Royal Air Force Squadronaires
Leader: Chief Technician Kevin Miles
The Royal Air Force Squadronaires is one of the United Kingdom’s finest big bands, with a world wide reputation for musical excellence. 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. 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, later known as the ‘Squadronaires’.
The big band gained a reputation for versatility and flair, helped by such iconic band members as the trombonist George Chisholm and vocalist Jimmy Miller. They soon developed a distinctive style that rivalled many American bands. Throughout the war years they were regularly voted ‘Best British Dance Band’ and in one memorable review that appeared in The Melody Maker they were described as having given ‘the greatest dance band performance that has ever been broadcast this side of the Atlantic.’Following D-Day the ‘Squads’ toured France, Belgium and the Netherlands but were stopped in their tracks at the German border. They were then forced to make a tactical withdrawal as General Von Runstedt’s counter-offensive forced the Allies back towards Paris.
This tradition of musical expertise lives on with today’s Squadronaires. In 2010 the Squads reached the top ten in the UK’s album chart with their CD ‘In the Mood’, recorded for the record label Decca. Publicity for this album included live TV and radio appearances, most notably on the ‘Alan Titchmarsh Show’ and ITV’s ‘This Morning’. The Band returned to the world famous ‘Ronnie Scott’s’ Jazz Club to celebrate the album release, and continue to be the only military ensemble to perform there. Television appearances have also included the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance with Will Young (2004), Russell Watson (2008) and Sir Cliff Richard (2012). The Squadronaires have featured at jazz festivals in Edinburgh, Goring and Glasgow and have performed at Military Tattoos in Edinburgh, Windsor and Basel, Switzerland. The Band has also been privileged to perform within the grounds and walls of Buckingham Palace for State Events and Garden Parties. In 2014 the Band released the new CD 'All Present and Correct' which features solos by every member of the group.
Under the direction of its current leader, Chief Technician Kevin Miles, the Band has assembled a repertoire that reflects its style and versatility, from original dance band classics to the latest big band classics.