With their dapper suits, easy on stage manner, and set-list of traditional jazz and swing songs, The Apex Jazz and Swing Band kept their appreciative audience entertained when they played at Lichfield’s 30th Blues and Jazz Festival.

The ensemble, led by saxophone and clarinet player Robin Mason also featured the stellar talents of trombone player Ron Hills, drummer Jim Harvey, trumpet player John Stowe, double bassist Bob Boucher and keyboard player Nick Wiltshire.

Their set was a lively affair, featuring music from many genres, films and shows. Gee, Baby Ain’t I Good to You? was an early highlight. Beale Street Blues was a lively number, with harmony parts for saxophone and trombone, as well as some fine soloing. The pace was slowed for the trombone feature of Sultry Serenade, showing the technique and musical sensibility of Ron Hills to good effect.

Who Bossa? was a lively bossa nova, giving much to the rhythm and the brass sections. Point Sienna was another instrumental that went along at quite a pace and featured several moods.

The trio of piano, bass and drum performed a fine reading of Billy Taylor’s version of I Wish I Knew How It Felt To Be Free, showing the talents of Nick Wiltshire, and the almost telepathic rhythmic push and pull of drums and bass, honed over many years of playing live together.

Other songs included Everything Happens to Me, and My Baby Just Cares for Me, which featured John Stowe on vocals. This was a fine 90 minutes spent in the company of talented, entertaining musicians.

Ben Macnair