When George and Maurice met Pink Floyd

Some time ago, I bumped into Col. Maurice Cooper on the top deck of a bus from Victoria station and he told be about a time in 1967 when he, Major George Whittingham, and 5 other members of the International Staff Band of the Salvation Army (ISB) had a surprising encounter with a rock band – a group who would go on to be one of the most iconic and one of the biggest rock bands of the 1970’s and 1980’s, Pink Floyd.

George picks up the story: “In the early sixties, to be appointed to The International Staff Band under the leadership of Senior Major Bernard Adams, was not so much a matter of autonomy, but rather autocracy. Membership was made up of senior Salvation Army Officers with a few lesser mortals holding the rank of captain; Ray Bowes, Maurice Cooper, Les Condon, George Whittingham, plus non-officers Terry Camsey, Mac Carter, and Ian Hankey.

In those days the band’s week-end visits to corps situated more than a hundred miles from London meant a steam train journey, travelling out on a Saturday morning and returning to I.H.Q. Monday morning and straight into work.

 A whole carriage was booked with the instruments going in the guard’s van. The five compartments being occupied according to rank, i.e. first compartment reserved for the Leader, Bandmaster, Deputy Bandmaster, Cy Brisley, Alf Andrews and Harold Orton – the seven mentioned above clambering into the fifth compartment, creating clamour in so doing.”

Then, as now, the ISB rehearse on a Wednesday evening, only these days this happens at Territorial rather than International Headquarters. Evidently, the gentlemen concerned cause a bit of a racket when boarding the train.

George continues: “It was of no surprise to hear the Bandmaster, at the end of the following Wednesday evening rehearsal, announce that the following members (being the above named seven!) to please remain as he wanted to speak to them.”

 To be honest, we expected the “riot act” to be read to us for our un-gentlemanly behaviour in many ways, which cannot be shared. Instead, the Bandmaster explained that he had received an un-official request for a group of Salvation Army musicians to visit a studio in Bond Street and provide music. We were to go in civvies and take our tunes books and a march book. We were not to discuss this with anyone.”

The studios were De Lane Lea studios (now relocated to Dean Street), an establishment which paid host to the likes of The Beatles, The Who, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Rolling Stones and Deep Purple over the years.

Syd Barrett, the songs writer, had wanted a Salvation Army band to play on the track. He told them he wanted them to simply “play whatever they want” regardless of the rest of the group. Pink Floyd’s manager Andrew King said that Barrett “wanted a massive Salvation Army freak-out”.

“We all arrived at the appointed time and walked into a relatively small studio, to be met by a gentleman who we later learned was the Manager. He then introduced us to four band members who, on first appearance looked as though they had just been thrown out of Great Peter Street Hostel. We then sat in a semi circle and asked to play something. We played a march. The four huddled together and then asked if we could play something else, so we played a hymn tune.

Again, the four had another group gathering with the manager who came and made an unusual request.”

Maurice takes up the story “They made the suggestion that we play for 3 minutes, in a similar way to how an orchestra tunes up before a concert. We played anything; high notes, low notes in any order and all in between! And we had to play it loud!”

As George concludes, “It sounded atrocious! And the faces of these four gentlemen broke into broad smiles. “That’s it”, they cried out, “That’s exactly what we want”.

We packed our instruments away, the manager approached us and expressed sincere thanks, handing each of us £2,

WE HAD BEEN WORKING WITH PINK FLOYD. I can’t remember any of us ever receiving any royalties!!!!!!!.”

The song they recorded was ‘Jugband Blues’, written by Syd Barrett for the album ‘A Saucerful of Secrets’, released in 1968 and his last before leaving Pink Floyd.

If you’d like to hear the track with George, Maurice and friends in action, you can do so here:

https://youtu.be/xIc2EgS9MNg

IMG_5363

Col. Maurice Cooper and Major George Wittingham outside Bromley Salvation Army hall. (April 2016)

© Richard Debonnaire and Bromley Salvation Army

First published on Bromley Salvation Army’s web site

Bromley Trombone Workshop 2015 – Review

I’ve finally had time to write up a report of the workshop and the concert that took place on Saturday March 28th! What a great day! Anyway, you can find the review from the main menu or you can click here. Hope you like it…

There has been, and still is, a great deal of interest in the workshop and the concert at Bromley Salvation Army, and people still stop me to say how much they enjoyed it. I had lots of great feedback, which is very gratifying and makes the whole thing worthwhile.

