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Last Updated September 2013

This Is The Official 1950's Maestrovox Information Centre
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Maestrovox Keyboards, Tape Recorders, History & Values etc
 

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Published By: Debbie Curtis
Grandaughter of the creator of Maestrovox

Maestrovox tube (valve) synthesizers / keyboards / organs were designed and built by my grandfather, Victor  Harold Ward, (Vic).  The first design model went on sale on May 5th 1952 at the British Industries Fair  at Olympia, London, where it was hailed as the "Success of the Year" taking orders in excess of £80,000! that would be about 1.85 million pounds today!
Maestrovox Consort
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Currently we know of only 25 surviving keyboards and two tape recorders, so if you own a Maestrovox or know of any in existance, please tell us so we can register them . I believe that Maestrovox also made other non keyboard products - I would also be pleased to hear about these if you have any information.
Maestrovox Circuit Diagrams
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Click to see Diagrams

News : May 2012 : A Complete Maestrovox Orchestrain Major Surfaces At Last!
The Orchestrain is perhaps best described as 'mechanical midi' it was designed to sit under the piano keys and sound when the corresponding notes were struck. This Orchestrain Major, serial number 1597, currently belongs to Tony Millington, he found it in his Mother's loft recently, and remembers it being purchased new from Holder Brothers Ltd in Hull by his father in the mid 1950's as well as playing it as a boy! It even has the Holder Brothers paperwork with it!

Maestrovox Orchestrain
Maestrovox Orchestrain - Click To Enlarge Picture
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Maestrovox Orchestrain
Maestrovox Orchestrain - Click To Enlarge Picture
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Maestrovox Orchestrain
Maestrovox Orchestrain - Click To Enlarge Picture
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Maestrovox Orchestrain
Maestrovox Orchestrain - Click To Enlarge Picture
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Maestrovox Orchestrain
Maestrovox Orchestrain - Click To Enlarge Picture
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Maestrovox Orchestrain
Maestrovox Orchestrain - Click To Enlarge Picture
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Victor Harold Ward
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Maestrovox Designer

Coronation Model
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Larger Speaker Grill than the Consort
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Maestrovox Coronation
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Victor Harold Ward - Maestrovox Designer
Born: 14th September 1908 - Died: 15th March 1991

This unknown model (Serial number 1759) surfaced in April 2009 when it appeared on Ebay Australia, We can find no records of a model being made in this black case style although the serial number suggests that it is most likely a variation of the Consort or Coronation, it resembles the Orchestrain but is definitely not that model. Its a really unique version at this point in time.Purchased by an anonymous collector, it is now safely in the Netherlands.

Unknown_Maestrovox_Model.JPG

Below are pictures of Thomas Donofrio's Maestrovox Consort
Serial No: 1225 which he purchased on Ebay UK in October 2006.

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Joy Ward Playing the Maestrovox Coronation
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This is the front cover of the brochure for the Maestrovox Coronation. Seated at the piano is my mum, Joy Curtis (Joy Ward at the time) aged 22. She was a well known singer who worked with many top acts of the time including the Peter Knight Singers.

Maestrovox Coronation Brochure
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The Maestrovox Coronation was I think the culmination of a number of models.
Maestrovox Coronation
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Look how simple it was to place under a piano and face the speaker in the direction you wanted it.
Maestrovox Coronation Brochure
Maestrovox Coronation Brochure
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Text of the brochure for the Maestrovox Coronation.......
Maestrovox Coronation Brochure
Maestrovox Coronation Brochure
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......text Continued.    Note how It folded down into one easily transportable box.

Maestrovox later brought out other non keyboard products. I am aware of their reel to reel tape recorders, I have one myself and one other came up on ebay UK in 2005, but I don't know of anything else. If you have any other Maestrovox product info, please let me know.

Maestrovox Stand - British Industries Fair 1952
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Seated is Broadcaster & Renowned Organist, Frieda Hall, who demonstrated the Maestrovox at the Fair
Maestrovox Ltd, the factory, was based at 30, New Broadway, Uxbridge Road, Hillingdon Heath, Middlesex. The address, Holly Tree House, shown here on the stand, was I think, most likely the home address of co director Mr Hewitt.

