Part 2: The Alan Barnes Swingtet 2024!

British Jazz Artist Alan Barnes is back in Buxton this July, after his outstanding sell-out performance with Wynton Marsalis last year. In his second guest blog for BIF, Alan tells us what to expect from this year’s gig:

My last blog, titled ‘Buxton, Wynton Marsalis and Me‘, ended with the band enjoying a celebratory and extended post-gig drink after a beautiful concert with Wynton Marsalis at Buxton Opera House. The atmosphere was electric, all the tunes went exactly as rehearsed, and everyone contributed superb solos. I felt hugely relieved that everything had gone to plan. Neil Hughes had pulled off a massive coup organising this one-off collaboration and was obviously pleased. But, typically, he was already onto the next thing, asking me “How are we going to follow that next year?” I took that as a firm booking and started thinking about it!

We decided to keep the band format the same as much as possible as they had all played so brilliantly together. I managed to get Will Sachs’s swinging rhythm on bass and Charlie Hutchinson’s drums, and I once again confirmed the excellent trombone stylist Daniel Higham.

Obviously, Wynton wouldn’t be around, but we wanted to keep the same instrumentation. Who to get, though? I’d really enjoyed working with the younger players, and I thought of Pete Horsfall. He is a fine trumpeter and singer who specialises in blues, bebop and swing, and I’d played with him a handful of times. I had also been very impressed with his band “Mighty Like The Blues” at last year’s Scarborough Jazz Festival where, alongside altoist Sam Braysher and guitarist Jim Mullen, he’d sounded like a seasoned veteran on his horn, playing with real maturity and feeling. Neil informed me that Pete had stared alongside Clare Teal at Buxton in 2022, singing as well as playing.

Pianist Joe Webb wasn’t around this year so I thought I’d have a bit of company in the “oldie” section of the orchestra and invite my great friend and one of the most swinging piano players anywhere, David Newton to join the proceedings. I first met Dave the day after I left home to study at Leeds College of Music, which means we have now been playing together for an astonishing 46 years. I came up with the title “Alan Barnes Swingtet” for the band, which implies earlier styles but still gives us plenty of scope to choose tunes from many different kinds of repertoire.

Over the years, I’ve found a good formula is to have three or four tightly arranged pieces in each set, along with some more spontaneous “buskers”. We will also have the opportunity to feature soloists on ballads and I’ll be sketching some backgrounds for these. I might even slip in a quick duet with myself and Dave from our new recording on vinyl and CD on Woodville Records “’Tis Autumn” Shameless and un-embarrassed plug there folks !

So far (writing this in May) I’ve come up with numbers from Louis, Ellington, Basie, Johnny Hodges, Benny Goodman and at least one Swing-bop classic from Coleman Hawkins. I’m going to invite Pete to sing one, and I’m going to write something new as well in tribute to a great friend of Neil, myself and all the musicians, Geoff Mathews, who sadly passed away this year. We’d had a great catch-up at last year’s Buxton Festival, and we’ll all miss him at this one. He’d have loved this band.

So, expect a straight-ahead and entertaining session from this new band, brimming with great soloists and playing accessible and swinging music. I’ll be presenting everything in my usual way, with announcements peppered with anecdotes, and I very much look forward to seeing you on Mon 8 July 2024 12:30-3pm.

I just hope that Neil comes up to me at about 3:10pm that same day and says “Now, how are we going to follow that next year?”


Catch the Alan Barnes Swingtet on Monday 8 July at 12.30pm. For tickets, go to or call the box office on 01298 72190.