How lovely it was to start the second half
of the season with a band as good as Robin Mason’s Apex Jazz & Swing
Band. After weeks of jazz starvation
this was the equivalent of gourmet fine dining.
The mix of jazz and swing works so well and from where I sat I saw heads
nodding and shoulders swinging.
The opening number of ‘You are my Sunshine’
was an inspired choice for the Chase Jazzmen with snow and ice outside. The selection throughout the programme was
good and the tempo ranged through fast, bosa nova to slow. The band was well received.
Jazz Buddies with Arthur Brown and Matt
Palmer gave a first-class performance on 24 January with a good mix of music to
make your toes tap. The musicians played
smoothly together. I would like to
especially mention the trombonist, Mike Owen, who was so good. Singing was undertaken in the main by Matt
Palmer (reeds) with his usual style. A
rhythym section consisting of Brian Mellor, Dennis Mowatt and Tim Jones
completed the band.
On 31 January it was the turn of Bear Town
Stompers. This band was originally
formed to play in a Jazz & Blues Festival but is now a well established
band performing easy-going, traditional jazz.
I thought from time to time it had a gentle quality to the music which
is so often missing. Long time member,
Jill Dodds, presented the SJS Musician of the Year Trophy to Peter ‘Pedro’
Robinson at the conclusion of the first half.
February 7th saw our first visit by Jake
Leg Jug Band with Mike Pemberton (trombone).
Neil Hulse played guitar and offered up vocal renditions, Esther Brennan
on washboard and ukelele also sang, and there were Toby Wilson on banjo and
dobro and Duncan Wilcox on double bass, all joining in with the vocals. Now this was something different … not only a
band comprising fairly young musicians but with a distinct southern
influence. It was a real treat for the
ears with a refreshingly different repertoire.
The Old Fashioned Love Band visited again
on 14 February. As always the band
played with such verve and musicality they were the joy we have all come to
expect. Their music was a wide range of
foot-taping jazz standards and the band featured, Mike Pemberton, Harry
Forelius, Jake Reeves and Mo Green.
Annie Hawkins Funky Butt Hall Jazzband made
a welcome appearance on 21 February.
Annie brought with her an all-star band to match her smiling
talents. The band consisted of Michael
Hogarth on piano, Bob Rowbotham on banjo, Barry Wood on Drums, Liz Bacon on
clarinet, Pete Wright on cornet and Jeff Milner on trombone. As always this concert was well received.
Last concert in February saw the Frog
Island Jazz Band with us. This band
plays classic and authentic New Orleans-style music from the 1920s and
1930s. The band has been awarded the
accolade ‘International Honorary Citizens of New Orleans’ and when you hear
them you understand why.
March’s first concert was Matt Palmer’s
Millennium Eagle Jazz Band. This band continually
attracts high ratings and Stafford SJS are always pleased to see them. Baby Jools on drums was a treat, as was Brian
Lawrence on double bass and sousaphone, Pete Brown on cornet, Terry Williams on
trombone and Brian Mellor on banjo. Many
smiling faces left the club at the end of this show.
On 13 March there was an appearance by The
Sopranos, featuring Chris Pearce and Andy Leggett. This band has recently been formed by these
two top reedsmen. The rest of the band
consisted of Dave Deakin on trombone, Ken Wright on drums, Tony Sharpe on
double bass and Phil Probert on Guitar.
Best summed up as easy listening by such competent musicians.
Last week was the turn of Wabash
Jazzmen. With Mike Challinor on banjo
& guitar, Mike Pemberton on trombone, Mike Hayler on reeds, Richard Vernon
on string bass and Pete Ange on trumpet this band gave a performance to knock
your socks off. Come back soon, please.