"Big bands on the grand scale of that widescreen jazz style's golden age are a rarity these days. But Joseph recaptured the old thrill, made it sound contemporary – and brought together a genuine all-star cast."
The Julian Joseph All Star Big Band is an 18- to 20-piece band, comprising the best of Britain's jazz talent. Like its leader, the band has its own distinctive voice, drawing on exclusively original compositions and arrangements which it delivers with sophistication, soulfulness and breathtaking energy.
Since the band's formation in 1994, it has performed at London's Barbican Centre, the Harrogate International Festival, the City of London Festival and opened the 2002 London Jazz Festival. In the summer of 1995 it was one of the first jazz acts to feature in a late-night Prom at London's Royal Albert Hall, performing to a 7,000-strong audience in a concert broadcast simultaneously on BBC radio and television to an audience of 6 million. The band's all-star line-up included Guy Barker on trumpet, Andy Sheppard, Peter King, Jean Toussaint and Julian Arguilles on saxophones, Tony Remy on guitar, and Dennis and Winston Rollins on trombones.
The band has a substantial repertoire encompassing a range of jazz styles, old and new, including arrangements of Thelonius Monk's "Ruby My Dear", Bheki Mseleku's "Ntuli Street", Marcus Miller's "The King is Gone", and Duke Ellington's "Caravan", as well as many Joseph originals.
In 2002, Julian was commissioned to write a new piece for the London Jazz Festival, a three-movement work for big band and string orchestra entitled "The Great Sage" which he dedicated to the great American saxophonist and composer, Wayne Shorter, and British film and television composer, Patrick Gowers. It has since been performed in both its original format and its big band version throughout the UK and abroad. The programme also featured Julian's arrangements of Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday" and Billie Holiday's "God Bless the Child" with guest vocalist Mica Paris.
For the City of London Festival in 2003, Julian was commissioned to arrange George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" for big band. Julian's arrangement incorporates the form and style of the original work, but brings the piece right up to date by combining the classic-era swing of the Ellington and Basie bands with the dynamism of 1970s fusion, inspired by the music of Harvey Mason, John Serry, Jaco Pastorius and Herbie Hancock.
In 2011 the Band played 3 sell-out nights at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, and opened Newham's "Under the Stars" Festival in August 2012 with special guests Cleveland Watkiss and Carleen Anderson.
New works for the band now include "A Ballade of Love", "Guardian Angel", "The Reverend ~ Back Home to Glory", "In the Meantime", "Barbara" and "Mountain of Hope".