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The Jazz Orchestras


In the second half of the twentieth century, a standard 17-piece instrumentation evolved, for which many commercial arrangements are available. This instrumentation consists of five saxophones (most often two altos, two tenors, and one baritone), four trumpets, four trombones (including one bass trombone) and a four-piece rhythm section (composed of drums, bass, piano, and guitar).
However, variants to this instrumentation are common. Composers, arrangers, and bandleaders have utilized sections with more or fewer players, and additional instruments, such as
vibes, French horn, tuba, and string section. Male and female vocalists have also joined big bands to perform particular arrangements.
Some arrangements call for saxophone players to double on other woodwind instruments, such as
flute or clarinet. Trumpet players are sometimes called upon to use various sound-changing mutes or play flugelhorn. In some rhythm sections, a guitar player is omitted. Players in the rhythm section may be called upon to play acoustic or electric instruments. Latin or other auxiliary percussion instruments may be added.

Big Band Arrangements

Typical big band arrangements of the swing period are written in strophic form with the same phrase and chord structure repeated several times. Each iteration, or chorus, most commonly follows Twelve bar blues form or Thirty-two-bar (AABA) song form. The first chorus of an arrangement typically introduces the melody, and is followed by subsequent choruses of development. This development may take the form of improvised solos, written soli sections, and shout choruses.
An arrangement's first chorus is sometimes preceded by an introduction, which may be as short as a few measures or may extend to chorus of its own. Many arrangements contain an interlude, often similar in content to the introduction, inserted between some or all choruses. Other methods of embellishing the form include modulations and cadential extensions.

Scottish National Jazz Orchestra The great saxophonist Joe Henderson used to say that a jazz orchestra should have all the colour and power of a big band and yet be as mobile as a quartet. While regularly paying heed to Henderson’s wishes since playing its first concerts in 1995, the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra has added another quality by being as malleable as Plasticine. Under the sure direction of Tommy Smith, SNJO has moulded and remoulded itself into the shape and character of the classic big bands of Ellington, Basie, Kenton and now Herman, and moved forward to interpret Monk, Mingus and Coltrane in the spirit of these idiosyncratic giants. It has taken further leaps into the latin and rock infused compositions of Chick Corea and Pat Metheny and proved its astonishing versatility by commissioning and performing brave new works by the English maverick Keith Tippett, the Gil Evans of our times, Maria Schneider, and members of the orchestra themselves.

Providing an opportunity for gifted young musicians from all over Britain to meet together regularly and to play big band jazz to a very high standard and excellence. Enabling young musicians to gain experience of working to high professional standards in major concert halls and theatres.  Sharing the talents of these exciting young players with the general public through concert performances, recordings and radio and TV programmes.  Commissioning new works from British composers, arrangers and song-writers.
Introducing and nurturing a love of jazz amongst school children.
Increasing the awareness and enjoyment of jazz amongst as wide an audience as possible.
Bill Ashton MD
Paul Michael (bass guitar); David Ingamells (drums); Will Bartlett (Technics keyboard);
Johnny Mott, Jean-Paul Gervasoni, Alex Maynard, Mark Perry, Henry Armburg-Jennings (trumpets);
Rhys Smith (bass trombone), Natalie Witts, Richard Wigley, Jon Hill, Faye Treacy (trombones);
Saxophones :- Phil Knights (baritone), Richard Shepherd (tenor), Tommy Laurence (lead alto), Tommy Andrews (alto), Dave Shulman (tenor); Emily Hall (flute ).
Atila Huseyin, Sarah Hughes, Emma Smith and Francesca Lewis Vocals

Tom Richards Orchestra Tom is a mere 26 and only graduated from the Royal Academy of Music four years ago.
However, the music on his debut album sounds like the work of someone much older, though there's also a youthful exuberance at work that's distinctly beguiling.
The cast list for the Tom Richards Orchestra runs to no less than 23 contributors. The large forces at the composer's disposal are experienced enjoyably both as backdrop to initially brief, snakey solos and as musical gestures in themselves.
There's no sense, however, of ponderousness - the music is lithe, fast moving and lusciously rich. Richards' arrangements are intricate without any intimations of fussiness.
The music is at times suddenly joyous in a way that's reminiscent of UK forebear Loose Tubes or the Pat Metheny Group.

