14 January 2018 – Chris Pearce & Andy Leggett’s Sopranos:  How lovely to see the familiar faces of this well-known band.   It was a mixed programme from blues, to big band to an old jug number, so Aint Misbehaving, Whisky Drinking Woman, The Mooch, Dans La Rue d’Antibes and a brolly parade to When We Were young Molly.   The musicians were:  on reeds were both Chris Pearce and Andy Leggett, on guitar was Phil Probert, on drugs was Roger Watts, on double bass was Tony Sharp and on trombone was Dave Deakin.  Always lovely to hear a group of this calibre and the programme was interspersed with humour throughout.

7 January 2018 – Roy Sainsbury’s Rhythm Chief’s featuring Dave Newton.  This was the first concert of the year and what a concert.   Six musical instruments melted into one glorious sound.  This was modern jazz played with evident enjoyment, enthusiasm and expertise.  It was not so modern that it did not include numbers such as ‘Slow Boat to China’ but also had numbers I was not familiar with such as ‘Corner Pocket’ and ‘My Little Red Top’.   Roy Sainsbury, leader, played guitar, Tom Hill was on bass and also sang, Bryan Corbett on trumpet, Charlie Wright on tenor sax, Mal Garrett on drums and Dave Newton on keyboard.   This group was well received and we look forward to hearing them again.

November Concerts

26  November 2017
Chicago Swing Catz.  This was the last
gig in November and what a good mix in their programme, with ragtime, gospel
and New Orleans type jazz as well as a small band sound that was pretty
cool.  Jeff Matthews (leader) was on
reeds, Pete Berresford on kayboard, Pete Ainge on trumpet, Mike Carney on
drums, Louis Lince on guitar and banjo and Pete Friel on trombone along with
Dave Margaroni on double bass.  I am sure
we shall see them again in 2018.

19 November 2017 – Wabash Jazzmen with Nick Ward.  As previously this band was well received by
the SJS audience.   For me a favourite
piece was the harmonica playing by Will Smith which took me back to the USA and
a train station somewhere down south …
The programme contained blues, a cakewalk and gospel to name a few.  On guitar/banjo/ukelele was Mike Challinor
(leader), on drums was Nick Ward, on Trombone was Mike Pemberton, on trumpet
(and harmonica) was Will Smith and on reeds was Mike Hayler.

Nick Ward seen receiving his SJS Musician of the Year
2017/18 trophy presented by Ann and Brian Crofts.   Nick is the first drummer ever to receive
this accolade.

12 November 2017 – Mell Hill’s Fine & Dandy.  Though there were only four musicians they
made a big sound.  It was lovely to see
our President, Mel Hill, back in action again.
There were some unusual numbers, not least Moon over Burslem (a take on
a Kenny Ball piece with lyrics written by Mel) and Jolie Blonde (a Cajun number
with steel guitar, fiddle and vocals in French).  What a smashing lunchtime concert.  Musicians were Mel Hill on trumpet (leader),
Richard Vernon on string bass, Jake Reeves on banjo/guitar/ukelele/steel guitar
and Willie Entwhistle on a mixture of reeds, fiddle and claviole (posh name for
penny whistle I am told).

29 October – Debonaires Little Big Band:  If there was a prize for best dressed band this week’s contestants would win hands down.  The band opened with a brief snatch of the theme tune to Strictly Come Dancing to herald Nick Balmforth in his role as compere  onto the stage.  This led on to songs from the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s played in style by Leader and trumpet player – Max Debon, Austin Ralphson on the trombone, Rick Halliwell on the alto sax, Sarah Eastwood on clarinet and vocals, Peter “Pedro” Robinson on double bass, Rob Turner on drums, Peter Wilson on keyboard and Anne Holder on saxophone.  We had it all – Mambo Italiano, The Folks who Live on the Hill, Stardust, Americal Patrol, Tiger Rag, My Baby Just Cares for Me and much much more, ending with an appropriate swing version of The Addams Family.   In line with Strictly’s favourite straight-talking Craig Revel Horwood it was “Fab-u-lous”.  

1 October 2017 – Matt Palmer’s Eagle Jazz Band:  This band is always welcome at the White Eagle Club and they regularly feature in the top ten of our League Table of Band Ratings.  Led by gifted reedsman, Matt Palmer, the rest of the band consisted on Baby Jools on the drums, Pete Brown on trumpet, Terry Williams on trombone, Brian Lawrence on double bass and sousaphone and Brian Mellor on guitar and banjo.  There were also vocals from Matt, Pete, Brian and Terry which added some flavour.  Sadly there were not so many there on 1st October, unusually, but those attended thoroughly enjoyed a smashing concert which ended, as always, with ‘Bring Me Sunshine’.

Sussex Jazz Kings – 3 September 2017

The SJS first concert of the season began with the Sussex Jazz Kings.   This 6-piece band comprised:  Peter Lay (drums), David Price (banjo), Roy Stokes (trombone), Peter Clancy (bass), Bernie Stutt (clarinet) and stepping in for cover today on the trumpet was Gordon Whitworth.  Their New Orleans jazz style went down well with a good crowd in attendance.  This was the first of a longer concert (12.30-3.00), the others being on 22 October and 17 December.   What a welcome back to jazz this was.

23 April to 28 May

Brolly paraders getting younger and younger and brollies getting smaller.

28 May – Ivory & Gold (now renamed The Sweet & Hot
Quartet).  The final concert in the SJS
2016/17 year.  This foursome is really
the thinking man’s jazz.  Great music –
ranging from syncopated to blues and cakewalk and blues – and great fun.  Graham Smith (drums) gave his maiden vocal
rendition which brought tears to the eyes!!
Thomas ‘Spats’ Langham (current SJS Musician of the year) was on banjo
and guitar, Jeff Barnhart on piano and his wife Anne on flute.  I hope they are back with us soon.

21 May – Chicago Swing Katz.
Playing music from the jazz age to the swing craze and in the Chicago
style were musicians Jeff Matthews (reeds), Pete Ainge (trumpet), Mike Owen
(trombone), Roy Sainsbury (guitar), Derek Harrison (piano), Mike Carnie (drums)
and Edward Lloyd-Hughes (double bass).  A
power cut affected electric instruments and put the lights out so instead of
jazz in the park we had ‘jazz in the dark’.
Initially non-plussed for ten seconds the band valliantly played on.

14 May – The Wabash Jazzmen.    This was the second of two Stafford Music
Festival concerts that we managed to arrange.
Hot, driving jazz in a distinctive rhythmic, foot-tapping style led by
Mark Challinor on banjo, with Gordon Whitworth (trumpet), Mike Pembroke
(trombone), Mike Hayler (reeds) and Richard Vernon (double bass).  This band really packs a punch and was well

7 May – The Pedigree Jazzmen.  The first of two Stafford Music Festival
concerts they gave us ‘A Salute to Trad Jazz’ with music from the 50s and
60s.  Chris Walker led on clarinet, with
Tony Mann (trombone), Andy Chislett (trumpet), John Noddings (banjo/guitar),
Ken Ames (double bass) and Colin Larn (drums).
Great music, great playing, great concert.

30 April – Christine Tyrrell with Matt Palmer’s Rhythmic
Reeds.  Such a foot-tapping
performance.  Matt Palmer always gives
101%.  Richard Vernon was sitting in for
Brian Lawrence on the bass,k Mark Challinor (guitar/banjo), George Huxley
(reeds) and Nick Ward (drums).  Christine
Tyrrell was in good voice and is always welcome at the White Eagle Club.

23 April – Richard Leach’s Clubhouse 6.  This was last SJS evening concert as this has
now been discontinued.  Richard and his
band were in great form and played with a richness and vibrancy delightful to
hear.   There was a good range from fast
and furious, through soulful to gentle.
Band consisted of Richard Leach (trombone), Gordon Whitworth (trumpet),
George Huxley (reeds), Brian Mellor (banjo + guitar), John Fellows (bass +
sousaphone) and Nick Ward (drums).

Highlights of February to April

16 April –
Willy’s Weepers with Eric “Busker” Newton:  A favourite with SJS, this band gave us all a
thoroughly good gig.  Terry Brunt,
swathed in long scarf, was on trombone, Jack Cotterill on drums, Peter ‘Pedro’
Robinson on banjo/guitar, Pete Brown on trumpet, John Mascett (apologies if
this is wrong!) on double bass and the whole was led by clarinettist Eric
‘Busker’ Newton.

9 April –
Debonaires Little Big Band:  This was the
band’s first appearance at SJS and we were not disappointed.  It was lovely to have both male and female
vocals throughout.  Max Debon on trumpet
led with Sarah Eastwood (clarinet), Rick Halliwell (alto sax), Anne Holder
(tenor sax), Austin Ralphson (trombone), Peter Wilson (piano), Peter ‘Pedro’
Robinson (bass) and Rob Turner (drums).
Everyone will look forward to them coming back.

2 April –
Kevin Grenfell’s Jazz Giants:  No Richard
Leach on this occasion but there was the addition of reeds player, Mike
Wills.  Kevin Grenfell (trombone and
trumpet) joked his way through the gig.
Today saw the strangest brolly parade ever with one lone parader (? Sylvia)
but joined half way through by regulars Heather and Nick.  Other members of the band included Jack
Cotterill (drums), Wayne Elliott (bass) and Richard Hughes (piano).

26 March –
Frog Island Jazz Band:  The room was
festooned in flowers for Mothering Sunday and the band, who are honorary
citizens of New Orleans, played numbers from
the 20s and 30s.  John Whitehead
led on cornet, with Jim Hurd (clarinet), John Jeanes (trombone), Rob Fullalove
(brass bass), Brian Lawrence (banjo), Keith Durston I(piano) and Chris Marchant

The room at White
Eagle Club looked lovely with vases of daffodils on the tables to welcome the

19 March –
Sticky Wicket’s Swingtet featuring Chris Gumbley:  Sticky Wicket, the drummer, gave SJS a
glimpse of his flashing drumsticks.  He
is widely regarded as the UKs number 1 swing drummer.  Playing along with him was Stafford’s own top
reedsman, Chris Gumbley, vocals were provided by Linda Morris, piano by Mike
Kemp and Clive Morton was on double bass.
A concert to remember.

