Interview with British Jazz trombonist Dave Horler

On 17th September the Bonn Jazz Orchestra will have a very special guest in its ranks. Lymington born trombonist Dave Horler was a part of the highly respected BBC Radio Orchestra and has played with Ella Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby to name just two legendary vocalists. in 1980 he joined the WDR Dance Orchestra, which later became the WDR Big Band, and still managed in that busy career to bring daughter Nathalie into the world – better known now as Internationally successful singer Cascada. 3songsbonn caught up with Dave ahead of the Bonn Pantheon concert and asked him about his career to date.


Hello Dave. On 17 Sept you are appearing with the Bonn Jazz Orchestra at Pantheon. How did this appearance come about?
When I retired 10 years ago, I was asked by Oliver (Pospiech -Uni-Bonn Big Band Leader) to play in the Bonn Jazz Orchestra.

Oliver and the band seem to like my music and decided to do a special concert featuring my music.

Going back to the very beginning of your musical career – you were born in England where your father was himself a big band player, a trumpeter, however. Given your fathers chosen instrument, how did you come to the trombone instead?

My father started me on the piano. However, my brother and I discovered a trombone in the cupboard.

Since then I have never looked back.

Given that your family seems to be born musical (I’ll get to your daughter too in a moment!) was your mother also a musician?

My mother was a piano player for the local keep fit classes.

And your daughter Nathalie is probably the most famous Horler to date – known Internationally as Cascada. What are your thoughts on her musical success? Did you try getting her to play a jazz instrument at any time as she grew up?

I´m very proud of my daughter´s success. She had every opportunity during her upbringing to try any instrument she wanted. Singing was her choice.

Your own instrument, of course, is the trombone. Was the success of Chris Barber an influence in that perhaps?

Chris Barber was not my influence. He doesn´t play my sort of music.

Bob Brookmeyer, JJ Johnson, Urbie Green and Frank Rosolino were my main influences.

We interviewed Chris some time ago and he, of course, has some illustrious fellow musicians on his CV. You do pretty well on that score too, having worked with Ella Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby.

I played with Ella Fitzgerald when I was very young and played with Bing Crosby on his last record before he died.

I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg for famous names you’ve backed?

Well, I have played with a few other people too: Quincy Jones, Phil Collins, Tony Bennett, Andy Williams, Andre Previn, Sir John Barbirolli, Joe Williams, Georgie Fame, Kenny Weeler, Milt Jackson, Carmen McCrea, The Bee Gees, Barry Manilow, Phil Woods, Lisa Minnelli, Judy Garland, Dizzy Gillespie.——the list goes on.

That’s quite a CV! Your own fame comes, not least from being a major influence in the development of Cologne’s WDR Big Band. How did you come to be in the band?

The WDR was looking for a replacement for Jiggs Whigham. Becoming the deputy band leader of the WDR was one of my achievements there.

What other achievements with the WDR Big Band come to mind as important to you?

I was also very proud of the result of writing 12 arrangements remembering Tommy Dorsey..(Thanks to Wolfgang Hirschmann)

Somewhere along the way, you moved from the UK to Germany. Was that based on a musical decision?

Moving to Cologne was a financial decision bearing in mind that the band I joined in 1980 was just an average dance orchestra.

I believe you actually live in Bonn? There seems to be a positive atmosphere here for Jazz, and with bands like Radius and Jin Jim there also seems to be a keen interest in youngsters playing contemporary Jazz. Maybe not so much for Trombone though? When I see the end of year concert by the youth orchestra there always seem to be a half dozen sax players, two or three trumpeters and only one or two trombonists. What’s the cause?

I have no thoughts on why there are very few young trombone players.
Are you optimistic about the future of Big Bands? They must be prohibitively expensive to take on the road any distance.

Unfortunately, I am not optimistic about the future of big bands.

What plans do you have now, and any ambitions not yet fulfilled to be ticked off in the coming years?

I´ve been very lucky. I have no real future ambitions in music except to continue playing good valve trombone for as long as I can and to be a good grandfather!!!!

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