Steve Taylor Big Band - Buddy Rich Tribute - channel-1-suite-2
World-class drum-led 17 piece big band. swing, funk & Latin mixed with contemporary horn-charged originals, 
Steve is one of the UK’s top Drum Kit technicians, with the technique, power and taste to bring classic Buddy Rich Big Band arrangements to life. Expect music not heard Live since Buddy toured the UK with such success.
Channel One Suite, Good News, Love For Sale plus a healthy dose of fresh arrangements PERSONALLY written by Buddy’s ex Tenor sax sideman and Yellowjackets star, arranger BOB MINTZER. Featuring Top players including alto sax star Christian Brewer, Tenor sax Vasilis Xenopolous and former young Jazz musician of the year Trumpeter Ed Benstead  In a bold move to re energise the sound & style of one of Steve’s pre-eminent musical influences. He is promoting the sheer excitement and raw power of a contemporary jazz big band. Steve say’s "Rich ‘crossed-over’ to a mainstream audience thanks to numerous TV appearances” Steve believes he can invigorate a new generation of music fans while giving die hard Rich followers another chance to hear some of the best Big Band music ever recorded.
Classic Rich charts combine with Fresh arrangements, overtones of Funk and Latin flavours showcasing ‘Rich’ arrangements and Steve’s “world class” Drumming skills.
Steve Taylor

Blake's Heaven - Oxon

Blakes Heaven are a modern big band playing Nick Blake original compositions and arrangements as well as some standard big band arrangements. The music is a real challenge of technique and reading.

The line up is:
Vox - Linda Blake ,
Tenor 1 - Nick Blake (dbl: flute / Alto sax / soprano sax), Tenor 2 - Simon Carr (dbl: oboe),  Alto 1 - Chuck Lloyd (dbl: flute / Alto sax / soprano sax), Alto 2 - Otto Caretta (dbl: soprano sax), Baritone - Joe Carey,
Bass Trombone - Malcolm Gunningham, T-Bone 1 - Bob Cronin, T-Bone 2 - Julian Hawes, T-Bone 3 - Tom, 
Tpt 1 - Lloyd Payne, Tpt 2 - Paul  (dbl: flugel), Tpt 3 - Philip Dobbie, Tpt 4 - tbc  (dbl: flugel), Guitar - Peter Kingslake, Keys - Jeff Young, Electric Bass - Jez Cook
Drums - Frank Hockney

BAND Substance - The Music of Scott Willcox
 - say it aloud and you'll get the joke.  A London based big band formed of players many of whom are well known on the London Jazz Scene including Kelvin Christiane, Steve Main, on Saxes, - Robbie Harvey, Trombone and Alex Hutton, Piano.  Album to be released shortly by - 33 Jazz

Standard 17 piece Orchestra and the repertoire is all Scott Willcox Originals.  The music has been described as possessing thoughtful and creative writing and very atmospheric.   Gil Evans meets Stravinsky for the imaginative. A more formal approach to big band writing but still with a swing.
The Band was launched at the Bulls Head in March 08, and further prestige Venue performances are imminent with tour possibilities. Contact Steve above to secure this cerebral performance opportunity.
They are not a powerhouse swing band - there are plenty of other line ups doing that material very well, not to mention the Buddy Rich recordings which of course always with us. 
MD - Scott Willcox is a dedicated Suite Composer pure and simple and also plays piano. His compulsion is to put his stuff down on paper as a Big Band Arranger.
Scott Willcox - In his own words:-
Yes, I Direct as composer/arranger. I just don't have a lot to tell from a specifically jazz standpoint. I've been writing various music compositions for about 35 yrs.. Jazzwise I've been heard at the Bull's Head (of course), the Festival Hall foyer and the old Bass Clef club in Hackney which was run by bassist Peter Ind as well as the jazz pubs. As a writer my interest is in big bands pretty much exclusively as there's not much scope with smaller groups.  Many famous Jazz Composers and Arrangers have all said nice things about my stuff on odd occasions but I don't have their permission to quote them and so don't wish to, as you can understand.

Paul Jordanous Big Band
The Paul Jordanous Big Band was formed in September 2005 and is based around Kingston-Upon-Thames.  Its musicians are plucked from an increasingly large pool of musicians who I have worked with in separate occasions, each adding a special element towards the band. They play a mixture of music in differing styles, from Swing and Funk, to Latin and Bebop. Our Set List includes Standards by American Composers such as Dizzy Gillespie and Kenny Barron, Latin specialists like Chick Corea and Horace Silver and original compositions and arrangements  by members of our Big Band.
Saxophones (from),

Nathan Hawken, Matt McNaughton, Nigel Crane,
Simon Allen, Kim Derry
Piers Green, Will Gibson, Paul Durham,
Bob Mackay, Nick Carter, Gavin Yong,
Josh Ison, Tom Stone
Anna Jordanous,
Paul Summers, Jon O' Neil,
Anna Jordanous, Alana Mullen
Trumpets (from),
Andy Gibson, Mark Perry, Pete Cooper
Tom Fennell, Giles Straw, Paul Jordanous, Graham Russell,  
Miles Levoga, Trevor Solomon, Yazz Ahmed
Trombones (from),
Chris Lowe, Jon Bird,  Mike Wood,  Shay Mackintyre,
Genni Kurd, John Brooks,
Martin Gladdish
Alana Mullen, Gavin Yong, Matt McNaughton
Rhythm Section
(Piano) Alan Durham, Simon Allen  (Guitar) Jules Bastrup, Mike Wood, Nathaniel Keen (Bass) Simon Allen, Dave Johnston, Holley Gray, Mike Wood

Willie Garnett Big Band
Willie Garnett, a jovial and enthusiastic performance on tenor and alto sax is a fixture on the London jazz scene. Only last year he celebrated 50 years as a saxophonist and bandleader. Alongside his jazz activities, Willie has made a successful career as an accomplished repairer of musical instruments. The 16 piece orchestra is expected to include in the front line on saxophones Canadian Mike Coates, Kelvin Christiane and Alex Garnett son of bandleader Willie Garnett. Amongst other band members are American trumpeter Jim Barton, trombonist Malcolm Cliff and pianist Frank Toms.

Abingdon Swing Time Band
Abingdon Swing Time is a 17-piece orchestra playing the music of Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Benny Goodman etc. They perform at a variety of Oxfordshire gigs, including: Oxford College Balls, Dinner Dances at the Abingdon Guildhall, Remembrance Day at the Royal British Legion and charity events throughout the year. For more information please email them on info@AbingdonSwingTime.co.

Bucks Berks Orchestra Big Band - BBO
The highly acclaimed BBO (Bucks, Berks, and Oxon.) Big Band feature repertoire of well-known music as played by such Big Bands as Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman and many others .

This seventeen piece big band performs from a formidable library of music ranging from the standards of Ellington, Miller and Basie through the genres of be-bop and cool to the more modern sounds of Ferguson and Nestico. Roy Hole formed the band in 1986 to give local musicians a chance to play some of the best swing and jazz charts available. The BBO Big Band went on to earn a Queen's Award for their founder in recognition of the amount of money raised by performing for various charities. The band continues this worthy cause as well as playing for private functions. The seventeen musicians, complimented by the vocal talents of Trisha Basset and Steve Bailey and under the direction of Bill Skelton, can be heard in concert on the last Thursday of every month at the British Legion Club, Marlow, Buckinghamshire. Also http://www.dfsmusicservices.co.uk/

