1 February 2020

Big Band Scene (Feb. 2020)

So far, in the so-called real world, things appear to be going from bad to worse. It seems that our very own Duke and Duchess are abandoning the county to enjoy transatlantic attractions. And that the White House incompetent is disregarding international law to exacerbate the crisis in the Middle East, with repercussions likely to be felt here, especially, since, at the time of writing, we are no longer part of, and having the protection of, the European Union.

In contrast, on the Sussex big band scene, there is good news. The Big Band @Brunswick series is to continue. The 2020 programme continues this month with the Brighton Big Band. In addition to the usual first Sunday of the month sessions, there are a few additional gigs during the year.

There is also the prospect of more big band events at The Verdict in Brighton. I had wondered how a big band would fit in to the available space and still leave room for a large enough audience. The tables with most of the chairs are removed to allow the capacity standing-room audience space. As I found out when I went to hear The Les Paul Big Band playing there for the second time, in December, together with their regular vocalist Pam Dabell. 

The band were as good as I have ever heard them. The section work was tight with swinging solos, especially those of guest lead tenor Andy Panayi. It would normally be invidious to mention individual band members, but in the final number, Sing Sing Sing, the vigorous extended solos played by the regular drummer Derek Roberts sent the audience out into the Winter Solstice night with a warm appreciative glow.

Even more good news. Since last month’s issue went to press, I have come across two more big bands with a conventional line-up.


The Chichester Big Band


Contact: Beverly Cerexhe-Dickens, chichesterbigband@gmail.com


The University of Chichester Big Band


 As yet, no contact details.


I have also heard mention of a Hastings-based big band, but, so far, I haven’t managed to track them down on the internet. Any information will be gratefully received.


There wasn’t space last month to include those big bands with less conventional line-ups. They must have at least seven horns. Some are mostly saxes, others include strings, voices, and even occasionally, an accordion. But all playing in big band style. As with the more conventional line-ups, the list includes websites, where known, Facebook pages, if any, and contact details.





Contact: Beccy Rork, 01273 412767/07979 876092  beccyrork@gmail.com or    (messenger) m.me/saxshopbrighton


Seaford Rock & Jazz Orchestra


Contact: enquiries@seafordrockandjazz.co.uk or

Pat White 01323 897360, thewhites@pwhiteseaford.co.uk


The Downsbeat Swing Band

Contact: Steve Field, 07729 890174 stevefield46@hotmail.co.uk


The Swingin’ Saxophone Big Band


Contact:  Karen Wardrop, karen.wardrop@btopenworld.com or

(messenger) m.me/theswinginsaxophonebigband


The Wacky Band


Contact:  thewackyband@outlook.com or

Paul paul@classicbikes-sussex.co.uk or (messemger) m.me/TheWackyBand





Contact: Terry Pack 07801 482984 tpfeedback@hotmail.com.


Now the public service section. The Chichester Big Band, mentioned earlier, would like to hear from brass players, especially trombonists. They rehearse three Mondays each month.  If you are interested, please contact Beverly, whose email address is given above.

Next month: Hopefully more news and views. 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 March’s Big Band Scene, please send it to me by Sunday 10th February. My email address is g8aac@yahoo.co.uk. 

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