UK’s first ‘brazz band’ formed by world-renowned musician

Posted by Mark Wilkinson on 5 July 2018

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A musical milestone was reached in Manchester with the formation of the UK’s first ‘Big Brazz Band’.

Musicians from the well-known Foden’s Band were joined by world-renowned trumpeter Mike Lovatt and the jazz rhythm section of London’s John Wilson Orchestra to create a brand-new sound for Mike’s new album.

The 11 track album, set to be released this autumn, is dedicated to Mike’s musical inspirations, which range from the jazz of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington to cinematic sounds from the golden era of Hollywood. It also includes three specially written tracks.

Mike explained:

“We’re playing a specially adapted piece by British jazz legend Kenny Baker, who is perhaps best known for dubbing the female player in the classic film Genevieve. It’s never been done before – it’s a definite first for the UK if not the world. I’m really excited that this could come about and it’s all down to the amazing talent of the Foden’s musicians who are happy to push the boundaries and experiment with new sounds.”

Mike, the professor of trumpet at the Royal Academy and the Royal College of Music, played a concert with Foden’s Band last year to world-wide acclaim. Seth MacFarlane, best known for creating Family Guy and hosting the 2013 Oscars, tweeted his admiration of Mike’s musical ability to his 14.7million Twitter followers.

Mike originally hails from North Staffordshire, and in a career that spans three decades has played alongside many big name artists including Robbie Williams, Eric Clapton, Michael Bublé, Oasis, Toots Thielmans, Johnny Mathis, Michael Ball, Shirley Bassey, Michael Crawford and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

The ‘brazz band’ sound is not the only first on the album, with Mike, the principal trumpeter from the John Wilson Orchestra, supporting the worldwide ‘Cancer Blows’ initiative by joining forces with the principal trumpeters at the Halle and London Symphony Orchestras, Gareth Small and Phillip Cobb, to play a concerto by British composer Peter Meechan. 

“It’s the wonders of modern technology that Gareth and Phillip can join me remotely to play ‘Song of Hope’” he added.

“The piece was originally commissioned by Foden's Principal Cornet Mark Wilkinson as a movement for a Concerto entitled 'Milestone' ,but was then taken up by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s principal trumpet Ryan Anthony for the Cancer Blows charity. I’m hoping to donate some of the proceeds from album sales to this very worthy cause.”

The album is also a personal tribute to his father-in-law who recently passed away, as well as a mark of respect to the countless soldiers who gave their lives for their country.

“His passing inspired me to celebrate the brass music I love in this way. The three new tracks on the album include Colin Skinner’s ‘Weary Laddie,’ which is a nod to his Scottish origins, and Andy Smith’s haunting Poppy Dance was written to mark Remembrance Day.”

The varied music on the album requires a top-notch instrument and Mike will be putting his trusty Smith-Watkins trumpet through its paces. The British-made handcrafted brass instruments from Smith-Watkins hit the media spotlight as they heralded the entry of the bride at the recent royal wedding.

He said:

“My specially-designed trumpet gives me the versatility I need to adapt to different soundscapes. The interchangeable lead-pipe means I can change the timbre of my playing to suit the track – whether it’s a sonorous singing sound in the middle range or soft mellow notes for a more lyrical piece. In the new album I’ll be hitting the high notes made famous during the golden era of Hollywood so my gold-plated trumpet looks and sounds the part! I’ve been playing handcrafted Smith-Watkins instruments for over three decades now and I really feel we’ve created the ultimate instrument.”

Richard Smith, Managing Director, Richard Smith (M I) Ltd explains:

“Our brass instruments are renowned among musicians due to their high quality, traditional features and attention to detail.

“I always feel proud to hear them being played by professional musicians to the best of their extraordinary ability. This includes the state trumpeters at the recent royal wedding and the London 2012 opening ceremony. I’m really looking forward to hearing Mike put our design, with its heavy weight bell and super-efficient titanium valves, through its paces.”

Smith Watkins instruments are highly regarded worldwide and are made to order. The firm has been making custom brass instruments since 1985 and Richard Smith has fine-tuned his designs based on his PhD study of brass instrument acoustics.

With a choice of bores, bells and lead pipes, the company can offer upwards of 500 acoustically different combinations for its professional trumpets. The Hallé Orchestra and John Wilson Orchestras both have Smith-Watkins trumpet sections.

Mike’s album, title yet to be decided, is planned to be released in the Autumn. For more information and release dates visit mikelovatt.co.uk. For more information on the design and purchase of a Smith-Watkins trumpet, cornet or flugel horn visit www.smithwatkins.com.

For any conductor and every audience, Foden’s Band is a musical Magic Carpet. It continually takes the listener to places that few other ensembles rarely even approach Howard Snell