2014 – so far!

Because of my day job, my musical life over recent years has become somewhat itinerant and most of my gigs now are as a dep performer. My last post talked about this from my perspective as a conductor.

As a player, I was asked a short while back to guest at a rehearsal with the Jetstream Big Band.I had played with them once before when they had a different bandleader. So, I arrived, expecting to be on 3rd or 4th trumpet, and was handed the lead trumpet pad and was introduced to their new leader, Raul D’Oliveira who is an absolute legend as a player! The opportunity to sit next to Raul and hear him play was an unexpected pleasure and one which you too can enjoy from this clip of his appearance on BBC TV’s “Songs of Praise”:

Whilst not playing on this occasion, I was very pleased to be support Simon D’Souza’s work which has been released on CD by the fabulous “Straight No Chaser” Big Band. Simon was sadly diagnosed with a tumour in 2012 and wanted to get a lot of his music recorded whilst he still has the chance. Please support Simon’s charity and buy the cd “Navigation”!  


The first Sussex Symphony concert this year was a real treat – I am a great lover of Elgar and Nimrod in particular so to perform The Enigma Variations in Hove Town Hall recently was a real treat and how nice to be at a venue that is less cavernous than St. Bartholomew’s church!  Judge for yourself:

This was also a good test of my mini HD flipvideo which did a great job for something so small!

It was also really nice to get an opportunity to play lead trumpet again with the Tony Strudwick Orchestra recently – a position I had previously held back in the late 80’s for approx. 10 years.

Of course, the year hasn’t been without brass bands either! Playing tuned percussion for a change, Uckfield Concert Brass actually had a gig we could walk to! And proving that brass bands are as much showbiz as anything else:

There’s No Business Like Show Business!

(Recorded at Church of the Good Shepherd, Brighton during a concert for Brighton Rotary.)

I also had a rare opportunity to play inside Chichester Cathedral for the Judges Service in early March. Having signed a disclaimer, myself and Nick Trish climbed the spiral stairs to the rood loft above the aisle and played fanfare trumpets for hymns and the National Anthem.

My most recent gig was with Brighton & Hove City Brass where I played with them at the London & Southern Counties regional competition – if you get in the top 3, this gets you invited to the National Championship Contest later in the year. I’m please to say that the band performed extremely well on the day and did indeed get that 3rd placing! Well done!

Brighton & Hove City Brass

So, what’s next? More fanfares in March, Verdi Requiem in April and more brass band contesting both with my own band, Uckfield Concert Brass and helping Brighton & Hove once more. Plenty to keep the lip muscles in good shape!

And tonight’s guest conductor is………..

This year, it has been a real pleasure to have been asked to conduct a number of bands in the area either at rehearsal or for concerts. Being a guest conductor is always fun as generally, the musicians are aware that things won’t necessarily be the same as under their regular conductor – a fact I mention to them at the start of any rehearsal!

From an interpretation perspective, all conductors are generally always right so it’s never a reflection on the resident MD if something is done in a different way – something else that I always mention up front so that they know that next week, when the boss is back, his reading of the score is also correct!

First up during the year was an opportunity to run through “Dimensions” with my good friends at Brighton & Hove City Brass whilst their MD was on vacation. This was useful for me as a player too as I performed this with them at a contest during the year which I’m pleased to say the band won!

The next band I worked with was LGB Brass – the last time I was booked to conduct this band, they were called Glynde & Beddingham Band and despite being booked to wave one stick, I landed up with 2 and played drums instead! We spent a very windy but enjoyable 90 minutes together on Eastbourne Bandstand whilst their regular MD was away.

The last conducting engagement of the year was a fun affair in Hastings with Battle Town Band – a band I have not worked with before. Despite not being aware that they start their rehearsals early, we were able to prepare for the concert the following week at a Masonic Christmas event. The evening include a very amusing “12 Days of Christmas” with each table standing up and singing a different part of the song – as you can see, the cameraman didn’t know where to look next!

It’s been a fun year and I also managed to guest on cornet at a rehearsal of the fabulous Mission Peak Brass Band in California – as I travel there a lot, I hope to do so again next year.

If I happen to turn up at your rehearsal in place of your regular conductor, with tongue firmly in cheek, here’s a few tips:

  • If you see a latin word of phrase above the stave, it means “watch Andy” – all of them mean “watch Andy”!
  • Whilst my tempo and your regular MD’s tempos may be different, we are both right!
  • For concerts, the jokes WILL be awful!
  • I may bring something with me that I don’t believe you will have played before!

Happy New Year to you all!



The Music of Paul Carr

I haven’t written a music related blog for a while -I guess I have been too busy with the new job! However, I was minded to write something whilst rehearsing for the next Sussex Symphony Orchestra concert on 14th September. On the programme is the world première of a new work, Chorale, by Paul Carr. Paul will be well know to SSO audiences as we have performed many of his works over the years – I had the pleasure of being part of this performance of his wonderful “Air for Orchestra”:

Due to Paul’s long association with the SSO, I have had the opportunity to play a lot of his works – another example, “Requiem for an Angel”, received it’s 2nd performance in Brighton in November 2007 together with the East Sussex Bach Choir. Another astoundingly lovely work – and as I write this, I realise I don’t actually have the Bath Philharmonia version so have ordered from Amazon!