Pendulum Jazz Orchestra
Patrick Kelly founded Berks Youth Jazz Orchestra – now PENDULUM – for the pure love of the music and the necessity he felt to spread the word to young people. His enthusiasm and drive have taken the band to great heights of ability and creativity. B.Y.J.O. is internationally acclaimed and is named by its peers as “a prep. college for young jazz musicians” and is one of the finest young Jazz orchestras in the country. Performance of original material by the band is a vital part of Patrick’s philosophy and he has always encouraged its members to compose: they now boast a collection of excellent material from within their ranks, over a wide range of styles and mood. He also calls on colleagues in the music profession to compose and perform their compositions with the Orchestra.
The complete educational aspect is strong and vital in the band and has been sustained throughout its entire development. In the 31-year history of the Orchestra, it has been the training ground for many of the top session and Jazz players. Its high level of professional performance is always evident at every concert and endorsed by the list of Jazz names who frequently guest with the band bringing together some of the finest Jazz musicians in the UK – from performers with 30 years experience to younger stars who will quite clearly be tomorrow’s innovators.  The commissioned works brought forth a cornucopia of styles and moods which had to be recorded and a double CD was produced. The Album was nominated as UK’s Jazz CD of the year.  The Pendulum Swings!

Mid West Big Band - Swindon
MWBB _ 16 Piece Orchestra with Vocalist Julie McKellar - Play a wide range of music from the period of Glen Miller and Benny Goodman up to arrangements from the contemporary National Youth Jazz Orchestra. Len Morphew Musical Director is well steeped in music of the Swing Era. Available for Corporate functions Outdoor Events or Dance Halls - Contact Dave Pinch, Trombone 01793 813773 or Len Morphew, MD 01793 875290
Lucy Bridewell - Alto, Judith Pullen - Alto & Clarinet, Len Morphew - Tenor and Flute, Linda Duncan - Tenor, Frank Jeffcutt - Baritone
Bob Field - Trumpet, John Drew - Trumpet and Flugelhorn, Gerry Mason - Trumpet, Dave Maguire - Trombone, Dave Pinch - Trombone.
Dave Prosser - Drums Andy MaGuire - Bass, Martin Low - Piano,  Ken Jell -Vocals.

Thanks for the mention of the Mid West Big Band on your site.
I am starting a jazz and blues radio programme myself in January on Swindon 105.5, a new community radio station. Unfortunately it can only be picked up on FM (105.5) within the area of greater Swindon, but we hope to go out on the web too. It will be broadcast between 7 and 9 pm on a Monday evening and I hope to feature as much local talent as possible.  Len Morphew.

Hot Orange Big Band - London
HOT ORANGE BIG BAND. This is a fabulous 17 piece Big Band run by Dave Hammer and Richard Pywell. Like all good bands it's been playing on the scene regularly for some years now and features amongst others Greg Heath-sax and Paul Carmichael-bass, as well as a number of players from the iconic British big band, Loose Tubes. The Big Band format is probably one of the most exhilarating in jazz, and this 17 piece Band is certainly one of the best around. This is a very impressive outfit led by two players from the seminal British Band “Loose Tubes” and, like all the Big Bands, the Jazz soloing is very strong. The music is invariably interesting and exciting.



The Ed Puddick Big Band  
Ed Puddick at Rayners 2005 Amongst the lineup Sam Bullard, Robin Fincker and Mark Hanslip: saxes
Percy Pursglove, Noel Langley:Tpt , Jim Rattigan: french Horn,
Simon Walker,Mike Feltham and Alan Hardiman: Tmbs,
Chris Alard: GTR, Richard Barr: drums




The Pete Cater Big Band is probably the tightest, hippest most dynamic big band to be heard in the UK today. Pete and his musicians are well aware that a band is a unit, not just a collection of soloists. Pete's band has achieved that all-important "internal balance" in its ensemble playing, so that it feels spot on and provides a confident bed for the soloists. The credit for this belongs to everybody in the band- Pete for his vision and leadership and each individual player for his ability and commitment. But they all rely on the arrangements. Refreshingly, the materiel is mostly new and unique to the band. Sometimes they play specially written arrangements of standards, and sometimes entirely new compositions. Pete commissions new materiel from some of the UK's finest young writers, and he's also brought in American tenor saxman Frank Griffith, who studied with both Bill Finegan and Bob Mintzer, to write some exciting originals for them.

