Big Band Scene (Dec. 2018)

Nationally and internationally, 2018 has been an unsettling year. Locally, on the Sussex big band front, it has been a year of mixed fortunes.  There have been slightly fewer live performances, accounted for, to some extent, by the loss of two residencies.  But still averaging more than ten a month, the scene remains quite healthy.  There is one new band that I know of, and another has changed its name. 

Looking to the future, the Big Band @Brunswick: sessions are set to continue into 2019. Last month the Sussex Jazz Orchestra filled the spot.  

 

Here’s a review written by Steve Lawless:

SJO continued their recent trend of inviting guest musicians that had a connection with the band’s founder Ian Hamer. The flügelhorn and trumpeter Henry Lowther has played alongside Ian in bands led, among others, by Barbara Thompson and Kenny Wheeler. Indeed the diversity of his credits is phenomenal having worked the musical spectrum from jazz luminaries George Russell and Gil Evans to rock and pop celebrities Hawkwind and Elton John. 

They played to a packed and enthusiastic crowd, delivering a couple of energetic and well received sets. The band’s MD, Mark Bassey, has a very inclusive philosophy and most of the band members had their chance to solo. One particularly touching moment was when the trombonists Jüergen Krauss and his young son, Benjamin, traded fours on Ian’s tune Watch This Space

Not only was there some beautiful lyrical soloing from Henry but he delivered some fascinating stories about Ian. Both were part of the four piece trumpet section on Kenny Wheeler’s landmark recording, Music for Large & Small Ensembles, together with Alan Downey and Derek Watkins. Henry related that, as a result of his antics with Alan, Ian became known in the band as Watch This Space. Henry described Ian as a favourite of Kenny’s, but those of us who knew him were not surprised to learn the origins of the self-referential title of the tune, another example being Hamerphilia which the band executed with gusto. Gentle Piece, a Wheeler composition from the aforementioned album. was also played. 

Three compositions by current band members were also performed. Hilary Burt’s Sarah’s Hour, was played in the first set and Steve Morgan’s Contents May Settle in the second, together with Patrick Billingham’s The Dacre Mail, a recognition of Paul Dacre’s quarter century editorship of that newspaper, a concoction of two tunes, both entitled Moanin’. One by Bobby Timmons, the other by Charles Mingus.

Maestro and SJO MD Mark Bassey has worked on numerous occasions with Henry. I saw them together last year on the Mike Gibbs 80th birthday tour. They ended the evening delivering blistering and beautifully crafted solos over another Hamer composition, Pedro’s Walk. This tune that Ian called his “greatest hit” has been recorded by the Ted Heath Orchestra and Paul Gonsalves, no less. A highly entertaining evening with some fine playing all round.

 

Many thanks to Steve Lawless for this review.  For family reasons I have to miss Terry Pack’s Trees this month at The Brunswick. I shall be most grateful if anyone would care to write it up and email it to me by the deadline date given below.

I saw the eighteen piece The One World Orchestra at The Brighton Unitarian Church playing Paul Busby’s charts from a selection of his suites.  As ever, the ensemble work was of the highest standard and the solos were inspirational. I particularly admired how the trombones did justice to Paul’s superb writing for the section. 

Profits from the tickets was shared between the Clocktower Trust which supports local homeless young people and Thousand 4 1000 which finds homes for refugees seeking sanctuary from war, persecution and severe economic hardship. The point was made, to generous applause from the audience, that the hostile and vindictive policies of our Home Office makes the work of the latter charity essential. Profits from the bar went into the BUC building fund.

As part of this column’s service connecting bands to musicians, Sam Carelse is a vocalist looking for a big band to sing with. Her email address is Hello@samcarelse.com

Finally, the results of the poll for the British Jazz awards 2018 have been announced. The Gareth Lockrane Big Band and NYJO were first and second respectively in the big band category, with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra in the bronze medal position. No Sussex bands made it into the top five. I guess we must all try harder next year.

Season’s greetings to you all.

 

Next month: 

A list of the active big bands based in Sussex, and more news about those based in, or appearing in, the county. If you would like your band featured in a profile, and I have not already contacted you, please get in touch.  Anything else, such as gig news, or feedback on this column, that you would like me to include in January’s Big Band Scene, please send it to me by Wednesday December 12th.

My email address is g8aac@yahoo.co.uk. 

 

Big Band Gigs

Sunday 2nd December

[R] 12:45 – 3:00 pm, Sunday Swing Session with the Sounds of Swing Big Band, featuring vocalist Gill Berryman, at The Horseshoe Inn Hotel, Posey Green, Windmill Hill, Herstmonceux, East Sussex BN27 4RU (02035 645225).   Free entry with collection.

 

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

 

Monday 3rd December

[R] 8:00 – 10:30 pm, The Rox Sessions Live at ‘The Hoff’: Bognor Regis Big Band open rehearsal at the Hothampton Arms, London Road, Bognor Regis, West Sussex, PO21 1PR, (01243 821434).   Free entry with collection for the Rox music charity. 

 

Wednesday 5th December

[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.)

 

Thursday 6th December

7:30 pm. Mark Daniels as ultimate Bublé with big band at The White Rock Theatre, White Rock, Hastings, East Sussex TN34 1JX (01424 462288). £25.50/£23.50 (Friends of White Rock £22/£20)

 

8:00 pm, The CH Big Band at Christ’s Hospital Theatre, Christ’s Hospital School, The Avenue, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 0YP  (01403 247434).  £12/£11

 

Tuesday 11th December

[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.

 

Wednesday 12th & Friday 14th December

7:45 – 11:30 pm, Christmas Ball with The Johnny Spice Swing Band at Eastbourne Town Hall, Grove Road, Eastbourne, BN21 9SE, East Sussex, (01323 410000).  For details & prices contact Pam Spice (01323 735057).

 

Sunday 16th December

12:45 – 3:00 pm, Sounds of Swing Big Band Festive Special, featuring vocalist Gill Berryman, at The Horseshoe Inn Hotel, Posey Green, Windmill Hill, Herstmonceux, East Sussex BN27 4RU (02035 645225).   Free entry with collection.

 

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

 

Thursday 20th December

7:30 pm, The Perdido Swing Band at the carol service, Lindfield United Reformed Church, 50 High Street, Lindfield, West Sussex, RH16 2HL.  Free entry.

 

Wednesday 2nd January 2019

[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.)

 

Sunday 6th January

[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: at The Brunswick, 3, Holland Road, Hove BN3 1JF (01273 733984).  Free entry with collection.

 

Monday 7th January

[R] 8:00 – 10:30 pm, The Rox Sessions Live at ‘The Hoff’. Bognor Regis Big Band open rehearsal at the Hothampton Arms, London Road, Bognor Regis, West Sussex,  PO21 1PR, (01243 821434).  Free entry with collection for the Rox music charity.