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PRESS RELEASE

 

Strictly Smokin’ Big Band

STRICTLY SMOKIN’ & FRIENDS

Jazz Sound Records – JSR014

 

Friday 17 May 2024

Album release (CD & Digital)

Launch concert at The Fire Station, Sunderland

Featuring Bruce Adams, Alan Barnes and Paul Booth

 

 

Strictly Smokin' & Friends is the latest album by the Strictly Smokin’ Big Band (SSBB) which features an array of leading British musicians: Bruce Adams, Alan Barnes, Paul Booth, Polly Gibbons, Gareth Lockrane, Mike Lovatt, Mark Nightingale, Ross Stanley and Anthony Strong. Founded in 2003 by Michael Lamb – trumpeter, leader and chief arranger/composer – the SSBB is the North-East’s leading big band. “Many people have this image of big band music being stuffy and old but that’s not the case,” says Lamb. “It’s often contemporary and cutting-edge - there’s space for musicians and writers to cut loose. I love the big band format, there’s so much you can do with it.”

 

The new album joins the SSBB’s previous crowd funded releases, Harlem ‘58, an album based on Art Kane’s iconic 1958 photo of 57 jazz greats - and Strictly Smokin' Big Band Sings Ella with Alice Grace, a tribute to the great singer Ella Fitzgerald. Touring performances which linked to the three albums have the strong ‘interactive’ element which SSBB are fast becoming known for. “We've worked on audience development for years to bring in a younger crowd, and more recently our use of visuals on our Harlem '58 and Ella & Ellington theatre shows has attracted yet another demographic,” explains Lamb. “It’s not necessarily the kind of jazz you play that keeps new audiences away, but how you present it; how you defy expectation and prejudice.”

 

“I like the element of surprise, drawing people in with something familiar to listen to and then throwing in a few curveballs,” continues Lamb. This is borne out by both the choices of tunes (standards and one original) on the new album, and the way they are presented. Ross Stanley’s organ and the brass blasts on ‘Cool Struttin’’ add power and an insouciant swagger to Sonny Clark’s immortal tune; flute king Gareth Lockrane adds cool accents to George Duke’s ‘Daisy Mae’; and there’s a mighty new Art-Pepper-inspired arrangement of Rollins’ ‘Airegin’ featuring Alan Barnes on tenor. Also featured are new interpretations of ‘Sweet and Lovely’ (featuring Mark Nightingale), ‘Pete Kelly’s Blues’ (featuring Bruce Adams), ‘Devil May Care’ (featuring Anthony Strong) and ‘Love For Sale’ (featuring a stunning turn by Polly Gibbons on vocals). The original composition more than holds its own among this exalted company – saxophonist Paul Booth’s ‘Twitterbug Waltz’ exudes confidence with its fluent, insistent grooves.

 

“When arranging a standard for the band I deliberately try not to listen to, or be influenced by, previous versions. I like to start with a simple lead sheet and go from there – generating my own ideas,” says Lamb. “I hope we’ve done this with Strictly Smokin' & Friends and we’re looking forward to it being available to listen to and presenting our music to some live audiences.”

 

Ends


 

NOTES

  • Strictly Smokin’ & Friends is released on Jazz Sound Records in association with ECN Music. 

  • Strictly Smokin’ Big Band: strictly-smokin.co.uk

  • Strictly Smokin’ & Friends was recorded at Simpson Street Studios, Northumberland, 31st October 2021 and engineered and mixed by Liam Gaughan (AKA Weez).

  • The artwork was created by local illustrator Sean Battle.

  • Album tracks will be available for all instruments as Play Alongs: strictly-smokin.co.uk/play-along

  • Also available for purchase is sheet music of the album and other arrangements, including parts and scores for performance by other ensembles.

  • ECN Music: ecnmusic.com

  • Publicity – Emma Perry: mob: 07818 424 750 / emma@ecnmusic.com

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