Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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The Story of the "NEW" Trocadero Alumni Orchestra

(From the first issue of the "Trocadero Big Band Dance Club" Newsletter, Jan 1996 [with a few corrections])


It seems that it was that long ago, but in reality it was in November of 1991 that George Lake came up with the idea of a modest rehearsal band to be composed of largely retired professional musicians. The object was social as well as musical. Names that come to mind are Art Rowe, who furnished some arrangements, Harold Mounteer, Frank Sklove, Frank Smith, Dick ("old dad") Taylor, Gerry Wright, Hugh Erskine, Tim Wilson as well as George Lake.

Early in 1992, the group invited Zen Magus (with his vast library), Howie Guloien, Howie Molstad, John Cherniak, Ernie Hooper, Mac Cameron, Milt Baker, Johnny Jackson, Willie Miller, Ken Jones and singer Maureane O'Shaugnessy. Later that year, George Adams, Wally Might, Don Walmsley, Phil McComb, Albert Boyd and Les Posein were added.

It was never the intent of the orchestra to perform publicly, however, there was no escaping the fact that regular rehearsals were contributing to the overall musicianship. In December of 1993, during a visit to Normand's Restaurant, the subject of public performances came up with the proprietor Normand Campbell. It was at this time that Marlayne Lister -- the orchestra's P.R. and Marketing Director -- suggested having a dance right in the restaurant. Being only a 55-seat establishment somewhat limited the room for both the orchestra and customers. However, it was decided to go ahead, and on Thursday, the 20th of January, 1994 the Trocadero Alumni Orchestra made its first public appearance in a commercial venue. (It should be mentioned at this time that prior to this, the band appeared at various nursing homes and at the Lions Seniors Complex, where it rehearsed weekly.)

After Normands, efforts were made to place the band in an appropriate location and hold public dances. In March of 1994, the band opened monthly dances at the Penthouse -- atop the Howard Johnson Hotel. This lasted until July, when it was moved to a larger facility. As a result, the band opened on Friday, the 23rd of September, 1994 in the Mayfield Grand Ballroom. Now fine-tuned at 18 pieces (plus vocalist), the orchestra concentrates on adding to its vast library of music, performing for the public and most of all -- providing a social environment for its members.

Perhaps most satisfying for the musicians is the knowledge that they are providing an alternative for listening and dancing music. The acceptance by the public for big band music is very evident by its continued support at the various locations where the band is performing. And for this support, the orchestra is grateful.