Primary Instrument: Band/ensemble/orchestra
Winners of the Burghausen European Young Artists' Award 2011 and 2012 Ensemble of the Year nominees in the UK’s Parliamentary Jazz Awards, the Beats & Pieces Big Band are fast becoming one of the country's most talked about jazz groups. Led by composer and conductor Ben Cottrell, its 14 members are drawn from some of the most exciting and in demand young musicians active in the UK today, all of whom met and began playing together whilst students in Manchester.
Their music draws on a wide range of influences from Loose Tubes to Radiohead to redefine the role of the big band for a new generation. This diversity of musical backgrounds and reference points is reflected in the activities of the musicians themselves - members of the band are busy as full time jazzers, dubstep session musicians, experimental free improv artists and members of classical orchestras, amongst others.
Growing from an initial meeting in early 2008, the band were invited to open the Manchester Jazz Festival later that year on the strength of a two track demo recorded at that very first rehearsal. Since then, the band have performed across the UK to consistent audience and critical acclaim. In March 2011, Beats & Pieces were named as the winners of the European Young Artists' Jazz Award, part of the Burghausen International Jazz Festival in Germany. Winning the competition ahead of 4 other finalists from across Europe led to a gala concert supporting Chick Corea and Gary Burton, which was recorded for broadcast on German TV and radio.
Their first (now-deleted) EP was released in December 2009 on Efpi Records, an independent label co-founded and managed by three of the band members, and a limited edition DVD of a live performance at Manchester's famous Band on the Wall venue was released in October 2011. In 2012 the band will embark on a major UK tour produced by Serious, to coincide with the release of their highly anticipated debut album, 'Big Ideas', distributed by Proper Note.
The band's founder and musical director, Ben Cottrell, was chosen as one of 8 young creative musicians from across the UK to participate in the 2010/11 edition of the prestigious Take Five professional development scheme. The scheme is produced by Serious and funded by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, the PRS for Music Foundation, Arts Council England and the Musicians' Benevolent Fund, and its alumni includes musicians at the forefront of contemporary British jazz.
Awards:Ensemble of the Year nominees, UK Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2012 European Young Artists' Jazz Award 2011 - Burghausen International Jazz Festival, Germany
Beats & Pieces dazzled with a glorious, full-bloodied set demonstrating all that’s good about big band jazz. The big band tradition is alive and well and living in Manchester. Selwyn Harris, Jazzwise
“They couple gale-force collective energy and confidence to startlingly original material (most of it by its rising-star leader Ben Cottrell) that acknowledges big-band traditions while radically modernising them.” John Fordham, The Guardian
Their performance would have reassured anyone who wonders whether the big band tradition can connect with a twentysomething audience that knows its Radiohead but thinks that Stan Kenton is probably a window-cleaner in Coronation Street Clive Davis, The Times
Beats & Pieces is to the big band tradition what Polar Bear is to the saxophone led quartet London Jazz Festival
If ever there was a big band that sounded perfect for the 21st century young person, Beats & Pieces is it Peter Bacon, thejazzbreakfast
Live @ Band on the Wall EP (Efpi Records, 2011)
Beats & Pieces EP (Efpi Records, 2009)
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