Swingshift Big Band (East Sussex)

About us

Jonathan Bailey has worked in the East Sussex area as a professional musician and music teacher for over 30 years. In that time he has run a number of bands and groups including the county youth big band during the 1980s. In 2007 he decided to form his own local big band and Swingshift was born !


Jonathan explains ......

Soon after moving to East Sussex, despite playing mainly in West End theatres and well before taking over the management of the Herb Miller Orchestra in which I played lead trumpet for many years, I played with Alan Seymour in the award winning BBC Radio Sussex Big Band which broadcast and played concerts in the region.


Alan's background with Joe Loss and later Syd Lawrence, his small band Radio 2 sessions and theatre work, meant that from time to time we worked together. Whilst I was teaching for East Sussex County Council he was running a very successful music shop in Lewes and even joined the Herb Miller Orchestra for a while.


When in recent years I decided it would be great to form my own local big band, it was only the fact that Alan, living in Hailsham not far from my home in Chiddingly, was happy to join the venture that made the vague ambition into a reality. We were joined by a number of musicians who play with us in other orchestras, bands and groups we run, who were interested in playing big band music, together with younger players looking to play with a bigger ensemble than they might otherwise experience.


The band rehearse most thursday evenings at the Cinque Ports Club in Uckfield. We are always ready to take on engagements, whether dances or concerts, private functions or public performances.


We care very much about trying to capture the essentials of playing in a large swing combination of this sort by playing accurately together and with a bit more attention to precision than many 'rehearsal bands'. Our arrangements are usually based upon well known standards from a wide range of big band music with songs featuring Aprile Biggs, who adds a great jazz feel developed from her wide experience singing with her own smaller, more intimate groups.


A good big band needs to combine great disciplined team work and power with moments of individual solo flair and that almost indefinable rhythmic impulse called "swing".


Sometimes we hope we put it all together !