The Charlie Bates and Helena Debono Big Band

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PizzaExpress Jazz Club (Soho)

After their debut sell out show last year, multi-award-winning composer and arranger Charlie Bates and renowned young vocalist Helena Debono are returning to PizzaExpress Soho with an all-star big band. Helena and Charlie first met through the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and have since forged a great musical relationship. Expect to hear original songs, arrangements of Great American songbook classics and everything in-between. The concert comes days before they are set to head into the studio to record they’re album so this is a night not to miss.

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Book tickets for The Charlie Bates and Helena Debono Big Band

Charlie Bates is a multi-award-winning composer, arranger and pianist based in London. After graduating from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with first class honours and as a multiple prize-winner, he released his debut album for big band ‘Silhouettes’. This went on to be dubbed ‘impressive and inventive’ by The Guardian’s John Fordham. He went on to work with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra as composer-in-residence, whom he conducted at Air Studios and Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club. He has since been awarded the Dankworth Award, the Eddie Harvey Award and an Ivor Novello award for composition. He has performed live on BBC2 and his music has been broadcast on BBC TV and Radio, as well as Jazz FM. More recently, he has been working with the world famous NDR Big Band in Germany as a guest composer, arranger and conductor,

‘There is no doubt Bates has mastered the skill of composing for large forces’ Peter Bacon, Jazzwise

‘Impressive and Inventive, Teeming with melodic inventiveness’ John Fordham, The Guardian

‘A true talent’ Tim Garland, UK Saxophonist/Composer.


From South West London comes Helena Debono, a young Jazz/Soul/Pop vocalist. She has been captivating audiences with her emotional renditions of Jazz standards and her own original music since she was a teenager. Her natural, effortless vocals have already received acclaim amongst the UK Jazz scene and leaves audiences wanting to hear more. She has performed at many venues including Ronnie Scotts, PizzaExpress Soho and Holborn, Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Manchester Jazz Festival and many more. In July 2021 Helena released her debut album called ‘Right Here’ which is a mix of Jazz standards and her own originals. The album received great reviews and has over 30k streams on Spotify. She performed a Sold-Out Album Launch show at PizzaExpress Holborn and her band were invited to perform a livestream from Ronnie Scotts which has over 5k streams. 

Helena graduated with a BA (hons) first class degree in Jazz Music from Leeds College of Music. She has performed at many venues in Leeds including the Brudenell Social Club and Hifi. In 2019 Helena became the Female vocalist for The National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO), during this time she was interviewed by Emma Smith for BBC Radio 3 “Jazz Now”. She is now the Vocal Coach for NYJO. In the Summer of 2019 Helena was thrilled to perform with ‘The London Gay Big Band’ at London Pride in Trafalgar Square. She has also performed with ‘The Puppini Sisters’. 

Band Line Up

Helena Debono (vocals)
Charlie Bates (piano/MD)

Simon Marsh/Tom Smith/Graeme Blevins/Chris Maddock/Claire Shaw (saxes)

Tom Walsh/Jim Davison/Luke Vice-Coles/Miguel Gorodi (trumpets)

Trevor Mires/Tom Dunnett/Dan Higham/Yusuf Narcin (trombones)

Nick Fitch/Jack Tustin/Luke Tomlinson (rhythm section)