Suzy Jackson, President of the University of London Union Big Band (above), tells the story of this year’s University of London Battle of the Big Bands
Last year’s first ever Battle of the Big Bands was a casual affair at the University of London Union, but this year, previous winners, King’s College, decided that this year the ante needed some upping.
King’s College, Royal Holloway, City and the University of London Union Big Bands fought it out for the hotly contested “University of London Big Band of the Year Award” on Sunday night March 27th.
For the first time, we had a judging panel comprising jazz composer and performer, Mike Mower, NYJO musical director, Mark Armstrong and West End and BBC Radio Two Big Band Award winning drummer, Elliott Henshaw. A fourth vote was given to the audience who submitted ballot papers.
There were some new rules too: each band’s half-hour set had to include Latin, Funk and Swing numbers, with vocals being optional.
City opened the evening, followed by Royal Holloway. The University of London Union band went next, and the evening was rounded off by the defenders of the title, King’s College. The end result was City in fourth, King’s College in third, Royal Holloway in second and the University of London Union Big Band emerging as the winners with an entirely instrumental set.
Our set consisted of Harry James’ Trumpet Blues, which put the trumpet section to the test from the off and a lively Rob McConnell latin arrangement of Take the A Train, the highlight for many of which was Ronnie’s favourite, Ed Richardson, on an open drum solo. Following this, as a centrepiece for the set the band played The Change, composed by Chris Whiter, a member of the band, which had only been premiered by us a week earlier!
After breathing a sigh of relief at getting to the end, ULU continued with Basie’s April in Paris, with lead trumpet Dave Runkel being praised for his interpretation of the Thad Jones’ solo (reportedly why he left the Basie band) and finished with Tower of Power’s funk classic, What is Hip?, complete with choreography!
Thank yous to… King’s College for hosting the event… Amber Nunn as the main organiser… the judges….the KCLA for donating a trophy… and all the other staff who made it possible.
A great night was had by all, and we also raised some money for music therapy charity, Nordoff Robbins.
Suzy Jackson also manages Bright Young Events