Preview: Barker's Big Band Christmas

Guy Barker brings Christmas to the Royal Albert Hall again, with guests including Strictly Come Dancing singer Tommy Blaize and clarinettist Adrian Cox

In what has become something of a festive tradition, the Guy Barker Big Band (pictured right) returns to the Royal Albert Hall for a Big Band Christmas on Friday 14 December, with co-host Clare Teal and a selection of special guests.

This will be the third Big Band Christmas show at the Royal Albert Hall. Trumpeter and arranger Guy Barker will lead his big band in what is promised to be an “… inimitable mixture of jazz classics, unearthed treasures and Christmas oddities … for a festive party like no other …”, featuring numbers from Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ramsey Lewis and Benny Goodman among others. Clare Teal will be performing as well as co-hosting and a range of guest artists will join in the celebrations.

Tommy Blaize (pictured left) is probably best-known as one of the regular vocalists on Strictly Come Dancing – he’s performed on the show for 14 years and has played many jazz venues in his 45-year career as well as working with artists as diverse as Diana Ross and Queen. Blaize and Barker met while both were on the bill at the 2018 Cheltenham Jazz Festival and discovered their shared musical interests.

Adrian Cox is the clarinettist with Kansas Smitty’s House Band and has performed with Wynton Marsalis and Ronnie Wood. Singer Vanessa Haynes (lead vocalist with jazz-funk band Incognito) is returning to Big Band Christmas, as is the international six-piece a cappella group Accent – both acts joined Barker at the first Big Band Christmas two years ago.

Barker said: “I am thrilled to welcome back the sensational Vanessa Haynes (pictured right) and incredible vocal group, Accent to this year’s Big Band Christmas line-up, after they both made huge waves at our first Christmas show two years ago. I first worked with Tommy Blaize at Cheltenham Jazz Festival earlier this year and his performance really blew me away. Afterwards we talked for hours about our shared musical influences, including jazz great Louis Armstrong. I was over the moon when he accepted my invitation to join this year’s show. Helping me pull off what I hope to be a truly memorable Big Band Christmas show is my dear friend Clare Teal. There may be even more surprises to come for the line-up”.

Lucy Noble, artistic director at the Royal Albert Hall, added: “We can’t wait to welcome back Guy and his band this festive season, alongside some spectacular guests. The Big Band Christmas is a refreshing take on seasonal music, guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a swing in your step".

For more information and ticket bookings, go to the Royal Albert Hall’s Big Band Christmas web page.

Bruce Lindsay

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