The Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), located in Manchester, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. As part of the festivities, the RNCM has invited northern-based musicians Dave Hassell (drums) and Andy Scott (saxophone) to direct the big band for an evening of Latin jazz inspired by the legendary Tito Puente.
A Night of Latin Jazz: The Journey
The RNCM has a history of inviting guests to direct their big band concerts. In 2016, then-director of jazz Mike Hall invited Dave Hassell and Andy Scott, both longtime educators, to direct a well-received Latin jazz concert with the college big band. The tradition continued under Hall’s successor, Steve Berry, prompting the return of Hassell and Scott for another Latin big band event.
The Friendship of Dave Hassell and Andy Scott
Drummer/percussionist Dave Hassell began teaching at the RNCM in the early ’80s, where he met saxophone student Andy Scott. Scott approached Hassell for coaching with the award-winning Apollo Saxophone Quartet, and the two musicians developed a lasting working relationship. Hassell later invited Scott to join his 11-piece Latin band, Appetos.
The Evolution of Appetos
Formed in 1984, Appetos has gone through three iterations and is still performing almost 40 years later. Initially an 11-piece lineup, the group later transformed into a smaller Descarga band and eventually evolved into a 19-piece big band called Appetos the Biggun. The band’s library includes arrangements by Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie, Michel Camilo, and compositions by Andy Scott himself.
Capturing the Spirit of Tito Puente
The upcoming RNCM Latin big band concert aims to capture the atmosphere of New York’s Palladium days in the early ’60s, featuring artists like Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez. As Hassell explained, the goal of the concert is to celebrate the RNCM’s anniversary by playing music that won’t “intellectually challenge the audience.” Instead, the focus will be on the street music vibe of Tito Puente’s Latin jazz.
To bring this celebration to life, special guests Clark Rundell, Steve Berry, and Mike Hall will join the RNCM Big Band with Andy Scott and Dave Hassell for the evening. This event promises to be the perfect way to mark the historic year for the RNCM.