Inspired by the legendary Jazz musician Andy Hamilton who has been teaching musicians since 1949, a number of Andy’s students met regularly to practise their skills at Ladywood Community Centre in Birmingham. Their desire to develop their skills and musical confidence egged on by Andy drew in more and more musicians to a point where the band grew from a small number to over 25 members. The band now consists of members from all ages, communities and skill levels.
In 2006, Maurice Williams, a qualified music teacher appeared on the West Midlands’ musical scene from America. Maurice is a very competent trombone player with a history of playing with some very distinguished musicians. Maurice became acquainted with Andy, who inspired Maurice to oversee the project now known as ‘The Notebenders Big Band’. Maurice effectively led and conducted the band, teaching participants how to read music scores, developing their skills as individual artists and playing in an ensemble. Since Maurice’s departure in 2008, the band has been led by Huw and Chris Morgan, both graduates from the prestigious Birmingham Conservatoire.
In 2007 the band made its debut appearance at the Cork’s Club in Bearwood. They have participated in the Kingstanding Carnival, where The Lord Mayor of Birmingham and a number of MP’s were in attendance. They also played in the refurbished Victorian bandstand for the grand re-opening of Handsworth Park.
The Notebenders have made appearances at the Symphony Hall Bar and Café area to perform alongside Andy’s band the ‘Bluenotes’. In June 2007 the band was invited to perform at the Aston Pride Carnival. To date the NoteBenders most prestigious appearance, lead by Huw Morgan as Musical Director, was in March 2008 at the refurbished Birmingham Town Hall in honour of Andy Hamilton’s 90th birthday.
The Andy Hamilton Trust was constituted early in 2007 whose aim and core value is: “To nurture every person’s musical aspirations to their full potential”.
The band raises its own funds and is also supported through grant funding. If you would like to sponsor or make a donation then please contact one of the Trustees.
The Notebenders have gained from the BBC Big Bands community development programme that is supported by the Symphony Hall and Town Hall in Birmingham. Through their programme the Notebenders have accessed master classes from some of the leading members of the BBC Big Band and performed at the Town Hall and the prestigious Symphony Hall in Birmingham. It is envisaged that the Band’s future will prove equally successful with further planned master classes and performances with the BBC Big Band.
Since 2008, Matt Gough and Jonathan Silk, both Birmingham Conservatoire members continue as conductors of the Notebenders Big Band.