Joint Summer(ish) Phoenix Night Gig

We had a fantastic Phoenix Night gig featuring all three of Hexhams big bands. We said goodbye to all the leavers from TVYBB who have just finished school and are off to pastures new. Best wishes to them all.

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TVBB also said goodbye to our veterinarian trombonist Charlotte who is moving to a new position down south. Good luck Charlotte!

We got another great review from our friends at Bebop spoken here thanks Russell.

Advertised cautiously/prophetically as a ‘summer-ish’ end of term party, Dave Hignett’s amazing assembly of big bands gathered at rehearsal HQ to give a public performance in preparation for several forthcoming prestigious concert dates. The ‘ish’ weather forecast proved to be accurate as Hexham was, at best, ‘cloudy but dry’.

Three competing events in spitting distance of one another fought it out for an audience – Hexham Abbey hosted an EU in/out ‘You decide’ debate, Queen’s Hall screened Cinema Paradiso as part of the Wild Skies Film Festival, and the Phoenix Bar and Club offered a triple bill of big bands. Many Tyne Valley residents voted BIG BAND JAZZ!!!

The Phoenix Club on Chisholm Place was a hive of activity: the indefatigable Hignett ran around doing three things at once: putting out music stands, setting up the PA and finding the time to talk to all and sundry. An audience arrived: supportive parents, siblings, proud grand parents. The junior band, the Tyne Valley Jazz Ensemble, looking the part in black t-shirts (kindly sponsored by a local business) with red lettering telling you they’re proud to be the Tyne Valley Jazz Ensemble, took to the stand first. A band big in number (seven trumpets, two trombones, four saxophones and a piano, bass and drums rhythm section), a band big on talent, an upbeat, varied set list met with much applause. A Marcus Miller number – Maputo – surprised, then Uncle Milo’s Shadow, Horace Silver’s The Preacher, all good stuff giving all in the band the chance to show what they could do. A young man in the trumpet section – height approx 3’6” in old money, age approx 10 – will make it as a trumpet player…if that’s what he wants to do. Similarly, a scarily good drummer is just a few short years from being an A-lister on the scene. Every solo, by every performer, met with applause. The set flew…Pass the Peas, then a calypso, closing with Lady Madonna.

The Tyne Valley Youth Big Band is to lose three or four members from the ranks. Exams finished, they’re heading off to university. It is the way with ensembles such as this. The band’s rip-roaring set list ticked all the boxes: the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, the Young Blood Brass Band’s arrangement of Rufus and Chaka Khan’s chart hit Ain’t Nobody, the sing-along Sweet Dreams, a cracking Mission Impossible and a Dave Hignett favourite – Chuck Mangione’s Children of Sanchez. A band of award-winning musicians, a trumpet player of Grade 8 (Merit) ability, a band with bundles of enthusiasm, Tyne Valley Youth Big Band is developing the stars of tomorrow.

The big boys and girls – the Tyne Valley Big Band – wound up the evening with a set of their own. In the Mood (don’t groan, this was the Doc Severinsen arrangement), Quincy Jones’ Soul Bossa Nova (Hignett quipped he put it in the set because the band needed to work on it!), the Heathian Hot Toddy (a favourite of, and feature for, baritone man John Knapton), the ensemble wasted no time, rattling through the numbers. The band’s saxes were on form – Andrea DeVere (tenor) and Kelly Rose (alto) trading, Alexis Cairns on alto. The Average White Band’s Pick up the Pieces is an ideal tune one for a band like this – the option is there to go round and round and round. Barbara Hignett belted out a fun Minnie the Moocher with audience participation encouraged/obligatory. Hayburner
vied for the tune of the night accolade. Excellent ensemble work, a big band at its best.
A Tower of Power number (Attitude Dance) and top of the kitsch list, MacArthur Park (Maynard Ferguson’s arrangement), sent the band into overdrive. A late arriving Alistair Lord made up for lost time making a fabulous contribution on trumpet and flugelhorn. A very late arriving David Gray squeezed into the trombone section and played as only he can – that’s with full on commitment. Talking of commitment, for the record it should be noted that Niall Armstrong and Peter Drake gave their services sitting in the sections of the junior ensemble.

The Tyne Valley Big Band can be heard at this weekend’s Tynedale Beer Festival. A big marquee stands on the pitch at Tynedale Rugby Club. It’ll cost you £12.00. to get in, the beer is reasonably priced, and if you are reasonably sober at four o’clock on Saturday you will hear – and remember listening to – a fantastic community big band.
Russell.