This week’s episode of our In Conversation series features saxophonist with the Jools Holland Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, Phil Veacock, in discussion with director of the University Concert and Big Bands, Ian Swatman.
From reflecting on early inspiration playing the recorder and school leading into playing the clarinet, Phil looks back on being inspired to take up the saxophone on seeing 2-Tone bands playing on Top of the Pops; playing with The Larks and turning down a recording contract; illicit vegetable snaffling in east Kent; joining the Jools Holland Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, playing on Wogan and Chris Evans’ Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush and the ‘Hootenanny’ revels; and, during COVID restrictions, finding alternative work as a delivery driver for the Charlton Bakehouse bakery.
Enjoy this lively and fascinating chat over on our YouTube channel, where the hour-long conversation is divided into chapters covering various aspects of Phil’s reflections.
Fresh from its roof-raising gig here last Friday, there’s no rest for the University Big Band as its takes its dancing-feet down the road to St Edmunds’ School, where it joins forces with the St Edmund’s School Big Band for a rollicking night of jazz, swing and blues this Wednesday night.
Fearless captain Ian Swatman will once more be at the helm, and vocalist Louise Cookman will return for what promises to be a lively evening; tickets are a mere snip at £7 / £5 concessions, available from the Marlowe Theatre Box Office or Canterbury Ticket Shop here.
The Colyer-Fergusson building rang to some festive music-making throughout yesterday afternoon, as various musical ensembles took it in turns to bid a festive farewell to the term.
The foyer-stage hosted a seasonal ‘Watch This Space,’ in which the Flute Group made its debut in carols and the ‘Dance of the Swans’ from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake (well, you can’t have Christmas without Tchaikovsky, can you ?!); members of the Cecilian and Chamber Choirs sang a collection of carols; and the Trumpet Trio brought the lunchtime event to a jolly conclusion with popular tunes including All I Want For Christmas (Is You).
Later in the afternoon, it was the turn of the Big Band, directed by the irrepressible Ian Swatman, to treat a packed concert-hall to its now-customary seasonal Swing-along, featuring a guest appearance from our very own Sophie in a sassy rendition of Santa Baby and White Christmas, whilst the Brass Group led some communal carol-singing in robust fashion. The Big Band’s selection-box included a deft rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, a solo spot for baritone sax-player Adam Rose to open a bold arrangement of God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen and a lively Jingle Bells.
After the gig, audience and performers spilled out into the foyer for mulled wine and mince pies. A terrific day, concluding a very busy musical term; thanks to everyone who took part yesterday – it’s a wonderful testament to the ethos of music on the Canterbury campus, so many students, staff and members of the local community coming together in various groups to enjoy collective music-making.
We’ll be back in the New Year with details of events throughout the spring and summer; it promises to be an exciting six months ahead, judging by the draft of the forthcoming brochure; see you in January, and from all the music team – a very Merry Christmas!
Congratulations to the dynamic duo of Ian Swatman and the University Big Band, who launched this year’s Summer Music Week in tremendous style yesterday afternoon.
Glorious sunshine, open skies and sizzling temperatures were all matched by some searingly hot music from the band, together with singers Ruby Mutlow and Steph Richardson, on the Memorial Bandstand at Deal. With the gig due to start at 2.30pm, the band arrived for a soundcheck at 1pm and by 1.15pm a sizeable crowd had already developed; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a soundcheck so well attended…!
Under Ian’s vigorous direction, the band delivered an afternoon of tremendously vibrant music, much appreciated by the large crowd taking in the sun and the songs. The event not only launched this year’s week-long celebration of music to mark the end of the academic year, but was also a part of the yearl-long party for Porchlight, the Kent-based charity that supports homeless and at-risk people across the county; we’re delighted to have taken part.
The week continues today with Scenes from Mozart on the foyer-stage at 5pm, and the Big Band will return this Wednesday for its final musical ‘huzzah!’ in the Colyer-Fergusson Hall at 7.30pm.
There’s now just one week to go until the annual roof-raiser at the Gulbenkian with the University Concert and Big Bands, on Friday 10 February.
Starring in the concert will be second-year Music Scholar and jazz singer Ruby Mutlow, who’ll be familiar to those of us who went to the concert this time last year, as well as to those who chilled out at various Jazz @ 5 sessions, and the Big Band Gala in the summer term. Possessing a characterful and wonderfully graceful voice, Ruby will be joining the Big Band for a selection of vocal pieces.
In the first half, amongst other pieces, the Concert Band will explore selections from Wicked,whilst music in the second half from the Big Band will include Duke Ellington.
Conductor Ian Swatman is his usual unflappable self so close to the gig, and he’s looking forward to his usual banter with the audience, perhaps the occasional reference to a certain Northern football club whose fortunes lie close to Ian’s heart, and maybe one or two surprises as well.
The concert starts at 7.30pm, and there’ll be live music in the Gulbenkian Foyer from 6pm with a selection of a cappella vocal groups and instrumental jazz.