Beats and Pieces preview/ Manchester Jazz Fest/ Beats n Pieces review


Beats n Pieces (above) are a 14-piece band from Manchester. I checked them out with Manchester Jazz Festival Artistic Director Steve Mead.

“They’re young, enthusiastic, energetic, and mostly fresh out of RNCM. They’re just beginning to get known. We’ve got them perform ing on the closing night of the MJF . They use electronics and sampling. There is a real free Loose Tubes-ish spirit about them. And there are some really good instrumentalists among them. The key personnel who also write charts include guitarist Anton Hunter, saxophonist Sam Andreae….

They’re really enterprising. They’ve released a debut record on EFPI, theirOWN LABEL . The conductor Ben Cottrell is also a sound engineer. It’s tight, energetic. Some groove, some free, always gutsy.”



I also took the opportunity to ask Steve Mead about the highlights of the Manchester Jazz Festival, running from 23rd – 31st July.

He picked on

– A double bill being recorded for live transmission by Jazz on 3. of Gwilym Simcock ‘s Quartet with Mike Walker, Steve Swallow and Adam Nussbaum. Plus guitarist Stuart McCallum.

-Vibraphonist Jim Hart’s superb trio (Michael Janisch bass, Dave Smith drums) with guest trumpeter Ralph Alessi.

The world premiere of Neil Yates piece for 19 players incl trumpeters Percy Pursglove and Robbie Robson, and pianist Les Chisnall. Yates’ last commission of theis kind, Tarnished Silver was for me one of the unforgettable gigs of the 2007 Cheltenham Jazz Festival.

-And Beats n Pieces

Check out the Manchester Jazz Festival’s website and why not subscribe to the newsletter and try your luck for Friday.


UPDATE: Peter Slavid went to the gig, and sent in a short review:

Beats & Pieces are an exciting band of players in their teen and twenties , and they succeeded in attracting an equally young audience – apart from me= to the Forge.

They play big-band music composed and arranged by their leader Ben Cottrell which has enough creativity to satisfy the real jazz fan – but is accessible enough not to frighten the nice young folk of Camden.

The music is quite complex, with real extended solos, and some use of electronics. There are echoes of people like Colin Towns and Matthew Herbert. Apart from admiring anyone who can take a-13 piece band on the road, the individual musicians show real quality and Ben Cottrell who composes, arranges, conducts and organises the band deserves a lot of credit.

Individual members include saxophonist Sam Andreae who is also about to go on tour with the Hunter/Andreae Quartet also from the EFPI stable.

Listen to some of their music HEREand then go to the EFPI website and buy their EP and get out to see them live!

The Arts Council commented on its withdrawal of funding from NYJO that NYJO needed to be “an organization with young people that really represent where jazz is today.” If the Arts Council sincerely wishes to remain consistent with that aim, then it could do a lot worse than put some money into this group of talented and highly enterprising young musicians who play music that is genuinely new and exciting!

Categories: miscellaneous

1 reply »

  1. Saw Beats n Pieces at this years Manchester Jazz Festival. The energy was amazing which very much came from the fabulous drummer and bass player. For me, they were the back bone of the band! Try and get to see the band, it's great.

Leave a Reply