New personal work of 'The Thames Television Big Band'. Shooting with film on my Hasselblad 500cm again which was an absolute delight. Its been far too long since I cracked open a Kodak Portra box of film and got stuck in, I really miss this approach to photography. Attending band rehearsals on Monday nights at Teddington Constitutional Club over a period of 6 weeks I made portraits of the band in the their breaks. Extremely talented musicians and a pleasure to photograph. Ive made a final edit you can see here or by clicking the image below.
THE THAMES TELEVISION BIG BAND
The band was formed in 1973 by Steve Bawden, a professional trumpeter who, as a result of illness, had retired from the music profession, and was working at Thames Television's Teddington Studios. The first rehearsal was attended by 6 or 7 brass players, several guitarists and a huge array of woodwind players, almost none of whom played the Saxophone! However, the band members were, initially, mostly Thames TV employees, joined by local musicians to plug any gaps in personnel. The band was set up in the classic 17 piece format of 5 Saxophones, 4 Trumpets, 4 Trombones and 4 Rhythm, with Steve as Musical Director.
Within a few months the band had made sufficient progress to have people clinging to the rafters for concerts in the Thames TV Club, and was starting to appear at private functions and public concerts. Over the next few years the band appeared at West End Theatres, including the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, The Duke of York's, The Royalty and The New London, and hotels such as The Hyde Park, the Grosvenor House, The Dorchester and the Savoy, as well as venues all over the South of England from Bournemouth to Norwich, and from Twickenham Rugby Ground to Wembley Conference Centre. The band also backed singers including Lyn Paul of New Seekers fame, Patti Boulaye and the wonderful Rosemary Squires.
In the early 1980's Steve Bawden decided to emigrate, and resigned as MD, to be replaced by trombonist Brian Hibbert until 1982, when Freddie Jameson took over the role which he held until his retirement in 2012. Over the years it became increasingly difficult to maintain a preponderence of Thames TV employees in the band but, as a consequence, the quality of new recruits has been gradually improved. Freddie Jameson's professionalism was transmitted to the band, and high standards were set.
The band remained busy throughout the 1980's, but by the 1990's, as audiences and, crucially, event organisers, were increasingly drawn from a generation brought up on Elvis Presley, The Beatles and Abba, the work available to big bands was much reduced. The band, always regarded as a 'gigging' rehearsal band, became a rehearsal band available for gigs.
After 1992, when Thames Television lost its Broadcasting Contract, it operated on a smaller scale, and it was only a matter of time before the rehearsal facilities at the Studios, which had been used by the band, were no longer available. Thereafter, the band's home was firstly, The Swan at Hampton Wick, then The South Western at Isleworth, and finally The Teddington Constitutional Club.
The band rehearses each Monday, performs 4 concerts a year at the TCC, and has (very) occasional gigs, including both private functions and public concerts. the only former Thames TV employee in the lineup is Derek Hunt, who was a founder member 40 years ago, though lead Trumpeter Alan Moore has clocked up 30 years service, and long service awards are also due to Trombonist John Markham, Guitarist Bryan Thorne, and Bassist Keith Spillett. Since Freddie Jameson's retirement in 2012 the band has been ably led by Saxophonist Dave Marrion and, in playing terms, goes from strength to strength.
Text by Derek Hunt