Beats & Pieces Big Band take the big band sound to places it’s never been before, with a distinctive blend of rocking energy and precise dynamics, infectious floor-filling rhythms and widescreen arrangements, and generous individual freedom and tight collective interplay. Embracing modern textures and techniques while acknowledging and celebrating their big band lineage, they’ve earned a reputation for a joyful interaction between audience and band, with songs to make you think, dance, laugh and cry.
This exciting ensemble led by composer/conductor Ben Cottrell boasts 14 musicians, many of them bandleaders in their own right, with each player’s distinct musical background and individual voice being key to the collective band identity. Now in their eleventh year, Beats & Pieces are a rarity in keeping a fairly consistent lineup for so long – especially remarkable for a group this size. Such is the level of trust and friendship across the group that they perform entirely from memory, effortlessly switching between super-tight ensemble playing and generous soloistic expression in the same way as a trio or quartet.
A driving force of the vibrant Manchester music scene and one of the most striking ensembles of its kind, the group continues to win new fans and friends across Europe and beyond. Beats & Pieces is not an average ‘big band’ – rather a band that’s big.
“A big band with the feel and dynamics of a small group and the force and impact of an orchestra” AJ Dehany, London Jazz News
“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, BBC Jazz on 3
“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 website/social media where available):
Ben Cottrell : director
Anthony Brown, Emily Burkhardt, Oliver Dover : saxophones
Owen Bryce, Graham South, Nick Walters : trumpet
Richard Foote, Simon Lodge, Rich Mcveigh : trombone
Anton Hunter : guitar
Richard Jones : piano/Rhodes
Stewart Wilson : bass
Finlay Panter : drums
Alex Fiennes : sound engineer
There have been many many more amazing musicians that have played with us, including:
Sam Andreae, Dee Byrne, Rob Cope, Kenji Fenton, Sam Healey, Celia Madden, Jo McCallum, Sam Rapley, Cath Roberts, Riley Stone-Lonergan, Tom Ward, Ben Watte, Helen Wilson, Chris Young : 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, Joshua Cavanagh-Brierley, 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 England.
Large ensembles are by their very nature extremely difficult to sustain, financially and logistically – you can support us by joining us backstage, or if you’d like to help in any other way please do get in touch!