I also played on his “Crowded Streets” album, also with the SSO – available on Amazon as is his Requiem for an Angel & “A Very English Music” Suite.

One thing is for sure; Paul writes some of the most wonderful melodies and this new work is no exception. Why not come along and find out for yourself?

Sussex Symphony at Holy Trinity, Cuckfield

15 Minutes of fame

It’s been a long time since I wrote a music specific blog and since I started my new job, music has often taken a back seat. As we launched our new customer community this week, one of the off-topic questions posed was “What are your 15 minutes of fame?”.

And I have been very lucky to have had a few things captured on Video that could be captured in a blog post rather than fill my forum response with YouTube video!

First up, British TV show Midsomer Murders – this video has sadly been deleted and the replacement you have to pay for! So, here’s the band under close arrest with Inspector Barnaby! 
If you ever get to see this, the musicians amongst you will note that the music doesn’t always match what I am doing as the conductor – it’s not because the band didn’t follow me but is due to the fact we were miming to the track we had recorded earlier in the day but without the benefit of being able to hear it!

Another occasion when I couldn’t hear something was an appearance on the BBC’s “National Lottery Live” show one Christmas. I was conducting “Uckfield Concert Brass” on the opening of the show – this went fine at rehearsals when I could hear the producer counting down. However, when we went live, I only just spotted his fingers in time as he was silently counting down! A close thing but we came in spot on time!

Next up is an appearance with The Sussex Symphony Orchestra as featured on BBC South Today – this was filmed during our annual Christmas concert in 2011:

Unfortunately, not a lot of good footage is available of the next set from my time with the Paul Turner Big Band. When I first met Paul, he told me the band would be on the top BBC chat show “Wogan” within the next couple of months. I didn’t believe him but we were not only on the show once but followed up a year later with a special show with James Stewart! There are 3 small extracts from those 2 shows which have come to light though:

Of course, the music had to be Glen Miller for James Stewart!

It’s not all video though – I had the pleasure of performing with The Sussex Symphony Orchestra on “Crowded Streets”, an album of music by British composer Paul Carr on the Claudio label – also now available as mp3 download on Amazon!

The Sussex Symphony also gave me the opportunity of performing in front of thousands of people with Katherine Jenkins & Aled Jones (of “Walking in the Air” fame).

Finally, I spent around 10 years as Lead Trumpet with The Tony Strudwick Orchestra during an era when there were still plenty of gigs backing famous stars in local cabaret clubs including Vince Hill (had a bit hit with “Edelweiss”), Susan Maughan (famous for “Bobby’s Girl”), Jane McDonald (of “The Cruise”)  and as support act for bands such as Showaddywaddy and The Dreamers.

My favourite picture though has to include a trumpet player – it was an honour to perform twice with the legendary Kenny Baker, former lead trumpet of the Ted Heath Band. The first time was during my pupil’s course at the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall as part of the St. Cecilia concert. Much later though, Kenny came down and played with The Sounds of Swing big band where I was Lead Trumpet at the time. I love this picture!

Kenny Baker, Trumpet Legend!

Kenny Baker with the Sounds of Swing

If nothing else ever happens in my musical life, I have been blessed with some great memories!


2010 Musical review

Straight No Chaser at Forest Row Festival
Straight No Chaser at Forest Row Festival
As we move into 2011, a little time to reflect on the musical high’s of 2010!
It has been a real pleasure this year to work again with Straight No Chaser and The Tony Strudwick Orchestra and am looking forward to working with both again in 2011. I hear there may be another Cyprus tour next year with Tony and am already booked for a Hassocks Hotel gig with SNC – a great trumpet section there and some cool charts too. This is not your average rehearsal band!
Hooking up with Tony again has also been fun – I spent nearly 10 years as his lead trumpet back in the late 80’s /early 90’s.
On the Orchestral front, this has been another busy year with The Sussex Symphony Orchestra – it’s a shame I wasn’t around for the Mahler concert though as the Violin soloist on the programme, Ben Baker, was someone I had fixed through by then boss! The Beethoven 9 helped to make up for that and of course, the opportunity at Christmas to get the Fanfare Trumpets out for the Nigel Simmons Christmas Carol charts!
The Sussex Symphony Orchestra
The Sussex Symphony Orchestra
Looking forward to next year, we have a rare opportunity to perfrom the Berlioz Grande Messe Des Mortes together with the Southern Festival Chorus.
Another first for me this year was performing Stabat Mater by Karl Jenkins with the Sinfonia of Arun & The Billingshurst Choral Society. as a result, a CD of this is now in my car! (available from Amazon.co.uk !)
Finally, my work with brass bands has continued with Uckfield Concert Brass – resurgent now under new MD Nick Morris. Looks like it might be another busy year in 2011!