12 March –
Steve King Big Band:  The room was awash
with music with the coming on Steve King and his bang.   The audience was bigger than usual with
standing room only for stragglers.  The
20 piece band was joined by the very talented US vocalist, Lynn Dawes.

5 March –
New Orleans Heat:  This 7-piece band did
what it says on the label – that is they played old New Orleans.  This is one of the hottest bands on the
circuit and play across Europe.  All
musicians were hugely talented but I was particularly taken with the trumpeter
– Richard Church – who I understand collects trumpets and has 33 to date!  The rest of the band consisted of leader
Barry Grummett on piano, Dave Vickers (trombone), Roger Bird (clarinet &
alto sax), Harry Slater (bass), Colin Bushell (drums) and Alan Birkinhead

26 February
– Robin Mason’s Apex Jazz & Swing Band:  
A pacy blues number burst into the room and washed over an enthusiastic
audience at the start of the concert.
During the following two hours the music ranged from big band to trad,
with Latin thrown into the mix for good measure.  Whatever does it for you, from blues to
swing, was there.

January / February Update

19 February – Annie Hawkins’ Funky Butt Hall Jazzmen.  Sadly Annie was unable to come along on this
occasion due to a nasty chest infection.
In her place came Isabel Toner.
Joining her were Peter Wright on cornet, Jeff Milner (tailgate
trombone), Karl Hird (reeds), Malcolm Hogarth (piano), Bob Rowbottom (banjo)
and Barry Wood on drums.  The second set,
in particular, reached out to all in the room.  
We hope Annie recovers soon and look forward to seeing this group again
in the future.

12 February – Baby Jools & The Jazzoholics).  This was our first evening concert and what a
concert!  Each and every musician is so
talented from Baby Jools on drums to Jim Swinnerton on double bass.  Joining them were Denny Ilett (trumpet), Mike
Owen (Trombone) and Brian Mellor (banjo and guitar).  The music was mixed and marvellous.  It was impossible for anyone to sit still and
there was such a buzz in the room – electric.

5 February – Savannah Jazz Band.  Unfortunately due to a chest infection I had
to miss this show.  I am reliably
informed that, as always, this band “produced the goods”.  The players were Bill Smith (trumpet &
harmonica), Brian Ellis (trombone & piano), Roger Myerscough (reeds), Chris
Marney (banjo), Tony Pollitt (double bass) and John Meehan (drums).  Always a welcome band for Stafford Jazz

29 January – Merseysippi Jazz Band.  I think it fair to say that clarinetist Dave
Dixson had by far the best voice so shame he only sang the one number.  More next time please.  This is the longest established band in the
country.  An interesting addition to
today’s concert was the mounted mirror devised by one of our members, Chris
Latham, which enabled the pianist – Malcolm Hogarth – to see the rest of the
band who were playing behind him.
Ingenious device – hope Chris has taken out a patent on it!  The remainder of the band were John Higham on
trumpet, Peter Fryer (trombone), Dave Dixson (clarinet), Isabel Toner (double
bass) and Pete Darwin on drums.   As a
previous winner of BBC’s Jazz Heritage Award you know you have something
special when you get this band.

22 January – Stafford Grammar School Big Band.  This band received their SJS Band of the Year
Award in amazement.  Today’s programme
was a mixture and I am absolutely delighted to say that a piece I heard for the
first time when they last played for us – Children of Sanchez (composed by
Chuck Mangione) – was played again with trumpet solo by Gavin Lamplaugh, the
band’s musical director.  This is such an
emotional piece of music and if you have never heard it track it down – it’s
wonderful.  This band continues to make
its mark on the music scene.

15 January – Jake Leg Jug Band with Mike Pembroke.  Firstly a big apology to Mike who for months
I have been mis-naming as Mike Pemberton. So sorry Mike – it’s probably down to
my age!  The band has a new singer, Sarah
Miller, an attractive young woman with a lovely voice.  JLJB are folksy in the nicest possible way
and received rapturous applause at the end of each number.  Doubtless whatever genre this music falls
into JLJB have got it right.  The pace
changed frequently but the quality remained high.  I simply loved this concert.  The band are:
Duncan Wilcox (double bass), Neil Hulse (guitar), Toby Wilson (banjo
& dobro) and Liam Ward (harmonica & jug).  I cannot wait for them to return.

8 January – Jon Critchley’s Original Panama Jazz Band.  This band welcomed SJS back after it’s
Christmas break.   They played a variety
of music and we had nice solos by both pianist (Malcolm Hogarth) and
clarinetist (Dave Thomas).  Additional
members of the band are Jon Critchley on trumpet, Laurie Cooper on trombone,
Isabel Toner on string bass and Bill Buck on drums.  During the show’s interval there was a
presentation to one of the SJS members, Heather Mansell, of her very own brolly
as a reward for the enthusiasm she shows during the brolly parade.