The B# Big Band (that’s, B Sharp for those of you new to ‘music speak’) is Melbourne’s most exciting, swingin’ Big Band – just ask their biggest fan, James Morrison! They’re bringing a fresh, invigorating sound to Melbourne and casting a spell on new audiences with every performance. The B# sound has certainly got feet a-tappin’ and hearts a-poundin’ all over town!
15 years in the dreaming and 1 year in the making, B# launched in September of 2003 to an audience of over 600 Big Band swing lovers at Melbourne’s Forum Theatre. They’ve built a legion of devoted fans with every performance since - everyone from Gen ‘Y’ through to Gen ‘Wartime’.
The founder and director, Henry Kovacevic, has pulled together some of Australia’s highest calibre jazz & session musicians to perform the classic arrangements of Basie, Ellington, Goodman, Miller and other Big Cats of the 30s, 40s & 50s. In addition, guest vocalists perform tunes made famous by Anita O’Day, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin and Peggy Lee amongst others. Many of the arrangements B# has acquired, or had carefully arranged, are well known classics! Some have for many years been ‘lost’ classics, not performed by other Big Bands around Melbourne, and rarely in Australia, if at all.
B# resuscitate these infectious tunes with a fresh twist, exposing new audiences to the lush, invigorating sound that made Big Band swing addictive to swing ears then, and now again.
To effectively perform these exciting and complex tunes, B# has cajoled some of the most talented and passionate musicians of international standing to lend their expertise. The band understands the important nuances of Big Band swing and what sets it apart. The lion’s share of B#‘s arrangements are for a 17 piece Big Band – and they take it to the stage that way, just as the original arrangers intended! That means a big, slick, energised sound, with more than a nod to the particular acoustic style of the era. From the moment the curtain draws back, the band’s striking presentation - consisting of full, new, modern suits, plus their custom built, art-deco inspired music stands - gives the audience a taste of what’s to come. But it’s only after one considers the exceptional talent that dons each outfit and occupies each stand, that the full, exciting potential of this band is realised...
The B# team:
Alto Sax 1 & Clarinet Tim Wilson
Alto Sax 2 & Clarinet David Gardner
Tenor Sax 1 Anton Delecca
Tenor Sax 2 Ian Whitehurst
Baritone Sax Greg Clarkson
Trumpet 1 Greg Spence
Trumpet 2 Matt Jodrell
Trumpet 3 Eugene Ball
Trumpet 4 Gianni Marinucci
Trombone 1 Ian Bell
Trombone 2 Jordan Murray
Trombone 3 Ben Gillespie
Bass Trombone Simon Scerri
Guitar Sam Lemann
Double Bass Phil Rex
Piano John McAll
Drums Dave Beck
The band has hosted the ‘cat’s pajamas’ of vocal talent, including Nina Ferro, Julie O’Hara, Emma Franz, Fiona Thorn, Frank Benedetto, Eugene Hamilton, Rod Gilbert and David Dean (aka Dean’s Martini). David Campbell, Ross Wilson, Grace Knight, Tom Burlinson, Jane Clifton, Tim Campbell, Mark Holden, Bob Downe and Joe Camilleri have also featured as guest vocalists. And speaking of honoured guests, James Morrison has performed with the band on several occasions and has had this to say about them: "When I'm in Melbourne, there's only one Big Band I want on stage with me - B#." “Melbourne hasn't known a swinging Big Band like this for a long time!”
Little wonder B# has previously been invited to launch the ‘Melbourne International Jazz Festival’, perform for many significant corporate functions and back visiting international superstars such as Wayne Bergeron, Wycliffe Gordon & Lorna Luft. In addition, the band has performed live to air on ABC radio and staged many public performances. Their sparkling presentation and performance standards have been right at home at prestigious venues such as The Forum, The Plaza Ballroom, Crown Palladium, Hamer Hall, Ormond Hall, The Park Hyatt and The Grand Hyatt.
In addition to James Morrison’s endorsements, testimonials are available from clients and venue managers that the band has worked with. B# also has strong relationships with experienced and reliable suppliers of services that allow the band to shine, including a highly qualified sound engineer team, stage management crew, dance performance troupes, graphic designer and photographer.
So go on... check ‘em out, and then let B# get your joint jumpin’!