B.I.F.
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British Industrie Fair 1952
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1952 Clippings "British Industries Fair" held
at London, Olympia. The Maestrovox took
the biggest order of the whole show!

The Coronation & Consort models were first made available in 1953. (This was of course the 'Coronation Year' of Queen Elizabeth).

Stanley Black Endorsed the Maestrovox
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Stanley Black
& Maestrovox
 
Pianist Stanley Black endorsed the Maestrovox Consort. The Consort in this brochure is in fact the Consort De-Luxe version, which had a larger amplifier, not shown,  which had a 7 to 8 watt output. This model was aimed more at the professional market.

GNS - This stands for Guineas - A Guinea was a former British gold coin worth 21 shillings (1.05p in todays money) so 63 GNS. would have been 66.15p in todays money.

Maestrovox Consort
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Note how the Consort sits on a single pole, I feel there must be other attachments which support it against the underside of the piano. I gather from research that a lot of musicians ended up making or adapting a more convenient stand.
Stanley Black Maestrovox Consort Brochure
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Stanley Black Maestrovox Consort Brochure

Vic Ward, lived at  Le Vallon, Lower Road, Chorleywood, Hertfordshire when he designed the first Maestrovox. He had a shop in the Swillett where he sold and repaired televisions and radios.

Link: Click here for Stanley Black's Biography

 
 The Prototype?

Maestrovox Prototype ?
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Maestrovox Prototype & Vic Ward
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The above two pictures we think is the original creation, the prototype, there is a possibility that this came after Maestrovox as Vic went on to make a similar keyboard with my dad Eddie. The fact that it has less buttons makes me think it is most likely earlier. I am hoping my elder 2nd cousins are going to answer this question when I meet up with them in the near future. Vic is clearly being silly with his 'Proud Pose' in the second picture, always joking around! I'll update this when I know more.

The pictures below are of what I believe is a Maestrovox Consort De-Luxe that Greg Middleton purchased on ebay Uk in December 2005. The interest this sale created led me to create these Maestrovox Pages.

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Maestrovox
Orchestrain
 
This version of the Maestrovox was attached directly to the keys mechanism of the piano so that when you played the piano, it automatically triggered the Maestrovox!
 
' Mechanical Midi ' !!!!

The Orchestrain boasted the following sounds - Violin, Viola, Cello, Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, English Horn, Orchestral Horn, Bassoon, Cornet, Oboe, Flute, Arabian Flute, Piccolo, Bagpipes, Hawiian Guitar, Electric Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, Harpsichord, Theatre Organ, Church Organ, Musical Saw.

Maestrovox Orchestrain
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Maestrovox Orchestrain Brochure - Front Cover

Orchestrain Brochure
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Orchestrain Brochure Page 1

Orchestrain Brochure
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Orchestrain Brochure Page 2

Maestrovox the company was jointly financed by a friend of Vic, R.G. Hewitt, a local Estate Agent. I can find no more information about Mr Hewitt, If you know anything about him, please let me know.

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Orchestrain Brochure Back Cover.

Carroll Gibbons, Composer, Bandleader & Arranger
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Toby_Jug_Tolworth.jpg

Where Is the Orchestrain from the Toby Jug in Tolworth, Surrey?

Steve Fay has contacted us, his Dad, Vic Fay, used to play an Orchestrain which was attached to the piano in the pub's dining room and dance hall in the late 50's early 60's!

So what happenned to it? We understand the pub got demolished by Tesco! Was the Maestrovox ever rescued?

The manager at the time was a Mr Seaton, did you, or do you know him or his descendants? Do you know of any pictures showing the Maestrovox Orchestrain that was there?

Please let us have any information in the hope we can find out more!


This is Gabor Tarjan's Maestrovox Coronation which he found hidden away in a Netherlands Antique Shop in 2006.
It is the only surviving Coronation Model we currently know of!

