When you consider that Barry Forgie conducted a brass band at three, was playing trombone at ten and leading his own jazz group at 16, it seems strange that his first career aspiration was to be a vet! However, the lure of music eventually led him to a Bachelor of Music Degree at the University of Wales, and regular BBC broadcasts with his own band.
Barry worked as an arranger/composer in the 70s, and as Musical Associate on several Hollywood films. He has covered the whole gamut of music, from conducting Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song And Dance in London's West End to the composition of a 50-minute Beatles symphony.
Barry began conducting the BBC Big Band on a regular basis in 1977. He has built an unparalleled repertoire for the band, transcribing the best of big band music from early Ellington, through the Swing era, to the likes of Gerry Mulligan and Buddy Rich. The 1990s heralded a tour of the USA and Canada featuring George Shearing and numerous broadcast concerts with artists as disparate as Van Morrison and Cybill Shepherd. Jazz arranging and conducting has seen his involvement with Arturo Sandoval, Clark Terry and Cleo Laine.
Unrealised ambitions to swim the Channel, play rugby for England, row for Cambridge, defeat Kasparov at chess and invent a new computer language for Microsoft are more than compensated for by the thrill of fronting the BBC Big Band.
American born trombone sensation, Jiggs Whigham has been associated with the BBC Big Band for over twenty years, including latterly as one of the Band's musical directors. He appears in concerts and studio sessions with the Band for BBC Radio 2.
Jiggs Whigham has played and recorded with countless artists including Stan Kenton, Count Basie, Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, Cannonball Adderly, Charlie Byrd, Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan, Lalo Schifrin, Joe Pass, Anita O'Day, Louie Bellson, Dizzy Gillespie, Peter Herbolzheimer, Bert Kaempfert, Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz and Lee Konitz.
He has been referred to as 'Europe's Best Kept Secret', even though he has recorded many solo CDs and conducted master classes throughout the world. He has spent most of his professional career based in Europe. This has included guest conductor and soloist with the RIAS Big Band, Berlin and since 1995, the prestigious position of Professor for Life and Head of the Jazz and Popular Music Department of the 'Hanns Eisler' College of Music in Berlin.
Jiggs is well known for his romantic, lyrical ballads, which he interprets with great emotion. He has a particular penchant for the music of Stan Kenton and regularly appears at Kenton reunions and tribute concerts. He continues to serve and as a soloist, recording artist and clinician worldwide. His recent recordings include Keeping up with the Bonses (with Carl Fontana), Live in Berlin with the BBC Big Band and RIAS Big Band, and a CD with the BBC Big Band entitled Evidence.
As well as weekly appearances on BBC Radio 2’s Big Band Special the BBC Big Band regularly appears in concert throughout the UK and beyond. Recent projects include appearances at Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Edinburgh Jazz Festival, the BBC Proms and regular concerts at the Town Hall, Birmingham as an Associate Ensemble. It has been voted the best Big Band in the British Jazz Awards in 1992, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2001 & 2007.
The BBC Big Band has performed with the ‘best of British’ including Van Morrison, Georgie Fame, Michael Ball, Jack Bruce, Ian Shaw and Madeline Bell. It has also entertained thousands with international stars such as Tony Bennett, George Shearing, Michel Legrand, Michael Buble, James Morrison, Lalo Schifrin, Ray Charles, Patti Austin, Amy Winehouse and Dr. John.
"Thank you guys, you're wonderful" - Michel Legrand
"By far the best band to come out of England" - George Shearing
"They brilliantly continue the tradition of Big Band music. As such they are important as well as marvellous" - Michael Parkinson
"...for me, this is the band" - Mel Torme
"Not only are they terrific musicians, they also have a marvellous sense of humour" - Ken Bruce
"I told my wife that for my next birthday I want this band as a gift" - Lalo Schifrin
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