Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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Changes over time

Here's the continuation letter from George Lake to John Worthington which chronciles the changes in the Trocadero Orchestra since 1991...

On the subject of ‘accuracy’ and to endeavour to set the record straight, I respectfully thought you might be interested in the actual history of the Trocadero (Alumni) Orchestra in relation to how, when, where and why it all came about, along with my involvement, as I have been present from the very beginning.

Zen Magus and I commenced the search for a suitable name for this band, which by now was well into its second year. To Zen's everlasting and eternal credit, his observation of members present at the weekly rehearsals, including Howard Guloien, Howard Molstad, Tim Wilson, Dick Taylor, Milt Baker, Frank Sklov, John Jackson and me, each veterans of the many bands which played at the old
Trocadero Ballroom on 103 Street in Edmonton at one time or another...led him to dream up the name "Trocadero Alumni Orchestra". What better name for this new orchestra? We promptly did a legal search of the name, then registered it with the Alberta Government. I still have amongst my musical souvenirs a copy of the old logo used by (the late) Bob Lyon who, along with silent partners as you may recall, operated the Trocadero Ballroom. It was from this logo we designed the fronts for the Orchestra music stands and also the souvenir license plates.

Zen and I also worked together on a monthly Trocadero Alumni Orchestra newsletter consisting of band member biographies and information, along with music-related cartoons and jokes originally intended for the band members only, later made available to anyone who desired a complimentary copy. This project proved to be too time-consuming, totally unappreciated and was eventually discontinued. Later Zen, being the inventive creative soul he was, attempted to organize a Trocadero Alumni Orchestra Society (Club). We registered this Club under the Society Act of Alberta. A committee was formed consisting of a few prominent businessmen, a lawyer, an accountant and some big band music enthusiasts. A number of meetings were held at the Mayfield Inn. Zen had grandiose dreams of presenting big band dances on a regular monthly basis at the Mayfield Ballroom for Club members and their friends, similar to a concept that had been accomplished in Vancouver. Another newsletter was attempted for this new Society. Net profits from these functions were to go towards a scholarship fund we had planned to set up. This scholarship fund was to assist young upcoming jazz musicians at Grant MacEwan College and other music facilities. Regrettably, the entire grand scheme, newsletter and all, was doomed to failure almost from the very beginning due to the lack of public support and our inept volunteer organizational limitations. In less than 8 months, and with only a few functions having been held at the Mayfield Ballroom, the need to terminate registration of this Society became obvious, which I did.

The Orchestra has always operated as a co-operative venture. It is currently guided by a committee of five. (Al Boyd, George Lake, Phil McComb, Wally Might
and Willie Miller, with Phil McComb as our present Chairman [see note 1]. Each member of the band is paid equally. No extra remuneration is afforded to the rehearsal director and/or gig leader. Upon the departure of Hugh Erskine, our trombone section of 5 dropped to its present 4. The Orchestra membership has remained ever since at 17, plus vocalist. When Zen passed away, trombonist Ed Gilchrist was approached to take over as our rehearsal director. Ed was followed by Richard Campion, who later resigned due to ill health. Richard was replaced by our present and very capable rehearsal director, Wally Might. (Rehearsal directors, as you may have noticed, are not necessarily the Orchestra Leader at gigs). In the Orchestra, as with most organizations, there are '"movers and shakers" without whom very little progress would ever be accomplished and, without them, the Orchestra would eventually stagnate. The two prime persons who deserve so much credit in this respect are Zen Magus, and in the ensuing years since Zen's death, Phil McComb.

Just as I am sure you must justifiably take great pride in the "Old-disc Jockey" radio program Jack, I too take, in all modesty, legitimate pride in the knowledge of being the orchestra "founder".... were it not for the efforts I put in toward organizing those original 9 musicians in 1991, this Trocadero (Alumni) Orchestra as it has evolved, most certainly would never have been in existence today. We have come a long way since that fateful day in November of 1991. The band continues to improve with each passing year due to committed musicians who faithfully attend our weekly Friday morning rehearsals. The Orchestra will proudly mark its Tenth Anniversary in November of 2001.




As of Dec 1 2001, Phil has "retired from the chair", and Doug Zimmerman had been appointed. As of 2010, George Carmichael has become the leader.