Royal Marines offer big band date in Eastbourne

Fresh from their inaugural concert in October 2022, the newly-revived big band from The Band of HM Royal Marines, The Oceanaires are heading to the Royal Hippodrome Theatre, Eastbourne on Thursday, May 9 and also the New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth on Friday, May 10.
The ​Oceanaires (contributed pic)The ​Oceanaires (contributed pic)
The ​Oceanaires (contributed pic)

Following the tradition established by the original Oceanaires during the 1940s, 50s and 60s, the band includes instrumentalists and vocalists from across the whole of the Royal Marines band service, promising a wide and varied programme of favourite big band numbers, under the direction of Captain Phil Trudgeon and featuring trumpet player Band Sergeant Mark Upton who led the revival.

As Band Colour Sergeant Mark Phillips, who is the Oceanaires operations manager, explains: “A couple of years ago Mark had the idea to reinvigorate the big band from within the whole Royal Marines band service. He wanted to take all the talent that we had within the service and revive the big band sound. Many years ago, back in the 40s and 50s and 60s, there was a band called the Oceanaires from the Royal Marines band service but over the years it died the death and never restarted. There were a lot of people in the 40s and 50s and as the band numbers reduced I think that kind of music became secondary to the primary music that we do. The band disappeared but Mark approached HQ and started it up again. From the first concept in about the March or the April it was about six or eight months until we did the first concert in October 2022. It happened pretty quickly. Mark had a very clear idea who he wanted to be in the band.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Now it's a question of building performance opportunities, ideally stringing a few gigs together in the way that they are doing with Eastbourne and Portsmouth: “We want to be able to play more regularly and develop the band in different areas branching out. What we're trying to have is the opportunity to perform around the place with the big band sound. It's very rare that you get big band music performed by military bands now but a lot of the attraction is that for audiences big band music is very easy to relate to. We play predominantly to an older audience and it is always very popular when we do big band. Back in the 90s the Royal Marine Band Plymouth made a recording of purely big band music. It's one of those genres that people are attracted to. When you're talking about big band and military it's very easy to think of Glenn Miller, and in the last couple of years we have been cultivating our vocalists. We've now got a lot of women and we have got an instrumental category which is primarily vocal. We have now got vocalists on the main site and for these concerts we will have three vocalists, certainly two.

“We have always been known for our ability to perform a lot of different genres. For the first performance Mark knew who he wanted and it was like a who's who of the best players from the band service but since then he has brought in a development programme. We've got people that are developing their big band and improvisational skills so that they can fill the gaps in the future as they progress.

"We want to have longevity and we do that by developing these new players now that perhaps are not particularly familiar with big band music but will learn with us.”

Related topics: