1 January 2017

Big Band Scene (Jan. 2017)

    This month Patrick Billingham updates the list of big bands around Sussex (and other large ensembles).


    Happy New Year.  Let’s hope that 2017 will bring fewer unpleasant surprises than 2016.  Or perhaps we should adopt the old Albanian approach.  We expect 2017 is going to be a better year than 2018, which, in turn, . . .

    Since the first Sunday of this month is New Years Day, there isn’t a Big Band @Brunswick gig in January.  But bands are booked for the remaining eleven months.  The final slot for 2016 was occupied by the Studio 9 Orchestra. They played, with their usual flair and precision, an eclectic mix of charts from Maria Schneider through to Radiohead.  Their next appearance in this series is booked for Sunday June 4th.

    In last year’s January column I listed twenty four gigging big bands based in Sussex, of which twenty were the conventional, more or less seventeen piece sax, trumpet, trombone and rhythm section line-up with the other four less conventional, but still including adapted big band charts in their repertoire.   

    During the course of the year, by accident or design, I found out about a few more.  Here is the updated list, with where known, contact details.  Also reference to previous SJMs where the bands have been profiled.

    Some of these are bands who get together for specific gigs, some rehearse and gig on a regular basis, while some rehearse regularly and gig sporadically.  What they have in common is that the general public can hear them play. 


First of all, the bands with the conventional line-up.   


Big Band Sounds     (SJM43)            Contact: darrenvassie@googlemail.com


ConChord Big Band

Contact: Frank Osborne, 01342 322646, info@conchordbigband.com


JL Dance & Swing Band,

Contact: update+khh1-3d@facebookmail.com


Phoenix Big Band (SJM42)

Contact: Debby Wells, Deborah.Wells@mercer.com


Ska-Kestra (SJM 52)

Contact: Peter Thompson, contactpeter@btinternet.com


Sounds of Swing

Contact: chris.j.tanner@live.co.uk


Straight No Chaser (SJM6, SJM40)        Contact: Alex Bondonno, alexbondonno@gmail.com


Sussex All-Stars Big Band

Contact: Peter Blackmore, 01323 764192,  p_blackmore@hotmail.com 


The BYG (Bells Yew Green) Big Band (SJM56) 

Contact: Karen Wardrop, enquiries@thebygbigband.co.uk.  


The Brighton Big Band     (SJM39)

Contact: John Lake, 07950 317496.  johnbruce_@hotmail.com 


The CH Big Band

Contact: Christ’s Hospital School, Horsham.


The Fred Woods Big Band (SJM6)

Contact: richard.guest6@btinternet.com, billwoods245@aol.com


The Horsham RBL Legionnaires Big Band

Contact: richard.guest6@btinternet.com


The Johnny Spice Swing Orchestra    (SJM46)                

Contact: Paul Hyde, 01273 516632, Paul.hyde@talktalk.net,


The Les Paul Big Band     (SJM6, SJM41)    Contact: Steve, 01273 509631 steven_paul1@yahoo.co.uk com 


The Maestro Big Band    (formerly The Maestro Academy Players) (SJM44)

Contact: Paul Boswell, 01273 517999 paul@maestronewhaven.co.uk


The One World Jazz Orchestra (formerly The Paul Busby Bigger Band) (SJM46)

Contact: Gram Canyon, gram_canyon@hotmail.com


The Perdido Players’ Swing Band

Contact: Peter Swann, 01444 450335 heapetsw@gmail.com.


