If you want to hear what exciting things have been happening the large ensemble or jazz orchestra (or even big band) recently, then there are two superb examples on the radio this evening.
As the BBC Radio 3 Jazz on 3 newsletter explains:
30 musicians take to the stage during the course of this week’s programme and that can only mean one thing – a big-band special! It’s a second chance to hear a rabble-rousing gig and an exclusive session recorded for Jazz on 3 in the last year – including music we didn’t have space for first time round – from two of the UK’s most exciting large ensembles.
First up, Beats & Pieces, with an almost entirely previously unbroadcast set from their hometown gig in Manchester back in February. Leader Ben Cottrell draws inspiration from the big-band tradition of Colin Towns and Loose Tubes, as well as everything from glam-rock to trip-hop; and the opener, Jazzwalk, sets the tone, mixing swinging, big-band blasts with cheeky bits of musical detail and rock-inspired riffs. It’s a rich and varied soundworld, but heavy drums and distorted guitar play an important part in defining the band’s sound, nowhere more so than in the closing Djimi.
Northern Irish composer Sid Peacock loves a groove too, but the inclusion of marimba, flute and violin in his Surge ensemble gives his music a lighter, if no less vibrant flavour. Peacock’s instrumentation is often masterful: there’s a wonderful ballad mid-way through the set that starts simply before the texture builds; and there’s a piece for the saxophone section of the band only that shows his skills off even when the forces are reduced.
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