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:



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

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


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!


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


  • 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.


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.


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!


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.


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.



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.



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


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.



Bones Apart

Black Dyke Trombone Quartet

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.


Bromley Trombone Workshop_Fotor_Collage

A Great Rehearsal!


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…?


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.


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.


Bromley Trombone 2012-31