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Anchormen Jazz Orchestra poised to raise the roof in Derry debut

25 April 2018

A musical collective featuring some of the finest jazz musicians in the UK have chosen the 2018 City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival to premiere their eagerly anticipated first ever live performance.

The Anchormen Jazz Orchestra are promising a high octane and energetic show when they perform at Northern Ireland’s biggest jazz festival which returns to the Maiden City from Thursday May 3rd until Monday May 7th.

The 18 member line-up formed last year and have been perfecting their act over the winter months ahead of their Derry performances in the City Hotel, the Maldron Hotel and The Quays Bar.

Band Manager Robert Steele was a regular performer at the festival with his previous band Brass Impact and, for him, the choice of venue for their debut show was an obvious one. 

“I’ve played in Jazz Festivals all over the UK and Ireland, in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Cork and I’m not just saying this, Derry is the most enjoyable and fun to play,” he said.

“I played the first festival in 2001 and every year for the next five years and the people are dynamite, they just love it.

“It’s a really down to earth crowd who are out to have a good time and there are no Jazz snobs there, I can honestly say it will be the highlight of our year to play there.”

The bumper Anchormen line-up features four trumpets, two mellophones, two saxaphones, four baritones, a four piece rhythm section of piano, guitar, drums and bass and they will be joined on stage in Derry by two local vocalists in Yvonne Holmes and Andrew Monk.

“All of our arrangements are completely unique to our band,” Robert continued. “We have forward facing baritones rather than trombones, and our mellophones, similar to those used in the great Stan Kenton Orchestras, complement our saxaphones to produce a really unique sound.

“We won’t meet up with the vocalists Yvonne and Andrew in person until the day of the first performance, it has presented some logistical challenges but we have been able to communicate online and will hopefully get a chance to run a few numbers with them when we arrive in Derry prior to our first performance on the Friday night.

“We’re bursting for it at this stage, and have a friends and family preview night before the Jazz Festival as a final warmup, but our first live public show will be in Derry and I can’t think of a better place for us to have it.

“We’re all jazz fans ourselves and when we aren’t performing during the festival it’ll be a great opportunity to go and see some of the other acts, and make new friends”

The band promise a show packed full of classic hits spanning across every genre – including latin, funk, pop, soul and big band and featuring popular artists such as Frank Sinatra, Amy Winehouse, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin.

“It’s all the hits people know but we put our own big band twist on the likes of swing and funk to give it a fresh sound,” he added.

“It’s a proper party and we love playing as much as the crowd enjoy listening to it, we have a great connection with our audience and everyone feels as one during our performances.

“We take our music seriously but our performances are all about having fun and getting the audience involved, bringing the crowd into the band and the band into the crowd.”

The City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival will feature artists from all over the world and welcome over 60,000 revellers over the Bank Holiday Weekend.

The packed programme features a number of returning festival favourites while the Anchormen Jazz Orchestra will be joined by a long lost of other new acts including Dinosaur Heavy Beat Brass Band, Red Stripe Band, The Ska Beat, Roaring Fortiesm Revolutionaires, Kaz Harkins and many more.

The full programme can be viewed online at www.cityofderryjazzfestival.com.