Beats & Pieces Big Band are one of the most exciting and innovative acts to emerge from the North of England’s fertile jazz and improvised music scene this century. Under the direction of conductor and composer Ben Cottrell, they are at the forefront of a new generation of large jazz and improvising ensembles reimagining and reinventing big band music for the 21st century. As Cottrell says “Beats & Pieces is not your average big band, rather a band that’s big”.
There is a strong collective identity about the ensemble and a wilful DIY, almost punk spirit and energy that has evoked comparisons with groups such as Loose Tubes. Cottrell’s inspired writing is an expression of the varied musical backgrounds and activities of the band’s members, initially influenced by groups such as the now defunct Acoustic Ladyland who combine indie rock values with jazz concepts in a way that exudes energy and attitude. Other cutting edge British bands of the early 2000s have also been cited as strong influences, including Ladyland’s close musical relatives Polar Bear, Troyka and Led Bib, as well as the pioneering earlier work of composer/bandleaders such as Mike Westbrook, Mike Gibbs, and Graham Collier.
The band’s debut release, a five track EP simply titled ‘Beats & Pieces’ in 2010 was followed in 2012 by debut album ‘Big Ideas’, which cemented their growing reputation and brought them a host of new fans. Follow-up ‘All In’, released in 2015, captured the warmth, energy and vitality of the group’s live performances and earned wide critical acclaim. In 2018 Beats & Pieces marked their 10th anniversary with their debut North American tour and the release of live album and concert film ’ten’, combining brand new material with fresh takes on tracks from previous releases. In January 2023 Beats & Pieces release their long-awaited third studio album, ‘Good Days’, and return to the live stage after an enforced break across the Covid pandemic.
Beats & Pieces are:
Ben Cottrell : director
Anthony Brown, Emily Burkhardt, Oliver Dover : saxophones
Owen Bryce, Graham South, Nick Walters : trumpet
Simon Lodge, Rich Mcveigh, Phil O’Malley : trombone
Anton Hunter : guitar
Richard Jones : piano/Rhodes
Stewart Wilson : bass
Finlay Panter : drums
A standing show.