Wonderbrass in Budapest!

Wonderbrass is 25 this year, and to celebrate we took ourselves off on tour to Budapest.

For three whole days in September we lit up the Hungarian capital with our hurricane of horns, toe-tapping beats and an infectious energy that inevitably got everyone dancing!

First stop was a performance at the Hangszerplaza music shop where where Katie our keyboard player had the chance to funk up Wonderbrass tunes on an original Rhodes piano.

Later that evening we wowed the crowds at Szimpla Kert one of Budapest’s famous Ruin Bars, took over their open mic night and kicked ass on stage! You can watch our performance on Szimpla’s Facebook page.

Making the most of the Budapest sunshine, Wonderbrass busked at the metro station Deák ferenc tér, where passers by stopped to listen or get up and dance, whilst generously showering us with Forints!

Our weekend culminated on a high,  playing along the route of Budapest’s international half marathon.  Just as the runners were flagging towards the end, our horns, drums and dancing gave them a burst of Wonderfuel to get them across that finish line! Egészségedre!

We’ve got loads more exciting gigs and events coming up a lot closer to home so keep an eye out on our listings.

Would you like to join Wonderbrass or would you like to book us? Just get in touch by contacting wonderbrasswales@gmail.com
For the latest Wonderbrass news and info follow us on Twitter @wonderbrass or Facebook @WonderbrassWales

A Wonder-full year

feed24h-the-everpopular-carnival-no6-returns-to-festival-no6-for-another-year-weaving
We’ve been here there and everywhere this year, dancing our socks off at HUB fest, Brecon Jazz and cheering on runners at Cardiff Half Marathon and the World Half Marathon too.

We’ve been getting loud and proud with Cardiff’s own Carnival drummers Barracwda – an intensely exuberant musical experience for everyone involved and we’re really excited to do more work with them soon, so watch this space.

We exploded in a burst of colour, sparkle, noise and celebration at Festival No. 6 again this year, defying the rain and the mud and getting our Carnival on with Barracwda and the other revellers at the festival.

We also witnessed a giant peach land in the city centre and joined in parading its way to Cardiff Castle, where its weird and wonderful inhabitants came out to greet us as part of Roald Dahl’s City of the Unexpected festivities. We played for Fantastic Mr Fox as he trampolined his way to freedom away from the angry farmers!

We’re really excited to be co-programming a monthly brass take over at Cardiff’s Gwdihw venue with the fantastic Bass 12. You can look out for gigs from Wonderbrass and friends of the band on the second Friday of every other month, with Bass 12 alternating with us. Check out the Gwdihw website to find out more…

Jazz in Torfaen

Wonderbrass are excited to announce our latest project – Jazz in Torfaen!

Torfaen Jazz poster

The project is funded by the Jazz for Jed foundation and will see a two-full-day music workshop taking place in Torfaen next month. The sessions will allow participants to explore jazz improvisation, basic arranging, stylistic playing and awareness and playing in a swing style. At the end of the final session participants will have the chance to join Wonderbrass in performance, using the skills they’ve develped so please tell your friends and family!

Jazz in Torfaen is open to anyone with a basic musical knowledge and an enthusiasm for meeting new people and developing their playing. The workshops will take place under the expert tuition of composer and multi-instrumentalists Rob Smith and Mark O’Connor, along with the Wonderbrass team.

Participants have the option of joining Wonderbrass on stage as part of a live performance at the culmination of the sessions to showcase their hard work across the weekend.

The sessions will run over a weekend on the 7th and 8th of March 2015 and will cost £12 per person for the duration, if participants book in advance.

Although we will welcome participants who choose to turn up on the day, in order to ensure we are able to meet the needs of everyone at the sessions, we encourage people to book in advance. Prices increase to £15 on the day the workshops begin.

We’re really excited about meeting lovers of jazz, live music and performance in Torfaen and we’d love to hear your thoughts on the project. To get involved with the project or to find out more details please contact: jennywonderbrass@hotmail.com. For the latest Wonderbrass news and info follow us on Twitter @wonderbrass.

Most ambitious project yet!

Wonderbrass - Penarth Christmas event

We are thrilled to announce our newest and most ambitious project yet!

