Big Band Scene (Oct. 2017)

Patrick Billingham looks forward to the New World Orchestra, applications for the Eastbourne bandstand in 2018 and revisits the legacy of Glenn Miller.

    Sadly, the weather intervened on the 3rd of last month, so Super Sunday was downsized to just three big band gigs.  The last of which was in the evening featuring Terry Pack’s magnificent Trees.  Their repertoire continues to expand with three additions: Eleanor Rigby, Palimpsest and Dakar.

    The following evening, I had the privilege and pleasure of being at a rehearsal of the New World Orchestra, where they were looking at brand new Paul Busby charts in preparation for their Big Band@Brunswick gig on 12th November.  This new music reflects Paul’s wit and musicality.

    Due to unforeseen circumstances, Straight No Chaser is unavailable for this month’s Big Band@Brunswick and The Chris Coull Big Band has stepped in at the last minute.

    You may have noticed in the big band listings at the foot of this column during the summer months, mention of the Big Band Sound Thursday evening series on Eastbourne Bandstand. Planning the 2018 programme is under way. If you are interested in taking part, you should download the application forms from http://www.eastbournebandstand.co.uk/contact-us/performer-pages/.  State which dates your band is available, and once the applications are in, you may be offered one.  Or, if as in the past, only a couple of local bands apply, as many as five.

    There are a few points to remember.  The band must be made up of a balanced combination and a minimum of 17 players (18 including a conductor).  Inform them if you are an ensemble, whatever that means. The music played should follow a Big Band sound theme with a selection of the great hits from this memorable era.

The concerts start at 8 pm and finish by 9.30pm without an interval.  The set list, with composers and arrangers, must be submitted, for obvious reasons, at least two weeks before the gig to: prs@eastbournebandstand.co.uk.  There is a £300 fee for each performance.  If you want to apply, the closing date is the 23rd of this month.

These shows are aimed at what is, these days, mainly an elderly audience. And to let them feel that their money has been well spent, the majority of the charts should be familiar to them. Inevitably this means that there should be some of the better known Glenn Miller tunes. If you are not sure about these, look up the music played on the 1954 film The Glenn Miller Story, and make sure at least four of these are in your pad.

    As they say on the B.B.C., other bands are available. Including the likes of Goodman, The Dorseys, Basie and Ellington, and not forgetting British bands such as Ted Heath, Joe Loss and Ken Mackintosh. The important thing is the big band & swing sound, so there is no reason why suitably arranged rock numbers or TV or film themes should not be included.

The topic of Glenn Miller brings me to the harmless diversion in the August column. To which the underwhelming response continued. In the April column I discussed attitudes towards Miller. Unfortunately there are some in the big band community whose antipathy to his music is matched only by that of the more rabid brexiteers to those who wish to retain close links to the rest of Europe.  It was as an attempt to ameliorate that attitude that I devised the diversion.

    A few Christmasses ago, circulating the dance floor at a ball, I was near the piano when I heard what seemed to be Thelonious Monk’s Straight No Chaser theme (August SJM, extract A, copied from The Real Book) for a few bars, while the band were playing Jerry Gray’s arrangement of American Patrol; Extract B is taken from that score.

    The question is did Monk (whose centenary is on the 10th of this month) deliberately take this riff and develop it?  Or, having heard it on the radio, was he subconsciously inspired by it when he composed Straight No Chaser?  Either way, to my mind, evidence that Glenn Miller has influenced jazz.  And deserves honourable mention in this magazine.

    Provided that Rocket Man and the Deranged Dotard fire off nothing more concrete than invective, we should still be around next month.  In which case, more news and views, including the distinction between New World and Nu Civilisation, and hopefully, another band profile.  If you would like your band featured, and I have not already contacted you, please get in touch.  Or if there is anything else, such as gig news, photographs, or feedback on this column, that you would like me to include in November’s Big Band Scene, please send it to me by Wednesday 25th October. My email address is, as ever, g8aac@yahoo.co.uk. 

 

Big Band Gigs

October – early November

 † a regular monthly gig

bold italics part of a regular series

 

Sunday 1st October

†12:45 – 3:00 pm, Sounds of Swing Big Band at The Horseshoe Inn Hotel, Posey Green, Windmill Hill, Herstmonceux, East Sussex BN27 4RU (02035 645225).   Free entry.

3:00 – 5:00 pm, The Sussex Jazz Orchestra with Mark Bassey at The Roebuck Inn, Lewes Road, Laughton, Lewes, East Sussex BN8 6BG, (01323 811081).   Free entry.

7:30 – 10:30  pm, Big Band @Brunswick: The Chris Coull Big Band at The Brunswick, 3, Holland Road, Hove BN3 1JF (01273 733984).  Free entry with collection.

 

Wednesday 4th October

†8:30 pm, The Fred Woods Big Band at the Horsham Sports Club, Cricketfield Road, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 1TE (01403 254628).  £2 (Club members free.)

 

Thursday 5th October

†7:30 pm, The Maestro Big Band with Nicki Day at the Hope Inn, West Pier, Newhaven, East Sussex BN9 9DN (01273 515389).  Free entry  

 

Sunday 8th October

†12:00 – 3:00 pm, Groovin’ High Big Band at the Ravenswood Country House Inn, Horsted Lane, Sharpethorne, West Sussex RH19 4HY, (01342 810216).   Free entry. 

7:00 – 9:00 pm, The Sussex Jazz Orchestra with Mark Bassey at The Round Georges, 14-15 Sutherland Road, Brighton BN2 0EQ, (01273 691833).   Free entry with collection. 

 

Tuesday 10th October

†8:00 – 10:30 pm, The Ronnie Smith Big Band at The Humming Bird Restaurant, Main Terminal Building, Shoreham Airport, West Sussex,  BN43 5FF (01273 452300).  Free entry with collection.

 

Sunday 15th October

4:00 pm, The B.B.C. Big Band with Claire Martin O.B.E at The Pavilion Theatre, Marine Parade, Worthing, West Sussex BN11 3PX, (01903 206206). £24.50/£23.50.

 

Friday 27th October

†8:30 – 11:00 pm, The Les Paul Big Band at Patcham Community Centre, Ladies Mile Road, Patcham, Brighton BN1 8TA, £5.  For further details contact Steve (01273 509631) steven_paul1@yahoo.co.uk (Bring your own refreshments.)

 

[Sunday 29th October: Clocks go back to Greenwich Mean Time.]

 

Wednesday 1st November

†8:30 pm, The Fred Woods Big Band at the Horsham Sports Club, Cricketfield Road, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 1TE (01403 254628).  £2 (Club members free.)

 

Thursday 2nd November

†7:30 pm, The Maestro Big Band with Nicki Day at the Hope Inn, West Pier, Newhaven, East Sussex BN9 9DN (01273 515389).  Free entry  

 

Sunday 5th November

†12:45 – 3:00 pm, Sounds of Swing Big Band at The Horseshoe Inn Hotel, Posey Green, Windmill Hill, Herstmonceux, East Sussex BN27 4RU (02035 645225).   Free entry.

 

[Photo: The New World Orchestra in rehearsal. Photo by Patrick Billingham.]