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BJ Big Band was established by Bren Jones in September 2009 and is based in Christian Malford, Wiltshire, consisting of players who have a wealth of experience playing in other musical groups from saxophone ensemble, through military bands and rock combos to symphony orchestra.
They are a swing band with Saxes, Trumpets, Trombones and Rhythm section, which is the same formation as Count Basie, Duke Ellington or Glenn Miller, not to mention more recent bands such as the Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, playing a variety of jazz and swing style music in the big band style.

Music from the “golden age” of Big Bands, so you can certainly expect some Glenn Miller, with repertoire that goes far further, with pieces originating in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, all scored to make the most of the distinctive Big Band swing sound.

The Band believe that the best night out is one where the audience and band members can both have a good time and they look forward to welcoming everyone for a fabulous fun filled evening full of great music.

Advance “early bird” tickets for this event are just £12.50  On the door on the night they will cost £14.00

photo of Chris ChurchouseChris started his musical life at the tender age of 7, learning to play the baritone (horn), quickly moving on the Euphonium. He joined the Salvation Army young people’s band and soon moved on to cornet – and then to Band Leader. After a break at age 30, Chris became interested in music again in his late 50s but this time on Alto Sax. He now tries to herd the cats in the BJ Big Band and also plays Euphonium in the Devizes Town Band.

Lewes first learnt how to play the piano but always wanted to learn how to play the saxophone. However, it was decided a saxophone was photo of Lewes Hambreytoo big for him so he learnt how to play the recorder instead. After growing a little bit he dabbled with the cornet, and after growing a little bit more he eventually started to learn how to play the saxophone. Playing the saxophone in big bands from the age of 13 piqued an interest in swing music and subsequently he played saxophone in numerous big bands at university and beyond, as well as in a number of groups playing different musical styles. He continues to mess around on the piano if anyone gets really desperate. Thankfully, that rarely happens.

photo of Jill BuckleyJill started playing Flute at aged 11, and now plays first flute in the RAF Association band. She now plays Alto and Tenor Sax, and Clarinet as well. Introduction to Big Band was in Sam’s Big Band in Devon, where she learnt to pretend to keep up, a skill that holds good in BJs! Jill was one of our most frequent deputies before joining us as a full member in 2014.

Derek started playing the piano aged 4 and progressed slowly to the organ peaking with the ‘Wedding March’ at school at an inappropriate moment and was nearly banned from future playing. In his 30s he had the fantasy of having a responsible day job and playing saxophone in seedy night clubs. Apart from one cameo appearance in a pub, so far he has only managed to play in the relatively respectable London Saxophone Choir, the Saxophonics and now the BJ Big Band.

photo of Graham DGraham started learning to play recorder during Junior School years and progressed to Clarinet at Grammar School where, after 4 or 5 years, he decided he was no longer interested. He flirted with tenor sax at university but confesses, “I didn’t really know what I was doing!”. Twenty+ years later he was watching BBC Young Musician and thought “I can do that”, but soon discovered that he couldn’t. However, he persevered and joined local orchestras before discovering a local jazz workshop – jazz being a passion since early teens. He then started attending various jazz weekends and Summer Schools, one of which led to the purchase of a baritone sax and the rest, as they say, is history. He joined Saxophonics soon after, then a Somerset-based big band and ultimately the BJ Big Band. Baritone sax has almost completely taken over from the clarinet, but this does still come out occasionally in both the big band and jazz workshop. Graham is proud to have seen The Beatles at the Winter Gardens, Margate in the summer of 1963 and his musical ambitions are to be out, playing on New Year’s Eve and to be part of a regular, small jazz group.

photo of Mike OstimeMike started on the clarinet aged about 11 but soon decided that he wanted to be able to make much more noise, occasionally musical, and switched to the trumpet. Had a lean musical spell lasting many years after leaving school, apart from playing briefly in a brass group in Somerset run by an ambitious MD whose declared aim was ‘to turn Bridgwater into the musical capital of the western hemisphere’. Heard of it? Enough said! After getting back into practice, in recent years, played with Ashton Keynes Philharmonia, Swindon Symphony Orchestra, Cheltenham Philharmonic and Royal Wootton Bassett Orchestra. First foray into the world of big band was with the Big Brunch Band. Enjoyed it enormously and now having a lot of fun with the BJBB.

photo of Andy HighamAndy joined the band in early 2014. He has been playing trumpet for only a couple of years but has already passed his Grade 5 exam. He claims to practise at least one hour each day, so we have great expectations of him.

