This year sees the 70th anniversary of the start of The Blitz and The Battle Of Britain.
We are proud to bring you 50 ORIGINAL swingin’ hits and favourites from the era on a superb double CD. Boy did they swing! Recording both as The Squadronaires and The Royal Air Force Dance Orchestra they provided a much-needed morale boost during arguably Britain’s darkest hour. They were immensely popular and talented musicians.
Features some of their favourite original 40s recordings remastered & sounding better than ever.
The origins of the Squadronaires can be traced back to 1939 when many of London’s professional musicians were recruited into the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, based at RAF Uxbridge. Many of these musicians had previously been jazz and dance band performers and it was suggested that they form what was to become the Royal Air Force Dance Orchestra. The big band gained a reputation for versatility and flair, helped by iconic band members such as George Chisholm and Jimmy Miller. They developed a distinctive style and rivalled the American bands. Throughout the war years they were THE Best British Dance Band.
The R.A.F Squadronaires are still in existence and continue to entertain. Universal have a brand new TV advertised album of Glenn Miller songs released around September’s anniversary of the start of The Blitz.
THE R.A.F. DANCE ORCHESTRA
There’s Something In The Air
Sand In My Shoes
The Darktown Strutters’ Ball
Lament To Love
I’ll Never Let A Day Pass By
Chattanooga Choo Choo
Who’ll Buy A Rose From Margareeta?
I’m Coming Virginia
Walk, Jenny, Walk
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
Bounce Me, Brother, With A Solid Four
Blues In The Night
Way Down Yonder In New Orleans
Conchita, Marquita Lopez
Do Those Old Eyes Deceive Me?
Be Careful, It’s My Heart
(You Came Along From) Out Of Nowhere
That’s A Plenty
It’s Foolish, But It’s Fun
THE R.A.F. DANCE ORCHESTRA
I’ve Heard That Song Before
Keep An Eye On Your Heart
The Canteen Bounce
G I Jive THE SQUADRONAIRES
Sally Water THE R.A.F. DANCE ORCHESTRA
South Rampart Street Parade
All Our Tomorrows
Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet
Ringle Dingle THE SQUADRONAIRES
Stay Out Of My Dreams THE R.A.F. DANCE ORCHESTRA
American Patrol THE SQUADRONAIRES
The Old Lamplighter THE R.A.F. DANCE ORCHESTRA
Jazz Me Blues THE SQUADRONAIRES
In Love In Vain R.A.F. DANCE ORCHESTRA
Blues In C Sharp Minor THE SQUADRONAIRES
Five Minutes More
Ring Dem Bells
It’s Been A Long, Long Time
Money Is Root Of All Evil
This diverse compilation of fifty tracks covers the period from 1941 (the year after the band's inception) up to 1953. Throughout the War, and to the end of 1945, the records were labelled as 'The Royal Air Force Dance Orchestra'; thereafter they were known as 'The Squadronaires'.
Founded in the early months of the War, many of the players came from the Ambrose Octet. These included George Chisholm, Tommy McQuater, Andy McDevitt, Jock Cummings, Harry Lewis, Sid Colin and Jimmy Miller. Pianist Ronnie Aldrich also joined independently. The unit's only recording date in 1940 (in May) was directed by Sergeant Leslie Holmes. By January of the following year (when the band began to record prolifically), all the sessions were directed by Sergeant Jimmy Miller, who retained the leadership until after his demobilisation and well into peacetime.
James Angus 'Jimmy' Miller was born in Kittybrewster near Aberdeen on 30 December 1916. Jimmy became a proficient pianist, whilst his brother Billy played the violin. In 1933 they recorded Scottish airs for the Parlophone label and also broadcast on the popular BBC Children's Hour programme. Bandleader and impresario Jack Hylton chanced to hear one of their broadcasts, and booked the brothers to appear in his forthcoming London show, 'Life begins at Oxford Circus' in 1935. From here, Jimmy and Billy Miller joined the band led by Hylton's wife, Ennis Parkes. Jimmy's vocals can be heard on several of the sides the band recorded for the 9-inch Crown label, obtainable only in Woolworth's at sixpence each.
By the end of the decade, Jimmy had joined the celebrated Ambrose Octet and volunteered for the RAF at the outbreak of War. The Royal Air Force Dance Orchestra (later Squadronaires) was generally reckoned to be the greatest of the British service bands. With their in-house galaxy of considerable talent, they remained fresh and vital. On relinquishing his position in 1950, Jimmy Miller took up a post with Carroll Gibbons and the Savoy Hotel Orpheans, taking over for a few years after Carroll's death in 1954. After Jimmy's departure from The Squadronaires, trombonist Bruce Campbell took over the leadership awhile before passing the baton over to a young newcomer, vocalist Roy Edwards. By the early 1950s, pianist Ronnie Aldrich (who had been with the band from the start) was persuaded to relinquish his piano stool and lead the band. This he did with great success, the band later becoming billed as 'Ronnie Aldrich and The Squadronaires', until they disbanded in 1964. Jimmy Miller died in 2001, aged eighty-four. At his funeral, the only survivor from the original band, Tommy McQuater, played 'Auld Lang Syne' on trumpet just for Jimmy. A fitting touch.
The band lives on in its present-day incarnation as The Royal Air Force Squadronaires under the direction of their leader, Sergeant Kevin Miles. They record, play concert dates and make television appearances and continue to carry, with pride, the flame ignited by the original band members seventy years ago. For now, enjoy this cornucopia of big band music and ballads from a bygone era.