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.
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).
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
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
– 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.
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.
The final show, on 18 December, was the Firehose 1 Dixieland
Jazz Band. They set the room on fire
with their fire-fighting uniform and music.
Dave Leighead led on trumpet with Dave Dixon on reeds, Richard Slater on
trombone and sousaphone, Peter “Pedro” Robinson on banjo and guitar,
Denis Goodwin on drums and Malcolm Hogarth on keyboard.
Following the first half of the concert there was a presentation
when the Member of the Year Award was passed by holder for 2016, Gill Dodd, to
elected member, Joan Latham, who will be Member of the Year for 2017. Congratulations to Joan.
Thanks from the entire SJS are going to Shirley Ollier for
the beautiful Christmas table decorations.
The room looked lovely with little candle lights twinkling set on
festive tables with red and green napkins.
The penultimate concert in 2016 was by JB Jazz & Blues
Band. The band, with the addition of Ed
Miller who replaced Mark Howell who sadly died earlier in the year, brought
with it the “feel good” factor always associated with this band. Other members of the band were John Beckingham
on keyboard, Roger Mainwaring and Andy Loverage on reeds, Phil Probert on
guitar and banjo and Paul Holder on drums.
The beginning of December saw Matt Palmer’s Millennium Eagle
Jazz Band. This band always receives a
consistently high rating from SJS members.
The all star line-up was welcomed with Matt Palmer lead virtuoso
reedsman, Terry Williams on the trombone, Pete Brown playing trumpet &
valve trombone, Baby Jools on drums, Brian Lawrence on double bass and Brian
Mellor on banjo.
Chris Carmell’s Vintage Jazzmen came on 20 November. Especially remembered at this concert was the
late and greatly missed Clinton Sedgley.
Sadly I had no camera with me on this day and so no photograph was
taken. I promise to do better!
At the end of November we had Chris Pearce & Andy
Leggett’s Sopranos. This was a
marvellous programme by a marvellous band.
They have acquired a new trombonist, explaining that they needed a
younger person to do all the lifting and carrying!! I was particularly taken with a number called
‘In My Darkest Hour’, something slightly outside the general repertoire and a
surprisingly cheerful number, given the title.
On 13 November we had Ron Hills’ Swing Kings with Ron Hills
on trombone, Tony Pipkin on trumpet and flugelhorn, Roger Heely, piano, Terry
Roberts on reeds with Roy Dutton on drums, Denis Mowatt on bass and again we
welcomed young Richard Hughes on keyboard.
These are seriously good musicians and the band was well received at the
White Eagle Club.
The start of November saw Kevin Grenfell’s Jazz Giants. They played snappy, catchy music from the
start but followed by a range of compositions.
Richard Hughes was a welcome addition on keyboard. I was once told to keep a close eye on the
keyboard player as only very accomplished musicians used both hands, and this
young man’s hands were everywhere. The
rest of the band consisted of Kevin Grenfell on trumpet and trombone, Matt
Palmer on reeds, Baby Jools on drums and Wayne Elliott on base guitar.
The last concert in October was Carole Westwood’s
Sophisticated Swing. We have not seen
Carole for some time as she has been over in Australia. Carole, as always, was in good voice and we
are pleased she is back in England. The
music was varied but always with a beat to it.
Some fabulous numbers were played by the Band, including Caravan and (my
favourite!) My Baby Just Cares for Me.
There was John Evans on keyboard, Terry Roberts on saxes and Roger
Armstrong on drums.
On 23 October the SJS welcomed back the Chicago Teddybears
Society Jazz Band to help celebrate the SJS Anniversary. What a cracking good band this is and the
crowd that turned out spoke for itself.
Heads were nodding, feet were tapping and all enjoyed the music played
by this band of high class musicians.
Come back soon we all say.
16 October –
Sussex Jazz Kings
This group was well received and it’s New Orleans-style jazz
in a range of styles went down well. The
band consisted of Dave Stradwick on cornet, Bernard Stuit on clarinet, Iain
McAulay on trombone, Pete Lay on drugs, Phil Durell on banjo and Peter Clancy
on double bass and sousaphone. A
beautiful sound – we hope it’s not too long before they are back with us.
9 October – Fret
& Fiddle present “Grappelli Swing”
What can I say! One
of the best concerts this year. Fret
& Fiddle have expanded to include a drummer (Steve Street) and a keyboard
player (Rich Hughes), taking the total of the group to five. Saline, such a talented violinist, narrated
the story of Grappelli’s life, his involvement and long-time work with Django
Reinhardt, and played his music through the decades. The whole show was informative, the music a
delight and intense, and I hope we see them again soon.
2 October – Spats
Langham’s Hot Fingers Jazz Band
Something happened at tonight’s concert. Three musicians melted our hearts with a mix
of music from the 20s and 30s, music moreover not routinely heard. Miss Emily Campbell, vocalist, with the
nickname of ‘The Cotswold Canary’, joined in.
Spats talked knowledgeably about the music the trio played so, like Fret
& Fiddle the show was also educational.
Malcolm Sked played tuba and double bass and Daniel Blythe was
multi-instrumental – indeed playing one of my own personal favourites which is
During the interval of this show Chris and Joan Latham
presented Spats with his award, Musician of the Year, which he gained at the
last concert in May 2016.