photo of Martin PickbourneMartin was given his first cornet as a teenager by his grandfather who having played flugel horn, persuaded him to join Teversal Miners Welfare Brass Band in Nottinghamshire. After rummaging through the best of the discarded instruments he also found a trumpet to play in a school orchestra and dance band before joining the Royal Navy at the age of 16. This colourful experience stood him in good stead, playing a variety of musical styles in volunteer bands both at sea and ashore, finally in an aircraft carrier deployed worldwide. After starting a second career and a long break from music, Martin was drawn back to playing again and really enjoys the BJBB.

photo of Craig ClementsCraig started his playing career at the age of 6 in his home county of Lancashire. His first instrument was the Tenor Horn where he played as a member of his local Salvation Army band, the Lancashire Youth Brass Band as well as holding the position of principal Tenor Horn in his championship winning school band. On moving to Wiltshire he transitioned to playing the cornet and having always been interested in Jazz and Swing music, has also added the trumpet to his repertoire.

photo of Art RobbBorn in New York in 1945, Art’s first instrument was the trombone. He sang his way through college, joining every choir and singing group available. Whole-hearted classical music snobbery was only averted by marriage and a move to London, where he taught himself to play banjo, recorder, penny-whistle, blues harp and cricket. In Malmesbury, in the 80s, he teamed up with local folk guru, Paul Darby, to form Loose Shoes (Folk, Blues and Beyond!) Then, meeting in his living room, the sometime band Sailbad the Sinner quickly morphed into the Dubious Brothers which has lasted 20 years. Recently, another trombone has arrived and is used in the Malmesbury Concert Band, Dirty Work and the BJ Big Band. Art has been a self employed musical instrument maker and repairer since 1974.

photo of Bren JonesBren is the founder of the BJ Big Band – the ‘BJ’ part of the name being in his honour. He says, “I first took up the bass trombone at school aged 13 as it was the only instrument left, I really wanted to play the trumpet then but I’m glad I didn’t now. The instrument was a G trombone – that’s the one with the handle. Fortunately I had long arms and was able to reach the end of the slide without it, so that went into the dustbin – which, if I’m honest, is where the rest of the instrument belonged as it was in such a poor state. After leaving school I stopped playing, only coming back to it 30 years later but this time with a modern bass trombone, which is one of the finest inventions of the twentieth century. My only claim to fame is that I played in the same orchestra as Karl Jenkins for about 4 years (he was the little guy who played the oboe), but that’s only because we went to the same school!”

photo of Nigel MaloneyNigel began playing piano and drums at an early age. His first brass band then encouraged him to play cornet alongside his dad. He played in various school, county and college orchestras, before joining noisier bands in the 80s and 90s! At the turn of the century, Nigel was a member of local band Dirty Work, where he played keyboards and guitar. After ten years he took a short break from performing but recently he has been playing with a local Jive band as well as occasionally deputising in the BJ Big Band. The challenge of reading more complex music with lots of accidentals will hopefully keep Nigel’s brain active for the next few years!

photo of Phil RadfordI really enjoy the challeges involved in playing big band music, I have well over 50 years guitar playing experience but still learn something new every time we play together. Joined BJBigband early 2013

photo of Alison BispingAlison started playing the cello and the piano whilst at primary school and continued for some 15 years playing with various orchestras until she got married. She then took a break from music while her children were younger and then was asked to join them playing the tuba at Chippenham Town Band. “If we can lend you a tuba and teach you to play, will you join us?” What a challenge and what a lot of fun! The latest challenge Alison has is to play the Double Bass, an instrument she has always wanted to play. BJBB was lacking a double bass player and one night after rehearsal, there was a conversation in the pub – “Do you know anyone who plays the double bass”, to which her husband, Andrew (Percussion) said “No, but Alison has always wanted to…” which led to Alison to start learning from January 2011.

photo of Andrew BispingAndrew’s musical career started as a singer, including playing the title role in Oliver as a skinny blond 11 year old. He also played Euphonium for a while as a child before a 30 year break from music. As the only non-playing member of his family he then took-up playing the drums ten years ago and was playing in four different bands for a while. Andrew’s mid-life re-incarnation of musical activity is matched by other daft endeavours such as running his first marathon and cycling from Birmingham to Zurich, Switzerland.

photo of Jackie ByrneJacqueline has been surrounded by music and musicians her whole life. Her Dad played accordion in his ceilidh band and used to take her on his gigs where she would fall asleep in his instrument case. The only thing she enjoyed at school was the choir and by the age of thirteen she was singing in folk clubs. After a long gap came more folk club and festival performances, jazz workshops, various duos and bands including 13 years with her musician husband Felix… and now the BJBB


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