With funding from the BBC Performing Arts Fund we will be working with three artists of international acclaim to produce three unique and contrasting pieces to be added to the band’s repertoire.

Our composers for the project will be jazz supremo Paula GardinerSouth African born trumpet legend Claude Deppa and Wonderbrass’ own musical director and multi-instrumentalist Rob Smith.

Each commissioned composer has been selected to contrast and complement each others’ styles of music making and to enable Wonderbrass to further develop its existing and extensive back catalogue of tunes. We’re aiming to explore new musical avenues; developing our playing styles as individual musicians and as a collective.

 

Paula GardinerPaula Gardiner

Flautist, guitarist and double bassist Paula is RWCMD’s Head of Jazz Studies as well as a renowned performer and composer. Paula places a great deal of emphasis on live performances and frequently plays festivals and jazz nights across the country. She is Honorary President of Women in Jazz and a founder member of Wales Jazz Composer.

 

 

 

Claude DeppaTrumpeter, African Jazz

South African born trumpet player Claude Deppa is at the forefront of the African Jazz scene Claude has developed his own three special projects and these are African Jazz Explosion, Horns Unlimited and Five Funky Fellas. He has worked with Wonderbrass previously is well remembered by some of the long-standing members of the band. We’re excited to see what he has in store for us this time!

Saxophonist, composer, lecturer, musical director of WonderbrassRob Smith

Founder and musical director of Wonderbrass Rob Smith specialises in community music tutoring as well as composing and performing across a broad range of musical styles. Writing music for dance, film, television, radio, theatre and musical groups spanning many genres, Rob has worked alongside some of the most prolific names in music. He is the Senior Lecturer in Popular Music at Cardiff’s Atrium.

 

“This is such a fantastic opportunity for people from different musical and social backgrounds to learn, to develop and to diversify their own musicality, as well as a chance to spread our music into the wider community through our performances and recordings.”

Rob Smith, Musical Director

Where will Wonderbrass showcase the new pieces?

The pieces will be showcased at Wonderbrass’ Summer Party this year, so make sure you keep an eye on our website, Facebook and Twitter for more info when the venues and dates are confirmed. In the mean time the band will be working hard to create, learn and play the new music.

RWCMD takes on Wonderbrass http://blog.rwcmd.ac.uk/2013/06/18/rwcmd-takes-on-wonderbrass/

Visit the Projects page to find out more about this programme and our involvement in it

BBC Performing Arts FundPerforming Arts Fund

The BBC Performing Arts Fund is a charity committed to developing new performing arts talent from across the UK. Since it’s inception in 2003 the Fund has awarded over £4m to aspiring musicians and talented performing arts individuals and community groups. To learn more about what the Fund does and how to apply please visit the website www.bbc.co.uk/performingartsfund

If you need any help or have any questions about any of the above then please contact the BBC Performing Arts Fund team on 0161 836 0303 or e-mail performingartsfund@bbc.co.uk

 

BBC Performing Arts Fund Award a £10,000 Grant to Wonderbrass

Wonderbrass have been awarded a grant of £10,000 from the BBC’s Performing Arts Fund.The BBC Performing Arts Fund (PAF) has awarded over £250,000 to community groups across the UK through its Community Music scheme.

Wonderbrass at Wrexham Carnival

Grants of up to £10,000 have been awarded to 47 not-for-profit groups in order to develop the talent within the group, encourage new members, produce workshops and projects that bring them closer with their communities and raise their profile. The scheme has encouraged groups to take on more challenging projects through commissions and working collaboratively with other local organisations as well as professional artists.

For Wonderbrass the money will be spent in developing the band’s repertoire, giving its members from across the community a chance to participate in varied methods of composition, playing and performance.

Working with three radically different musicians, Wonderbrass members will learn different musical styles and techniques and will incorporate the new pieces into their existing and already highly eclectic repertoire.

BBC Performing Arts FundMiriam O’Keeffe, Director of the Performing Arts Fund, said: “We are delighted to be providing an avenue for these projects to flourish. The passion these groups have for music is inspiring.  The range, not only in the types of groups but also in the spread of ages, shows us that music really is for everybody.”

