Big Band at Sounds New!

The University Big Band and Ian Swatman brought live music to the heart of Canterbury on Saturday, when they played as part of ‘The Big Bang!’ event in this year’s Sounds New festival, in Whitefriars.

Out in the sunshine, thronging shoppers, tourists and passers-by were treated to a mixture of live big band swing and classics, with soloists Ruby Mutlow and Jo Turner gracing the programme.

The Big Band will be back in action in a few weeks’ time, raising the curtain on this year’s ArtsFest as they present a Big Band Gala evening at the Gulbenkian Theatre, for which they’ll be joined by members of ‘Hullabaloo,’ alumni and friends for an action-packed evening: more details on the website here.

Best gig so far this year ? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…

My oh my: the Gulbenkian stage has never seen such a tight squeeze as it did last Friday, with the University Concert Band bursting with players and, as Ian Swatman said, possible the biggest Big Band in the Known Universe taking the stage.

How big a band ?

A packed audience was treated to a first half including A Night on Broadway, theme from Schindler’s List with a poised and elegant solo from Sarah Davies on clarinet, and other pieces by the burgeoning Concert Band. One of the highlights was Gallowgate, a collection of Newcastle folk-melodies and written for a former Newcastle United supporter by composer James Rae, who was present in the audience; trust Ian Swatman to find a way of melding his two passions, music and football…

The second half saw the colossus that is the Big Band powerhouse its way through a dynamic programme, featuring two current University students as singers. Ruby Mutlow glided on for Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps and Georgia on Mind, whilst Jo Turner shimmered on to sing Anita O’Day’s How Come with fine assurance, as well as a characterful rendition of The More I See You. Both soloists had terrific aplomb and appeared at ease with being in the limelight.

Ruby in rehearsal

Ruby in rehearsal

There were also some terrific, gravity-defying pyrotechnics from Ian Swatman himself, trading solos with tenor saxophonist Will Rathbone and providing a dazzling start to the final number, Tuxedo Junction.


Hats off to everyone: a terrific gig, well received by an enthusiastic audience. Both bands will be in action again on Wednesday 25 March at St. Edmund’s School, Canterbury, in a charity gig in support of The Lady Mayoress’ Charities for this year, and then again in the summer at ArtsFest. Keep an eye out for more details here soon.

Main photos by Mick Norman; photo of Ruby by Dan Harding.

Twenty-four little hours…

…to go until Have A Blast causes a stir at The Gulbenkian Theatre! Don’t miss what promises to be a rip-roaring gig, featuring the vocal talents of Ruby Mutlow and Jo Turner alongside the Concert and Big Bands. 

Good luck to everyone involved: see you in the bar afterwards…

Only four days to go!

Spring is in the air, the birds are singing, the days start to feel longer: it must be fast approaching the Concert and Big Band’s annual Gulbenkian Theatre concert.

Sax appeal: Concert Band players

The wonderfully creative technical staff at the Gulbenkian are planning a dazzling array of lighting arrangements for the gig – we can’t reveal the plans here, but they promise to be fantastic – based around the pieces in the programme, with suitable themed lighting where appropriate.

Singers Ruby and Jo are in fine voice – Jo recently sang at the first ‘Jazz @ 5’ of the term last Wednesday, and sounds in fine form.

Musical entertainment from Sing! and one of the classical guitar scholars for the pre-concert foyer entertainment is in place.

All in all, it promises to be a great occasion: make sure you’ve got your tickets, they’re selling fast!

Speake freely: Martin Speake Quartet on Radio 3

Heads up, jazz fans: the ever-reliable Jazz Line-Up this coming Sunday on Radio 3 features British saxophonist Martin Speake‘s quartet, recorded at last year’s London Jazz Festival.

Speake freely

I last heard Speake in a recorded session for Jazz on 3 back in 2009, when he played in a quartet featuring pianist Bobo Stenson, playing his then recently-released album ‘Change of Heart’ for the ECM label; it was a terrific set. It was one of my highlights of that year on Radio 3.

Catch this Sunday’s broadcast if you can, it’ll be on iPlayer for a week afterwards.

Jazz & Swing, Cool & Hot: The Laurie Kay Trio

Tuesday 1 February 2011; 6.30 – 9.00 p.m; Darwin College SCR

After his sell-out appearance in Keynes College last year, we are delighted to welcome back the Laurie Kay Trio to Darwin College for an informal evening of jazz and swing.

All are welcome to come and relax with friends, enjoy some sustaining nibbles and a glass of wine (soft drinks will also be available), and savour the rare artistry of three seasoned musicians. The food will have a Mexican flavour, courtesy of Origins, and the music will be oh so cool!

The Laurie Kay Trio was a fixture in Canterbury throughout the 1990s, playing modern jazz at numerous venues.  Laurie, a physicist at Kent, was principal clarinet in the University orchestra for several years but left to concentrate on jazz keyboard.  He recently returned to the area after a long absence, and is delighted to be able to re-form his original trio with Neil Francis (bass) and Phil Laslett (drums), two outstanding musicians on the East Kent scene.

Tickets: £12 per person, available from Fiona Jones in the Development Office. Please make cheques payable to UNIKENT and send to Development Office, The Registry, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NZ by Wednesday 26 January.


This event has been organised by the University’s Former Staff Association in support of the Colyer-Fergusson Music Centre. Ticket price includes refreshments and all profits will be used towards funding the equipping of the new Music Centre.

Have A Blast!

Clck for further details

Get the date in your diaries now for the customary roof-raising Concert and Big Band Gulbenkian extravaganza!

Friday 18 February: book your tickets early, as it’s always a sell-out.

(Have A) Blast off!

The new concert brochure has today been published on-line, and features the Concert Band and Big Band in their usual barn-storming annual extravaganza at the Gulbenkian Theatre in February, this year explosively titled ‘Have a Blast!’

In a new addition to the concert calendar, the Big Band will also be teaming up with St. Edmund’s School for a charity concert in March, in support of the Lady Mayoress’ chosen charities this year.

It promises to be a busy term for the bands: keep up to date with their life on the blog here, and click here to dowload the new brochure as a PDF.

What’s in store ?

It’s going to be a busy term for the Concert and Big Bands, with their usual roof-raising Gulbenkian Theatre gig on Friday 18 February, and a charity concert for the Big Band in a joint venture with St. Edmund’s School Big Band; more details about both events to follow.

There’ll also be three Jazz @ 5 dates in the Gulbenkian Foyer, featuring performers from the bands: you can see photos from the last one below, featuring Will Rathbone (sax) and Ruby Mutlow (vocals).


Keep track of what’s going on this term right here on ‘On The Beat;’ and a happy new year!

Jazz 625 this evening: Dave Brubeck Quartet

BBC4 are broadcasting one of their occasional ‘Jazz 625’ programmes tonight, a restored programme from 1964 featuring the Dave Brubeck Quartet, with the lyrical tones of saxophonist Paul Desmond in a programme to include Brubeck’s legendary Take Five.

The ‘Jazz 625’ series has yielded some classic shows in previous episodes; Dizzy Gillespie, the Oscar Peterson Trio, and others. It’ll be on iPlayer for a week afterwards as well: don’t miss it.

Click here.

There’s also an interview with Brubeck from last year that you can see here as well.