11 November 2013

A Brief Guide to the Big Bands of Sussex

The Freddy Woods Big Band

    One of the longest surviving big bands in Sussex, the Freddy Woods Big Band in Horsham was formed nearly forty years.

    Expect to hear some of the classics from Basie and Ellington alongside arrangements of tunes by Benny Golson,  John Coltrane and many others.

    They perform on the first Wednesday of every month at Horsham Cricket Club. For more details:



The Dave Masters Big Band

    Formed in the 1980s, The Dave Masters Big Band continue to perform at concerts and festivals around Sussex.

More information can be found on their Facebook page.


The Les Paul Big Band

Baritone saxophonist Les Paul started his big band more than 25 years ago. The band is now run by his son, Steve Paul, and continues to play all of the classic big band tunes by the likes of Count Basie, Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington.

For more details:



The Sussex Jazz Orchestra

    The band originally began as The Sussex Youth Jazz Orchestra  which was started in 1986 by trumpeter Ian Hamer and featured the talents of young musicians such as Charlotte Glasson and Byron Wallen. Later it became The Sussex Jazz Orchestra and featured some of the best musicians in the Brighton area.

    Ian Hamer performed in a number of big bands such as Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band, The Tubby Hayes Big Band and was good friends with fellow trumpeter Kenny Wheeler. This is reflected in their unique repertoire.

    Since Ian Hamer’s death, the band has been led by various musicians, notably trumpeters Martijn van Galen and Matt Ellis. Reeds player Patrick Billingham has also done a great job in keeping both the band and the music alive. Earlier this year trombonist Mark Bassey became the new musical director.

    The Sussex Jazz Orchestra will be performing at The Brunswick, Hove on Sunday 24th November, 2013.

For more details on The Sussex Jazz Orchestra:



The Paul Busby Big Band

    Former Sussex Jazz Orchestra member and pianist Paul Busby has composed a series of suites The Watermill Jazz Suite, The Brighton Jazz Suite and, more recently, The East Sussex Jazz Suite.

The band features some of the finest musicians in the Sussex area, including Mark Bassey, Ian Price, Tim Wade, Rob Heasman and Rob Leake, together with drummer Dave Trigwell and bassists Terry Pack and Jerry Dearden.

For more details:



Straight No Chaser Big Band

    Straight No Chaser are well known around Sussex as a highly entertaining big band that plays a mixture of the classic standards along with contemporary material.

    The band are currently preparing to record a new album featuring compositions by saxophonist Simon D’souza, who has done a lot of their arrangements (and original compositions) over the past few years.

    The album, Navigation, will be launched at a special concert at The Brunswick in Hove on Sunday 8th December. If you can’t wait until then, they will be performing some of the tunes at their next gig at The Hassocks Hotel in Hassocks on Sunday 17th November.

    Proceeds from the album will go towards Simon’s preferred charities.

For more information on Straight No Chaser:




The Studio 9 Orchestra

    One of the newest big bands in the Sussex area, the Studio 9 Orchestra (S9O) was formed in 2011 by Scott Sheridan and Philippe Guyard with the intention of presenting new and interesting big band music.

    The band currently performs arrangements by the likes of Maria Schneider, Charles Mingus, Kenny Wheeler as well as original music.

    Guitarist John Harris has an interview with Scott and Philippe on his blog:


For more details on S9O:


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