If you haven’t already seen them, there are some terrific pictures which you can view here and some videos which were filmed during the day of both the Black Dyke Trombone Quartet and Bones Apart sessions. These are well worth a watch.

Enjoy!

IMG_3688

It’s nearly here!!

It’s only few days now until Bromley Trombone Workshop opens it’s doors on Saturday 28th March at 9.30.

Everything is in place, we have delegates, we have guests, we have a band, we have a concert and we have tea and coffee (plus biscuits!). Man, oh man, do we know how to live!

So…we have a few places left for the workshop! Yep, I know! I mean seriously? With that line up? You’d think they’d all have gone! That’s just how it is sometimes – people are busy and all…

But the chores will wait until next week! If you play trombone come along; if you used to play trombone, dust it off and bring it along and get reacquainted with it; if you think you’d like to start playing and want to see what trombone people are all about, come along and check us out!

If you are interested please do let me know – preferably before Saturday! Likewise if you know anyone who might be interested in a fun day out with trombones – spread the word.

We have a great day planned, and of course we also have a great concert to follow the whole thing up with, where you will have the chance to hear some absolutely world class musicians playing live – in Bromley! And that doesn’t happen very often!

So why not come and join us, along with Brett, Paul, Garry & Adrian (Black Dyke Trombone Quartet) and Helen, Becky, Jayne & Lorna (Bones Apart) for a great day of music making, come and meet some new friends and just have a blast – literally and metaphorically!

A reminder of the details:

The day starts at 9.30 for a 10.00 start.

Cost for the day: £10.00 (£6 for students) including for evening festival

Don’t for get the evening Concert: 6.30pm – £5.00 admission

We look forward to welcoming you on Saturday!

As usual you can email to rich.debonnaire@me.com.

Cheers!

Bromley Trombone Workshop_Fotor_Collage

A Great Rehearsal!

IMG_3653

Along with all the preparation for the trombone workshop itself, in the background Bromley Temple Salvation Army Band has also been working very hard on solo accompaniments, under the leadership of our bandmaster, Geoff Nunn. This has required a lot of hard work as we have had to learn a lot of new music; generally we don’t get to play alongside players of the calibre we have coming on Saturday 28th, so this is not without a bit of pressure!

The band will be accompanying one solo each from Brett Baker and Paul Woodward, plus a duet, as well as a Salvation Army trombone feature (for want of a better description) which Bones Apart will perform, and another to accompany the trombone choir which we will form on the day. I think it fair to say that amongst the band there may be a bit of trombone fatigue going on…?

IMG_0014

On Tuesday this week, it was a great pleasure to welcome Paul Woodward to our rehearsal to run through his solo, as well as a trombone duet which he will be playing with Brett (although our own Mark Norwood stood in for Brett on this occasion!) and Paul also had the opportunity to rehearse the band in Trombone Vespers (don’t forget you can download a copy to practice from the downloads page) which he will be leading on the day.

IMG_3656

It was a great rehearsal and Paul was on top form. Many thanks to him for going well out of his way to be there, and from a personal point of view it was great to catch up face to face!

These events are fun (kind of) to organise, but with such willing special guests as Paul, Brett & Bones Apart (Helen, Jayne, Becky & Lorna), they take most of the hardship out of it, because you know that on the day, they will ‘wow’ and ‘thrill’ their audience. And they do this in addition to their already busy professional or personal schedules! It is not taken for granted and I thank them all for their willingness to take part, as well of course to the members of Bromley SA Band.

Just a reminder, if I may to ask that if you plan to come on 28th March, to please let me know ASAP.

© Richard Debonnaire

Two Weeks Today

Bromley Trombone 2012-16

I can’t really believe that two weeks today, the Bromley Trombone Workshop will be in full swing! I’ve arranged a couple of these before and this is the period I always find the most anxious! Have I thought of everything? Does everyone have what they need? Have I booked the venue? (I have – it’s my usual church!)

I also still need to find time to get some proper practicing done for my own playing – I wouldn’t want turn up and not have any lip, although mainly I’m thinking about a couple of tricky bits in the band accompaniment for the solo’s that Brett and Paul are playing! Yikes!

