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Karen Cordon

Musical Director and Alto 1

Throughout my formative years I always knew that Music would feature heavily in my life.  An increasing love of Music in all its forms meant that studying at Music College in London was almost inevitable! 

Leaving College with a Music Degree and various Teaching and Performing Diplomas, I embarked upon a career which would enable me to combine my joint passions of Music and Education.  Two Director of Music teaching positions ensued, followed by a Deputy Headship and ultimately twenty two years as a Prep School Headmistress.

As well as maintaining my own musical interests, I played an active role in the musical life of each of my schools.  I directed many musical performances and became well established as a Choral Conductor, leading the schools to numerous competitive titles, as well as performances at venues such as The Royal Festival Hall and many of our tremendous Cathedrals with strong choral traditions.  I was also invited to adjudicate at Festivals which encouraged and promoted young musicians in all disciplines. 

Alongside a busy career in education, I endeavoured to play for my own enjoyment when time permitted.  However, in September 2019, I took the decision to take early retirement from the teaching profession, in order to facilitate more time to make music for my own pleasure.  I joined the North Swindon Big Band in October of that year and became its Musical Director in October 2022.  Additionally, I play with Swindon Concert Band, Midwest Big Band and Wiltshire Saxophone Choir.

Upon my retirement, I was invited to become a Trustee of a charity established in memory of one of my former pupils.  I am very passionate about this and give as much time as possible to supporting the charity’s crucial work, when I am not involved in music making of one form or another!

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Nina Stimson

Alto 2  Saxophone

 

My mother was an LRAM qualified pianist and my father sang (I grew up with lots of Gilbert and Sullivan!)  I tried to learn the piano as a child without much success, but took to the clarinet in my teens.  Over the years I've played in amateur orchestras and informal wind groups.

 

On moving to Swindon I joined the Concert Band and played in it on and off until about 2010.  I took up the alto sax just before retirement, then joined the U3A Dance Orchestra and subsequently the North Swindon Big Band.  For about 15 years I was part of a saxophone quartet and we played a number of gigs in and around Swindon.

 

I started a small informal mixed ability Wind group with U3A and that has been going for over 10 years. I am also one of the organisers for the U3A Concert Goers group.  Lately, I've enjoyed getting together with some other wind players (bassoon, flute, oboe & clarinet) on an informal basis and singing in a community choir.

 

​Outside music I enjoy orienteering, park running, walking and back packing (while I can still do it!)

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David Hide

Alto 2 Saxophone

 

I Joined NSBB in October 2019.

 

I took piano lessons at school 60 years ago and upon retirement, following a lifelong ambition to learn a musical instrument and play in a band, I went to ‘Blow Out Sax’ in Bath, where I began to relearn to read music.  I subsequently met Jill Kendrick, a qualified music teacher, who plays cornet and saxophone with the Malmesbury Concert Band (MCB).

 

Following an invitation from Art Robb, the Deputy MD of MCB, I sat in on rehearsals for some three years, eventually becoming their 2nd alto sax player.  Fellow 1st alto sax, Eddie Woodgate, invited me to sit in with NSBB in the autumn of 2019 and I am now one of the regular 2nd alto players.

 

​My other interests include Malmesbury Concert Band and the Malmesbury Singers.  I am also Chair of the Malmesbury League of Friends and enjoy playing Tennis. 

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Eddie Woodgate

Tenor 1 Saxophone

 

I have been a member of the North Swindon Big Band for about 7 years. 

 

I attended a Choir School aged 9 and took piano lessons for a while.

 

At the tender age of 55 I purchased a second hand Tenor Sax.  I joined the Chippenham Town Band in 1996 and Malmesbury Concert Band in 1999; I am still a member of both.  I also play with the Midwest Big Band and the Delta West Sax Quartet.

 

​I currently own and play Soprano, Alto & Tenor Saxophones.  My other interests include song and children’s poetry writing, golf and cycling.

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Ed Sexton

Tenor 2 Saxophone

At about 10 years old my mother and the church organist failed in a conspiracy to teach me to play the piano, but I did pick up rudimentary music theory.

 

In my early 30s I sold a half share in a ski-boat and bought a tenor saxophone with the proceeds. After learning the basics at home, work and family commitments relegated it to a cupboard.

 

When my son was about 10 and learning the clarinet, we shared lessons and Tim Crouter from Hungerford Town Band managed to get me through my Grade 6 exam.

