Big Band Scene (Feb. 2018)

Patrick Billingham updates us on the latest big band news and profiles The ConChord Big Band.

 

    Previously, I have mentioned the Facebook group Big Bands Of Brighton.  And I suggested that, by its very nature, it is more reliable as an up to date source of gig information than this column could ever hope to be. I had mentioned last month that there was some uncertainty about the January Big Band @Brunswick gig. A post to the group on the scheduled date announced that the gig wasn’t going ahead.  But it did mention another one, a fortnight later, by a new big band, The Brighton Jazz Mafia.

    I went along to the Brunswick to hear this band, led by Alex Bondonno. They gave a polished performance of a mixture of big band standards and big band arrangements of jazz standards, as well as charts by Sussex composers Simon d’Souza and Paul Busby. 

At the end of last year I heard a whisper that local bands The Studio 9 Orchestra and Straight No Chaser were taking a rest from active gigging.  I wonder if the Brighton Jazz Mafia is an addition to the scene, or whether it is a replacement. It is difficult to tell as many of the personnel can be seen and heard in other bands as well.  I hope to find out in the near future and to report back.

    One local band that is active again after its Christmas/New Year break is The One World Orchestra. Which is waking up to a new programme with some familiar titles and some brand new compositions which they rehearsed up until their recess.  

    The bulk of the repertoire is still Paul Busby’s music influenced by the themes of geography and humanity, including selections from his Brighton Suite, his East Sussex Suite and finally his One World Jazz Suite.  After Paul retired from directing the orchestra in 2016, handing over the reins to the band, he has continued to write and experiment.  Some of his new titles are characteristically topical such as “The Trump shall sound…and the Twit Will Tweet”.  Under the new reign, they plan to introduce some pieces by their pianist David Beebee, which may be heard at this month’s Big Band @Brunswick slot.

 

    If you have been in the habit of taking Sunday lunch at the Ravenswood in Sharpethorne on the second Sunday of each month while listening to the Groovin’ High Big Band, then you should know that from this month, you should switch to the third Sunday. Details in the gig list below.

 

    Peter Everett has stepped down as the leader of the Downsbeat Swing Band and has passed the baton to Kim Hall, kimhall99@hotmail.co.uk, to whom enquiries should be addressed.

    

    Some sad news.  Drummer Chris Carrington has died after a short illness.  He was responsible for getting me actively involved in the big band scene some thirty years ago.  He arranged for me to dep as a very inexperienced, out of my depth, second tenor at a rehearsal with the Max Dearden Big Band at The King and Queen. As a result of which I made several contacts leading to opportunities to gain a foothold in the big band scene.   For which I am eternally grateful to him.

 

    Now a band profile.

 

    The ConChord Big Band is a 17 piece big band, plus vocalists, playing swing, jazz, popular, movie and stage music.  It is based in East Grinstead.  

The band has a vast library of musical arrangements to play that should suit most if not all situations and, having started in 1991, has more than 25 years experience in entertaining audiences. Their public gigs have raised many thousands of pounds for charities, both local and national including The Prince’s Trust, The Royal British Legion, The Queen Victoria Hospital, AgeUK, St Catherine’s Hospice, Help For Heroes, the British Heart Foundation, etc.

    A special feature offered by the band is a programme of music of the iconic 40’s swing orchestras and singers. To add a touch of period authenticity, the musicians wear uniforms of the United States Army Air Force Band of the Second World War. 

    Like many other big bands, it is available for dances, weddings, theatre shows, concerts, festivals, public and private functions, in fact, to audiences anywhere that appreciate a good band.

To find out more about the band, their website is www.conchordbigband.com. If you wish to book them, contact Frank Osborne, 01342 322646, frankosborne@btconnect.com

    Incidentally, when he volunteered for the military in 1942, Glenn Miller was assigned to the US Army. He was frustrated by the refusal of the army to let him play his style of music.  The USAAF had indicated that he would have more freedom with them, and invited him to apply for transfer. The army personnel officer rubber stamped approval for Captain Alton G. Miller to move.  The army top brass were furious when they realized just who they had lost.  Something positive to come out of officialdom’s fixation with the first given name, which I often encounter, as mine is John.

 

    Next month:  Hopefully more news about the big bands based in and appearing in the county 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, or feedback on this column, that you would like me to include in March’s Big Band Scene, please send it to me by Thursday February 23rd.  My email address is g8aac@yahoo.co.uk. 

 

Big Band Gigs

 

February – early March 2018

[R] means a residency

bold italics part of a regular series

 

Thursday 1st February

[R] 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.

 

Friday 2nd February

7:15 pm, Big Band Sounds with Michael Wooldridge at the Rye Wurlitzer at The Milligan Theatre, Rye College, Love Lane, Rye, East Sussex TN31 (01424 444058).  £10/£3 in aid of the Rye Wurlitzer Academy.  Doors open 7:00 pm.

 

Sunday 4th February

[R] 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. 

7:30 – 10:00  pm, Big Band @Brunswick: The One World Orchestra at The Brunswick, 3, Holland Road, Hove BN3 1JF (01273 733984).  Free entry with collection.

 

Wednesday 7th February

[R] 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.)

 

Tuesday 13th February

[R] 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 18th February

[R] 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. 

 

Friday 23rd February

8:00 pm, Terry Pack’s Trees at The Underground Theatre, beneath the Central Library, Grove Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 4TL (08432 891980).  £12/£11. (Doors open 7:30)

[R] 8:30 – 11:00 pm, The Les Paul Big Band (Family & Friends evening) in Patcham, BN1, £5.  For further details contact Steve (01273 509631) steven_paul1@yahoo.co.uk (Bring your own refreshments.)

 

Thursday 1st March

[R] 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 4th March

[R] 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. 

7:30 – 10:00  pm, Big Band @Brunswick: Big Band Sounds at The Brunswick, 3, Holland Road, Hove BN3 1JF (01273 733984).  Free entry with collection.

 

Wednesday 7th March

[R] 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.)

 

[Photo of ConChord Big Band by Frank Osborne]