The Ron Green Big Band


The Ronnie Smith Big Band (SJM42)    Contact: Rod Burrows, 01903 783053, rod@burrowshome.co.uk


The Simon Bates Big Band

Contact: 07739 231467,  info@simonbates.co.uk


The South Coast Big Band (SJM41)        Contact: Duncan J. Reeks, 01323 370634 / 07721 184031


The Studio 9 Orchestra    (SJM6, SJM12, SJM40)                        Contact: s9orchestra@gmail.com


The Sussex Jazz Orchestra (SJM6, SJM39)                

Contact: Patrick Billingham, 07812 418560 g8aac@yahoo.co.uk


The Sussex Universities’ Big Band     (SJM44)    

Contact: sussexbigband@gmail.com


The Swingshift Big Band

Contact: Jonathan Bailey, swingshift4u@hotmail.com


The Tony Strudwick Big Band

Contact: Tony Strudwick,    01903 764328 tonystrudwick@msn.com


When I began this column (SJM39, April 2015), I outlined the criteria for a band to merit a mention. Other bands with less conventional line-ups, some mostly saxes, and others including strings, would appear in the column. But they still play the big band repertoire in big band style. So also in the list are:-

Saxshop     (SJM17, SJM47) Contact: Beccy Rork, beccyrork@gmail.com

Seaford Rock & Jazz Orchestra (SJM47)Contact: Pat White 01323 897360, thewhites@pwhiteseaford.co.uk


The Downsbeat Swing Band    (SJM43)    Contact: Peter Everett 01403 257387 everett.peter@gmail.com


The Swingin’ Saxophone Big Band (SJM55)

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


The Wacky Band (SJM54)

Contact: Graham, thewackyband@outlook.com.   or Paul paul@classicbikes-sussex.co.uk.


Trees (SJM41, SJM45)            Contact: Terry Pack 07801 482984 tpfeedback@hotmail.com.


And, hopefully, the 2017 incarnation of 100 saxophones.


    Although the Groovin’ High Big Band has a regular monthly slot in Sussex, it is based outside the county, so is not in the list. As are the just over the border Milestone Big Band and the Jetstream Jazz Big Band who also play gigs in the county.

    Has anyone any information about the Ron Green Big Band?  It doesn’t appear to have an on-line presence.  But I know the band is active.  I have found out about their gigs, so far, always after the event.  Also if any of you know about, or play in any band that I haven’t included, then please get in touch and let me know.   Likewise, please let me know about upcoming gigs.  I have already set up the calendar for the whole of 2017.


Next month:  Hopefully some 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 February’s Big Band Scene, please send it to me by Wednesday January 25th.  My email address is g8aac@yahoo.co.uk.  



Big Band Gigs

January – Early February

 † a regular monthly gig

bold italics part of a regular series


Wednesday 4th January

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


Friday 6th January

8:30 pm, Terry Pack’s Trees at Steyning Jazz Club at The Steyning Centre, Fletchers Croft, Church Street, Steyning, West Sussex BN44 3YB (01903 814017).   Members & students £7, guests £12. 


Sunday 8th January

†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. 


Tuesday 10th January

†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.


Sunday 22nd January

†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.

7:30 pm, The South Coast Jazz Festival: Claire Martin with Pete Long’s Echoes of Ellington Orchestra at The Ropetackle Arts Centre, Little High Street, Shoreham-by-Sea, BN43 5EG (01273 464440).  £25.


Friday 27th January

7:30 pm, The One World Orchestra at Brighton Unitarian Church, New Road, Brighton BN1 1UF (01273 696022).  £12.

†8:30 – 11:00 pm, The Les Paul Big Band (Family & Friends evening) in Patcham, BN1, £5. For further details contact Steve (01273 509631) steven_paul1@yahoo.co.uk (Bring your own refreshments.)


Sunday 29th January

12:00 pm, The South Coast Jazz Festival: Terry Pack’s Trees at The Ropetackle Arts Centre, Little High Street, Shoreham-by-Sea, BN43 5EG (01273 464440).  Free Entry with collection.


Wednesday 1st February

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


Sunday 5th February

†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. 

7:30 – 10:00  pm, Big Band @Brunswick: Straight No Chaser at The Brunswick, 3, Holland Road, Hove BN3 1JF (01273 733984).  Free entry with collection.


Tuesday 7th February

?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.

[Photo by The Round Georges Team]
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