1 June 2016

Big Band Scene (June 2016)

Saxophonist Patrick Billingham continues his monthly

column discussing Imagine A World.


In the listings for this month, there is a ‘new’ local (very) big band Imagine A World 2016.  This continues the tradition of the various reincarnations of 100 Saxophones. This year, it is organised by Anne-Marie Roberts  (imagineaworld2016@gmail.com) and directed, as the earlier incarnations, by Beccy Rork and Mark Bassey.  The nucleus is the 30 strong saxophone group Saxshop with other instrumentalists drawn from various big bands and the local music community.  This year, the band hopes to raise money for the Chestnut Tree House Childrens’ Hospice.

In last month’s SJM, there were mentions of the almost total lack of jazz in what is supposed to reflect the cultural life of Brighton to the world at large.  The Brighton Festival.  Fortunately we still had The Fringe.  And from the big band point of view, what an explosive start that was.  On the evening before the opening of the main festival, The Fringe hosted two simultaneous big band concerts.

Although I would have liked to have seen the South London Jazz Orchestra at St. Mary’s Church in Kemp Town, I chose the sell-out event, Kings of The Jazz Trumpet with the Straight No Chaser Big Band and Steve Waterman at the Unitarian Church in New Road.  The emphasis was, as it said on the tin, big band trumpet classics from Buddy Bolden, through the swing era and Miles Davis, to Ken Wheeler.    Played, as ever, with exemplary swinging precision. 

There were a few changes in line up from the Thad Jones Special in April. In the horns, Russell Holdsworth, Dave Moorhouse and Sam Dorrell in place of Andy Pickett, Nick Trish and Phil Laybourn repectively, tenor sax, trumpet and trombone. No guitar this time, but Joss Peach instead of David Beebee on piano.  And, of course, Steve Waterman, trumpet, flügel and arrangements.

The following evening at the difficult to access Wagner Hall, there was a double bill of The Cloggz and Terry Pack’s unfeasibly big band Trees, this time with 37 musicians on stage.   The charts played were selected from their regular repertoire.  Quite rightly, there was demand for an encore, where after the ethereal introduction, Amazing Grace segued into rousing gospel with the appreciative audience encouraged to clap along. Additions to the regular personnel included most of the Cloggz team.

The final day of The Fringe sees a big band bonanza.  Although the earlier gigs are not part of the official Fringe. As well at the Sounds of Swing Big Band regular monthly lunchtime gig at Herstmonceux, the afternoon gives us Straight No Chaser, Trees and the aforementioned Imagine A World 2016 at the Brighton Open Air Theatre.  Then to round off the day, an event which is part of the official Fringe, The Paul Busby Bigger Band plays at The Brunswick in the evening. So when I hear people saying how much they miss big bands, I assume they don’t read this column.

I heard the sad news in May of the death, at the age of 86, of one of my heroes and a great inspiration, the baritone saxophonist Joe Temperley.  I saw him a few years ago with the Lincoln Centre Orchestra.  In the main festival.  When big band jazz was still considered part of Brighton’s cultural scene.


Next month:  More news and views and perhaps 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 July’s Big Band Scene, please send it to me by Friday June 24th. My email address is g8aac@yahoo.co.uk.


Big Band Gigs for June – Early July

† means a regular monthly gig

bold italic type indicates part of a regular series


Wednesday June 1st.

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


Saturday June 4th.

2:00 – 3:00 pm, Kemp Town Carnival: The Sussex Jazz Orchestra with Mark Bassey on the jazz stage outside the Bristol Bar, Paston Place, Brighton, BN2 1HA (01273 605687).   Free entry. 


Sunday June 5th

†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.

1:00 – 4:00 pm, Big Bands at BOAT: at Brighton Open Air Theatre, Dyke Road Park, Dyke Road, Hove BN1. 

1:00 Straight No Chaser,

2:15 Trees,

3:30 Imagine A World 2016. 

Free entry with collection for donations.

8:00 – 10:30  pm, Brighton Festival Fringe: Big Band @Brunswick: One World Jazz Suite – Part 2: The Paul Busby Bigger Band at The Brunswick, 3, Holland Road, Hove BN3 1JF (01273 733984).  £5.


Thursday June 9th.

7:30 pm, The Phoenix Big Band, East Preston Village Hall, Sea Road, East Preston, West Sussex BN16 1LP, (01903 782783). £9 


Sunday June 12th.

2:00 – 4:00 pm, The Sussex Jazz Orchestra at the Pavilion Gardens, New Road Brighton, BN1 1 UG (01273 730712), weather permitting.  Free entry.

2:00 – 4:00 pm, The Downsbeat Swing Band on Hurstpierpoint Village Green, Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex, BN6. (01403 257387) Free entry.

7:30  pm, Straight No Chaser Big Band Swing Night at The Hassocks Hotel, Station Approach East Hassocks, West Sussex, BN6 8HN (01273 842113).   Free entry with collection.


Tuesday June 14th.

†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.


Saturday June 18th.

2:00 – 4:00 pm, The Sussex Jazz Orchestra at The Ropetackle Arts Centre, Little High Street, Shoreham-by-Sea, BN43 5EG (01273 464440).  Free entry.

8:30 pm (doors 8:00 pm), Ska-Kestra at The Brunswick, 3, Holland Road, Hove, BN3 1JF (01273 733984).  £8/6.Friday June 24th.

7:30 pm, The BBC Big Band at The Pavilion Theatre, Marine Parade, Worthing, West Sussex, BN11 3PX (01903 206206) £24.50/£23.50.

†8:30 – 11:00 pm, The Les Paul Big Band (Family & Friends evening) in Patcham, BN1, £5.  For further details contact Les (01273 558009) les@lespaulbigband.co.uk  (Bring your own refreshments.)


Sunday June 26th.

12:00 – 12:45 pm, The Sussex Jazz Orchestra at The Picnic in the Park, Queen’s Park, Brighton BN2 3LJ (07746 198026).  Free entry.

†12:30 – 3:00 pm, The South Coast Big Band at The Junction Tavern, 99 Station Road, Polegate, East Sussex BN24 6EB (01323 482010).   Free entry.

3:00 pm, The Paul Davis Big Band at The Congress Theatre, Carlisle Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 4BP (01323 412000).  £ 14.50/£12.50


Friday July 1st

8:30pm The Simon Bates Big Band, Steyning Jazz Club, Steyning Centre, Fletchers Croft, Church St., Steyning BN44 3YB £12/7


Sunday July 3rd

†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.

11:00 am – 11:00 pm Love Supreme Jazz Festival:  Glynde Place, Glynde East Sussex BN8 6SX (01273 858224). Day event tickets from £59.40.

11:30am, Beats & Pieces Big Band in The Big Top, 

11:15am, Trees on The Bandstand.

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


Wednesday July 6th.

†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 July 7th

8:00 – 9:30 pm, Big Band Sound 01: The Brighton Big Band with Jackie Sampson on Eastbourne Bandstand, Grand Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 3AD.  Advance bookings (01323 410611) £5/£2.50, or on the night £7/£3.50.




As in previous months, this list is very likely incomplete.  If you play in a big band, and you know of any gigs open to the public, please let me know as far in advance as you can.  I would rather have a dozen notifications of the same event than not to include it.


Photo: Straight No Chaser Big Band by Neil Garrett

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