Big Band plus 4 @ The Kino

Preview by ANDREW MYERS

In a town already replete with vibrant music events, one of the more memorable moments of the last couple of years has to be the sight of a seventeen-piece big band crammed onto the tiny stage at the Albion, blasting out energetic, funky music to a packed house. And on 4th May there’s a chance to see them at the Kino, where there’s considerably more elbow room.

The heyday of the big band was the 1930s, but this will be no nostalgia trip. The gig promises to be a true celebration of contemporary Hastings-based talent. 

Chantelle Duncan

Singers Chantelle Duncan, Bev Lee Harling, Blair and Dr Savage will be performing their own compositions in brand-new arrangements by musicians Greg Heath, Chris White, Ed Blakeley and Frank Moon.

Speaking from my own limited experience in trying to run a quartet, I can only marvel at band leader Rob Leake’s ambition in putting all this together. The standard big band is five saxes, eight brass and rhythm section. Arranging music for such a large ensemble is no easy task, even with standard material. To create original music for such a group is frankly awe-inspiring.

Bev Lee Harling
PICTURE: Ian Wallman

“The band was formed last year, but is really a continuation of ‘The Wednesday Night Band’ that inhabited various venues and pubs for years in Hastings,” says Rob Leake.

“It was run by Terry Hellier, an ex Ted Heath/Sid Lawrence trombonist, and used its weekly subscriptions to build an enormous repertoire of big band charts.” 

Dr Savage

Often ultimately being too noisy for the clientele, the Wednesday night band would be moved on periodically to find somewhere else to play. 

“After Terry Hellier retired from running the band, there were a few years of inactivity until I was looking for something to add variety to my Albion residency,” explains Rob. “With the burgeoning music scene in Hastings, there’s been a ready supply of top flight players to fill its ranks.” 

“All we needed was a bit more space to play and the development of the Kino in Norman Road as a music venue has given us that opportunity to expand!”

Blair
PICTURE: Gregory Heath

Chantelle Duncan is certainly looking forward to it. “I’ve been singing with big bands since I was in my late teens, so you’d think I’d be used to it! But I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be showcasing songs I’ve written, with a great band, in my hometown of St Leonards.”

“And if that isn’t enough to whet your appetite, Bev Lee Harling has another surprise in store:”

“I’ve never got to chop vegetables live on stage with so many other actual instruments before. I’m excited! I only hope they can keep up. Cucumber anyone?”

I think this will have to be seen to believed. Grab your tickets soon.

• The Band: Rob Leake, Amy Leake, Greg Heath, Chris White, Jo Stout, Andy Baxter, Kris Jones, Bob Turner, James McMillan, Phil Baxter, Tim Wade, Rosie Willcock, Barney Davies, Carl Greenwood, Terry Pack, Dan Jeffries, Oli Boorman.

• Big Band are playing at KinoTeatr Norman Road, Saturday 4th May, 8.00pm


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