 

After taking (slightly) early retirement, I discovered the Marlborough Big Band and with a lot of tuition (and patience) from David Baker, I now play passingly acceptable 2nd Tenor.  My membership of North Swindon Big Band is a message to all those honkers and squawkers out there who, like me, have more enthusiasm than musical talent!

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Tony Baker

Baritone Saxophone

I started reading music and learning to play the saxophone when I was 51, after hearing a couple of saxophonists playing in a restaurant. I went along for some lessons and decided that the only way to improve my playing was to join some musical groups after I retired. I played in the U3A band for 15 years, the Swindon Concert Band for 20 years and currently deputise in the Mid-West Big Band on Alto, Tenor or Baritone Saxophone. I also play in the Delta West Saxophone Quartet, and recently rejoined North Swindon Big Band.

When war broke out in the Ukraine my wife and I became volunteers for a charity in Swindon, initially helping to sort and pack clothes for Ukrainian people. This led us to packing food donations to be sent to the Ukraine. We now also pack food donations to be sent to other parts of the world which are experiencing wars or famine.

We also enjoy walking, and this helped us keep sane during lockdown! I also like cycling and enjoy riding around the lanes and villages around Wootton Bassett (avoiding the potholes!)

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John Drew

Trumpet 2

 

I bought my first trumpet at the age of 16 and have played trumpet and flugelhorn ever since.  My teacher was Ken Exton, who was an ex-professional player.

​During my playing career I have played in numerous bands and groups, including at American camps during the war years.  I was in my twenties and it was a fantastic experience.

​In the 1980s I also had my own small band.  We gave our audiences the tunes they wanted and enjoyed being paid for doing what we loved!  We must have performed at almost every club within 25 miles of Swindon, although after 10 years the band sadly folded.  I am also a member of the Midwest Big Band and am proudly the only remaining founding member. 

​I joined the U3A Dance Orchestra (now the North Swindon Big Band) in 2002.

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Bob Jones

Trumpet 3

 

I took up the trumpet at the age of 17, after being inspired by the music of Chris Barber, Ken Coyer and Acker Bilk.

 

In 1960 I signed on in the Army for six years, as a musician with The Royal Artillery Mounted Band. I attended Kneller Hall (The Royal Military School of Music) for a year during 1960/61.

 

I left the army in 1966 and worked for the Co-op as an insurance agent.  I played with various brass bands and dance bands in the Aldershot area and eventually formed a six piece traditional jazz band.

 

I retired from the Co-op in 1995 and moved to France for twelve years.  On my return to the UK in 2007, I settled in the Cotswolds and joined Cirencester Band and the JJ Swing Band.  I joined NSBB in 2017, replacing Bob Field who had sadly passed away.

 

My other interests include travelling around in our Motorhome and playing flugelhorn with The Camping and Caravanning Club Brass Band, as well as playing flugelhorn with Cirencester Band

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Brian Harris

Trumpet 4

 

I started playing the trumpet aged 10, performing in the school orchestra, brass band and dance band.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a brass band at University, so gave up playing until 2001.

 

I have also played cornet with Cirencester Band and played trumpet with a Wiltshire Swing Band several years ago, although I gave that up when I joined North Swindon Big Band in early 2020.  

 

​Outside of brass playing, my main interest is running with my local club.

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Roger Britton

Trombone 1

 

I started in a brass band at the age of 10, learning through the tenor horn, cornet and euphonium.  I was perhaps inspired by George Chisholm, who I used to see carrying his trombone case regularly, as he lived nearby in North London.  However, I was not allowed to take up the trombone until my arms grew long enough!

 

Over the years I have undertaken the following on the trombone:

·         Played in Fulham Brass Band, County Youth Orchestra and the Southgate Concert Band

·         Played most of the central London park bandstands as a dep (1967)

·         Played West Ham football matches – Bobby Moore and Francis Lee dribbled around the band!

·         Supported a WHO gig at an Oz ‘happening’ in the basement of a warehouse in Covent Garden (1967)

·         At University played in the orchestra, light opera shows, and an afro/rock/jazz band

·         Various orchestras – Reading, Huddersfield, Settle(1976), Ashton Keynes (2000)

·         Trad jazz bands - High Wycombe (1977), Hatherley Street Hotshots (Cheltenham  2012), Ashton Keynes (2012) Jazzboat (Kingsdown, Swindon 2016)

·         Swindon Concert Band (1980), Wootton Bassett Light Opera Society (1981)

·         ATRIX - a Blues Brothers style, party band (Ashton Keynes 1990)

·         Big Bands - Swindon Big Band (1981), JJ Swing Band (Cirencester – 25 years!), Big Brunch Band (Ashton Keynes 2004), U3A/NSBB, 41⁰ Big Band (Wootton Bassett).