25 September –
Brian Carrick’s Algiers Stompers
Listening to this band it was all too easy to imagine
yourself in a dance hall in New Orleans in the first half of the 20th
century. Brian Carrick, as always,
supplied a steady stream of humour. It
should be noted that he played on the clarinet6 formerly owned by George
Lewis. Along with Brian were Peter
Wright (trumpet), Chas Hudson (trombone), ‘Mac’ MacDonald (banjo, Andrew Hall
(piano), Bill Cole (bass) and Ray Bowden (drums). What a night!
18 September – Old
Fashioned Love Band
Again a blast of harmonica (is it catching on again I
wonder?) from Bill Smith who also played the trumpet and sang. Mike Pemberton
was on the trombone, Jake Reeves on banjo and guitar, Harri Forelius on double
bass and Moe Green on drums. How does
Nick Balmforth do it as we listen to one stunning performance after another.
11 September –
Tame Valley Stompers
Sadly I missed this one due to being in Southport to hear
the Pasadena Roof Orchestra (and yes they were fabulous) and accompanying
bands. However everyone I have spoken to
have said that the Stompers were as on form as ever. Sorry Terry (trombone), Roger (trumpet), Paul
(reeds), Pete (bass guitar), John (banjo and guitar) and Norman on drums. However I am sure you will be back and I will
make sure I am around for that gig.
4 September –
Phoenix Jazzmen with Sheila Fawkes
This was a smashing start to the new season for Stafford
Jazz Society. With drummer Ken Wright on
holiday we had Andy Lowe in his place.
Sheila Fawkes was in fine voice and as in the past we all enjoyed her
singing. Pete Robinson told a beautiful
story about the first time China Boy was played. A Chinese man took offence and reported the
player to the police for racial abuse.
The police arrested the banjo player … in a Chinese restaurant!! Fortunately common sense prevailed and no
further action was taken. It is these
little reminiscences which make sessions so enjoyable.
Sorry there are no pictures for September folks – I thought
I had taken some but … early senility?!?!
May – Jeff & Anne Barnhart with
Thomas “Spats” Langham and Graham Smith in ‘Ragtime, Swing, Blues and
Beyond. As last concerts go this
went with a crash, bang, wallop. It was
a mixed bag with jazz from the 20s up , classical music and gospel music. There were several numbers that very few
people had heard before and there is always joy in listening to something for
the first time. The room was packed and
the audience highly appreciative. I
might say that this is the only group we have had who got a standing ovation at
the end of the first set … and that is saying something. Musicians were Anne Barnhart on flute, Jeff
Barnhart on piano, Graham Smith on the d4rums and Thomas “Spats”
Langham on banjo and guitar.
May saw the Merseysippi Jazz Band,
who last came to SJS in June 1966 when we were based at the Gatehouse. The musicians were: John Higham, Malcolm Hogarth, Pete Fryer,
Dave Dixon, Pete Darwin, Derek Vaux and Dave Rigby. There was one number entitled ‘Wocka the
Fish’, which was enchanting, and another number about a chap who was with a
large 20 stone girl and would draw chalk marks to show where he had come from
and these crossed paths with a chap with a larger than life girlfriend coming
the other way! You couldn’t make it
up. Such an enjoyable concert.
May – Stafford Grammar School Big
Band (part of the Stafford Music Festival). This was their first appearance at Stafford
Jazz Society but with a reputation that preceded them following their highly
acclaimed performances at last year’s Stafford Music Festival and the Upton Jazz
Festival. Quite how successful they were
is reflected by the fact that they were chosen as Band of the Year!
May – Swingin’ Jim’s Dance Band
gave us a high performance, as always in the past, with a couple of new arrangements
thrown in for good measure. They are
always assured of a warm welcome at SJS.
May – Tame Valley Stompers – Terry’s Dead Good Boys. Repertoire included songs from films from
the early 1930s, most of which were instantly recognisable. Terry played ‘Wonderful World’ on the
trombone, which was really special.
Chicago Swing Katz made an appearance on 24 April.
From blues to boogie, this group really knows how to appeal across the board. The banter gave an intimate feel to the
whole show. I applaud Derek Harris for
sporting red braces to match his (and the rest of the band’s) red tie. There were Pete Ainge on trumpet, Mike
Blakesley on trombone, Dave Margaroni on bass, Mike Carney on forurns, Derek
Harrison on keyboard and vocals and Geoff Matthews on reeds.
Steve King Big Band visited on 17 April. This
band was so professional both in performance and in appearance. As a treat Steve King played on his trumpet
for ‘Georgia On My Mind’ and Lynn Dawes gave some fine renditions, my favourite
being ‘Hard Hearted Hannah’. Starting
the second set ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ was lead into the full number with just the
vocalist singing and the double bass providing the beat – just beautiful.
10 April we welcomed Matt Palmer’s
Rhythmic Reeds with Christine Tyrrell.
Considering this band has only been in existence for a year it works
wonderfully well. The audience were
jumpting in their seats with heads bobbing and feet tapping – always a good
indicator of a band being well received.
The musicians were Mark Challinor on banjo, Jim Switherton on double
bass, Nick Ward on drums, George Huxley on reeds and Matt Palmer on reeds. Christine Tyrrell gave us some great songs –
she is always a favourite with us.
April saw Pete Allen’s Reeds ‘n’
Rhythms. What a pleasure to
welcome three talented musicians. They
played music garnered mainly from the 20s and 30s, including ragtime. It is easy to get the decades muddled up as
most of the really good tunes have been recycled again and again so seem so
familiar to us.