The Callum Au Big Band
The Callum Au Big Band is a new up-and-coming 18-piece big band, led by musical director Callum Au, and featuring many of the rising stars of the UK jazz scene. Since its formation in 2009, the band has been fortunate enough to perform with some of the finest jazz musicians in the world as guest soloists, including trombonist Mark Nightingale, flautist Gareth Lockrane, and saxophonist Nigel Hitchcock. It has performed in many of the top London jazz clubs, and has entertained at private functions and corporate events throughout the UK. Between them, the band’s members have performed with artists including the BBC Big Band, the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, and Guy Barker; and have played in locations as diverse as the Royal Albert Hall, the North Sea Jazz Festival, and the Lincoln Centre, New York.
The band frequently performs original compositions and arrangements specially written by Callum and other band members, including Tommy Laurence, Simon Marsh, Freddie Gavita, Emma Smith, and Tom Stone. Influenced by writers such as Duke Ellington, Bill Holman, Bob Florence, Laurence Cottle, and Nelson Riddle, the band creates its own distinctive and original sound by laying down contemporary grooves and harmonies, while respecting the classic building-blocks of the tradition.
In addition to its ever-increasing library of original scores, the band performs music from a vast library of the classic big band repertoire, from Nelson Riddle and Billy May to Sammy Nestico, Thad Jones, and Count Basie; as well some more contemporary soul and funk material, specially adapted for the band from artists such as Tower of Power, Earth Wind and Fire, and Stevie Wonder.
The band’s most recent large-scale project is Callum Au’s West Side Story Suite: a six-movement extended work based on some of the most famous melodies from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. It functions as a single continuous suite of music, and features many of the band’s soloists, including a series of extended solo piano cadenzas from Yamaha Prize recipient and band member Chris Eldred. Recent public outings of this suite include performances in various London jazz venues including Ronnie Scott’s and Boisdale Canary Wharf, and a concert at Cadogan Hall as part of the Out to Lunch Festival. To complement the suite in a concert programme, Callum has also written a new arrangement of George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, to feature Piano, Clarinet, and Big Band.
The band has recently recorded its debut album at Angel Studios, entitled Something’s Coming. This features the band’s West Side Story Suite as well as original commissions from Gareth Lockrane, Freddie Gavita, and Callum Au; and guest artists Emma Smith (voice), Iain Mackenzie (voice), Nigel Hitchcock (saxophones), and Gareth Lockrane (flutes). It was released to critical acclaim in January 2013.
The Callum Au Big Band uses players carefully selected from a pool of the most talented young jazz musicians on the London scene, all graduates of the top London conservatoires or the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. Below is a list of all current band members and deps:
Lucas Dodd, Jim Gold, Simon Marsh, Tommy Laurence, Richard Shepherd, Nadim Teimoori, Jonny Griffiths, Sammy Mayne, Jahan Meeran, Ben Mallinder, Will Gibson, Ed Barker, Oliver Nezhati, Tom Stone, Pete Long
Chris Eldred, Rob Barron, Will Bartlett
Jon Russell, Tommy Emmerton, Artie Zaitz, Rob Luft
Laurence Ungless, Conor Chaplin, Adam King, Laurence Garratt, Jon Russell
Ed Richardson, Dave Elliott
Emma Smith, Iain Mackenzie, Anthony Strong, Kwabena Adjepong, Annabel Williams