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

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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

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The Symphonic Brass of London’s Carols and Christmas Classics concert

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The full Symphonic Brass of London ensemble in action earlier this year at Langley School for Boys

The Symphonic Brass of London Quintet are presenting a ‘Carols and Christmas Classics’ concert at St Barnabas’ Church in Beckenham (Perth Rd, Beckenham BR3 6PP) on 20th December.

If you’ve never heard them play before, this is a good opportunity to see a top class brass ensemble in action, as they bring Christmas classics and carols to Beckenham. In addition to the brass ensemble, Nicholas Mannoulas will be playing the organ.

So, if you’re in the area, make it a date!

Time:

  • Sunday 20 December at 7:00pm (Doors open at 6:15pm)

Admission:

  • Adults: £10
  • Concessions: £6 (OAPs and Students)
  • Children: Free (16 and under).

Tickets available from: www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/219409

Symphonic Brass of London Quintet – Featuring:

  • Chris Deacon
  • Paul Beniston
  • Richard Bayliss
  • Nick Lloyd
  • Adrian Miotti

With Nicholas Mannoulas on organ.

Follow SBoL on Facebook and twitter for the latest information:
www.facebook.com/thesymphonicbrassoflondon and twitter: @Sympbrasslondon

Best of Brass – in Beckenham!

I meant to post this a week or so ago, but time has slipped away!

This was a cracking concert, which I had looked forward to with great anticipation! As I’ve posted previously, I have been fortunate to see The Symphonic Brass of London on a couple of previous occasions and when I saw what was on the programme, I was actually quite excited!

As a kid, my dad used to drag me along to classical concerts; I say drag, but as I look back 40 odd years, perhaps I wasn’t that unwilling. I went to several concerts with him, but the ones that most stand out in my mind, were those by the stunning Philip Jones Brass Ensemble!

So PJBE was a very highly regarded outfit in our house, and a group I was very privileged to hear live several times. My parents took my sister and I to Christmas concerts at the Royal Albert Hall on a couple of occasions to hear The Bach Choir and PJBE. Even now, I get goose bumps when I hear the Sir David Wilcox arrangement’s of Christmas Carols; ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’, or ‘O Come all ye faithful’. Terrific brass arrangements and bolstered by the enormous organ in the RAH. Fabulous to hear, and it made an impression on me as a kid – on one occasion, I got all the autographs of the group whilst they were still on the stage.

I got to hear the first (and last) performances of ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ that PJBE performed, as well ‘West Side Story Suite’, ‘Spitfire – Prelude & Fugue’, ‘Mr Jums’ and so many others as they wowed the ludicrously small audiences they generally played to in the UK (unlike Japan, where they could fill huge concert halls).

Why write all this? Well, that’s my bench mark. To me the playing of PJBE was without peer.

Like PJBE, The Symphonic Brass of London is a group made up some of the best brass players in the world, hence my anticipation of this concert, along with the fact that I knew 3 of my favourite works were to be included – and it was being held more or less at the end of my road (slight exaggeration, but the car doesn’t have time to warm up!).

This concert was held at the excellent Langley Park Centre for the Performing Arts (an adjunct to the Langley Park School for Boys). The Symphonic Brass of London were fielding 17 players, plus 4 percussionists on the night, and although they were the ‘headline’ act for this concert, it also featured groups from the local community in Beckenham, where they are based, namely Langley Park School for Boys Brass Band and Brass Quintet, Clare House Primary School Brass, BYMT Big Phat Brass andYoung Phat Brass plus BYMT Percussion Ensemble.

The Symphonic Brass of London kicked off with their director of music, Eric Crees at the helm for his superb (a word I’ll try not to overuse) arrangement of J.S. Bach’s fabulous ‘Toccata and Fugue in D Minor’. This is epic music anyway, but oh, what a way to start! From the first notes, the hairs on the back of neck stood on end – it was pure listening pleasure. The quality of the playing, the sound, the note production – all as you would expect – stunning.

Following this, there followed items from the various youth groups represented. I was amazed at the standard of these groups; Bromley is blessed with a terrific music education programme, and the results of that were plain for all to see (or hear), as all the groups featured performed to an incredibly high standard.

Between them, they played an exciting range of works, from Superman to Tchaikovsky. It’s not fair to single any one group out, but I will anyway – two actually, which I thought were of particularly hight standard were LPSB Brass Quintet and BYMT Big Phat Brass. The former played really beautifully and included a very well played rendition of ‘A Nightingale Sang on Berkley Square’ with some lovely trombone work, and the latter, BYTM Big Phat Brass played Juan Tizol’s jazz classic, ‘Caravan’ to an incredibly hight standard – if you weren’t watching, you wouldn’t know it was a student group.

