“The very first black band to make its mark in the UK, the Southern Syncopated Orchestra, brought West Indians into the British jazz world in 1919. Put together by composer Will Marion Cook in New York the previous year, the 27-piece African-American band arrived in London to fulfil long-term contracts first at the Philharmonic Hall in Great Portland Street, and then at Kingsway Hall in Holborn. Along with the all-white Original Dixieland Jazz Band, who came from the US for an extended stay at around the same time, the SSO can be credited with introducing jazz to the UK.
The Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, invited the SSO first to play at Buckingham Palace, and subsequently to headline a grand ball at the Albert Hall to mark the first anniversary of Armistice Day. With demand high, the band stayed on beyond 1920 Over the ensuing years, its original American members drifted away, to be replaced by London-based musicians who hailed from Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad, Jamaica, Antigua, Haiti, Sierra Leone and Ghana.” - Lloyd Bradley; Sounds Like London