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In March 2013, at the first Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival, we performed Duke Ellington's Sacred Concert, with massed choirs, The Big Buzzard Boogie Band, Yolanda Quartey and tap dancer Annette Walker. The festival asked if we could do something similar this year, however there isn't really anything quite like Ellington's work, so we decided to create something new, this time based on ten of George Gershwin's great pieces.
Can we call it a 'Jazz Oratorio'? I think so - at least to people in the world of choral music that gives a sense of its size and scale. It receives its first performance on 8 March 2014 at the Colston Hall at 2.30pm as part of the 2014 Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival.
There's more about it here...
Here are a few highlights from years past...
Far from the Final Word, with Matt Harvey, Al Swainger, Massimo de Majo, Joanna Eden
Hair of the Dog, at Loyton Lodge
Gator by the Bay Zydeco Festival with Mama TokusÊ
Kidderminster Choral Society
Bewdley Jazz Mass
Kind of Blue at Endellion Festival
Sacred Concert with Bath Bach Choir
Denbone Walkers at the Edinburgh Fringe
Tue 10 - Mon 16 August, 11.30pm
We're played at the Pleasance's spectacular Fringe Venue "Ghillie Dhu", in the heart of the city, dripping with chandeliers, red velvet, intimate booths, and everything you could wish for in a late night Edinburgh Jazz Den.
Denbone Walkers @ Ashburton Blues Festival.
Sun 30 May 2010. 5pm – 11.45pm
A Tribute to T-Bone Walker featuring Denny Ilett on guitar, Andy Williamson on sax, Greg Cordez on Bass, Ben Cummings on trumpet and Daisy Palmer on drums.
Sacred Concert in London
Weds 16 June, 8pm, St Giles in the Fields
With Tina May, Steve Waterman featuring tap dancer Junior Laniyan, and opera star Roderick Williams plus the Vox Cordis choir under the baton of Jamie Burton. More info...
Sacred Concert in Bristol
A return visit to Westbury on Trym church with the glorious voices of the Exultate Singers.
On 12 March, 2009, The Andy Williamson Buzztet went to Bristol to record a jazz version of Songs of Praise, for BBC1. The band featured Zoe Rahman on piano, Charlie Stratford on drums, Dan Farrant on bass and Ben Cummings on trumpet and flugelhorn. Ned Bennett managed to create a wonderfully fresh arrangement of one of the oldest tunes in the book, 'O When the Saints". Andy chose a tune he'd first heard Eric Bibb perform in the tiny Ain't Nothin' But...
THe programme was broadcast on Sunday 3 May.
Bewdley Festival with Scott Stroman
The Andy Williamson Buzztet returned to bewdley to perform Scott Stroman's Jazz Mass on Sunday morning with the choir of St Anne's Church as part of their festival service. As Scott was busy at another concert, Andy spent the previous day with pianist Robin Holloway in Bewdley rehearsing the choir. Scott arrived on Sunday morning to direct the choir and the band.
Duke Ellington Sacred Concert, Bristol 24 Feb 2007
The Big Buzzard band joined with the Exultate Singers of Bristol to perform this wonderful music by Duke Ellington, with it's theme of 'Freedom' to commemorate the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery.
The concert featured the exquisite talents of Jacqui Dankworth (left) on vocals, and Zoe Rahman (right) on piano.
"I'm a Believer" - Trafalgar Square
On 3 & 4 March 2006, the Big Buzzard Horns performed in Trafalgar Square as part of a piece of performance art by Reza Aramesh. He based it on the Changing of the Guard ceremony, with the soldiers replaced by a group of 2nd generation immigrants to the UK.
Duke Ellington's Sacred Concert, Radio 4
Thursday 20th May 2004 - Duke Ellington's Sacred Concert live on BBC Radio 4 The Big Buzzard Boogie Band expanded to 18 musicians, and were joined by the Exultate Singers and members of the BBC Daily Service singers for the broadcast, live from St Martin-in-the-Fields in London.
The Buzzards at the Famous Spiegeltent
The Big Buzzard Boogie Band returned to one o the most amazing venues in the world, the 'Famous Spiegeltent' for performances at the Brighton Festival during May, and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe during August. Here's a snatch of one of the performances:
On Saturday 1 June 2002, the Big Buzzard Boogie Band were among the performers at Buckingham Palace for the Queen's Golden Jubilee Celebrations.