So what is an evening with the Pete Cater Big Band like? First, what it's not like. It's not an evening of nostalgia, of listening to big band hits of the past, trying to simulate the sounds of the awing era. But it is an evening of contemporary big band music, played by some of Britain's finest young musicians, and played with verve, conviction and enthusiasm. Critic Dave Gelly of the Observer wrote,"the sheer unflagging drive is impressive". Chris Yates in "Jazz Rag" called the band "an important voice in British jazz". Roy Belcher in "Big Bands International" said it is "a band with verve, excellent, a taste of things to come".

Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra
Experience the glory of a big band with twenty one young musicians of prowess and promise. They play a repertoire that includes Stan Kenton, Maria Schneider, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Oliver Nelson, Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Mingus.
Orchestra features Philip Cardwell, Liam Heath, Alan Blair, Linsey McDonald, Hendon Musk (tp), Billy Fleming, Dionne Copeland, Theo Forrest, Michelle Melvin, Leah Gough Cooper, Rachel Cohen, Louise McDonald, Ben Bryden (s), Scott Annison, Hannah Cohen, Michael Owers, Michael Campbell (tb), Chris Lyons (p), Ross Whyte (d), Calum Gourlay (b) and Mike Nisbet (g).
The above were performing at the Aberdeen Jazz Festival 2006 and proved to be one of the most rewarding events and certainly the most swinging Big Band featured at the whole Festival.  A great pool of young talent motivated by the Maestro of the Saxophone who donates all his time for Charity.  Support them when and where you can as this promising unit gets no funding whatsoever. 
Tommy Smith Website

The Terry Drummond Ten
The Band: Contact
Terry Drummond (guitar) directing
Don Innes (keyboard); Jim Pollard (bass); Bobby Orr (drums);
Duncan Campbell, David Runkel, Ron Marks (trumpets);
Jonathan Hill (trombone); Graham Willoughby (tenor), Peter Jones (alto).
Jo Marney Vocals.
This is not by any means a "big band" as we know the expression. With ten musicians it's not really a small band and the combination of instruments is unusual - four instruments in the rhythm section, two saxophones, one trombone and three trumpets! But it works! Clever arranging from pianist Don Innes, and Terry sees to that.

Walsall Jazz Orchestra is a 19 piece big band which, unlike the vast majority of big bands, plays contemporary, rather than traditional big band music.
The band plays pieces written by well known composers such as Pat Metheny, Mike Gibbs and Chick Corea, as well as a number of original compositions.

WJO have released two CDs which have received rave reviews in the music press.

Maria Schneider

Harlem Jazz Orchestra

Syd Lawrence Orchestra

British Big Bands

The Open Band
The Open Band was formed in 1995 for musicians of varying abilities who want to play jazz with others and learn more about improvisation.
The Open Band meets  on Thursday evenings in Woburn Village Hall, Crawley Road, Woburn.   There is also a jazz jamming session every second Thursday in the month when all musicians are welcome.
The Open Band performs regularly, both as a big band and also as a smaller jazz group.

City Jazz Orchestra - Chester

Cornwall Youth Jazz Orchestra

East Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra

Hampshire Youth Jazz Orchestra

Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra

Oxford University Jazz Orchestra

Pendulum-Berks Youth Jazz Orchestra

Voice of The North Jazz Orchestra

Scottish National Jazz Orchestra

Strathclyde Youth Jazz Orchestra

Sefton Youth Jazz Orchestra

Cutting Edge Big Band - Oxon

Ulster Youth Jazz Orchestra

UK Youth Jazz Orchestras

Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra

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Last modified: 18/02/2012