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Sadly, it is not working and the case is in poor condition. However, Gabor is intending to have the electronics restored to a working condition and will have the minimum amount of work carried out to the case to keep it as original as possible

Thorpe Park - Surry
Click for Thorpe Park Web Pages
Click for Thorpe Park Web Pages

Thorpe Park - The Connection

Vic Ward descended from ‘The Wards of Egham’. His grandfather was a landowner & agricultural engineer who farmed the land that is now 'Thorpe Park’ in Surrey. The family owned most of Thorpe Village. When Vic’s grandfather died, the estate was to be divided equally between his 3 sons, however, Vic’s own father. Richard Ward, died just a few days later, Vic was 12. Vic maintained that his uncles colluded with his Mother’s solicitor to cheat her out of his Father’s share. They did pay her a good sum of money and she got to keep some cottages, but it was only a fraction of what she should have had. Shortly after accepting the advice of her solicitor, he then suddenly expanded to become a large London firm! A fat bonus from the uncles? Sadly, Vic’s mum (Ethel) became a heavy drinker and before long the money & cottages were gone. The remaining land and properties were progressively sold by other Ward descendants, the gravel pits were dug and eventually along came Thorpe Park. A picture at the park’s farm, (once a Ward farm) is of a man with a striking resemblance to how Vic looked in his latter years, we believe it to most likely be a relative.

The Pianomaker - No.480 Vol.41 June 1953
The Pianomaker - No.480 Vol.41 June 1953
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Advertisement from
The Pianomaker
Pianomaker Advert - No:480 Vol:41 June 1953
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No.480 Vol, 41 June, 1953 
Pianomaker Article - No.480 Vol.41 June 1953
Pianomaker  Article - No.480 Vol.41 June 1953
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Article from 'The Pianomaker'
June 1953 No.480 Vol.41

Maestrovox Consort
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The Maestrovox was by no means the first of its kind, however, it was the first to use a normal sized set of piano keys!

Here are some recent pictures of Australian musician Ed Leckie's Maestrovox Consort Serial No: 1360

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each Picture to
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Vic was married to Helen Amelia Ward (formerly Parker) they had one child Joy (my Mum) she married Trombonist, Big Band Leader and Music Arranger Eddie Curtis (my Dad) - I was their only child. My dad also had great skills in electonics and also designed and built electronic keyboards & organs, in fact it was through working with Vic after Maestrovox that he met my mum! My dad was actually the designer of the very first UK manufactured all electronic organ, many of his designs were produced by Selmer. I don't have much info on my dad's creations but I'll touch on them later.

The Original Maestrovox.
 
This was the first model produced which was exhibited at the British Industries Fair held at London Olympia in 1952. This is a newspaper advert cutting, publication unknown. 
 
 

Carroll Gibbons (1903-1953
 
playing the Maestrovox at the British Industries Fair in 1952. Carroll was a famous composer, bandleader & arranger.

The Original Maestrovox
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Carroll Gibbons at the BIF 1952
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Strange Sounds by Mark Brend
Strange Sounds By Mark Brend
 
Published in 2005, this book is all about unusual musical instruments - it has quite a long chapter on similar piano attachment keyboards like the Solovox, Clavioline and Univox. It also gives the Maestrovox a mention.

Link : Strange Sounds by Mark Brend

Vic Ward's TV & Radio Shop Window
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In his workshop
In his workshop
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Still tinkering, even in retirement
Still tinkering, even in retirement
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Vic loved to joke around
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Vic told great stories, loved to laugh, told loads of jokes and generally enjoyed his life as much as he could.

He had a passion for cars
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I think this is outside his house in Chorleywood. The car is a 1948 Ford Anglia

Vic & his Minor Bird
Vic & his Minor Bird
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Vic loved animals and was especially fond of aviary birds, this was one of his talking Minor Birds.

