Our final Jazz Club session of the 2018-19 season saw the first club appearance of the powerhouse Yorkshire-based big band, Anchormen Jazz Orchestra. They produced an entertaining, rousing programme which went down well with the Wigan audience. Guest trumpeter Ryan Quigley showed just why he has become one of the most in-demand musicians on the UK jazz scene. Thanks to Ian Downes & Shane Murray for the selection of photographs that can be viewed here.
The 34th edition of Wigan International Jazz Festival takes place from July 11th -14th, at its new venue, The Village On The Green at Aspull, WN2 1PJ. The Festival, now run by The Music Continuum, has its own dedicated website at wiganjazzfest.co.uk, where you will find the fullest details of the venue, lineup and how to book. Our own Jazz Festival page carries a summary of this information with links to the relevant sections of the official site.
Our May Jazz Club featured a multi-national quartet of the highest calibre. Chris Hodgkins International Quartet were completing their UK tour at Wigan. Chris on trumpet was joined by South Korean piano sensation JinJoo Yu, US guitarist Wayne Wilkinson and bassist Alison Rayner. These four superb musicians combined to produce a programme of standards, some less familar pieces and compositions by each band member inspired by one of their favourite musicians. Unfortunately the audience was the smallest of the season (possibly due to the Bank Holiday weekend), but those who were present were treated to an afternoon of high quality accessible jazz. The full photo set can be viewed here.
All shows at Whelley Ex-Servicemen's Club (12.30 start, admission prices £12 non-members/£11.50 concessions/£10 members) except where stated. Advance booking available via Just Add Tickets (see below).
NB Members discounted prices are only available to current members. The annual subscription is £10 single, £15 couples. Anyone wishing to join for the first time can do so at the next concert, or by post, or online at justaddtickets.co.uk - see our Join Wigan Jazz Club page for full details.
Our April Jazz Club brought two guests from Ireland - vocalist Grainne Ryan and saxophonist P.J. Duffy - as well as the first appearance in 2019 of Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra. The first set featured Grainne in a small group setting, with P.J. and the excellent Martin Longhawn Trio, while the second set showcased our own Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra, directed by Dave Little, with Grainne guesting on vocals. The two contrasting sets made for a superb afternoon's entertainment. The full picture set can be viewed here.
March 31st marked the beginning of British Summer Time, as well as Mother's Day, but neither of these events prevented a sizeable audience from attending our monthly session. Our February guests from the other side of the Pennines were THE TOM SHARP JAZZ ORCHESTRA, making their WJC debut. This young band, led by trumpeter Tom Sharp, have established a strong reputation and this performance demonstrated that it is well-deserved. A rousing programme had as its centrepiece the work of the late Canadian trombonist, composer, arranger and bandleader Rob McConnell, music which is rarely peformed in the UK. The band proved to be well suited to this challenging programme, which was received enthusiastically by our audience. The full picture set can be viewed here.
With so many former WYJO members going on to join the ranks of the leading professional players it is always a pleasure to welcome them back to perform at our club. Our February guests were DAVID HITCHEN, trumpet & flugel player, arranger, composer and leader of his own big band in the south of France, RICHARD HALLIWELL, one of the most highly rated sax players in so many of the region's top bands, and DUNCAN WINFIELD, top trombonist and music educator. They were backed up by the DAN WHIELDON TRIO, in a programme that included both standards and original compositions by David, whose anecdotes and insights into his career proved to be both interesting and amusing. The quality of musicianship from all six musicians was exceptional, and brought an enthusiastic and well-deserved response from the audience. The full picture set can be viewed here.
Our first concert of 2019 was a contrasting, and most entertaining, double bill.
The first set featured vocalist Zoe Gilby, with husband Andy Champion on bass and Mark Williams on guitar. Together they produced a programme which featured mostly original compositions, with Zoe displaying impressive vocal virtuosity, matched by the impressive work of Andy and Mark. After the interval we had the first appearance at our club from the Omega Big Band, led by Dave Holden with a lineup that included many of the regions top players, including several bandleaders. The programme covered a wide range of charts, played with verve and skill, which were well recieved by the Wigan audience. The full set of photos can be viewed here.
Our traditional Christmas concert took place on Friday December 28th, and featured the three ensembles that have provided so many great young musiciams over the years - Wigan Schools Swing Band, Wigan Youth Big Band and Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra. The club was packed with band families, friends and club members for this showcase of young talent and the work of the Music Service. Many thanks to the staff, and to the young musicians and their parents for all their efforts in ensuring that the 'conveyor belt' of players continues to produce such high standards. To see all the pictures click here.
Following their appearance at the 2018 Jazz Festival (the outdoor performance that moved indoors) it was decided that the Edge Hill University Big Band would be perfect for one of our Sunday sessions, and so it proved on the afternoon of November 25th. Under the direction of Phil Shotton, the band have made remarkable progress in a relatively short time. Made up of students, staff and local players, they gave an assured and entertaining performance of charts that went far beyond basic big band level (notably Gordon Goodwin's Hunting Wabbits). With two excellent vocalists and Phil's informative and amusing introductions, our audience had an enjoyable afternoon of high qualiry big band jazz. The full picture set can be viewed here.
On the day that BST reverted to GMT it seemed fitting that the weather combined strong sunshine with bitter winds, but those who were sensible to make the trip to Whelley were rewarded with a concert for all seasons. Pianist/vocalist Wendy Kirkland brought her 'Piano Divas' show to Wigan and the quartet treated us to a programme inspired by some of the great and pianists, old and also more recent. The musicians were Wendy (piano & vocals), husband Pat Sprakes (guitar), Mike Green (bass) and Caroline Bowden (drums), and they combined to produce two sets that sent us out into the autumn cold with smiles on our faces and a song in out hearts.
The full photo set for this show can be viewed by clicking here.
For our regular last-Sunday-of-the-month Jazz Club session we welcomed a big band who were making their first appearance in the area. Strictly Smokin' Big Band, based in the Newcastle area, provided a varied programme with arrangments that were fresh and exciting. Featured vocalist Alice Grace handled the material sympathetically and stylishly. We hope this will be the first of many expeditions what MD Michael Lamb called 'the south north'. The full picture set can be viewed here. To learn more about the band visit their website .
To launch the 2018-19 season of Wigan Jazz Club, we were delighted to welcome back John Ruddick's Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra. MYJO has a long-established and well-deserved reputation for big band jazz of the highest quality, producing generation after generation of talented players. As ever, the band presented a varied and entertaining programme, featuring high quality ensemble playing and superb soloists. We are grateful that they made the difficult journey up the M6 to get our new season off to a great start. The full photo set for this show can be viewed here.
Most of those attending Jazz Club events pay cash on the door, but for those who would prefer to pre-purchase tickets in advance we have teamed up with ticket agency JUST ADD TICKETS to provide this facility. To book online just go to our What's On page and click on the Just Add Tickets logo. Club membership can also be obtained at Just Add Tickets.
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