The composers working with the band will be RWCMD’s jazz aficionado Paula Gardiner, trumpet legend Claude Deppa and composer and Wonderbrass’ own Musical Director Rob Smith

“This is such a fantastic opportunity for people from different musical and social backgrounds to learn, to develop and to diversify their own musicality, as well as a chance to spread this music out into the wider community through our performances and recordings” says Rob Smith, Wonderbrass Musical Director and commissioned composer for the scheme.

Work started on the project early in the year, so watch this space for updates on what’s going on.

RWCMD takes on Wonderbrass http://blog.rwcmd.ac.uk/2013/06/18/rwcmd-takes-on-wonderbrass/

Rob Smith

Video features Wonderbrass at Wrexham Carnival – Musical Director, Rob Smith

Rob Smith is a composer and improviser who has performed with, amongst others, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, John Stevens and Keith Tippett. His portfolio includes numerous compositions for radio, television and film including the score for “Minim” directed by Chris Forster in 1999 – this film won both the D M. Davies Award at the International Film Festival of Wales and 3rd jury prize at the International Short Film Festival at Uppsala, Sweden. He is an experienced  community musician and a long-standing tutor on the Community Music Wales Tutor Training Programme. His research interests include improvisation and community music and he is actively involved with Ben Challis on projects that address the design of new technologies for performance through improvisation. He is Senior Lecturer and Joint Award Leader in Popular Music. 1992 – present Musical Director of Wonderbrass Big Band. Wonderbrass have been commissioned to perform a brand new composition by Jason Yarde in the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, the only group from Wales to achieve this and one of very few community-based (as opposed to professional) organisations.

Claude Deppa

Video features a short clip of Claude Deppa/Omar Puente@Seven Jazz Leeds 025.MOV

South African born trumpeter and composer Claude Deppa can turn his hand to Afro-jazz, soul, funk, Afro-Cuban and even chamber music as well as many sub-genres. Claude has worked with many bands and been on stage with top stars like Miriam Makeba, Manu Dibango, Tony Allen and Andy Sheppard in Britain (where he is presently based), Europe and also more widely internationally. He has a very hectic schedule. Claude has also developed his own three special projects and these are African Jazz Explosion, Horns Unlimited and Five Funky Fellas. Each of these bands are often on stage at top venues including London’s South Bank. Five Funky Fellas were on the Africa stage at the BBC Music Live festival over the Golden Jubilee Celebrations at London’s Hyde Park in summer 2002. Claude’s story of his experiences growing up in South Africa and then coming to Britain in 1974 is printed in the book ‘Celebrating Sanctuary’, published in 2002. He says his family were all very musical and at first he learnt to play drums. At secondary school in London he decided the trumpet would be his main instrument, with its loud punchy sound. From his South African background he has the vocals and harmonies while he has got the jazz improvising skills from his time in Europe. Another very vibrant project that Claude is a part of is the Grand Union Orchestra. Look out for Claude’s CD, Toi-Toi (2003): it’s a fantastic blend of funky and more mellow tracks, with some interesting printed notes by Claude himself. He particiapted in London’s big African Music Festival in May 2004. Claude’s energy for his music certainly seems to know no bounds!

Paula Gardiner

Video featuring Paula Gardiner on Double Bass with the Dave Stapleton Quartet, live from Zagreb

Paula Gardiner’s presence on the Welsh Jazz scene has been an inspiring one for a long time. As well as heading up the Jazz course at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Paula is the Honorary President of the Swansea-based organisation, Women in Jazz. In fact, Paula has been so active around the region that it is surprising that she has yet to achieve the wider recognition in Britain and Europe that she so richly deserves. She is also an experienced and accomplished composer for community, concert and media settings. One of Britain’s most lyrical and melodic bass players, Paula Gardiner is also an accomplished classical guitarist and flautist. Guitar was her first instrument and through her classical studies, she grew to love the music of Bach and also that of Brazilian and Argentinean composers, like Leo Brouwer, Manuel Ponce, Egberto Gismonte and Hermeto Pascoal. Her first influences from the Jazz world came from European players like Eberhard Weber, highly melodic musicians and composers, who draw on a European heritage, as well as on Jazz.