Melody Maker Advertisement May 17th 1952

Melody Maker May 17th 1952
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Original Melody Maker Picture
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Frieda Hall
 
Seated  is renowned  organist Frieda Hall, on the right is my Grandad, Vic Ward. In the centre is the American who placed an order at the B.I.F for 1000 Maestrovox keyboards and I think the man on the left was Mr Hewitt who co-financed and Maestrovox Ltd.

Link: Click here for links to Frieda Hall

B.I.F Photographers Slip
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The B.I.F. photographers slip for the photograph used in the above Melody Maker Advertisement

Frieda Hall - Organist
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Frieda Hall
(1913 - 2002)
Frieda Hall & Unknown!
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At present I have no idea who Frieda is talking to in this picture, If anyone knows who he is, please let me know!
Another unknown!
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Do you know who this is? It's at my Grandads house, I know that much!

Toc H
Toc H
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The TocH Quartet, Gibraltar 1954. At the piano, with a Maestrovox Consort is Sgt. Peter Longman. On accordian is Sgt Mike O'Regan. I have recently been in contact with Mike and although he cannot remember the names of the bassist and drummer he does remember that Peter had to save hard from his army pay to buy the Maestrovox. Mike described the Maestrovox as the 5th Member of the quartet and remembers it being very quirky, needing to be re-tuned between each number!  Peter has now died, but Mike would like to hear from the drummer or bassist, or their families. Mike's email is jmike.oregan@ntlworld.com
 

Beckato's 'Rialtone' Dance Band
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Beckato's Rialtone Dance Band - No Maestrovox here, that's because this picture was taken in the 1920's! Seated at the drums though is a very young Victor Ward, On the banjo is Cyril Ruffell, I have no idea who the others were or how successful the band was. I'd love to know though! Vic didn't stay playing drums, perhaps his interest in electronics took over!

Link: The Toc H Quartet

Elsie Tjick Sumatra and Vera Markovitch
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Elsie Tjick Sumatra at the piano and Vera Markovitch, both of the 1952 Yugoslav National Ballet. Publication  unknown. That's Vic in the background.
 
 
For some reason I called my grandad 'Gordon' or 'Gordy Vic', I also nicknamed my grandma 'Pampy' !

Maestrovox Coronation Ad
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Advert for the Coronation from 1953, Weekly demonstrations were held at the Steinway Hall, St Georges Street, Hanover Square, London every Tues/Wed/Thurs from 2 till 5pm

Maestrovox Coronation Ad 1953
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Henry Hall & Ronnie O'Dell
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Bandleader - Henry Hall (1898 - 1989)
& Ronnie O'Dell at the Piano

Another Maestrovox Coronation advertisement from 1953 and on the right above, Henry Hall looks on as Ronnie O'Dell demonstrates the Maestrovox Coronation at Steinway Hall London.

Link : Click here for Henry Hall's Biography

Link : Click here for links to Ronnie O'dell

This Heat
This Heat
Albums Feature Maestrovox
This Heat
 
The band 'This Heat' were together from 1975 to 1981 and used a Maestrovox Consort as a major feature on their albums and tours.

This Heat
thisheat.jpg

Link: Hear Maestrovox Recordings

Charles Hayward
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Charles Hayward
 
Charles Hayward played the Maestrovox and drums with 'This Heat' He has kindly written a detailed account of his Maestrovox experiences which is a really interesting read.

Link: Charles Hayward's Maestrovox Experiences

Link:'This Heat' - CD Boxed Set (Features Maestrovox)

Link: Charles Hayward's Maestrovox Experiences

Link: Click Here for Google Links to Charles Hayward

Link: 'This Heat' Biography

Link: Click Here for Google Links to This Heat

According to 'Companies House' - Maestrovox the company was dissolved officially in August 1970. They have no other records in their archives so at what point Maestrovox ceased manufacturing or selling any products we do not currently know!

