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Saluting Sgt. Pepper

by Django Bates

  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Comes in lovely slipcase.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Saluting Sgt. Pepper via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    Purchasable with gift card

      £7.99 GBP  or more


Lovely Rita 02:59


JONAS WESTERGAARD bass and vocals
PETER BRUUN drums and vocals

The totally irrepressible creativity and ever-unconventional spirit of Django Bates swings into a completely new and unpredicted sphere. In collaboration with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band and Eggs Laid By Tigers, Django has reimagined the seminal Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the most significant Rock album of all time.

Up until now the idea of Django exploring the Beatles catalogue would have been met with an emphatic no. However the opportunity to celebrate the 50th anniversary of an album that is a landmark musically and culturally was a challenge he couldn't resist.

As Django explains: ‘My meeting with Sergeant Pepper came when I bought the album for my elder sister’s eighteenth birthday. An excellent gift. Through the closed door of her bedroom I would catch sonic glimpses... What a wealth of sounds, genres, effects, surprises, very generously scattered with words of madness and sanity’.

With his overpoweringly creative spirit, his anarchic sense of humour and his incredible level of musicality, approaching the arrangement process with a manifesto of ‘Freedom, not Licence’, Django's work is typically inventive and visionary. Holding on to the original structures and keys, he gracefully folds his own colours, rhythms and sound into the music, resulting in a thoroughly kaleidoscopic examination of this iconic album.

This music was commissioned by the Frankfurt Radio Big Band. Commission partners are the Norrbotten Big Band (Sweden), the Danish Radio Big Band, and the UMO Jazz Orchestra (Finland), joining in a spirit of international cooperation, some 50 years after the original summer of love.


I was born in 1960 into a house that resounded to the sounds of jazz, african, and gypsy music, (with occasional sprinklings of Schnittke). There was almost no culture of Pop in our home - you could say my parents considered that to be the Devil’s music.

At the age of eight, due to a bizarre ban on cycling to school, I abruptly changed from a “normal” school to one based on the "Freedom, not Licence" principle as exemplified by A.S Neill’s Summerhill School. My new place of learning was called Kirkdale and it unapologetically celebrated Hippiedom. How wonderful for a boy suddenly to have teachers who were as childish, eccentric, and anarchic as the pupils. I use the word “pupils” advisedly as there were virtually no lessons. We just played around in mud and set fire to things.

Two good things came from this experience: I was allowed to strum a guitar for as long as I liked and whenever I liked, for a period of three years. I didn’t learn much about the guitar but I learnt that it’s ok just to play your life away. And secondly, Kirkdale introduced me to a very different kind of music from my home sounds: the psychedelic and carefree experimentation of hippies. First they played me Abbey Road…

Using cardboard boxes in my bedroom, I had played “drums” with everyone from zulu choirs to Davy Graham, from New Orleans Jug Bands to Mingus. I now became Ringo’s co-drummer as the five bar chorus of She’s So Heavy crashed into my consciousness.

My meeting with Sergeant Pepper came a little later on when I bought the album for my elder sister’s eighteenth birthday. An excellent gift. Through the closed door of her bedroom I would catch sonic glimpses… What a wealth of sounds, genres, effects, surprises, very generously scattered with words of madness and sanity.

I left school as soon as I could and became a musician.

Whenever asked whether I could imagine arranging anything by The Beatles I’ve always given an emphatic “No”. So it was a surprise to hear myself giving an instant “Yes” to the invitation to arrange Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for the Frankfurt Radio Big Band. Twenty-Seventeen being the album’s 50th anniversary gave it meaning and anyway you never know how you will act in an emergency until one confronts you for real. For this enterprise I chose the path of “Freedom, not Licence”. I held to the original structures and keys; each song has good vibrations that millions have grown up with and, for all I know, these sounds and key relationships may have become a common memory that is passed through our genes to each new generation.

Before interweaving my colours, rhythms, and illustrations, I transcribed every bar through my own ears. I had heard that there is a book of transcriptions available but it felt essential to build on a personal reading of the album. When you listen repeatedly, in detail, you hear layer upon layer of work, all the way down to half hidden subterranean shadows of experiments which became over-written by the final needs of each song. The sum of all these layers is a masterwork of writing, playing, recording, mixing, and mastering.

So, fifty years on from the original, please join us in an exploration and celebration of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and a much needed memory of the Summer of Love.

Django Bates,
Bern, 2017


released July 7, 2017

All arrangements by Django Bates
All songs composed by Lennon/McCartney except “Within You Without You” composed by George Harrison. All songs courtesy of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, used with kind permission.

Produced by Django Bates & Tim Adnitt
Executive Producer: Olaf Stötzler
Recorded October 2016, Hörfunkstudio II, Hessischer Rundfunk (hr), Frankfurt/Main
Recording Producer: Axel Gutzler
Recording Engineer: Michael Wayszak
Mixed by Tim Adnitt in London
Mastered by Ray Staff at Air Mastering, Lyndhurst Hall, London
Django Bates Management: Jeremy Farnell

4th - 9th September 17 - Ronnie Scotts, London - Frankfurt Radio Big Band (2 shows / night)
26th October 17 - Torneå/Haparanda, Sweden - Norrbotten Big Band
27th October 17 - Umeå, Sweden - Norrbotten Big Band
28th October 17 - Luleå, Kulturens Hus, Sweden - Norrbotten Big Band
29th October 17 - Pitea, Sweden - Norrbotten Big Band
2nd November 17 - Helsinki, Finland - Umo Jazz Orchestra
9th November 17 - Amager Bio, Copenhagen, Denmark - Danish Radio Big Band


Django Bates: keyboard, backing vocals, arranger, conductor.
Stuart Hall: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, lap steel, electric sitar, violin.

Eggs Laid By Tigers:
Martin Ullits Dahl: lead vocal.
Jonas Westergaard: electric bass, backing vocals.
Peter Bruun: drums, percussion, backing vocals.

Frankfurt Radio Big Band (hr-Bigband):
Heinz-Dieter Sauerborn: soprano sax, flute, clarinet.
Oliver Leicht: alto sax, flute, clarinet, alto clarinet.
Tony Lakatos: tenor sax, flute.
Steffen Weber: tenor sax, alto flute, bass clarinet.
Rainer Heute: baritone sax, bass sax, bass clarinet, contra alto clarinet.
Frank Wellert: trumpet.
Thomas Vogel: trumpet.
Martin Auer: trumpet, flugelhorn.
Axel Schlosser: trumpet, flugelhorn.
Günter Bollmann: trombone.
Peter Feil: trombone.
Christian Jaksjø: trombone.
Jan Schreiner: bass trombone.
Martin Scales: electric guitar.

Tracks 2, 3, 4: Tony Lakatos | Track 5: Martin Scales, Django | Track 8: Stuart Hall. Tracks 10, 11: Django | Track 12: Heinz-Dieter Sauerborn, Stuart Hall.


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