The BBC Performing Arts Fund is a registered charity, number 1101276. The charity (formerly Fame Academy Bursary Trust) was set up in 2003 within the BBC. The fund receives revenue from the voting lines of BBC One entertainment programmes that seek to find new performing talent (including The Voice, How Do you Solve A Problem Like Maria? and Over the Rainbow). To date the fund has allocated more than £4 million to talented performing arts individuals and community groups, as well as offering mentoring and advice to help them achieve their goals. The Fund’s mission is to seek out and support aspiring performing arts individuals and community groups who, for reasons of lack of existing support, personal background or circumstance, would not have been able to achieve their most ambitious goals or greatest potential without the Fund’s support or intervention.

For more information about this project, please contact jennywonderbrass@hotmail.co.uk and to learn more about Wonderbrass themselves and upcoming performances, check out their website www.wonderbrass.org.uk

Wonderbrass and the Druidstone

By Jennifer Allan

Friday – it begins

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR LAST WEEKEND.
THE REASON FOR LIVING IS TO HAVE SUCH MUSIC IN MY HOUSE!

Jane – The Druidstone

Being somewhat of a Wonderbrass & Druidstone veteran, I can definitely state that this was one of the best yet – Challenging and inspirational, great company, great food, and the Druidstone seems to be becoming a spiritual home for Wonderbrass. Jason is a musical giant, and the band is probably the best it’s ever been. Can’t wait for the next instalments. Brett Chandra – Flute

16.00 – So we’re on our way. The weekend everyone has been looking forward to since the summer – off to Druidstone to jam with Wonderbrass and Jason Yarde as the exciting Cultural Olympiad project kicks off. True, we’re stuck in back to back traffic in Port Talbot and considering sucking on dry teabags for sustenance, but the car is full of musical instruments, people, booze and food and we’re off!

20.30 – Finally! After some cavorting around in the back country lanes of Haverford West and a lot of getting lost we’re installed safely in our amazing little cottage at the Druidstone hotel. We have our own pond! Most of the band is happily ensconced in the bar downstairs savouring the local ales and home-cooked food. Still a few people to arrive though; not seen Jason yet! Looking forward to a night of jamming and a few drinks when everyone gets here. Just saw some people setting up drums and equipment in the back, so not too long now. Ooh here comes the fish pie!

Just been scouting out where everyone else is staying; looks fantastic – lots of cosy little attic rooms and ramshackle cottages dotted all over the place. Everyone is running around cheerfully inspecting the bar, the rooms the hidden little book filled crannies and generally being very silly indeed. There seemed to be a lot of accordion playing going on upstairs at one point, too – glad no non Wonderbrass guests are here this weekend!

4.00 am – What a night! I feel like I haven’t laughed so much in a long time. I think everyone managed to get involved one way or another. People like me were soloing where they’d dared not before, others were trying new instruments and generally having a riotous time. Anna Rogers was rocking the drum kit under the watchful eye of Mark O’Connor and trombonist Kat Berridge ventured out with a three note trumpet solo. That’s the great thing about being in a band like Wonderbrass where everybody is friends as well as musicians; when everyone relaxes it’s a really supportive and creative atmosphere, so nobody is afraid to just give it a go. People were teaching techniques and ideas, learning new things and really getting into the swing of just jamming and having a good time, although it did begin to descend into Bryan Adams madness with saxophonist Rhodri Thomas left unsupervised on the piano. A suitably relaxed and musical introduction to the weekend.

“Druidstone started before we actually got there. I was in a car with three excited women acting like teenagers on a school trip. After comparing rooms and nesting, the girls decided that a spruce up and the bar were the two most important things on the agenda…before we knew it, a drum kit had manifested in a corner, bassist, keyboards, pretty soon the entire bar was awash with noise…” Nicholas Scott, Trumpet

The band were able to spend time bonding which I think is essential for a group this size… after two years of being a member, there were still people in the band I hadn’t had a full conversation with until the Druidstone weekend.  It was also nice to have some of the extended WonderFamily there… it’s good to know that spouses/partners/children are always made to feel welcome and a part of the band, and that their support is so valuable to us all. 

