As I enter the room, my ears are exposed to the lively chatter of dozens, my nose – gently caressed by the smell of freshly baked pizza, my eyes – struck by the sight of familiar faces. My senses are confirming: I’m back at The Old Firehouse.
Sunday night at the Firehouse is great not only for the chance to relax before the week ahead, but also because they are traditionally a showcase of our local student talent. This Sunday is an Exeter University Jazz Orchestra (EUJO) takeover.
EUJO are, as ever, a treat. The evening sees a variety of ensembles take the stage, with the core of drums, guitars and keyboards staying the same. After a few instrumental iterations, the group is joined by their talented singer Lucy to form the Anything Goes Swing Band. The groups takes us from walking-bass jazz standards, through to contemporary pieces showcasing their instrumental knack, all the way to funk classics like ‘Jungle Boogie’ by Kool & The Gang which gets the whole room dancing and singing. The fun that EUJO are obviously having on stage rubs off on us in the audience as well.
True to the jazz traditions, improvisation is the centerpiece of their performance. You can see the musicians playing riffs and motifs off each other, making on-the-spot decisions about who would be soloing next and where to go from there. When it all comes back together with an explosion of brass, huge smiles brighten their faces. With the smell of pizza all around, the pints flowing freely, and the sound of EUJO from the stage, there aren’t many better ways you could have possibly spent your Sunday evening.