Songs for Sam: A fundraising concert for Sam Moodey

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On Saturday 11th May, the Warwick Alumni Big Band (WABB) gathered together to play in aid of Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) as a tribute to a valued member and talented musician, Sam Moodey. Sam tragically passed away as a victim of sudden cardiac arrest in October 2018. Those who had played jazz with Sam throughout his time in Big Band at Warwick University were shocked by this sudden loss. Alumni from the Big Band continue to play together regularly in London, joined by friends and colleagues from other walks of life. We all wanted to pay tribute to this loyal musician and friend in the best way we could – by holding an evening full of the music Sam loved to play, to raise funds for CRY.

The band performed a wide selection of jazz standards, from swing to funk, with all tunes selected to feature the saxophone in memory of Sam. The evening started with a selection of ‘small band’ pieces as the audience arrived, drawing on Sam’s enthusiasm for jazz trios and ensembles which heavily feature improvised solo sections, getting everyone in the mood for the big band numbers that were to follow. The room was packed with family, friends and alumni from near and far, highlighting how popular Sam was and how many lives he had touched.

Highlights included the band’s performance of ‘Hayburner’, especially dedicated to Sam for its alto saxophone melody, and the ever rowdy and fun performance of ‘The Chicken’. This is a favourite of the band’s which featured numerous solos throughout each section and is a tune in which Sam would often solo.

The band also flexed their muscles in the kitchen, baking a fantastic assortment of cakes for the audience to enjoy with the aim to raise more funds.

This was the first fundraiser for Sam and it was a great success with the band raising over £1000 on the night with cash and online donations. The whole event was a fun and toe-tapping celebration of a talented musician who has left us too young. It was a bittersweet realisation that Sam was not playing among the front row of alto saxes. Whilst his solo is now finished, he plays on with the band very much in spirit and will be missed greatly.