1st Alto Saxophone
Graham is the only member who was actually around in the days of the great bands and is consequently treated as something of a curiosity in the band. Originally a pianist/organist he played semi-professionally in the Manchester area for thirty years, working mainly in dance bands and clubs. On retirement to the Lake District he embarked on a long held ambition to take up the saxophone, which some say he plays like a piano, and has now trumped that by holding down (or, as he says, clinging desperately to) a chair in a big band. In his early days his piano hero was George Shearing and his sax heroes now are Art Pepper and Sonny Stitt. His favourites of the big band era are Woody Herman and Count Basie.
2nd Alto Saxophone
Alan lives in Gosforth and has been playing alto sax since 2006, taking up the instrument upon retirement. With no previous musical experience he has approached this new challenge with some vigour! He also plays with the Jam Side Up jazz group monthly in Seascale. Particularly admired alto sax players are Benny Carter and Art Pepper.
1st Tenor Saxophone
Susan lives and works in a little cottage in St.Bees. Her Grandma started teaching her piano when she was 8 and was inspired to take up the saxophone at 13 by Lisa Simpson and cartoon jazz man Bleeding Gums Murphy. Since then she has fallen in love with all things music and has an eclectic taste, favouring no particular genre. She studied music at Durham University and currently plays with a variety of bands including a jazz/tango duo, rock/metal band, ceilidh/folk troop, Pink Floyd tribute, Harps Northwest and the church orchestra, as well as the big band. She loves any opportunity to play and enjoys running recorder groups and an orchestra at the village primary school. Playing with the big band has been a great introduction into some fantastic new music and she has really enjoyed the challenge of learning to improvise.
2nd Tenor Saxophone
As well as playing the tenor sax, Eric is the band’s dedicated clarinetist and really excels when an arrangement requires a clarinet lead or solo. He started in music by playing cello in the school orchestra for two years before moving on to clarinet for the remaining three years. The orchestra played the usual classical repertoire, until a few Glenn Miller numbers were introduced. The audiences enjoyed the Miller tunes and soon they comprised the majority of the orchestra’s repertoire – by popular demand! After forty years lay-off from playing he was invited to play in The La’al Big Band, after being heard playing at the Jam Side Up sessions. Eric is now inflicting his playing on the audiences of Cumbria, for better…or worse he says! Eric’s musical influences are: Artie Shaw, Tony Coe, Jack Brymer and Illinois Jacquet.
Mark has been playing since he was 17 years old, first and foremost on tenor (which is his first love). But, he finds playing baritone so much fun it’s become his main instrument at present. He could say his main influences are the usual – John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Cannonball Adderley – but they’re not! Mark’s influences come from a vast palette, from a life of listening to good music – people like Sam Butera from Louis Prima band, a wonderful sax player, trumpet player Donald Byrd, with a new idea every chorus, and Joe Zawinul, a piano player who wrote some of the most fantastic tunes. Mark is quite new to big band music but is enjoying every minute of it!