Big Band Scene (Aug. 2018)
Patrick Billingham looks at the start of Eastbourne Bandstand’s Big Band & Swing Sound concerts and re-visits digital archiving.
Mea Culpa and apologies all round, especially to supporters of The Sussex Jazz Orchestra who missed a gig last month because I failed to list it. There’s no excuse as I was aware of it well beforehand. Stern admonitions all round. I have taken steps to ensure that it won’t happen again. Until next time.
The season of Eastbourne Bandstand’s Big Band & Swing Sound concerts is now under way. Only three bands are involved this summer. I have played with two of them, and late in July I took the opportunity to cross over, as it were, to be an audience member for the other.
The Swingshift Big Band, led by trumpeter Jonathan Bailey, plus singer Georgie, played a set of more than twenty charts in the hour-and-a-half long performance. Helped, no doubt, by the calm conditions, so that the music was easier to control. Sound balance was spot on and the ensemble playing tight, including the saxophone section featuring in a very polished rendition of Bill Bailey.
Since the audience tends to be mainly elderly holiday visitors to the resort, the programme is expected to meet their perceived tastes. So a requirement of one of these bandstand slots is the inclusion of a Glenn Miller chart. On this occasion, there were two. Pennsylvania 65-000 and A String of Pearls. Otherwise the music included the usual run of swing standards, Ellington, Basie, Nestico, Hefti et al. There were a couple of pleasant surprises for me, however. Thad Jones’s Us and Sussex composer Paul Busby’s El Toro Berto. Both well received.
The audience members I spoke to had thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The regular visitors said they were hoping that the programme would continue next year. Especially those who said that big band concerts were far and few between back home.
Back in March (SJM74) I began discussing the on-stage layout of a big band. All three bands playing at Eastbourne this year had the singer right out at the front of the stage. Otherwise all were different. Big Band Sounds conformed to the accepted norm, in four rows. From front to back, saxes, trombones, trumpets, rhythm section. The other two bands took advantage of the width of the stage. The Brighton Big Band had the rhythm section out at the front, the trombones and saxes in a single row, and the trumpets bringing up the rear. Swingshift had the trumpets and the saxes in a row at the front, with the trombones behind the trumpets and the rhythm section behind the saxes. Two out of the three had chosen their disposition on the stage so that the band was directed from the front.
Some time ago I outlined advantages of having a digital archive of your band’s pad. Among these are: missing parts can be replaced immediately, difficult to read charts can be made much more readable, and in the extreme case of the entire paper based pad being lost, the digital pad can be retrieved. Especially if there are backups on memory sticks and on-line storage facilities such as Dropbox.
There is some welcome news for those who want to put their pads into digital form. Avid have recently announced Sibelius First. This is a free, basic version of Sibelius Ultimate. If you are interested, you can visit my.avid.com/get/sibelius-first. This will take you through a simple sign-up form and will deliver the new Sibelius installers to your inbox.
The other free downloadable software that I am aware of is MuseScore, which can be downloaded from www.musescore.org, Which version you can download depends on the operating system of your computer. I have MuseScore 2 on my desktop, but I have to make do with MuseScore 1 on my laptop, which has an older operating system. MuseScore 3 is under development and there is a preview release.
Finally, Sandra of Simply Swing, wonders if anyone wants to sell a big band pad. Preferably strict tempo music but any charts would be considered. Her number is 07778 669065, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next month: more news about big bands based in, or appearing in, the county, and 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 September’s Big Band Scene, please send it to me by Saturday August 25th. My email address is email@example.com.
(Photo of Swing Shift Big Band on Eastbourne Bandstand by Patrick Billingham)
Big Band Gigs
August – early September 2018
[R] means a residency
bold italics part of a regular series
Wednesday 1st August
[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 2nd August
8:00 – 9:30 pm, Big Band Sound 05: The Brighton Big Band with Jo Kimber on Eastbourne Bandstand, Grand Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 3AD. Advance bookings (01323 410611) £5/£2.50, or on the night £7/£3.50.
Sunday 5th August
[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.
3:00 – 4.30 pm, The Brighton Big Band with Jackie Sampson on the seafront terraces, Rottingdean, East Sussex BN2. Free admission.
Monday 6th August
[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.
Thursday 9th August
8:00 – 9:30 pm, Big Band Sound 06: The Swingshift Big Band on Eastbourne Bandstand, Grand Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 3AD. Advance bookings (01323 410611) £5/£2.50, or on the night £7/£3.50.
Saturday 11th August
2:00 – 4:00 pm, The Perdido Swing Band at Horsted Keynes Station on the Bluebell Railway, West Sussex, RH17, OS TQ370292.
Sunday 12th August
1:30 – 4:30 pm, Sunday in The Park with Jazz.
2:00 pm, The Sussex Jazz Orchestra with Mark Bassey.
B.O.A.T, Dyke Road Park, Dyke Road, Hove BN1. Free entry with collection for donations.
2:00 – 4:00 pm, The Brighton Big Band with Dave Williams at the Pavilion Gardens, New Road Brighton, BN1 1 UG (01273 730712), weather permitting. Free entry.
Tuesday 14th August
[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.
Thursday 16th August
8:00 – 9:30 pm, Big Band Sound 07: The Swingshift Big Band on Eastbourne Bandstand, Grand Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 3AD. Advance bookings (01323 410611) £5/£2.50, or on the night £7/£3.50.
Sunday 19th August
[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.
2:00 – 7:00 pm, Picnic On The Square with The Fred Woods’ Big Band at the Horsham Cricket & Sports Club, Cricketfield Road, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 1TE (01403 254628). Advance bookings £15 or, on the day, £20 from firstname.lastname@example.org or from Horsham Cricket Club; all profits in aid of Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice. Bring your picnic, however. the club bar is open throughout the event.
3:00 pm, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, with Swing Time Jivers and Polka Dot Dolls at The Pavilion Theatre, Marine Parade, Worthing, West Sussex BN11 3PX, (01903 206206). £22.50/£20.50/£19/£12.
Thursday 23rd August
8:00 – 9:30 pm, Big Band Sound 08: Big Band Sounds on Eastbourne Bandstand, Grand Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 3AD. (01323 410611). £5/£2.50, or on the night £7/£3.50.
Thursday 30th August
8:00 – 9:30 pm, Big Band Sound 09: The Brighton Big Band with Dave Williams on Eastbourne Bandstand, Grand Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 3AD. Advance bookings (01323 410611). £5/£2.50, or on the night £7/£3.50.
Friday 31st August
[R] 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) email@example.com (Bring your own refreshments.)
Saturday 1st September
10:00 am – 12:00 pm, The Wacky Band at St Michael’s Hospice Summer Fair, 25 Upper Maze Hill, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, TN38 0LB, (01424 445177). Nominal entry fee.