Maestrovox Links

Maestrovox Circuit Diagrams
circuitpage01reduced.jpg
Click to see Diagrams

Maestrovox Circuit Diagrams & Components

Maestrovox Valuations Page

Maestrovox Recordings

Wikipedia Page

This Heat - CD Boxed Set (Features Maestrovox)

Charles Haywards Maestrovox Experiences

Stanley Black's Biography

Strange Sounds by Mark Brend

Strange Sounds by Mark Brend (mentions the Maestrovox)

Henry Hall Biography

Squuezytunes - More Maestrovox Info

Squeezytunes Maestrovox & Clavioline

Google links to Ronnie O'dell

Google links to Frieda Hall

Google Links to This Heat

Google Links to Charles Hayward

The Maestrovox Sounds are now available as Digital Samples, please visit Precisionsound for full details or clck here.

Maestrovox On YouTube 01
CLICK PICTURE TO PLAY VIDEO
CLICK PICTURE TO PLAY VIDEO
Maestrovox On YouTube 02
CLICK PICTURE TO PLAY VIDEO
CLICK PICTURE TO PLAY VIDEO
Maestrovox On YouTube 03
CLICK PICTURE TO PLAY VIDEO
CLICK PICTURE TO PLAY VIDEO
Maestrovox On YouTube 04
CLICK PICTURE TO PLAY VIDEO
CLICK PICTURE TO PLAY VIDEO

Register of Known Maestrovox's
These are the only known Maestrovox's still in existance

MODEL
SERIAL NUMBER
OWNER
COUNTRY

Consort

403

Andrew James

Wales

Consort

452

PJ Peeters

Netherlands

Consort

467

Debbie Curtis

United Kingdom

Consort

1040

Lars Westin

Sweden

Consort

1098

Morgan Fisher

United Kingdom

Consort

1137

Unknown At Present

United Kingdom

Consort

1167

Bruce Brand

United Kingdom

Consort

1192

Ken Stone

Australia

Consort

1193

Name Kept Private

United Kingdom

Consort

1225

Name Kept Private

USA

Consort

1259

Rod Sazio

United Kingdom

Consort

1280

Nigel Bailey

United Kingdom

Consort

1287

Name Kept Private

United Kingdom

Consort

1289

Lars Westin

Sweden

Consort

1360

Ed Leckie

Australia

Consort

1364

Jon Dent

Australia

Consort De Luxe

1392

Name Kept Private

United Kingdom

Consort

1419

Name Kept Private

United Kingdom

Orchestrain

1597

Tony Millington

United Kingdom

Orchestrain (TBC)

1633

Greg Bean

Australia

Consort

Awaiting
Confirmation

Mick Andon

United Kingdom

Coronation

Missing

Gabor Tarjan

Netherlands

Consort

Missing

Gergo Palatinszky

Hungary, Budapest

Consort

Awaiting
Confirmation

Name Kept Private

USA

Unidentifiable -Most likely a later version of the Consort or Coronation.

1759

Name Kept Private

Netherlands

If you own a Maestrovox, please register it with us using the form below: You can remain annonymous from the published list if you wish.

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Maestrovox Model *
Serial Number
Is It Working *
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Please tell us anything you know about your Maestrovox, Any History, Where You Got It etc

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"Eccentric, Rhythmical, Brilliance. This is a class outfit with a capital C, other Big Bands Beware" - Jim Kennedy, Encore Magazine, Eccentric, Rhythmical, Brilliance. This is a class outfit with a capital C, other Big Bands Beware" - Jim Kennedy, Encore Magazine, Eccentric, Rhythmical, Brilliance. This is a class outfit with a capital C, other Big Bands Beware" - Jim Kennedy, Encore Magazine, Eccentric, Rhythmical, Brilliance. This is a class outfit with a capital C, other Big Bands Beware" - Jim Kennedy, Encore Magazine, Eccentric, Rhythmical, Brilliance. This is a class outfit with a capital C, other Big Bands Beware" - Jim Kennedy, Encore Magazine, Eccentric, Rhythmical, Brilliance. This is a class outfit with a capital C, other Big Bands Beware" - Jim Kennedy, Encore Magazine, Eccentric, Rhythmical, Brilliance. This is a class outfit with a capital C, other Big Bands Beware" - Jim Kennedy, Encore Magazine,