Down for the Count Orchestra

"A sonic ride back to the sounds of Capitol Studios in the 1950s"

DownBeat Magazine

The Down for the Count Orchestra is a vintage orchestra which performs the music of Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Nat 'King' Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and many more.

The Down for the Count Orchestra is our largest line-up, and is an expanded version of our All-Stars Band - featuring a larger horn and rhythm section, and a luscious string section.

The result has been described by DownBeat magazine as "a sonic ride back to the sounds of Capitol Studios in the 1950s" - and a recent review of our tour said "you won't find a better interpretation of these golden tunes anywhere in the UK right now" (Stage Reviews). 

 The Orchestra performs faithful transcriptions of some of the greatest hits of the Swing Era, taking its main inspiration from the Capitol Studios recordings that bought Frank Sinatra, Nat 'King' Cole and Peggy Lee to worldwide fame, and the influential Ella Fitzgerald "Songbook" sessions, masterminded by Norman Granz.

Our show also explores the various ways jazz and swing musicians have involved strings in their music - so you might see and hear excerpts from the Charlie Parker With Strings albums, or recreations of classic tunes from the Tommy Dorsey or Harry James big bands of the 1940s (both of which involved strings). 

We also breathe new life into jazz standards, with original arrangements and orchestrations written by our principal conductor Mike Paul-Smith and associate musical director Simon Joyner.

Above all, every song is performed with love and respect for the original artists, and the collective friendship of the musicians on stage rubs off on audiences who return to see the Orchestra over and over again.

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See the Down for the Count Orchestra on tour:
Swing Into Christmas (Nov-Dec 2022) | Voices of Swing (April-May 2023, dates TBA)

As seen at...


About the Conductor

Mike Paul-Smith is Down for the Count Orchestra's principal conductor, orchestrator and arranger. Mike studied piano under the tutelage of former BBC Young Musician of the Year Anna Markland, and has performed at The Royal Albert Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall and Royal Festival Hall.

As a musical director Mike's credits include Anything Goes, Oklahoma! (Bloomsbury Theatre), A Chorus Line (Pendley Court Theatre) and Carousel (The Old Fire Station). Mike was a founding member of Aylesbury Vale Youth Theatre, and music directed their first production City of Angels.

Mike has also directed the University of London Big Band (including at The Montreux Jazz Festival), and with various other bands has performed at The North Sea Jazz Festival, The London Jazz Festival and Twinwood Festival.

Mike founded Down for the Count in 2005.


"A sonic ride back to the sounds of Capitol Studios in the 1950s"

DownBeat Magazine


"This is awesome!!!"

Michael Bublé


"A potential rival to The John Wilson orchestra"



"The ensemble work brilliantly together, and their familiarity with both the material and each other sends a wave of warmth and passion for their job tumbling over the footlights into the auditorium."

Stage Reviews


"My first impulse on leaving was to ask permission to lay 10 stars on this outstanding gig rather than the usual 5."

Jazz Journal


"Terrific to watch. It bought on… a much-needed cheery grin and not to mention a tear to the eye to see musicians playing instruments like what we used to."

Clare Teal

BBC Radio 2, on our lockdown video


Our Other Ensembles

Down for the Count have two other vintage ensembles perfect for jazz club and concert hall appearances.

Press & PR

The Down for the Count Orchestra are available for concert halls, jazz club and theatre performances as well as private parties and corporate bookings.

To find out more about the Down for the Count Orchestra, get in touch using the form below or call manager Mike Paul-Smith on +44 (0) 7855 488 462.

Get in touch

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