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Hippocratic Oath Big Band History, Albums

Early History to 1970

The Doctor Musicians Band was formed in Calgary circa 1948—originated by Dr. Tom Melling who had a set of drums, musical scores, and a rumpus room . It was created as a hobby band for the enjoyment of its physician players and whomever might be persuaded to listen. One of the originals was Dr. Noel Smith, a 300 pound jovial Irishman with a great love of music. “Smitty” was quite a character and had endless Irish stories. While a medical student, he supported himself by playing saxophone in professional dance bands. He joined The Doctor Musicians Band and subsequently became their leader in 1950. In 1953 he transformed the original band into  The Musical Medics Doctors Band. Rehearsals under Smitty’s leadership provided good Irish humour and the finest Irish “Liquid Tone Improver”. Dr. Noel Smith was most admired as a very caring physician. He passed away in 1964 and the band went into hibernation for a short while.
Following a brief hiatus, the Musical Medics resurfaced in the late 1960’s as The Hippocratic Oath Big Bandnamed by our very own one and only doctor left in the band prior to 2023— trumpeter Dr. Murray Caplan. The original 6 doctors who reunited in 1970 were: Dr. Hugh Morrish, Dr. Norm Soltice, Dr. Cob Johnson, Dr. Jim Nixon, Dr. John Birrell, Dr. Don McKeague. While many of the original 1970 members were, of course, doctors, over the years musicians from other professions have filled out the ranks. The band’s logo, featured on their music stands, showed the medicinal snake entwined around a musical note reflecting the origin of this 17 piece group.

1970 to 1978 

For an entertaining  and fascinating review of this period please read Dr. John Birrell’s “History of the Hippocratic Oath Big Band 1970-1978”. For those who have played music in this city, you will have fond memories of many of the musicians and music directors identified in John’s review. Two well known personalities were Dan Butala (1914-2014) and Dick Tregillus (1915-1995)
A recently discovered Addendum to Birrell’s report was just added revealing a few fascinating details of the character of the early Oath band along with a list of musicians associated witht he band dated approximately early 1970’s.

1979 to 2010 

The depletion of doctors in the band in the 80’s necessitated shortening the band’s name to “Oath Big Band” during which time it was one of the top big bands in Calgary during that period. Some time around 2006 another name change occurred – The Hippocratic Oath Big Band. 
The following auto recordings are snippets from a promotion CD completed about 2009.




With the introduction of new personnel in 2010-2011 The Hippocratic Oath Big Band evolved once again. Two vocalists and 17 band musicians was directed by Calgary Jazzman Mr Dave Edgar. The band was run by an executive of 5 members in a very active music scene in Calgary—working paid gigs and supporting non-profit fundraisers. 

Hippocratic Oath Practice Sessions 2016
..."Practice Makes Perfect"

Practice makes perfect…or so they say! The following videos were done at our warehouse studio in 2016*, 
March 2016 practice (first 3 videos): PREVIOUS  MEMBERS: Allen Langdon, bari | SUB: Paul Howard, trumpet, 
November 2016 practice (4th video): PREVIOUS MEMBERS: Michael Harle & Ross Langdon (RIP 2018), trombones | SUBS: Ian Lewis, trumpet | Geoffrey Paskuski, tenor.

* A huge thanks to John Paiaro who provided  this excellent practice location.

Almost like Being In Love
It Had To Be You 
All of Me 
Route 66

Telus Spark Science Centre Fundraiser 2018

PREVIOUS MEMBERS : Michael Harle, Ross Langdon (RIP 2019), trombones; | SUB: Karl Lingwood, bari.
Fly Me To The Moon | It Had To Be You | String of Pearls – Stacey Hellings, vocals
Crazy Thing Called Love – Russell Moore vocals (previous member)

**Additional band Members from the past...*

Craig Sallows – Trumpet  

2024 Four Oath musicians from the 1970's are still playing in 2024...

After the temporary interruption due to covid between 2021 and 2023, we are once again very active in the entertainment scene in Calgary and area. Post-covid band membership has stabilized to the existing musicians and the band is pretty well as you see it today.
Throughout the years the Hippocratic Oath Big Band has performed and entertained thousands and we can proudly say that there are still four of the original founding members from the decade of the 70’s band who are still performing music. Three musicians are still performing with the Hippocratic Oath:  Dr. Murray Caplan (trumpet), Julian deCocq (tenor sax), Stacey Hellings (vocalist). Grant Lowry (trumpet) left the band in 2009. (if there are others from the 1970’s, please let us know).  
If you are a former band member* not listed on this site please let us know so you can be recognized. [Note: We have done our best to identify everyone in the pictures however please add or correct any error or omissions thanks]
*Additional band members from the Past include:

Craig Sallows – Trumpet

Thank you…
 Another amazing fact…a doctor just joined us in 2023….Dr. Chris Gorrie on trombone….and so the tradition carries on!