‘Led by trombonist and composer/arranger Callum Au, this jazz ensemble features some of the hottest young jazz soloists and composers on the British scene. This concert features the London premiere of Callum's new West Side Story suite, a work in six movements based on the music from Leonard Bernstein's famous show.
Callum Au Big Band: Biography
The Callum Au Big Band is an exciting new contemporary jazz ensemble which features some of the finest young musicians in the UK. The band aims to perform a selection of original compositions and new arrangements of familiar melodies that are both exciting and accessible to as wide an audience as possible. It was recently described by Bruce Lindsay of ‘AllAboutJazz’ as ‘something very good indeed’, and has received glowing reviews from such jazz luminaries as Jiggs Whigham and Sammy Nestico. Since its formation, it has been lucky enough to work with some of the country’s leading jazz stars, including Nigel Hitchcock, Mark Nightingale, and Gareth Lockrane.
The band’s musical director, Callum Au, is a 23-year old London-based trombonist, composer, and arranger. A former student of Balliol College, Oxford, he now works regularly with many of the top professional jazz ensembles in the UK, including the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra and the Guy Barker Orchestra. He has also composed or arranged music for a wide variety of artists and bands including the BBC Big Band, Jamie Cullum, the Swingle Singers, and the RTE Concert Orchestra.
The musicians in the band are a team hand-picked from the current crop of great young jazz musicians on today’s London scene, for their abilities both as soloists and as ensemble players. Many are graduates of the UK’s top conservatoires and jazz programmes. Between them, they have worked with everyone from the BBC Big Band and the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra to the Philharmonia Orchestra and Seth MacFarlane. Many of the musicians are also fantastic composers in their own right, and the band features newly commissioned works on nearly all the public gigs that it plays.
The band has recently released its debut album, “Something’s Coming”. Recorded at Angel Studios, Islington, in November 2012, it was produced by Grammy-winning engineer Steve Price, and it features several special guest artists including Nigel Hitchcock (saxophone) and Emma Smith (voice).
The band’s most recent project, and the centrepiece of its new album, is a 45-minute suite in six movements based on Leonard Bernstein’s famous work “West Side Story”, and arranged by Callum. This piece was originally written for the launch of the 2012 “Out to Lunch” Festival at the Cadogan Hall. It explores many of the main themes from Bernstein’s musical, rearranged and reinvented in a jazz context to feature the band’s many soloists. Each movement gives a new big band twist to Bernstein’s famous melodies, from the shifting time signatures of “Something’s Coming” to the electric, Pastorius-influenced “America”, and the pensive, gospel treatment of “Somewhere”.
Press Cuttings: The Callum Au Big Band
Something's Coming is something (very) good indeed. (Bruce Lindsay, AllAboutJazz)
[Something’s Coming is a] superb big band disc! (Lance Liddle, Bebop Spoken Here)
With a highly talented and well rehearsed band, a selection of finely crafted arrangements and some inspiring trombone improvisation from the band leader himself this album has put Callum Au firmly on the map as the young go-to-guy for British big band music. A promising debut! (Phil Meadows, JazzUK)
Callum's big band was bursting with energy, creative writing and outstanding young players – most enjoyable! (Mark Nightingale, Freelance UK Jazz Trombonist)
A big band brimming with the UK's best young players able to deliver the gospel truth and large ensemble dynamics that are rarely matched by other similar musical aggregations attempting the classic oeuvre of Basie, Ferguson, Rich to Sinatra and Ella. Bandleader and first-call trombonist Au has brought heart-felt passion, intelligence, humour and musicality to a much loved genre. (Paul Pace, Promoter, Ronnie Scott's, Spicejazz at the Spice of Life)
Conclusive proof that good big band writing didn't die out sometime in the 50's. (Steve Harris, Jazz Promoter, Ruislip Manor)
There’s no better word – badass (Edward Randell, jazz journalist, JazzWise)
Press Cuttings: Callum Au
Callum’s skill as a composer/arranger is truly inspiring, and equally matched with his abilities on the trombone. I look forward to hearing much more from this fine young talent. (Nigel Hitchcock, Session Alto Saxophonist)
Callum Au ... definitely one of the new writers to keep a keen eye on. I am fortunate enough to be able to present some of his music with my band and I am sure we are going to be hearing a lot more of this guy in the future. (Jay Craig, BBC Big Band Musical Director)
Obviously thrilling excitement came from the outstandingly powerful and inventive trombone player Callum Au’s arrangement of September In The Rain. (Brian Blain, Jazz UK)
Callum Au caught the eye with his exuberant soloing, not to mention his exceptionally mature piece, Gentleman Jack... Au’s arrangement of September in the Rain glistened too. (Clive Davis, The Times)
A bright rising star of the British scene, whose invention and virtuosity are an easy match for any musical challenge! (Pete Long, Ronnie Scott's Jazz Orchestra Musical Director)
‘Obvious star quality’ (Jack Massarik, JazzWise)