1 March 2020

Big Band Scene (March 2020)

The Big Band@Brunswick programme for 2020 is now well under way. Last month it was the Brighton Big Band with Dave Williams occupying the slot. On the first of this month it is The Brighton Jazz Mafia, and on 5th April, look out for Big Band Sounds. If you get there by 7:30 pm, you should be in time for the start of these gigs.

In the May, June and July 2018 columns (SJMs 76, 77 & 78), adverse effects of the weather on outdoor performances was discussed, together with methods of mitigation. Apart from a sudden snowfall, indoor performances were considered immune. Until the 9th of last month.

There were two Sussex big band gigs scheduled for that date. Storm Ciara was at its height. The first warnings were issued a week ahead, and as it got closer, it became uncertain whether or not to cancel. In the event, one gig was cancelled, the other with a slightly depleted line-up, went ahead.

This raises the question of whether big bands are more or less vulnerable in these situations than small groups. Which will be discussed in a future column.

Now a band profile.

The Chichester Big Band was formed last year partly in response to a perceived need for a big band for the community. There are many in the city from the generation that enjoy the romance and nostalgia that swing music brings. And partly because Beverly Cerexhe-Dickens, who started the band, couldn’t find one locally to play in. 

Their repertoire will include arrangements from Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Sammy Nestico and others from the swing era. 

They plan to put on concerts for the residents of Chichester on a regular basis together with regular tea dances. They also aspire to be forward thinking to put on shows to include dance companies and Big Band Singers.

Rehearsals are held 7.30pm till 9.30 pm on the first three Mondays each month at the Basil Shippam Centre, Tozer Way, Chichester , PO19 7LG. 

Their debut public performance is scheduled for the evening of Saturday 2nd May. 

To find out more about this band you can contact Beverly, or the musical director, Steve Masters at chichesterbigband@gmail.com. There is also an active Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/saxaphone2/  The band has a domain name, but as yet, do not see the need for a website.

As mentioned last month, they have vacancies for trombones.

Looking ahead, at 7:30pm on Saturday 4th April, Jim Prior and the JP Big Band will be at Steyning Grammar School, with guest musicians, including Jazz Newcomer of the Year Luca Manning, who has been nominated for other awards. Doors open 7pm.

All the profits from the evening are going to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.  Tickets are £10 and are available from the Steyning Bookshop on 01903 812062 or at                   


Next month:

Hopefully, coronavirus/Covid-19 permitting, 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 April’s Big Band Scene, please send it to me by Thursday 12th March. My email address is g8aac@yahoo.co.uk.


Photograph of the Chichester Big Band by Graeme Hodge.

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