I just wanted to remind you that we still have some places available and although I have received a number confirmations for the workshop, others have expressed an interest to me, so I wanted to ask, that if you are planning to come would you please send me a confirmation email ASAP? You can reach me at rich.debonnaire@me.com.

It would be really helpful if you could also let me know age, ability (it doesn’t need to be scientific) and whether you read bass/treble clef or both? It will help us as we plan and prepare.

Also, don’t forget that we are presenting a festival of music at 6.30pm in the evening following the workshop, so if you have any friends or relations who might want to come along, let them know.

I’m really looking forward to the day and hope that you will be able to join us. If you have any questions about the day, or about Bromley itself regarding how to get there, where to park etc., then obviously check the information on the website first, but let me know if there is anything more specific, and I’l be happy to help out if there is anything I can do.

Cheers!

Bromley Trombone 2012-31

Trombone Vespers

With 20 days to go until Bromley Trombone Workshop kicks off, our thoughts are turning to music that the Trombone Choir will be playing on the day.

As previously, we will form a trombone choir on the day which will be led by our leaders for the day (Brett Baker, Paul Woodward Bones Apart), and will consist of workshop delegates, the idea being to work on music throughout the day, learning as we go and to perform it as part of the concert in the evening. I don’t know what our guests for the day have in mind for the trombone choir, but one piece I do know we will be looking at is Ray Steadman-Allen’s ‘Trombone Vespers‘ which we will play to the accompaniment of Bromley Temple SA band.

If you are not familiar with Ray Steadman-Allen, it’s worth googling him. RSA (as he’s affectionately known) was a Salvation Army Officer (minister) with a tremendous gift for music. He is responsible for some of the most innovative, interesting and exciting brass band music written, both within The Salvation Army and in the wider brass band world, as well as very many choral works. He was the sort of chap, the word ‘genius’ is attached to, although it would have been hard to find a more humble man.

So, the performance of Trombone Vespers is, in a small way, a tribute to this brilliant composer for brass – there is so much music to pick from, but RSA liked to write for the trombone and this is a great trombone feature.

In preparation for this performance, I thought it might be helpful to provide you (if you’re coming – I hope you are!) with the opportunity to view the parts. There are 4 trombone parts, and we have provided both the original Salvation Army copy, but also re-drafated copies in A4 size which are easier to read, and also in both Treble and Bass Clef’s. You can find these to download here! 

If you would like to find out a bit more about RSA, there is a fabulous short video on YouTube, published by The Salvation Army’s UK Video Production Unit, and which was filmed in early 2014 which is really worth a watch, and from it you will get a sense of the man.

Also, there was a lovely obituary published in The Daily Telegraph, which you can view via the link here: Ray Steadman-Allen – Obituary 

If you would like to get an idea of how the piece goes, there are a few versions on YouTube which you can check out.

© Richard Debonnaire

When Christmas is gone…

Christmas in a Salvation Army band is a pretty busy time of year, with lots of carolling and Christmas engagements of one kind or other, and so usually by the time the big day itself arrives, the chops are feeling pretty darn good! And then you don’t play for two weeks…well, I don’t anyway, and it all falls away!

So on Monday 5th January, my embouchure had a rude awakening when having been asked by Major George Whittingham if I could take part in a band he’d put together for a fund raiser in April, I and 30 odd other players got to run through some show tunes, for what was a fun rehearsal.

To say it was ‘a smack in the gob’ though, would be a bit of an understatement! Two hours of some very good arrangements of Broadway & West End tunes, plus a bit of movie and Glen Miller magic thrown in, and I was done!

The following evening, at our own band reversal I didn’t feel much better, although I felt I’d gained a bit of traction by last Sunday, when we played in Bromley High Street for our usual ‘open air’ ministry, and I was able to give the Office shoe shop the full bass trombone benefit of my warmed up chops, through their open doors! Always fun!

So we’re into a new year, back into the regular rhythm of playing and it’s time to step it up a bit and sort out the plans for the upcoming Bromley Trombone Workshop. Working with Brett Baker, plans are coming together, and look very exciting, so I hope to be able to update you with more details of the day later this week.

© Richard Debonnaire