The Big Swing Band

The Big Swing Band was formed in 1982 by Dave Howell as a 1920s and 30s dance band with a little Glenn Miller and other popular swing thrown in. The original name for the band was “The Light Blues” as at the first rehearsal, of the four(!) people present, two had been to Cambridge University. As the band’s standard and repertoire developed it was decided that the name was no longer relevant an it was changed first to “The Addington Squares” and then to the “Big Swing Band”. Within a few years the band was concentrating on classic swing tunes from the likes of Ellington, Basie, Miller and Goodman.

The band has always striven to acheive a high standard of big band jazz and has had members who have gone on to professional music careers, such as bassist Julie Walkington, singer Kate Dimbleby, and trumpeters Jim Lynch, Richard Freeman and Alex Bezzina.

In 1999 Dave Howell left and passed on the organisation of the band to Alan English (alto saxophone), who still plays with the band after forty years. Other long serving members are bassist Ray Samuels, pianist Steve Howell and guitarist Richard Lea who have all seen over twenty years service.

The band usually plays around pubs and clubs in South London such as the Ivy House in Nunhead and the Bull's Head at Barnes, but over the years have played at the Waldorf Hotel, the Langham Hotel, the Natural History Museum main hall, Cecil Sharp House, the 100 Club, Regents Park, the Rivoli Ballroom and Marlborough House.

Nowadays, the band plays a mixture of classic swing and modern big band charts (the likes of Frank Mantooth, Maynard Ferguson and Gordon Goodwin) with a handful of tunes written especially for the band. They have the standard 5-4-4-4 arrangement with vocalist Winnie Greer completing the line-up.