In the early 60's, when I was still at school, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and Gene Vincent, were amongst our musical heros. The four piece electric guitar groups had replaced the 'old fashioned' big bands, and music had become more intimate and personal.
One day an order was issued that we were to attend a musical performance by a nearby US Air Force band (from Mildenhall?); frankly none of us really wished to go, we imagined Sousa marches and military rallying tunes; but our presence was obligatory.
I remember the performance well. There must have been about 30-35 musicians, all in uniform, sitting behind their music stands. The conductor walked onto the stage to a rather feeble, unenthusiastic, applause.
Then from the very first few seconds of the first number, the full power of a 'big band' had us transfixed. The amazing sound of the massive brass section filled the hall, and we were suddenly all in awe. It was not only great music, but also great theatre. I think it was the first live concert of its type that I'd attended.
By the end of the hour long concert, everyone was enthralled, and I remember that the final applause lasted for ages. We all talked of little else for days.
I imagine there are still a few big bands around, but most young people would have to be paid to go see them. It's a shame, as they don't know what they're missing.
I've never heard a big band live. Sounds electrifying. We have live military band performances on the waterfront here. They play all the most popular greek songs, old and new. The locals live it. I might if they were English songs.ReplyDelete
This American band I saw played swing music; a bit like Glenn Miller. They were also quite theatrical, and very amusing.Delete
Our defunct Police Band was brilliant. They knew how to work a crowd and it was probably my only live big band experience.ReplyDelete
A good 'big band' is always worth listening to. I think my introduction to such music was particularly lucky.Delete
Whoever issued the edict to send you schoolboys off must have known you'd still be talking about it decades later!ReplyDelete
I imagine that it was our headmaster who'd invited them. Then on hearing rumours that no-one was really interested, he made our presence obligatory. Good for him!Delete
My son played trumpet in his school's big band. As all the band members were 5th and 6th formers who'd been learning for years, they were excellent.ReplyDelete
My old school has numerous orchestras, groups, trios, choirs, etc; but no bg band (that I know of).Delete
A friend of mine said her son played in a big band in north Norfolk. We went along to a small village hall in the middle of nowhere, not knowing what to expect. It was the best night out ever.ReplyDelete
They can be so good. I expect the Mildenhall camp still has a big band (if it's still there).Delete
Mildenhall has gone we think and Lakenheath is still there atmDelete
USAF Mildenhall and Lakenheath are still there and operating. Proposed closures were put on hold by the new administration in the US.Delete
My dad played saxophone and clarinet in bands and smaller groups and we were bought up on Glen Miller and the like. A wonderful sound. XXXXReplyDelete
It's such a powerful sound. These days nothing gives me more pleasure than a Ska band with a big brass section.Delete
I wonder how many similar events have taken place Cro, where a captive audience (and an unenthusiastic one) have turned up and then suddenly been captivated by what they see and hear.ReplyDelete
When I was about 16 I reluctantly went to an Acker Bilk concert; he was superb. More recently at a Van Morrison concert, Lonnie Donegan was playing the opening spot; he too was amazing. These things do happen.Delete
Love a big band! My cousin Kevin is in a big band in Canada, http://commodoresbigband.com/video, you can see him in the last video, playing the trumpet, he's the one in the black & white spotty tie. His wife is the singer who accompanies them.ReplyDelete
I had a look; they look like fun.Delete
I think I was 'old' before my time - even as a teenager I loved the big band sound - there was something about the noisy smoothness that they gave out, then I slowly moved over to jazzy ones like Johnny Dankworth.ReplyDelete
Yet at the same time I 'loved' Lonnie Donegan (long before his 'chewing gum on the bedpost'). He was associated with Chris Barber (a different style of jazz I enjoyed).
I can't remember what he sang at the Van Morrison gig, but he was very good. I had no idea he was still performing.Delete
In the Yorkshire brass band area where we are, quite a lot of kids still learn to play brass instruments. The music school bands can be amazing. There are quite a lot of very good smaller amateur village bands too with Glenn Miller numbers and the like in their repertoires.ReplyDelete
I played Cornet in a Silver Band for a while, but I wasn't very good.Delete
It is interesting that bands like Chicago and ELO used that big band sound... especially that row of Sax players... to such good effect. Even the Beatles began to give depth to their music by incorporating that sound.... then came Yes and Purple and Floydd....ReplyDelete
all influenced by the Big Band sound.
Joe Loss was the last touring big band leader in the UK....
[side note: our cadet force used to use the ranges at Mildenhall for practice!]
In the early 60's I was on holiday on the Italian Riviera, and there were posters everywhere for a Billy Cotton Band concert; we were amazed that his fame stretched so far!Delete
It was his wake up call!Delete
Here Here! I live about 20 miles away from Clarinda, Iowa - the birthplace home of Glenn Miller. His daughter funded a Glenn Miller museum and keeps the home for exhibit. Each summer in June, the Glenn Miller Orchestra - which is still working and traveling - presents a series of concerts at the Glenn Miller Festival. They are absolutely superb musicians! I try to go to a concert every time. Amazing sound one can only experience by 'being there.' It does not duplicate electronically. Cheers!ReplyDelete
I totally agree; you have to be there! It's impossible to describe the sound.Delete
I always enjoy listening to our local big band.ReplyDelete
French music is mostly dire!Delete
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