In this, the centenary year of the BBC, the internationally acclaimed BBC Big Band takes to the stage at the Apex, next month, to celebrate a swinging century of big band music.
From the great band leaders and performers of the early 20th century, through to contemporary artists such as Michael Bublé, Harry Connick Jnr, Diana Krall, and even Lady Gaga (with her collaborations with Tony Bennett) – swing music has formed a cultural backdrop to much of the last century.
In this concert the world-renowned BBC Big Band will explore some of the very best swing classics.
Expect music inspired by the likes of Duke Ellington and Count Basie through to the great vocalists such as Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darrin and Tony Bennet – who continue to inspire contemporary artists today.
The band’s origins date from the earliest days of the BBC and the formation of the original BBC Dance Orchestra in 1928. The golden period of the 1930’s saw not only the BBC Dance Orchestra, but many other bands including those of Billy Cotton, Joe Loss and Jack Hylton become celebrities, thanks in great part to the unrivalled reach of the new medium of radio.
As musical fashions changed, dance bands and big bands evolved and remained at the heart of the BBC’s musical output throughout the Second World War and beyond. In the 1950’s the BBC Dance Orchestra became known as the BBC Showband and was used widely in the new medium of television, both in the company of home-grown talent including Matt Monro as well as with international stars such as Frank Sinatra and Nat ‘King’ Cole.
By the 1960’s the band was known as the Radio Big Band and functioned as part of the larger BBC Radio Orchestra. However, in 1979 a new series called Big Band Special began on Radio 2, and the band’s profile was given a huge boost.
Today the band continues to be featured regularly on Clare Teal’s Radio 2 show and on Radio 3’s Jazz Line Up. The band has performed many times in the BBC Proms series at London’s Royal Albert Hall and also at the BBC Proms in the Park.
The BBC Big Band is now widely regarded as the UK’s leading big band and has won the prestigious “Best Big Band Award” at the British Jazz Awards eight times.
The BBC Big Band are at the Apex on Wednesday, September 14, at 7.30pm. See www.theapex.co.uk or ring 01284 578000 for tickets or more information.