I have played the piano from the age of 8, including keyboard in a rock band – Genghis Khan (Cirencester 2010)

 

I currently play field hockey for Cirencester and LX England, having put in appearances in recent years for Gloucestershire Masters and West Masters.

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Jane Osborn

Trombone 3

 

Music has always been important in my life.  As a child I was always listening to my parents’ Jazz and Swing records.  I was given my grandmother’s piano at a young age and had lessons for many years, but I wasn’t a natural.

When I was at secondary school in Newbury, I was introduced to all the instruments of the orchestra.  I made a beeline for the brass section as it was the brightest and loudest and I chose the trombone as it looked the most fun!  I joined the school orchestra and we performed many concerts and also musicals with the Drama department.  My favourite was West Side Story, but I also remember lots of Gilbert and Sullivan.  I decided to do Music ‘A’ Level so I had to pass my Grade 6 exam.  Having previously chosen not to sit any exams, it was hard work but I managed to just scrape through.

I went to study Art after school and my trombone got put back in the cupboard.  However, my love for Jazz continued many years later when I joined a Jazz club in Marlborough which was run by Pete Allen.  I enjoyed helping out at many Jazz weekends around the country. Occasionally people were invited to join the band with their instruments.  Even though I wasn’t up to their standard, I can say I have played with Pete Allen and George Chisholm!

I started playing the trombone properly again in 2016 when I joined the Marlborough Big Band.  I joined the North Swindon Big Band in 2021; it is great to be back playing my favourite music. 

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Graham Frampton

Trombone 2

I started playing the trombone in my early teens and also sang in school productions.  I played 1st Trombone and sang most Saturday nights with a Big Band in the Southampton Guildhall.  I also played in the Southampton Youth Orchestra and later at Nottingham University orchestra, whilst studying electrical engineering. 

 

After University came marriage and somehow the trombone got left behind and I started singing again in The London Choral Society and The Windsor and Eton Operatic Society, as well as with a four piece band playing general dance music.  For the latter I taught myself the bass guitar.

 

The band work dried up for a while and I then started to perform as a barbershop quartet singer; a hobby that lasted more than 25 years.  A yearning to go back to the teenage years, post-retirement, led me returning to trombone playing, as well as to Big Band singing, when I moved to Kemble.

 

As well as all this music, I am an active sportsman who can manage a park run or two today, I am also an avid armchair supporter of Southampton FC and a regular walker of the family dog!

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Adrian Lincoln

Bass Trombone

 

I've been playing the trombone for nearly 60 years, with my performance peaking about 50 years ago!  I have played in virtually every type of music - from early music to modern times and from small trombone ensembles to large orchestras.  Although I continue to do the occasional orchestra gigs, most of my current playing is predominantly in Big Bands or small jazz ensembles.

 

In the small amount of time that is left outside of music, I spend time playing with computers and electronics, whilst also providing admin support for my daughter’s business, as required.  Additionally, I also enjoy the mandatory walks in the glorious countryside around Stroud, usually walking to/from a watering hole of some kind!

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Ken Emerson

Rhythm Guitar

 

I'm Ken Emerson, guitar player in the band.

 

I've been playing the guitar for as long as I can remember, which is over 65 years. I also sometimes play bass, if the band is desperate. I play guitar in another big band, too but play bass in a couple of "groups", one of which I set up ten years ago, so my music interests keep me quite busy. Because of my wider involvement in music performances I have acquired various PA systems which are used by the band.

 

I have a fine collection of instruments, not only guitars and basses but also banjos (which I play rarely and not very well), ukuleles, and mandolins.

 

My other main interest is rugby and I support London Irish. I have travelled the world to watch England and the Lions play.

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Geoff Walters

Keyboards

I came from a musical family; my father was a choirmaster and my mother played piano for many local societies. Their early influence paid off and whilst at Commonweal Grammar school, I played in a group called the The Sapphires, alongside Justin Hayward, later of the Moody Blues. I continued performing whilst at Teacher Training College, where I joined a folk group that performed commercially at holiday summer seasons.

From the mid-60s I taught at three Swindon schools, and outside the classroom I pursued a wide range of musical activities, including playing dinner/dance music and being the Kentwood Choir accompanist for nearly 40 years. I have also been involved in many Wyvern Theatre productions as Musical Director.