The jam night was a fun part of the bonding… encouraging to see how well some of us (!) coped on instruments that were not our own.  I’m not so sure about my soparino playing… – Jo Jones – Keys

Saturday

9.30 – Groan! I think there may be one or two sore heads this morning, seeing as our cottage was not tucked up safe in bed until gone 4.30 and we were not the last ones to leave the bar! Everyone seemed to make it up in time for the wonderful and necessary fried breakfast before ten o’clock, some more bleary eyed (and less fully dressed) than others! The view of the sea from the clifftop hotel was enough to cheer everyone up, and lots of people roused themselves to an early morning invigorating stroll along the cliffs and beaches before practise. It is an absolutely staggeringly beautiful day, with more sunshine than should normally be allowed in November. Time to crack on with some serious work soon though – practise starts in an hour and a half!

Druidstone was an awesome experience.  The setting, idyllic and the people very welcoming and friendly.  The first night was exciting and it was lovely getting to know everyone a little better and how to play various crazy card games!!  Jason Yarde is out of this world with his complicated rhythms and ideas but it was all very exciting and a great experience.   I just had to have a photo with him Eeeee! Nerys Porch – Tenor Saxophone

13.00 – A well deserved rest for lunch I think! After a bit of a Wonderbrass warm-up session we cracked on with learning the new parts of the piece that Jason had composed for us. Parts of it are very rhythmically complex, but we learned the different components of the piece  a variety of ways – using written music, clapping exercises and playing through by ear repeatedly and I think that, although it’s quite hard, it’s manageable for everybody in the band one way or another. Each part was broken down and while the whole band played the different parts together, each instrumental section switched between parts as and when they felt ready, so the momentum of the piece was kept up, but allowed everybody to get to grips with each part in relative anonymity without losing the rhythm or the melodies. It was interesting to hear how the different parts worked layered over each other in that haphazard way. I think the band found it a really practical approach to teaching new and complex material to a group of people who all come from such different musical backgrounds and who have different styles of playing and learning.

It was extremely beneficial to have some time away to first confront the piece that Jason is composing.  At first it did not make much sense at all, but it was interesting how Jason was able to very quickly bring people into a relationship with the material…  We were answering back to Jason’s calls and becoming attuned to his ideas; learning through experience rather than struggling with an abstract paper entity.  I am convinced that playing this music will raise my abilities as a musician to a higher level but confident that I will be able to reach that level through this collective learning approach.  Jim Barrett – Bass Saxophone

The Horror! Nick Scott has just run around terrorising everybody in a pair of the tiniest, reddest shorts I have ever seen. Combined with his hip Movember ‘tash  he looked like the men from the 118 advert! Anyway, lunch of delicious home made soup and time to crack on again!

I was gutted to miss the early evening on Friday at the Druidstone… but so pleased to find everyone on fine form in the bar at midnight – I would expect nothing less! Great people, brilliant food, perfect weather, fine wine, the view from our cottage to end all views and mind-blowing music… WOW! 
Jenny Bradley – Tenor/Baritone Saxophone

17.00 – Lots of concentrating for one afternoon, but it feels like we’ve actually managed to achieve quite a lot, despite the lot of us acting like naughty school children for a great deal of it. Hope we can all remember what we learned today – time to get ready for dinner now – I hope everyone packed their posh frocks!

“Highlights for me personally were the fantastic sense of fun and togetherness which is sort of what any music should be about. We all just felt part of a great team of people to be with. I thought the music sessions with Jason were brilliant, again working in a totally relaxed atmosphere but trying to get to grips with some really challenging music” Glyn Price – Alto Saxophone

Sunday
9.00 – Once again I am so pleased that there are no non Wonderbrass affiliates staying at the Druidstone this weekend! Dinner was a calamitous affair with cheering, toasts, speeches and a vast amount  of over-eating followed by an enthusiastic and vociferous sing-along around the piano to the likes of Lady G, Queen and Bryan Adams.

