R&B (in the old-fashioned, non-bootylicious sense), drum-and-bass - at the Proms.

What would Sir Henry Wood think?

Well, probably, he'd have loved it. Far from spinning in his grave, the old man would have been tapping his toes on his tombstone at Friday night's Later Prom.

The Proms' raison d'etre is to bring the popular and the high-brow together, and the acts for the Jools Holland themed night were a perfect representation of this ideal.

The ludicrously talented Nitin Sawhney kicked the show off with a set that took the listener on a musical tour that crossed so many time zones in such a short space of time that it left you feeling jet-lagged.

The fusion of eastern, western, country, jazz, muzak, pop, dance, boogie-woogie and, for want of a better word, lets just call it Nitin, summed up the best and worst of the whole night.

Jools Holland
Holland: Recalls when R&B meant swing, not skin
The sets, necessarily short to allow all three acts to share the evening in a tryptch of talent, were unevenly paced, with structure sacrificed for the need to give a cross-section of each artist's work.

Hence, you had British jazz pianist Julian Joseph opening his set with a self-penned Duke Ellington tribute that lacked most of the wit of its inspiration, moving through a beautiful rendition of Prelude to a Kiss, and then hamming it up delightfully with Jools on a rendition of Stevie Wonder's Isn't She Lovely that was tremendous fun.

Jools himself rounded the night off, with a little help from his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, reminding us that behind that self-deprecatingly charming TV persona is a fine exponent of the art of boogie-woogie piano, with an ear for the kind of music that just calls for the floor of the Albert Hall to take a pounding.

The fact that the floor remained stubbornly unpounded suggested that the fusion of Prom and pop jazz had not been entirely successful.

The audience seemed unsure whether it was there to listen reverentially to some of the finest musicians on the British scene, or if it was at a pop concert.

More time for each act would have helped - but if it succeeded in whetting the appitite for a more substantial helping from any of these artists, or for the Proms themselves, then it was a success.

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