Brighton Jazz Mafia Big Band at St. Andrew’s Church, Hove

Graham Thomas saw the BJM play Basie, Nestico et al but the most interesting stuff was by the late Brighton composer Simon D'Souza

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Part of the Brighton Jazz Mafia Big Band at St. Andrews Church, Hove, October 2023. Photo © Brian O'Connor

Despite the inclement weather, there was a good turnout for the Brighton Jazz Mafia Big Band at St. Andrew’s Church, Hove. Led by saxophonist Alex Bondonno, the band played a wide range of material, from Count Basie swingers such as Shiny Stockings to joyful African-jazz inspired arrangements by composer David Jones.

They kicked off with the Sammy Nestico flag-waver Ya Gotta Try Harder, showing off the band’s crisp execution of horn and sax lines. On the slower pieces, they achieved a warm blend of colours which sounded wonderful in the acoustics of the church. All the tunes featured excellent solos by various members of the ensemble.

Some of the most interesting pieces were composed by Brighton-based saxophonist and composer Simon D’Souza who sadly died in 2014. Among these were In Remission Riff (a nod to Stan Kenton’s Intermission Riff), Solid Ground and Giving Peace, which closed the concert.

The band regularly gigs in the Brighton area, so if you like big bands, be sure to catch them if you can.

Trumpets: Chris Coull, Jon Brown, Kris Jones, Martijn van Galen.
Trombones: Jeff Williams, Mike Pilley, Lizzie Gregory, Steve Clarke.
Saxes: Russ Holdsworth, Alex Bondonno, Jim Cheek, Chris Peryagh.
Piano: Jamie Salisbury;  Bass: Matthew Casterton;  Drums: Joe Edwards.