Pasadena Roof Orchestra

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Pasadena Roof Orchestra 2014
The Pasadena Roof Orchestra
Also known as PRO
Origin London, United Kingdom
Genres Jazz, ragtime, blues, swing and (to a lesser extent) big band
Years active 1969–present
Labels Currently Pasadena Records, originally Transatlantic

The Pasadena Roof Orchestra (commonly abbreviated to PRO) is a contemporary band from England that specialises in the jazz and swing genres of music of the 1920s and 1930s, although their full repertoire is considerably wider. The orchestra has existed since 1969, although the line-up has frequently changed. It has achieved success outside of the United Kingdom, most notably in Germany.

Brief history[edit]

The Pasadena Roof Orchestra was formed in November 1969 by John Arthy, a baker who moonlighted as a BBC session bass player. Arthy discovered a cache of original musical arrangements dating from the 1920s in an attic and on the strength of this find decided to form his own band. The name of the band was inspired by Harry Warren's (Home in) Pasadena. There was a strong revival movement for music of the 1920s at the time (known as the Trad/Rad movement; other rival bands included The Temperance Seven); however, Arthy moved this new band in a different direction to most of the revivalists: away from humour and towards more serious, dedicated renditions of the music.

The orchestra's first vocalist was John "Pazz" Parry, an old friend of Arthy's (the two had both been members of The Water Rats Jazz Band). With Arthy as Bandleader and also performing on the double bass and sousaphone, the PRO soon grew in popularity.

In December 1974, the orchestra's version of "White Christmas" reached number 19 in London's Capital Radio's Top 40 chart, the Capital Countdown.

The orchestra became professional in 1975. Their first LP was recorded in Autumn 1974 and released the following Spring, premiering at the Midem music fair in Cannes. The orchestra followed this by touring West Germany (where the revival movement was incredibly popular) in the Autumn of that year.

The orchestra toured the United States in 1993 and 2001 (their 25th Anniversary album cover featured a photo of the band in front of the Ambassador Theatre in Pasadena, California). They have worked with musical luminaries such as Robbie Williams (in 2005) and Bryan Ferry (in 2000).

Although John Arthy retired in 1997, the band continues to tour and record with bandleader and singer Duncan Galloway. In 2009, the orchestra toured Great Britain and Germany.

Orchestra members[edit]

  • John Arthy (founder, double bass, bandleader, sousaphone; 1969–1997)
  • Charlie Baker (vocals; 2002)
  • Clive Baker (trumpet; c.1976–1984)
  • Alan Barnes (saxophones, clarinet; c.1980–1981)
  • John Barron (banjo, guitar; c.1977)
  • Malcolm Baxter (trumpet; c.1991–present)
  • Peter Beresford (violin; c.1972–1975)
  • Barrie Williams (violin; c.1975–1978)
  • David Berry (double bass, sousaphone, tuba; c.1998–present)
  • John Bright (banjo; c.1972–1975)
  • Tom Colbert (piano; 1972)
  • Tony Cooke (trumpet; c.1969–1975)
  • Louise Cookman (vocals; c.2002)
  • David Ford (trumpet; c.1996–present)
  • Robert Fowler (tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet; c.1987–present)
  • Adrian Fry (trombone, arranger; c.2011–present)
  • Duncan Galloway (vocals; 1988–1994 and 2002–present)
  • Keith Gemmell (alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet, vocals, arranger; c.1983–1997)
  • Josephine Gurr (clarinet, alto saxophone; 1969–1972)
  • Dan Hammerton (trumpet; c.1996–2002)
  • Michael Henry (trumpet, cornet, flugel horn; 1978–1990)
  • Michael Holmes (vocals, piano; c.1987–1991)
  • Bob Hunt (trombone; c.1977 and 1988)
  • Ken Hughes (alto saxophone; c.1972–1975)
  • Stan Iveson (piano; c.1974)
  • Paul Jones (alto saxophone, clarinet; c.2002)
  • Derek Jones (drums; c.1974)
  • Steve Kaldestad (alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, clarinet; 2002–2007
  • Andrew Kuc (banjo, guitar; c.1999–2002)
  • Tom 'Spats' Langham (tenor banjo, guitar; 1997, 2002–2007 and 2014–present)
  • James Langton (vocals, musical direction, production, bandleader; 1996–2002)
  • Chris Macdonald (clarinet, tenor saxophone; arranger; 1969–1974)
  • David Manning (trumpet; c.1974)
  • Robin Merrill (vocals; 1979–1988)
  • John 'Pazz' Parry (vocalist; 1969–1976 at least)
  • Clive Payne (tenor saxophone; c.1974)
  • Nik Payton (alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, clarinet; c.1998–2002)
  • James Pearson (piano; 2002)
  • Dave Price (banjo; c.1969–1971)
  • Dai Pritchard (alto saxophone, clarinet; c.1981–present)
  • Andy Pummel (alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, clarinet, penny whistle, arranger; c.1972–1996)
  • Bob Renvoize (trombone,arranger; c.1972–1987)
  • Graham Roberts (tenor banjo, guitar;1990–1996, 1998–1999 and 2007–2014)
  • Albert Sadler (banjo; c.1972–1975)
  • Dominic Sales (drums; 2015–present)
  • James Scannell (alto saxophone, clarinet; 1997–2001)
  • Stephen Shaw, (vocal trio, trombone; c.1989–2002)
  • Jake Spalding (trumpet; 1969–1973)
  • John Sutton (drums, bandleader; c.1985–2005 and 2013–2014)
  • Enrico Tomasso(trumpet, cornet, flugel horn, vocals; c.1987–1993)
  • Simon Townley (piano, arranger, bandleader; 1992–present)
  • Bill Triggs (banjo c.1971–1972)
  • Barry Tyler (percussion/drums c.1970)
  • Peter Warren (banjo, guitar; c.1989)
  • John Watson (drums; 2005–2012)
  • Oliver Wilby (tenor saxophone, clarinet; c.2002–present)


The Pasadena Roof Orchestra[edit]




The Pasadena Roof Orchestra and The Swing Sisters[edit]

DVD releases[edit]

In 2003 the Pasadena Roof Orchestra released a DVD of the 30th Anniversary live concert at Regent's Park, London, with guests. This DVD is only available in Region 2 format.

This DVD is the first release to feature a double sided DVD which plays in colour and digital stereo on one side and in sepia-toned monochrome, with Phonograph style mono audio, on the other.

In August 2005 another DVD, Dance the Night Away appeared, but only in Region 1 format. This DVD was not sanctioned by the orchestra and was recorded from a 1979 German TV show.


  • The PRO has worked on the soundtracks of several films, including The Comedian Harmonists (1997) and Just a Gigolo (1979).
  • On October 1, 1975, the PRO appeared on the first episode of the second season of Twiggy, a BBC2 variety show hosted by the model Twiggy, with whom they performed Everything Stops for Tea.
  • In 1992, the orchestra appeared in two six-part BBC Radio 2 half-hour comedy series entitled The Pasadena's Almanac. The premise was that the orchestra played themselves, despite the series being set in the 1930s. Each series would feature the band travelling the world and foiling the plans of villains and evil masterminds, always finding the time to play some music too. Duncan Galloway took the fore, supported by traditional British radio actors and comedians such as June Whitfield and Roy Hudd.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]