The Big Band was formed in 1981 by a break-away group of musicians, lead by drummer, Gordon Owen, who felt there was an opportunity to create a new band in Swindon, playing music that was more akin to Big Band Jazz and Swing.

The band’s first musical director was sax-man, Pete Low, who also wrote many of the early arrangements, some of which are still played today.
Sadly, Gordon Owen died shortly afterwards in a tragic accident, but the band was fortunate in acquiring the services of local jazz drummer, Terry Whettam, who was to stay with the band for 22 years and play a crucial role in the running of the band for many of those years.

MWBB’s Past Musical Directors:

  • Pete Low
  • Bill Morgan
  • Don Jones
  • Pete Low
  • Norman Deighton
  • Len Morphew – Current MD

The band’s second musical director was pianist, Bill Morgan who also wrote many of our current arrangements. When Bill left, he was replaced as MD by a
former professional sax player called Don Jones.

Pete Low returned as leader for a few years until his retirement in 2004, when guitarist, Norman Deighton took over briefly, before handing over to current
MD, Len Morphew at the end of the year. Len has played tenor sax with the band since 1987, but he is not the longest serving member. That honor belongs to John Drew, who was a founding member in 1981.

Other notable musicians in the ranks over the years included Ken Exton on lead trumpet in the early days, Ernie Hillier and Henry Francombe on saxes during most of the ‘90s and Freddie Goodyear on trombone up until 2004.

Musical Policy

Our central aim is to have a good time. We always try to play our best, but we never take ourselves too seriously.
We play a wide range of music from the period of Glen Miller and Benny Goodman up to arrangements from the contemporary National Youth Jazz Orchestra.

Len Morphew is a bit of a closet jazz rock musician, but is well steeped in music of the Swing Era too.

New talent is always welcome, as there are always opportunities to deputise for regular members.

We rehearse every Tuesday evening between 7:45 and 10:00 (temporarily 7:00 and 9:30) in the Rodbourne Cheney Club, Morden, Swindon, SN25 3DQ.


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