Since retiring from teaching in 2000 I have continued my association with schools in and around Swindon, working on various productions and concerts. I also started my own close harmony singing group called Encore, with my daughter Nicola, family and friends. We perform several concerts each year and have raised well over £10,000 for local charities.

I have been involved with the Choir at St Margarets Church in Stratton since the early 1980s; I also play organ there, as well as in Stanton and South Marston.

In 2001 I became actively involved with the Swindon Music Festival and in 2002 I fulfilled an ambition by becoming its chairman, as my father had before me. I am proud to continue that role today.

My recent history involves playing for the Wilkes Academy, as well as accompanying "Everybody Sing" and the Shrivenham Military Wives Choir, I joined NSBB in 2022 and am really enjoying playing with this larger group of musicians.

Outside music I have always had a love of Football. I played for Swindon Boys in the 50s and became Coach in 1966. I was very proud to take the team to the English Schools' Trophy Competition against Liverpool in 1969, alongside a young Kenny Stroud.

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Paul Richings

Bass Guitar

I started music at the age of nine, playing the cornet in the City of Oxford Silver Band.  I later transferred to the trombone and then to the Eb bass.  I joined the North Berks Youth Orchestra at 13 and by my late teens I was performing with the Oxford Big Band and Blue Velvet.

Contacts within the Oxford music scene led to me joining a nine-piece showband called Sweet Illusion. The band toured extensively throughout the late 70s and early 80s and involved backing and supporting other artists of the day.  I married Pauline, the singer, in 1980 and settled in Newbury.  I joined the Shaw Brass Band on Trombone and also doubled on bass guitar and trombone in the Gold Stars Big Band, run by Dennis Kemp.  I later played bass in a Big Band that Simon Currie was putting together in Newbury.  When that band folded, the rhythm section continued, and with a quorum of local brass and reed players, it eventually became the Apollo Big Band.  Along with my wife Pauline, I also ran a successful functions band called Catch 22, from 1990 until 2020.  I now mainly concentrate on Big Band Jazz and as well as NSBB, I play bass in Joe Carey’s band ‘Radio Days’ based in Abingdon. 

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Dave Prosser

Drums

I joined the U3A Dance Orchestra, which was renamed North Swindon Big Band, in 2008.  I followed in my father's footsteps, as he was a drummer & bandleader in the 1930s.

After playing in schoolboy bands I joined a pub trio in 1957, but a few months later I joined a ‘trad’ band, the Ray River Jazz Band, until the early 1960s.

At the demise of the trad era, I played commercially with Paul Henry (Henry Francome, who was my Best Man when Val and I were married in 1968) and in the early 1970s I moved on to play with the Aquarius Showband, which eventually evolved to become the Same Old Faces.

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Ken Jell

Vocalist

At the age of 13, I sang in front of an audience with my local Youth Centre Band - the year is unknown as calendars hadn’t been invented at the time!  This started a love of swing and big band music that has stayed with me throughout my life.

I have sung with practically every big band in Swindon, the most recent being Swindon Big Band, Midwest Big Band and the U3A Dance Orchestra, which ultimately became the North Swindon Big Band.  

During my singing career I have also had the pleasure of performing in and around Swindon with a wide variety of groups and various size bands.  My first love is the music of the ‘Chairman of the Board’ Mr Frank Sinatra.  Whenever I attend any of the big band events I receive lots of requests - but I sing anyway!

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Pauline Richings

Vocalist

 

My love of singing started in the school choir and in a church group, where I sang and played the guitar.  Listening and playing to my parents’ record collection left an enduring love for rock n roll, enough to want to audition for my first band at fourteen.  By sixteen, I was lucky enough to be performing with the band ‘Tudor Quorum’ and was now truly hooked! Through a recommendation, in 1977 I joined an Oxford band called ‘Sweet Illusion’ and four years of intense gigging followed.

I married Paul the trombonist from the band and we moved with his work to Reading, where I joined a Camberley based band called ‘Cockney Jock’.

 

A move to Newbury and three babies later saw a natural musical break, but I soon got the bug again and auditioned locally with a band called ‘Catch 22’.  A line-up change saw me taking over the running of the band and bringing my husband Paul in on bass guitar.

 

I ran ‘Catch 22’ for the next 30 years until 2020.  We worked hard with long sets and few breaks, to ensure the dance floor was always full.  The band complained but the clients were happy!

 

As well as singing pop and rock covers, I have enjoyed the opportunity to sing jazz standards with big bands and local jazz ensembles over the years.  I look forward to sharing some of these wonderful numbers with you and the band on future occasions.   

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