about us

beats and pieces big band


Led by composer and conductor Ben Cottrell, Beats & Pieces Big Band see themselves as a band that happens to be big, rather than your average ‘big band’. They’re an extremely tightknit bunch, meeting as students in Manchester and growing up and developing musically individually and collectively within the city’s exciting scene. First playing together as Beats & Pieces in 2008, today these fourteen musicians know each other inside out socially and musically, and this familiarity is part of what sets them aside from a lot of other big bands today. The music is an expression of the band’s members and their varied musical backgrounds and activities, all brought together in Ben Cottrell’s inspired writing. His compositions reflect the diversity of music that people of their generation have grown up surrounded by, and as such are influenced as much by Michael Jackson, Björk or Radiohead as they are Duke Ellington, Gil Evans or Loose Tubes.

The band’s debut album Big Ideas was released in March 2012 on Efpi Records, a small Manchester-based label also run by Ben. Since then, Beats & Pieces have performed in Ireland, Germany, France and Norway; received airplay on BBC Radio 2, Radio 3 and 6music; and received awards for Best UK Newcomer at the 2013 Jazz FM Awards and Ensemble of the Year at the 2014 Parliamentary Jazz Awards. Eagerly awaited second album All In was released in June 2015, again on Efpi Records, and announced the band to an even wider audience whilst cementing their reputation as one of the most original and vibrant ensembles of its type.


“Energetic, hard-rocking big band ride again… The young band’s collectively grooving energy – and the gifted Cottrell’s composing – have moved up a few notches further” John Fordham, The Guardian ****

“Lots of players have tried mixing rock brawn with jazz brain, few as convincingly as this young big band from Manchester. The Mercury Prize shortlist must surely await” John Bungey, The Times ****

“Fast becoming one of the foundations of the current UK jazz scene, Beats & Pieces make fun, grooving, high- impact music Mancunian style… continuing the great tradition of UK big bands” Jez Nelson, Jazz on 3

“A big band for modern times” Jamie Cullum

“There hasn’t been a ‘live’ British big band since Loose Tubes with the same degree of energetic spontaneity and enjoyment of performing as this one” Jazzwise


Our current touring lineup is as follows (with links to twitter where available):

Ben Cottrell : director
Anthony Brown, Ollie Dover, Tom Ward : saxophones
Owen Bryce, Graham South, Nick Walters : trumpet
Richard Foote, Simon Lodge, Richard McVeigh : trombone
Anton Hunter : guitar
Richard Jones : piano/Rhodes
Stewart Wilson : bass
Finlay Panter : drums
Alex Fiennes : sound engineer

other collaborators

There have been many many more amazing musicians that have played with us, including:

Sam Andreae, Rob Cope, Kenji Fenton, Sam Healey, Celia Madden, Jo McCallum, Sam Rapley, Cath Roberts, Riley Stone-Lonergan, Chris Young, Ben Watte, Helen Wilson : saxophones/reeds

Jamie Brownfield, Adam Chatterton, James Davison, Aaron Diaz, Dave Greenland, Chris Snead, Nick Walkley : trumpet

Danny Barley, Paul Burton, Nick Conn, Tim Cox, Mark Francis, Louise Godfrey, Alex Hambleton, Ed Horsey, Alex Kelly, Phil O’Malley, Owain Roberts, Paul Strachan : trombone

Daniel Brew : guitar

Misha Gray, Chris Illingworth, Patrick Hurley : piano/Rhodes

Mick Bardon, Nick Blacka, Grant Russell, Harrison Wood : bass

Johnny Hunter, Jim Molyneux, Alex Tod, Rob Turner : drums

George Dennis, Tullis Rennie : electronics

Najia Bagi, Esther Swift : vocals


Beats & Pieces Big Band gratefully acknowledges support from Arts Council EnglandPRS for Music Foundation and Help Musicians UK

Large ensembles are by their very nature extremely difficult to sustain, financially and logistically – if you’re able to support what we do in any way whatsoever please do get in touch!

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