About us - our aims and our policies

The orchestras and bands in this brochure are all managed by the United Services Organisation - better known as the U S O. The company was started some 12 years ago by orchestrator/conductor Greg Francis directly following him providing a young orchestra for the Lord (David) Puttnam film Memphis Belle.

With some encouragement from Lord Puttnam and Warner Films, it was decided to keep this new exciting young orchestra together after the film release as a working orchestra. The aims of the U S O have since become simply to provide the opportunity for young musicians to develop their skills playing big band music of the 1940's.

Many of the excellent music colleges and youth orchestras tend to concentrate on either classical or
very 'way out' big band music. There is very little training in respect of the music of the 1940's - a very important part of our musical heritage.

There is also very little opportunity for these young people to join the established orchestras since, they are mostly populated by the more senior musicians. One great thing about the music business is that many musicians do go on to play their instruments into their 70's and 80's. Whilst this is a good thing of course, it does preclude most of the younger players from having their chance. Hence we maintain a policy of employing younger musicians. By supporting our young orchestras you will be helping to continue that policy, thus ensuring that 'our kind of music' is still being played as it should be in 20 or 30 years time.

The U S O management team has grown over the years and we now manage several more 'big' bands, each one having it¹s own particular identity. Whilst the Memphis Belle Swing Orchestra still continues to perform as a typical 1940's American Swing Band, the Glenn Miller Tribute Orchestra provides a very polished tribute to the less raucous music of the swing bands.

In 1997 we reformed the original Squadronaires Orchestra as a tribute to one of the finest British bands ever. The New Squadronaires Orchestra plays a great mixture of the swing band music and the softer ballad styles of Harry James, Benny Goodman and some of the Glenn Mille hits. The Savoy Dance Orchestra plays the pure music of the late 20's and up to the mid 30's era, when swing finally took over. In 2001 we were asked to provide a selection of big bands at the Blackpool Tower ballroom for 6 nights a week.

We decided to alternate the bands and in so doing, we reformed the world famous Blackpool Tower Big Band. This band plays music from the early 1950's right up to the superb James Last 'party dance' music of the 80's and 90's.

The band is resident at the Tower Ballroom 4 nights a week playing for ballroom/sequence and party dancing. We now have sole worldwide management of the Nelson Riddle Tribute Orchestra which accompanies our 'Kings of Swing' and 'Bobby Darin Songbook' shows. It has also accompanied Joe Longthorne and a tour is in preparation with Joe.

Following the success of our orchestras and shows at Blackpool Tower in 2001/2/3/4 (bar profits trebled!) the band were replaced by a 7 piece small band. That¹s progress 'Blackpool Style'!

If you decide to book one of our bands, you can expect a level of service which you would not normally experience in the music business. We will provide you with publicity assistance, advice if you need it, and you can rest assured that every event will be supervised and performed in a totally professional manner. No other swing orchestra 'carries' a 'baby grand' piano. Ours do so because we are concerned with creating a truly authentic atmosphere. They didn't use electronic pianos on wire stands in the 1940's and so we do not use them now. Similarly, the musicians were young and 'clean cut' in the 1940's. All of our musicians are similarly 'clean cut' and very professional in their manner and musicianship.

Our company policy is then, to encourage the younger generation to listen to, play and enjoy the music of a wonderful era. In an age when television and the music industry mass produce 'Pop Puppets' and 'Musical Muppets' it is surely a refreshing change to know that there is at least one organisation which is trying to maintain a degree of musicality amongst the younger generation. That organisation is the U S O!


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