Musical Notes November 2010

I’m concious I haven’t written much about music of late – the day job has been a major focus of late!

Once again, I found myself guesting with the fabulous Straight No Chaser Big Band – firstly at the Forest Row Festival, then at The Hassocks Hotel in a gig that featured the amazing  Mark Bassey on trombone.


SNC Big Band

I always enjoy working with these guys – check out their current recording work in progress here.

That was followed by a great Sussex Symphony Orchestra gig in Eastbourne for the Rotary Club – nice to have a big crowd in the Congress Theatre for a “Last Night of the proms” style concert.

Then to finish off , the mayhem that is Lewes Bonfire with Uckfield Concert Brass – we appear briefly around 4 mins 25 secs into this video.



Next up: Beethoven 9 with the Sussex Symphony Orchestra and a Tony Strudwick Orchestra gig “Wings over Barking & Dagenham” at the Broadway Theatre, Barking.

Mid Summer & Midsomer! August 2010

As it’s holiday season, there hasn’t been much to write about until now!
It was a real pleasure to be asked to work with Sussex Brass, a band that I was a founder member of some 30 plus years ago and the engagement?  The Midsomer Classic Car show – clearly, not all the car owners in Midsomer have been murdered – yet! And of course, no John Nettles as our contribution is part of the first episode with Neil Dudgeon in the lead role.
Neil Dudgeon
The band played a new arrangement by Jim Parker of “In an English Country Garden” – Jim was on set today and seemed very happy with our rendition of his arrangement.
A new experience for many in the band today was miming without being able to hear the music – we recorded that first.
Neil was kind enough to pose with the band:
Neil Dudgeon and the band on set of Midsomer Murders
Neil Dudgeon and the band on set of Midsomer Murders

And the Vuvuzela played on – and on – and on! July 2010

It’s been a while since my last post – just too much stuff going on right now! So, this post is a catch up on the last few gigs!

First up, I had the opportunity recently to conduct Brighton & Hove City Brass for a couple of rehearsals whilst their regular MD ws on holiday. Preparing them for an 1812 concert was a pleasure and nice to have the baton again. In the middle of all that, it was back to playing on Eastbourne Bandstand for a proms concert with Uckfield Concert Brass – and this is where the Vuvuzela’s we all bought at the South of England Show came to the fore. The hornpipe will never be the same!

Then it was on to St. Dunstans for a gig with the Dave Masters Band – I haven’t played with them for a long while so it was nice to see a few old faces!

After a brief week away in Portugal, it was straight back into it with the Sussex Symphony Orchestra – this annual event in Haywards Heath is always a great gig and this year, we had the pleasure of working with Aled Jones and Faryl Smith – a great voice for someone of her age.  It was also good to catch up with another old friend, John Watson, who was playing with a trad band as part of the warm up – I haven’t seen him in over 20 years since my days with Greg Wills’ Dirty Bakers Dozen and the Sounds of Swing.

Finally, an other opportunity to dep at a rehearsal with Straight No Chaser – I love playing with these guys as they have some great jazzers and a great pad! Nice to hear John Brown’s flugel in Marianne for example. and a reminder of what a great bonew player Tim Wade is.  Also good to see yet another old friend, Phil Paton, who was also sitting in as a dep. Phil & I were both with the Paul Turner Big Band in the 80’s when we were on Wogan, with Tony Strudwick and also with my own Classic Dance Band.

Next up is another Uckfield Concert Brass gig where I am also filling in for the MD who is away followed by another conducting opportunity in Midsomer – lets hope it’s not the MD who is the victim! More on that later.

Sussex Symphony Orchestra 27th March 2010

Well, what a concert that was! The SSO, under the baton of guest conductor Paul-Elliott Cobbs performed once again to the usual high standard we have come to expect. What we didn’t realise was how good our guest soloist was! Irene Enzlin from the Menuhin School gave us an awesome performance of the Elgar Cello Concerto. I predict a very bright future for her if this was anything to go by!

Coming up next for the Brighton Festival Fringe: 2 Operas in one concert! Visit  http://www.ssomusic,com for more info.

SSO 2010

Following a quiet spell of late, things have been hotting up! Next weekend, 22nd May, we have our contribution to the Brighton Fringe Festival – “One Night – 2 Operas“. The 2 operas are Tosca and Madame Butterly. So, a quiet night in the brass section!

The details are now out from “It’s Magic” as to who will be performing with the SSO this year at the Haywards Heath prom – Aled Jones & Faryl Smith are now confirmed. (Many of you will have heard Faryl over this weekend singing “Abide with me” at the FA Cup final). For more in formation, visit http://www.itsmagic.org.uk/events/aled_jones.phtml

Back to the world of Brass Bands, this weekend saw the SCABA Entertainment Contest where I was performing with Uckfield Concert Brass.  With a new Musical Director, we were hoping to emulate the 2009 result which I’m pleased to say we did!  The band came 2nd plus received a soloists award for trombonist, Steve Walkley and an award for best MD for Nick Morris. All in all, a good day out at the office.