The meal was particularly touching and I wished my husband could’ve been there to hear Rob’s speech about thanking partners for their support.  LOVED the sing song round the piano. Food was DELICIOUS!!! Could have partied again all night playing Zimmy Zimmy!  Nerys Porch Tenor Saxophone

Disappearing once more to the bar the drinking and raucous silliness continued with Rob Smith, Andrew Tabbener and Rich Evans all donning Nerys Porch’s stunning pink lip gloss, all in the most masculine way possible of course. Then came the drinking games and oh, my head…

I am impressed by the band’s tenacity this morning. Once again everyone’s smiling faces appear for breakfast; even those incapacitated by beer, brandy or food comas last night. It’s another glorious day and folks are scampering round the clifftops again and exploring the surroundings before practice starts.

13.30 – Well our hard work yesterday seems to have paid off. I was really surprised to find how much of the music I remembered; I thought I’d have forgotten everything, but most of it seemed to have stuck. Working together in sections I found really helpful, too as everybody’s strengths really shone through; in the flute section, for example, Carolyne Hunter’s sight-reading kept us on track when we struggled to keep up with a particularly tricky rhythm and Brett Chandra’s remarkable ability to play by ear helped us pick out our chosen melody line when the reading was just a bit too tricky to follow at the right speed. The whole session really helped with the bonding aspect of the weekend as well as the musical development. I certainly left feeling more confident about the whole thing. Looking forward to the gig later!

“Jason had us working very hard with many variations on a calypso rhythm that twisted and turned around the markings. This was a challenge, but the payoff came when we performed our usual material on the Sunday afternoon and, because we’d been focusing on rhythmic precision all weekend, our playing was generally much tighter and more precise. So we had a great gig, thanks to Jason”   Rob Smith – Soprano Saxophone/Band Leader

I always love the Sunday gigs after weekend rehearsals, the band is relaxed and confident – the quality and power of our playing is truly inspirational. Just what we needed to inspire us to tackle “Skip, Dash, Flow”. David Kernohan – Guitar

20.00 – Well that was an incredible weekend. Sitting quietly in the car on the way home now and reflecting over all of the things we managed to cram into just two and a half days! The gig went really well. It was great to have a chance to step out and listen to the band when I wasn’t playing and really get a feel for how we can sound when we’re all on form. The whole weekend brought us tightly together as friends and as musicians, so all in all a thorough success. The work we’d done during the day was reflected in the evening’s performance andJason’s solos were incredible – really gave everyone a chance to see what he can do and appreciate what kind of an input he will have on the band. Everybody left really feeling like they were part of something, like they’d developed as musicians and having had an exhausting but wonderful experience.

Although my little concussion episode meant I couldn’t play a note all weekend and I didn’t feel too good, Mike and I thoroughly enjoyed the bonding experience. It was such a buzz to actually listen to the band for a change and hear the fantastic rhythms on Sun morning at the workshop with Jason. We really are an exciting wall of sound. Big thanks to Jane for our welcome,Druidstone is a huge part of Wonderbrass and these weekends always enrich and make new friendships.  Hopefully Jason will enjoy his liaison with WB as much as all of us will!Sarah – Alto Saxophone

****

The best bits of the weekend for me were the beginning, the middle and end: I loved it all from start to finish.  Jamming in the bar until the early hours was a great start to the weekend.  It’s a fine line between jamming in a bar and a group of inebriated people messing around on instruments and we moved seamlessly backwards and forwards across that line with masterful artistry (or should that be piss artistry?).   As well as the sheer unadulterated fun of it, though, it was good to try some different things alongside our regular repertoire.  That continued as we embraced Jason’s challenging and exciting composition with the exhilarating feeling that we were part of it taking shape and coming into being.  We were definitely raising our game – we skipped, dashed and occasionally flowed – and that was rewarding.  I am now really looking forward to more Olympic training for a great performance of musical athleticism.  A surprising highlight for me was the final gig. Because there were so many of us in a smallish venue the alto section, like other sections, rotated its players so that we each only played about a third of the tunes.  The surprising thing was not that I loved playing the final gig but that I really enjoyed not playing and the opportunity to hear the band – when you’re in the middle of it I don’t think you hear just how good it sounds.  As I stood there listening I felt hugely proud to be a part of it.  And to spend the weekend with such great company, food and drink in such an amazing location helped me feel even more part of it.Stephen Roberts –  Alto Saxophone