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Combined forces of all participating groups with The Symphonic Brass of London

The two other major works of the evening were from The Symphonic Brass of London, when they closed the first half with a fabulous performance of William Walton’s ‘Spitfire – Prelude and Fugue’, again arranged and directed by Eric Crees. This is another of my favourite pieces from those long ago PJBE days. I still regularly listen to their recording of this, so it was an absolute joy to hear it live again.

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The Symphonic Brass of London

The evening closed with the combined forces of the The Symphonic Brass of London, and the senior members of both BYMT and Langley Park School for Boys, to play a suite from Bernstein’s classic, ‘West Side Story’ (arr. Eric Crees). A fantastic arrangement, that I first heard PJBE play towards the end of their time, and one I listen to frequently on a recording by LSO Brass; another favourite. I was initially concerned that the students might find this piece a step too far, but it was quickly very evident that that was not the case. It was a large ensemble, but completely assured throughout, providing a really exhilarating performance of this complex work.

There was so much I could highlight from this concert, as the playing was fantastic, but I think if I had to single any one player out (and this is hard for me, as I’m a trombone player), I would probably pick Jason Evans for his superb muted trumpet playing on ‘Somewhere’, but that’s not fair on the others: Chris Deacon for the stunning clarity of his sky-high piccolo trumpet playing, James Buckle for underpinning the trombones, for the tubas of Adrian Miotti & Nick Hutchins…Now I’m in trouble as I’ve not mentioned the horns who were sensational, soaring above the rest of the group – awwww, heck! This was a phenomenal group of players!

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The Symphonic Brass of London, with BYMT and Langley Park School for Boys senior students playing ‘Westside Story Suite’

Kudos to Nick Lloyd and Eric Crees for their leadership of and commitment to this group and all that it does to support young musicians in their development.

One last thing: If this group are ever playing near you, make a special point of going to hear them. You WILL NOT be disappointed!

You can follow The Symphonic Brass of London and BYMT on Twitter  

© Richard Debonnaire

P.S. If you were wondering what I was going on about with PJBE, there is a great video of a concert they gave for TV. Paul Archibald and Frank Lloyd (both current members of the SBoL team) were playing on this recording.

More photos from Bromley Trombone Workshop

I’m very pleased to be able to add a whole new batch of pictures to the gallery page. These were taken by Major John Murray, who is a member of the trombone section in Bromley band. His job is currently head of communications for the Salvation Army’s International Headquarters, and so he is a keen communicator, a lover of social media and of taking pictures. John is currently heavily involved in preparing for ‘Boundless 2015, the upcoming 150th anniversary celebrations for The Salvation Army, which is being held at the O2 Arena 1-5 July.

John, along with his wife Brenda and son Nathan will be returning to their native Canada in July (where they will be join their other 3 sons), which is bad for us, but good for them! They will be missed, and a lot less pictures of Bromley SA bands trombone section will be posted!

Anyway, if you scroll down the gallery page, you will find that I’ve inserted a second photo gallery on the page.

Enjoy!

Final three Bones Apart videos now released

I have now uploaded the final three videos of Bones Apart to YouTube, and you can access them via the BTW 2015 Videos page (where you can also see the Black Dyke Trombone Quartet videos as well).

These are:

  • Poem Unlimited
  • So In Love
  • Too Darn Hot

Terrific performances.

Enjoy!

Rich

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!

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Bones Apart and Black Dyke Trombone Quartet Videos – Bromley Trombone Day

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Bones Apart and Black Dyke Trombone Quartets (L-R: Helen Vollam, Adrian Hirst, Garry Reed, Jayne Murrill, Sarah Williams, Paul Woodward, Becky Smith, Brett Baker)

I’m sorry that I have not posted a review yet of the trombone day or the concert…been a bit busy visiting Venice over the weekend and working last week (as I am this week!). I hope to be able to do so in the next few days.

However, I did find time to upload some video of the Black Dyke Trombone Quartet and Bones Apart sessions, which can be viewed below, or on YouTube. The videos take a lot less effort to sort out, than sitting down to write so I decided I could make a start on those!

The videos have already seen a lot of traffic, but one of the Black Dyke Trombone videos has received over 3000 views!

Below are the videos uploaded so far. There are a few more which I hope to be able to upload once everyone is happy with them and correct permissions have been granted.

Enjoy!

R

Bones Apart

Black Dyke Trombone Quartet