Interview / Preview: Gordon Campbell Big Band March Gigs

Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell, lead trombone of the BBC Big Band, also presents his own big band at public concerts and corporate events. In March, there are two concerts 
   -  Crawley's Hawth Theatre on Sunday 9th March 
   -  Birmingham Town Hall on Sunday 30 March. 

We did an email interview (with thanks to Graham Lambourne):

LondonJazz News: How long have you been running your own big band?

Gordon Campbell: Just over five years

LJN: Who are your musicians in the band for the March concerts?

GC: Colin Skinner, Mark Crooks, Rob Fowler, Luke Annesley, Karen Sharpe - Saxophones

Simon Gardner, Mike Lovatt, Andy Greenwood, Mike Davis - Trumpets

Pat Hartley, Robbie Harvey, Ashley Horton, Andy Wood -Trombones

Matt Skelton, Paul Morgan, Max Brittain, Matt Robinson - Rhythm section

plus vocalist Matt Ford

LJN: For those Sunday concerts in March, they are both matinee shows, why is that?

GC: I feel that matinee concerts are great and easily accessible on a Sunday afternoon, as we have proved in sell-out concerts over the past few years, especially at The Hawth.

LJN: What is the programme for these concerts?

GC: These concerts will be the "Great Swing Bands". I like to play Tommy Dorsey charts but was asked to cover something different this year. So we will be playing Les Brown, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Billy May, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, and the songs of Frank Sinatra with vocalist Matt Ford.. All being well, in the future we will be back to playing many of the Dorsey charts again.

LJN: Who is your biggest musical influence and why?

GC: Tommy Dorsey, as he was the first Trombone player I ever heard on my father's gramophone and was instrumental in me starting to play the Trombone at the age of 12. I am also influenced by Urbie Green, whom I consider as the greatest living Trombone player - I love his playing.

LJN: How long have you been playing and what is your background?

  GC: I started playing when I was 12 years old in my home town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. I joined the Army and studied with Mr Bill Teskey at Kneller Hall. After leaving the Royal Corps of Transport Band  I joined the BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra in 1978. I then went on to the BBC Radio Orchestra and Big Band in 1984. I am also Trombone Professor at The Royal Academy of Music and Trombone Professor for H.M. Royal Marines Band Service.

LJN: We see your name on various concert line-ups, recordings and broadcasts - which outfits do you play with

GC: The BBC Big Band for 30 years, John Wilson Orchestra, Laurie Johnson Big Band, Skinner-Skelton Big Band, Robert Farnon Orchestra, Laurie Holloway " Parkinson" Big Band, James Langton Big Band, Matthew Herbert Big Band, Kenny Wheeler Big Band and Pete Long's Benny Goodman Band. I also enjoy playing with small jazz groups in various venues around the UK.

LJN: Have you made any of your own recordings?

GC: I made my own small band CD which features Jack Emblow - accordion, Len Walker - guitar, Roy Babbington - double bass, Mike Smith - drums and special guest Vic Ash on clarinet.

LJN: In your many years in the music business, which major artists have you worked with?

GC: Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Barbra Streisand, Natalie Cole, Tony Bennett, Patti Austin, Billy May, Les BrownRay AnthonyBurt Bacharach, Michel Legrand, Bob Brookmeyer, Michael Buble and Bob Hope. And of course many of the UK's fantastic top musicians and vocalists, including Shirley Bassey, Cleo Laine, Robbie Williams, Claire Martin, Ian Shaw, Liane Carroll and Clare Teal.

LJN: Have you appeared at large-scale concert and theatrical productions?

GC: Les Miserables at the O2, Oliver at Drury Lane, Jesus Christ Superstar, Betty Blue Eyes, Crazy for You, Hot Shoe Shuffle, South Pacific, Sinatra. I have probably appeared at most of the major UK theatres, concert halls and clubs. Also on lots of television shows, such as Come Dancing and the RAH BBC Proms, as well as Big Band Special and Jazz Line-Up on radio.

LJN: Where have you travelled making music?

GC: At various concerts and festivals in Europe, including with the BBC Big Band, with Patti Austin, Ray Charles, Lalo Schifrin, New York Voices and George Shearing, and with him on a tour of the East Coast USA. With Kevin Spacey as Bobby Darin in Berlin, in various countries worldwide with Matthew Herbert Big Band (including China) and most recently with the John Wilson Orchestra for the Seth MacFarlane (Hanna-Barbera, Family Guy, American Dad) birthday concert in Los Angeles.

LondonJazz News: What is the secret of your success?

Gordon Campbell: Luck, being in the right place at the right time and practice - lots of it.

Tickets for the Crawley gig HERE

Birmingham tickets HERE

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