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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Swing band is the best

THE Prudhoe Community High School Swing Band has been named the best in the region.

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In the swing: Alex Lewis with the trophy the Prudhoe High School Swing Band won at the Great North Big Band Jazz Festival.

The renowned ensemble won the title of best band in the schools category at this year’s Great North Big Band Jazz Festival, which was held in Sunderland.

Guitarist Will Rees also took home the prize for best soloist and the band’s selection of four tunes – Groove Bug, The Look of Love, Bossa de Cancun, and Land of Make Believe – was named best programme.

“We’ve won prizes before, but this is the first time we’ve won outright,” said music teacher Alex Lewis, who has directed the band for 10 years.

“It’s nice to get recognition as a teacher, but really it’s fantastic for the pupils, considering all the hard work they put in; they were just as delighted as I was.”

The band, which has over 20 members, was set up two decades ago by renowned teacher Dave Hignett, who has helped establish some of Tynedale’s best known musical partnerships.

Practice sessions take place every Monday and cover a wide range of jazz styles, from Latin to swing and even funk.

No strangers to live performance, the band often plays at local events, and has taken part in the National Festival of Music for Youth at Birmingham Symphony Hall.

The recent competition was judged by Paul Jones of the BBC Big Band, who praised the “feel” of the tunes, and founder of big band Musicians Unlimited, Mick Donnelly, who declared the Prudhoe musicians a “great band”.

“You don’t go into these competitions with the intention of winning,” Mr Lewis said.

“It’s just to participate and support music, particularly given the cuts that are currently going on.

“As a school, we massively support any opportunity we get for the pupils to perform.

“Although we’re in competition with other schools, it’s also collaboration in that sense.”

The competition culminated in the band performing alongside the adjudicators to an enthusiastic audience.

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