A double delight was awaiting Stafford Jazz Society in Sunday 5 May. Not only did we enjoy the music of Chris Pearce’s Frenchmen Street Jazz Band but also a terrific duo, GI Jive – consisting of Ian and Sheilagh – showed just how the Lindyhop should be danced. Additional to being great movers the pair have been teaching Jive and Lindyhop since 1994.
Taken at the concert on 24 March, this shows Matt Palmer’s Millennium Eagle Jazz Band sporting their smart new look. This well known band braved the snows to reach Stafford, and indeed one member came up from the south the night before and slept in his RV near the venue to ensure he would be available for the gig. As always, their hugely entertaining programme was much appreciated by the SJS audience.
Some thoughts from SJS Member Bob Williams ……
I first saw the Eagle Jazz Band in the upstairs room at the Giffard Arms in Wolverhampton in the early sixties.
In those days, steam trains were the norm, a computer was totally unthought-of and if you wanted to make a phone call, you pressed button A.
Of course the band had been going for over ten years before I first discovered them, so little wonder that to my then teenage eyes, they look old.
How remarkable then that two of the original band members should still be going strong.
Bob Smith on clarinet complete with his magnificent trademark handlebar moustache, and Nick Williams, who back in the good old days played double bass with the late great Tony Hobson on trombone and Ken Ingram on cornet, showed once again that age is no barrier to either playing or enjoying our music.
A few years ago I had booked The Eagle Jazz Band to appear at Newport Cricket Club. Unfortunately Bob was too ill to appear. His son, playing double bass with the band, sadly told me that he was in a bad way and “unlikely to make it.”
Sad I thought, but then he had a good innings. Two or three years later, I attended a concert at Albrighton and enjoying the music, told my wife that the man on reeds played just like the late Bob Smith I even said that he reminded me of him in looks.
To which the elegant lady sitting near to us, said that he jolly well should look like him he was, and of course still is, her husband.
As Bob proudly told me at Stafford’s concert, she was his first wife (insinuating of course that he was on the lookout for another) but after 52 years together, I don’t think he would swap her.
So what do I remember about the old Eagle Jazz Band? Well, I regularly went to see them, again in an upstairs room, this time at the Wheatsheaf in Walsall.
I remember that they were always up to jolly japes, and while now in their eighties, Nick and Bob still enjoyed clowning,
Nick, as I mentioned earlier, played bass with the Eagles, but then, as now, he had a wonderful voice. His rendition of St James Infirmary I can recall to this day.
I am also pretty sure that it was the Eagles who during the interval insisted on playing old black and white silent comedy films for the audience.
That sort of summed them up.
Always happy, always joking and always providing wonderful music.
It was no surprise to see them opening their set at Stafford with their traditional opening number Just A Little While to Stay and while Nick might not be quite as good a pilot as Tony when it comes to The Dambusters, how wonderful it was to once again, fly with The Eagles.
Keep blowing lads. You are an inspiration to us all!
Due to popular demand (well, at least one request to my knowledge) I’ve added two new pages to the site – the Ken Rattenbury Memorial Trophy Jazz Band of the Year Hall of Fame, and the John Moore Memorial Trophy Jazz Musician of the Year Hall of Fame.
You’ll find links to these on the right, with the others.
The snow blizzards and drifting throughout today (Friday) together with bleak weather forecasts of freezing temperatures for Saturday and of yet more snow expected on Sunday have forced Stafford Jazz Society to take the difficult decision to cancel this Sunday’s (January 20th) concert.
Roads in the Midlands have already been badly hit with severe traffic problems resulting and even if the Band manage to get through – some need to travel a considerable distance – it is almost certain that audience numbers would be very badly down.
I regret any inconvenience and disappointment caused by this decision that is beyond our control.