Durham University Big Band

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PizzaExpress Jazz Club (Soho)

Durham University Big Band is a fully-auditioned, student-run, eighteen-piece big band comprising the best jazz musicians in the university. They take pride in continuously reinventing what’s musically possible in the big band idiom. With a large repertoire ranging from traditional big band swing to hip hop, latin and funk, they are incredibly versatile in the types of venues and settings they are able to perform in. An ambitious musical attitude has led them to perform at multiple university and college events as well as internationally renowned jazz clubs across the country. They have won multiple awards at The Great North Big Band Competition over recent years as well as a Platinum award at the National Concert Band Festival in November 2019, and are proud to have worked with well-known jazz professionals/educators including Mark Armstrong, Pete Churchill, and Ben Cottrell. The band record a professional album or EP every year, adding to Durham University Big Band’s international reputation.

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The band consists of a mix of Durham University students, selected from a thorough auditions process across the whole student body. The diverse range of interests and degrees at the table fosters a highly creative musical environment, continuously challenging and pushing the sound that the traditional big band ensemble can produce. They have done this with measurable success.

Along with their enjoyment of traditional big band swing, the band has a passion for new and cutting-edge big band music. Kenny Wheeler, Outi Tarkianen and Jacob Mann are just a few musicians who have fuelled this passion, resulting in vibrant and contrasting set lists that have entertained many an audience and won the band multiple awards. In 2014, the band set up the ‘Durham Distillery Composition Prize’, offering young composers the chance to get their work performed by the band at Pizza Express. The prize resulted in two brilliant winning entries, ‘Homage’ by JJ. Wheeler and ‘On Sugarloaf Mountain’ by Owen Dawson.

The band prides itself on supporting student arrangements, with Chris Jones (Musical Director 2014/15) leading this tradition in house arranging, with many successful and well received pieces to add to the band’s material, including arrangements of classic J.Dilla and Fatima Hip-Hop tracks. Daniel Garel’s (Musical Director 2015/16) stunning arrangement of ‘Already There’ by Taylor McFerrin (which has received international radio play), Matthew Jacobs’ (Musical Director 2016/17) arrangements of ‘Tonight’ and ‘Let It Ride’ and Zach Fox’s (Musical Director 2017/18) arrangement of ‘Ah Yeah’, are but a few examples of the musical ingenuity the band has in its ranks. These, as well as the pieces mentioned above, can be heard on the band’s Bandcamp page.

Band Lineup

Evie Hill (vocals)
Rob Singleton (vocals)
Honor Hornsby (trumpet 1)
Catherine Flanders (trumpet 2)
Dominic Purefoy (trumpet 3)
Jesse Turnock (trumpet 4)
Tommy Wise (trombone 1)
Chris Chung (trombones 2)
Dylan Morris (trombone 3)
Peter Fewster (trombone 4)
Alex Howard-Vyse (alto 1 sax)
Caroline Derrett (alto 2 sax)
Matthew Bartlett (tenor 1 sax)
James Petley (tenor 2 sax)
Alex Wardill (bari sax)
Michael Young (Kit)
Ben Lawrence (keys)
Isaac Merchant (bass)
David Bullock (guitar)