1 December 2019

Big Band Scene (Dec. 2019)

Once again we are at the year’s end, when seasonal songs are brought out of storage and dusted off for their annual outings. 

2019 has been yet another year of uncertainty on the political front. Despite the Prime Minister’s bluster and bravado, we are still part of Europe. So charts such as April in Paris may still be played without incurring at best, a tariff, at worst, arrest. In addition we have a General Election this month. As this column is above party politics, I would advise everyone to vote, but not necessarily how. 

Although, it is reported that, at the time of writing, the prospective Brexit candidate for my constituency has a penchant for dressing up in a leather trenchcoat and a Luftwaffe cap. Which I find a bit weird. I would have thought that an admirer of the German military would hold strongly pro-European views.

There has been mixed fortunes on the Sussex big band scene. Some of the community bands have been unable to perform this year, as the supply of young players has dried up. As mentioned previously, this is not unconnected with nine years of austerity and underfunded schools. Creative subjects including music have been dropped from the curriculum, as scarce resources are concentrated on the ‘essential’ subjects influencing league table positions.

The good news is that after the loss of two venues in 2018, there has been a slight recovery, and we are back to seven regular monthly events. Although not yet confirmed, it is to be hoped that the Big Band@Brunswick gigs continue in 2020. The November slot was filled by The One World Orchestra. Apart from one chart, Which Is True, composed by Robin Clayton and arranged by the band’s director, Paul Nieman, the evening was devoted to music by Paul Busby, including parts of his Watermill Jazz Suite, East Sussex Jazz Suite and The One World Jazz Suite. The various charts gave soloing opportunities to all members of this excellent ensemble, together with sectional work of great precision, in particular, the brass towards the end of Major Peter Peters Out, and the trumpets in Parallel Universe. These could well serve as template for a solo, over the corresponding chord sequence, of course. Or even as a basis for your own compositions, if you are so inclined.

The other Busby charts played were:- The Golden Hind, Pipp Brook, We Won’t Be Druv, Bonfire, Star Track, Revelations, Arctic Circle and Sad Happy Face. These charts can be downloaded from the big band pages of www.scoredchanges.com. There is no charge, although donations to worthwhile causes are appreciated. Recordings of most of these can be accessed. If you would care to subscribe to those which are on YouTube, currently they are 34 short of the required 100 which would give them a huge boost.

The Brighton Big Band with singer Dave Williams are the final booking for 2019.

Further afield, Big Band Sounds with vocalist Jo Kimber, were at Rye College, with an evening of Big Band music alongside Michael Wooldridge, together with Rye College students, at the Rye Wurlitzer. The evening was appreciated by the sell out audience, who enjoyed not only the music, but the fish and chip supper at the interval.

Next month: Details of big bands still active in the county. Anything else, such as gig news, or feedback on this column, that you would like me to include in Big Band Scene for January 2020, please send it to me by election day, Thursday 12th December. My email address is g8aac@yahoo.co.uk. Season’s greetings to you all.


Patrick Billingham

(Photo of One World Orchestra at The Brunswick by Patrick Billingham)

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