James Petley, 2nd Year Physics(almost 3 years ago)
For me, some of the most fun I had at Hatfield in my first year was being a part of the college jazz band, Kinky Jeff and the Swingers. The band plays in gigs at Hatfield events, other college events and also many society balls and gatherings. It’s a great opportunity to perform and whether you are in the band or not you’re guaranteed to enjoy the music at some point during your time at Hatfield and Durham. We’re impossible to avoid!
Before arriving at Hatfield I had heard about the band during the open day and also the post offer visit day and I knew I wanted to audition. I’ve never had formal teaching for saxophone but I played in ensembles and musical pit bands during my time at school. The band were very friendly during the audition, while testing my playing and improvisation they also asked what kind of social I’d organise. Luckily for me there was space in the band for a tenor saxophone and I was accepted. I would encourage anyone who plays big band type instrument to audition no matter what level you’re at. You never know what we might need and we’re always desperate for trombonists!
The band has to cater for different settings so as well as fielding a big band we also offer a smaller set playing more relaxed music. We play various pop songs as well as jazz standards allowing for more improvisation. I played with the big band and small set last year and both were extremely enjoyable. Next year we’re looking to have more rotation with the small set line up so that everyone can have a go in that environment.
The highlights of being in the band are always the gigs. As well as the music itself you nearly always get free tickets to the event included. For example, last year we got booked for the Champagne Society Ball and also the Castle June Ball. Both of these are incredible events that we got into for free instead of having to pay over £200 which would have been the price for both. These are just two examples of the gigs we had in the space of a couple of weeks. Over the course of a whole year and ultimately degree at Hatfield it really adds up! We also have a tour each year. We went to Cologne after the exams finished for a week of booze and music playing at a beer festival and a local town fayre. It’s great fun to hang out with the band and have a little holiday following all that revision.
I decided that I wanted to help with the running of the band in the future and so stood, and was elected, for president of the band for 2017/18. If you have any questions about the band (what we do, auditions etc.) then please get in contact with me. There are many other exec positions in the band that you can get involved in.
Kinky Jeff is a great part of Hatfield and the University, whether you’re in the band or not, and I hope you’ll either be playing with us or dancing with your friends in the front row during your time at the college.