One door closes, another one opens! Reflections of my musical life in Brighton.

I am writing this as I start the last couple of gigs before I leave the UK to move to Germany where a whole new, as yet unknown, musical scene awaits me! So this post is all about reflecting on some of the people I have had the pleasure of working with over my time in Brighton – some you will know from previous posts!

Firstly, the band I first played with when I moved here was The Dave Masters Big Band – some great guys in the band which has since become the Brighton Big Band, we rehearsed above The Prince Albert pub in those days! Here, I bumped into Bill Douse whom I had replaced at the Sounds of Swing when he went off to join Tony Strudwick’s band. (Something I was later to do replacing him!) Thanks to Peter Cowlett, we can hear the band from those days as a tape of a 1988 live gig at The King & Queen in Brighton came to light!

It was through playing in Dave’s band that I met local drummer Paul Turner – I have posted short clips before but managed to track down the full performance of our Glen Miler Medley with James Stewart on BBC’s “Wogan” show. Paul is doing very well indeed out in LA these days and it has been great to catch up with him via Facebook recently.

I mentioned earlier that I had replaced Bill Douse in the Sounds of Swing – next up, I was to replace him with the Tony Strudwick Orchestra. Bill very kindly suggested me when he decided to leave and this led to a 10 yr stint as Tony’s lead trumpet! I had a long spell away from the band but over the last couple of years have been a regular dep – this included 2 great tours of Cyprus where this video was shot:

I have met a lot of great players over the years working with Tony and it was particularly nice to work again with Nick Trish who is the current lead trumpet. Nick & I have been doing 2 trumpet gigs of late in Chichester Cathedral which is a great place to play! I’d like to also highlight a couple of guys whose talent deserves wider exposure. Firstly, the hugely talented Terry Finch who I roomed with on one of the Cyprus tours. Watching him at an open mike night in Beer Street,Paphos was a real treat! Here he is with one of his own compositions:

Next up, David Allen who was on the tour as a singer – and when you hear his cover version of “Dancing In The Dark”, you’ll wan’t to hear more!

This weekend also sees the end of a 17 year relationship with The Sussex Symphony Orchestra, during which time I served both as Chair and Trustee for over 10 years. We played some great concerts and had the pleasure of working with Katherine Jenkins, Aled Jones and even the comedian Jim Davidson during that time! Sadly, I miss one of my favourite gigs with them at the annual Christmas Concert – a true brass fest of fanfares, carols with fanfares and more notes in on piece than we often get in a whole concert! This clip from a couple of years ago is one of those tunes – Ron Goodwin’s classy arrangement of “Jingle Bells”!

Another band I have been a regular dep with is the brilliant “Straight No Chaser” Big Band – if you haven’t heard them, check out there website for the next gig, here’s a sample from their Soundcloud site – not one I played on but that doesn’t matter! The chart is a Paul Busby original btw.

Finally, Brass Bands have of course been a big part of my musical life for years. I had a 9 yr spell as MD of Mid Sussex Brass guiding them to many contest successes during that time and prior to that, a couple of years at the helm of The Hangleton Band. This included the band appearing on BBC’s “Hearts of Gold” as part of a stunt on Brighton seafront! As a player, I have for a number of years helped out “Brighton & Hove City Brass” at contests and my last gig here will in fact be with them at the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain in Cheltenham where the band qualified to represent this area in the 4th Section finals. Last but not least, for the whole of the time I have been in Brighton, I have played and periodically conducted “Uckfield Concert Brass”. This is a great band and I leave behind many friends there – but one thing I will not miss is this:

You can hear the band playing Sussex By The Sea – a tune I doubt I will hear much in the Rheinland!

And it’s not just the players – Brighton has a real wealth of talented composers too – in particular, it has been a real pleasure to meet, perform and record the works of Paul Carr whose music is just sublime! Here’s his Air for Orchestra we performed in 2008. If this doesn’t move you, then I don’t know what will!

From my brief deps with Straight No Chaser, I met the awesomely talented Simon D’Souza whose music lives on through this recording he did with the band shortly before he passed away. The compositions on this album are all Simon originals – as proceeds go to charity, download your own copy!

And so, to all of the great musicians I have worked with over the last 25 yrs or so in Brighton, it is farewell.  Many of you have become good friends and I will miss you all.

As for the future, you will have to read the next blog – I have found a very good Symphonic Wind Band as a starting point but watch this space! To end this post, I leave you with one of my most favourite pieces which we managed to get on film last year: