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THE ROYAL AIR FORCE SQUADRONAIRES and TODD GORDON ‘HELPING THE HEROES’ | FESTIVALPHOTO
 

THE ROYAL AIR FORCE SQUADRONAIRES and TODD GORDON ‘HELPING THE HEROES’

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THE ROYAL AIR FORCE SQUADRONAIRES
and TODD GORDON

‘HELPING THE HEROES’
Album release November 5th 2012

Released on Specific Jazz (a division of Proper Records)
In Support Of Help For Heroes

With reinforcements:
Jacqui Dankworth, Horse, Carol Kidd, Eddi Reader, Janet Seidel, The Swingcats and Clare Teal

The Royal Air Force Squadronaires are releasing a brand new big band album with Scottish swing singer Todd Gordon and special guests in aid of the British charity, Help for Heroes. It is also a celebration of the centenary of the RAF – formed in 1912 as the Royal Flying Corps and becoming the Royal Air Force six years later.

Conceived by Todd and under the direction of veteran produced Ken Barnes (who worked with Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Peggy Lee and many other greats), the album was recorded at RAF Northolt. With new arrangements and some additional lyrics, this 14-track collection is the first vocal album the band has recorded and is the follow up to their Glenn Miller tribute that reached No 5 in the UK album charts, selling over 90,000 copies.

"Having performed with The Squadronaires in concert, it was a natural progression to record an album with them. They are a fantastic band with such an amazing history dating back to 1939. They performed the new arrangements on this album with such verve and dedication - it was an experience I shall never forget, especially recording it on RAF Northolt air base.” Todd Gordon.

"When Todd invited The Squadronaires to record an album in aid of Help for Heroes, we jumped at the opportunity. This is the first vocal album we've made, and the band thoroughly enjoyed working with such an amazing line up of singers, and we are delighted that it's for a great cause." - Sgt Kev Miles, Band Leader, The Royal Air Force Squadronaires.

‘Helping The Heroes’ features new versions of timeless favourites including ‘(I’ve Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo’, ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ (with Clare Teal), ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’, ‘Autumn in New York’ (with Carol Kidd), ‘Manhattan’ (with Jacqui Dankworth) and ‘Let’s Do It’ (with ex-Fairground Attraction star, Eddi Reader).

"I have had the pleasure of working with each of the wonderful singers in a concert setting, but it's great to have been able to work with them in the studio and have these duets as permanent reminders of their generous contribution to this project. I sincerely hope that the album will raise a significant sum for Help for Heroes." - Todd Gordon

The RAF Squadronaires, who formed in 1940 during World War II to boost morale at home and abroad. Under the direction of its current leader, Sgt Kev Miles, the Band has assembled a repertoire that reflects its style and versatility, from original dance band classics to the latest big band hits. In just a few short years, Todd Gordon has become recognised as one of Britain's leading jazz and swing singers. Steeped in the American Songbook tradition, he’s released four albums and performed at many leading venues including Ronnie Scott’s, The Royal Opera House, The Sage, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and Birmingham Town Hall, as well as The Algonquin and The Plaza in New York.

Speaking about the choice of songs Todd explains “When the idea of this album was born, I had no preconceived thoughts about the material. But working closely with producer Ken Barnes, we gradually narrowed-down the options. These songs, together with the remaining tracks, have withstood the test of time which is testament to their inherent quality. Most have become standards, and I hope everyone who buys this charity album enjoys listening to these new interpretations as much as we enjoyed recording them.”

About The Royal Air Force Squadronaires:

The Royal Air Force Squadronaires is one of the United Kingdom’s finest big bands, with a worldwide 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. Their last album reached the top ten in the UK’s album chart and the band enjoys a high profile, having appeared on numerous radio and television shows.

The band performs extensively and recent engagements have included the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance with Will Young, Russell Watson and Sir Cliff Richard, and featuring at jazz festivals in Edinburgh, Goring and Glasgow, Ronnie Scott's in London and at the International Edinburgh and Windsor Tattoos. The Band has also been privileged to perform within the grounds and walls of Buckingham Palace, regularly performing at State Events and Garden Parties.

As with all members of the Royal Air Force, RAF Music Services’ personnel are required to support British Forces on operations overseas. Musicians have been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey and the Falkland Islands. Roles have included force protection, guarding installations, driving, liaison officers and supporting helicopter and air transportation squadrons.

Under the direction of its current leader, Sgt Kev Miles, the Band has assembled a repertoire that reflects its style and versatility, from original dance band classics to the latest big band hits.

To find out more about The Royal Air Force, visit www.raf.mod.uk

About Todd Gordon

In just a few years, Todd Gordon has become “one of Britain’s most popular singers and entertainers” (Scottish Television). An avid Beatles’ fan until the age of eleven, his musical horizons were broadened when he first heard a Frank Sinatra album. He collected almost every recording by Ol' Blue Eyes whilst his interest expanded into jazz and swing, encompassing other renowned singers and instrumentalists.

Further inspiration came in 1975 when he met Ella Fitzgerald prior to her show. During the concert, she invited him on stage and sang You Are the Sunshine of My Life specially to him. Since then, Gordon has met many more of his idols including Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Count Basie, Woody Herman, George Shearing, Mark Murphy and Tony Bennett, further motivating him to immerse himself in the Great American Songbook genre.

Two years after his first-ever gig, he was booked to open for Dionne Warwick during her UK tour in 2003, prompting him to give up his day job organisng exhibitions. Since then, Gordon has performed at Britain’s top jazz venues, including the world-renowned Ronnie Scott's, Pizza Express Jazz Room and The 606 in Chelsea. He’s also performed at The Plaza and The Algonquin hotels in New York - where he even did a duet with actor Christopher Walken.

Todd also features regularly at major jazz festivals and concerts; he was the first Scottish male jazz singer to be booked for the London Jazz Festival, performing at the Royal Opera House. His audiences range from those attending intimate jazz clubs to international concert halls.

Todd's first performance with the Squadronaires was at the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival in 2009. This was followed by a major Help for Heroes fundraiser in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Recording an album together was a logical next step, and Todd has been delighted to work with the band as well as the special guest vocalists on this project.

A further Todd Gordon album release is scheduled for early 2013. It was recorded whilst touring in Seoul after his music was used as a theme song in a highly-successful Korean TV drama series. Composers who have praised preview tracks of their songs include the legendary Mike Stoller, pop star/songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan, Jake Holmes - the co-creator of Sinatra’s “Watertown” masterpiece, and fêted Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim.

In addition to his main career as a singer, Todd also presents radio shows for several stations reaching over 500,000 listeners each week.

Writer: Anthony May
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