Big Band Scene (Aug. 2015)

Big Band Scene

Saxophonist Patrick Billingham continues his monthly column with a look at Big Band Sounds and The Downbeat Swing Band.    

 

When setting up a big band, there is rarely any problem in recruiting saxophone players.  Other musicians may be harder to find.   The rhythm section is the essential component.  Ideally, keyboard, guitar, bass and drums.  Some bands manage without a guitar.  Indeed, if the charts are such that the guitar and piano are both comping, then one of them can be dispensed with.  Whenever I am asked at short notice if the SJO (SJM 39) can play at an event, I make sure a rhythm section is available before agreeing.

    When it comes to brass, it is usually possible to find three or four trumpets, but trombones are harder to get. The Big Band Sounds (below) and the Ronnie Smith Big Band (last month) profiles mention this.  And they are not alone.

    There are some ways round this problem. A French horn makes an excellent substitute for the second trombone.  The late, great, Simon D’souza occupied the third trombone chair in the SJO playing baritone horn.  A tuba or sousaphone instead of the bass trombone adds a certain resonance to the section.  Not to say muscularity.

    An alternative is to dispense with the trombone altogether, like the British band leader Eric Delaney in the 1950s.  Or even have no brass at all as with the Downsbeat Swing Band, below.

    This month we feature two more big bands one based in East Sussex, the other in West Sussex.

 

Big Band Sounds (BBS)

This band was originally the Charlwood Band when it was formed in 1997.  It was renamed in 2002. Until about five years ago, the rehearsals at the Kings Head Pub in East Hoathly were  weekly.  Since then they have been twice a month.   

Currently they rehearse at the East Sussex National Golf Hotel, Little Horsted near Uckfield, on the first and third Wednesday of each month 8-10 pm. 

Their repertoire is the usual mix of Nestico, Niehaus, Wolpe, Sweeny, Ellington, Basie, Kenton, Miller and a host of music for dancing when required.

Ideally the line-up would be the standard 17 piece for big bands. But at the moment, a first trombone and a bass trombone are needed to complete the prevailing happy atmosphere of which the band proudly boasts. The regular vocalist is Jo Kimber who rehearses and performs with the band.

Their website and photos are a work in progress but they plan to complete them this year.

In the past, the band played at open monthly Sunday lunchtime concerts at the Inn on the Park near Golden Cross, as well the Summer Thursday big band night on Eastbourne Bandstand.  They are hoping to resume regular monthly gigs.

The band can be booked for functions.

For further information, or to book the band, contact Dave Adkin, davidadkin2@yahoo.co.uk   01273 302322/07710 131140      

 

 

The Downsbeat Swing Band

 

This band, based in Hurstpierpoint, where they rehearse on Monday evenings, just about meets this column’s criteria at the smaller end.  Seven saxes: two altos, four tenors, and a baritone, with a four piece rhythm section and a singer.  They have been playing swing music since their formation in 2002.  It was started by a group of musicians who wished to play the music of the swing bands of the 40s and 50s but wanted to be less formal than a full big band line-up.

It was originally intended to be an ensemble with saxophones only. But over the years, it expanded to its current format. Full big band harmonies are covered by using two of the tenors to play trumpet parts and splicing the baritone and trombone parts.  The band experimented with soprano saxes for the trumpet parts, but they didn’t give the required sound.  

As well as the standard big band repertoire of Miller, Ellington and Basie, the band also plays rock and Latin-American numbers and vocal arrangements.  The band has found that certain arrangers suit the band well in terms of the harmonies, degree of difficulty, and availability of parts.  In particular, Dave Wolpe, who provides an instrumental alternative to the vocal part for when the singer is not available.

Since its formation, Downsbeat has performed at functions such as wedding receptions and private parties. They also perform at public events like open days, fetes and festivals.   Look at the gig list below for details of their two public appearances this month.

The band’s website is: www.downsbeat.co.uk

To book the band, contact the leader: Peter Everett on 01403 257387 or at everett.peter@gmail.com

 

 

Next month:  More band profiles and news.  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 Sunday August 23rd.  My email address is g8aac@yahoo.co.uk.

 

Big Band Gigs for August – Early September

(† means a regular monthly gig.)

 

Sunday August 2nd.

†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. 

 

Saturday August 8th.

5:00 – 7:00 pm, The Sussex Jazz Orchestra at The Ropetackle Arts Centre, Little High Street, Shoreham-by-Sea, BN43 5EG. (01273 464440)  Free entry.

 

Sunday August 9th.

†12:30 – 3:00 pm, The South Coast Big Band at The Ravenswood, Horsted Lane, Sharpethorne, West Sussex,  RH19 4HY (01342 810216)  Free entry. 

1:30 – 4:30 pm, Sunday in The Park with Jazz, B.O.A.T, Dyke Road Park, Dyke Road, Hove BN1. Free entry with collection for donations.

    1:30 pm, Trees (the debut performance of Terry Pack’s star studded big band),

3:15 pm, The Sussex Jazz Orchestra with Mark Bassey.

 

Tuesday August 11th.

†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 August 13th.

8:00 – 9:30 pm, 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.

 

Thursday August 20th.

8:00 – 9:30 pm, 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 August 22nd.

5:00 – 7:00 pm, The Downsbeat Swing Band at The Ropetackle Arts Centre, Little High Street, Shoreham-by-Sea, BN43 5EG. (01273 464440)  Free entry.

 

Sunday August 23rd.

†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.

 

2:30 – 4:30 pm, The Legionnaires Dance Band at the Podium Bandstand, Horsham Park, North Street, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 1RL (01403 215279)  Free entry.

 

8:00 pm, Trees at The Brunswick, 3, Holland Road, Hove BN3 1JF (01273 733984) £10/£5.

 

Thursday August 27th.

8:00 – 9:30 pm, 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.

 

Friday August 28th.

†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 August 30th.

2:00 – 2:40 pm, The Downsbeat Swing Band at the ‘Last Wave on Broadway’, The Broadway, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, BN43 5EG, (01444 800045),  £8 or £12 on the day, children under 11 free.

 

3:00 pm, The Len Phillips Big Band ‘Basie Straight Ahead’ with Matthew Ford and Clare Teal, Congress Theatre, Carlisle Road, Eastbourne, BN21 4BP (01323 412000), £15.50/£14 – £17.50/£16.

 

6:00 pm, The Fred Woods Big Band, ‘Jazz in The Garden’ (National Trust) Nymans Garden (National Trust), Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 6EB £12/£6(child). Booking essential (01444 405250)  (Bring a picnic.)

 

Monday August 31st.

2:00 pm, The Johnny Spice Swing Orchestra at The Tye, Alfriston, Polegate, East Sussex BN26 5TL  Free entry.

 

8:30 – 11:00 pm, The Big Chris Barber Band in Rottingdean Village Hall, Park Road

Rottingdean, East Sussex BN2 7HL, £22.  Advance bookings (01273 911512)

 

Thursday September 3rd.

8:00 – 9:30 pm, The Johnny Spice Swing Orchestra 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 September 5th.

7:30 pm, The Frank Sinatra Orchestra ‘Sinatra – The Centennial Concert’ at White Rock Theatre, White Rock, Hastings, East Sussex TN34 1JX.  Advance bookings (01424 462288) £21 – £23.50 (+ £1 booking fee).

 

Sunday September 6th.

†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.