Hippocratic Oath Big Band History, Albums & the Sounds of Music
Early History to 1970
The Doctor Musicians Band was formed in Calgary circa 1948. 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 founded 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.
Following a brief hiatus, the Musical Medics resurfaced in 1970 as The Hippocratic Oath Big Band—named by our very own one and only doctor left in the band, 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 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 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 and Dick Tregillus.
1979 to 2010
The depletion of doctors in the band during this time period necessitated shortening the band’s name to “Oath Big Band”.
(Detailed History “in progress”)
Oath Big Band was one of the top community stage bands in the city however it wasn’t long before another name change in 2011….THE NEW BAND was named to honour the tradition of the early days and once again, it was the Hippocratic Oath Big Band with two vocalists and 17 band musicians headed 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.
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 playing. They are Dr. Murray Caplan (trumpet) and Julian de Cocq (tenor sax), Stacey Hellings (vocals), and Grant Lowry (who left the band in 2009)—all little older now of course!!
(Detailed History “in progress”)
2011 Video Dance with Vocalist Stacey Hellings
2011 Video Dance & the Hippocratic Oath Big Band
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.