THE ORIGINAL PANAMA JAZZBAND


Click the play button to hear the band play, "Just a Closer Walk With Thee"
(Please note that the quality of this recording has been reduced for the Internet)

The OPJB has a style of clean crisp Dixieland and New Orleans jazz and is well respected amongst musicians and audiences alike. Rather than sticking in a particular idiom the repertoire comes from every era and influence. Most importantly, it's played with competence and a flair for good ensemble work, dynamics and enthusiasm ideally suited to the many guests featured with the band, including Humph, Kenny Ball, Roy Williams, Alan Elsdon, Pete Allen, the late Campbell Burnap, George Chisholm and Tommy Burton. The internationally renowned New Orleans based record producer George Buck raved about the tape "The Panama Jazzband" and he put it out on CD on his GHB Label. Further recordings "Live at The Vic" and "Something For The Weekend" and "Smoke That!" are also hugely popular. Always based in Wirral it has held residencies for all of this time, including a 15-year stint at The Black Horse in West Kirby, The Eagle & Crown in Upton Village, The Grange in Moreton and two long stints at The Hotel Victoria New Brighton. Currently they can be heard every 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month at The Irby Club, 15 Thingwall Road, Irby CH61 3UA (Opposite “The Shippons” pub) ; Tele. 0151 648 0900: Free admission, starts 8.30pm: Click on: http://www.irbyclub.co.uk/the-lounge.html 

 
 

 

JON CRITCHLEY: TRUMPET 

Developed an interest in jazz in the early '60s Trad Boom years, listening to Kenny Ball's Jazzmen on Brian Matthews' "Easy Beat" on the radio. He bought a trumpet and joined the school orchestra that fortunately had a nucleus of renegade jazz enthusiasts, including his then physics teacher Ian Robertson (now trombonist with The Peninsular Jazzmen) and fellow pupil and bass player Howard Worthington. His first band was the West Coast Jazzband; then in 1968 he joined the Blue Magnolia Jass Orchestra, playing cornet with Ken Sims. In 1973 Jon joined the Panama Jazz Band. Whilst with the OPJB he has also played with Roger Brown's "Banjo-Free Zone", The Harlem Hot Stompers for 5 years, 3 years with Terry Perry's "Big Easy" Band and The Wabash Jazzmen. More recently he plays regularly in the The Mike Carnie All-Stars. Mart Rodger has also invited Jon to play with Manchester Jazz from time to time, including jazz festivals at Vancouver, Dresden and Norway.

DAVE THOMAS: CLARINET / VOCALS 

Dave became interested in jazz in the 1950s when he became aware of George Lewis, and played with many bands before joining the RAF. Here he formed a band, which, for a number of years, toured Cyprus (at the request of England). He returned to England in 1962 and joined the OPJB, sharing the clarinet chair with Keith Jones. He has an instinctive ear for harmony and his superb tone and attacking style equals that of many professional musicians. The singing is pretty good, too. Dave has played with many bands, including the Merseysippi on their Sacramento Jazz Festival visits.

LAURIE COOPER: TROMBONE 

Born in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, he began his musical career at 7 years old, learning to play violin at junior school. At secondary school he took up tuba, before transferring to trombone shortly before leaving school to attend technical college, specializing in music. At this time a couple of old friends from school formed a jazz band (The Dixieland Ramblers) and asked Laurie to join. In 1966 he became a student at The Royal Manchester College of Music studying trombone. Most of the music there was classical of course, but some of the more jazz oriented students amongst us decided to form a big band. After leaving music college he pursued a career as a freelance trombonist and music teacher based in Manchester, and for 30 years played all kinds of music including classical gigs, theatre work, cabaret, recording sessions, and jazz gigs, with all kinds of "celebrities". For most of this 30-year period Laurie played every Sunday evening with The Goyt Valley Stompers, a jazz band originally based in North Derbyshire (an article in the Sheffield University Rag Magazine at the time described them as "a raucous load of boozers" which filled them with great pride!). Renamed The City Syncopators, they relocated to Didsbury Cricket Club, Manchester in the 1980's and played there for over 15 years. He joined the Panama in 2008. Laurie still teaches music, also plays violin and tuba and does a few classical gigs and recording sessions.

HUGH POTTER: STRING BASS 

Hugh started bass playing began during his 6th form years at school. As a student he played in the Liverpool University Jazz Band, and, in the annual Inter-Varsity Jazz Contests of 1957 and 1958 gained the award of "Most Outstanding Musician". After graduation, he played for 2 years with the Ken Morrell Trio in Sunderland. The years which followed found him in bands ranging from traditional to modern: Dave Ellis Trio, Liverpool (1961-63); Deian Hopkin Quartet, Aberystwyth (1964-66); John Rubin Trio, Liverpool (1966-70); Terry Hawkes Band, Cardiff (1973-78), and then various other Merseyside groups including The Dave Saul Duo and John Dunbavand Trio alongside Trevor Carlisle, backing those artists mentioned above, as well as Bruce Adams, Alan Barnes, Roy Williams and Campbell Burnap. Hugh joined the OPJB in 1991. Major Influences include Ray Brown, Percy Heath, Leroy Vinnegar and Red Mitchell.

 

 

MALCOLM HOGARTH: PIANO

Malcolm joined in 2013 and replaces Terry Burstall who was our piano player for some 45 years. Born in Mitcham, London, Malcolm emigrated north to Chester in 1978 and since has become a familiar figure on the jazz scene up and down the empire. Currently is a member of many other bands including The Merseysippi Jazzband, partner Isabel Toner’s Deeside Dixies, Dennis Armstrong’s Great Northern Jazzband, The Severn Side Jazz Band, and can also be seen in Chester’s streets busking with trumpeter John Higham. Lists Mel Powell, Erroll Garner, James P Johnson and Art Tatum as the most admirable of piano players. Describes his own playing as “affordable“. As the Panama always pays out on a performance-related basis, this works very well.

MARK OWEN: DRUMS 

Mark replaced the popular Tony Carter who, due to ill health, could no longer play with the band. Mark's first musical influences were Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Titch, The Sweet and Slade: Not the music he plays now, but his father was responsible for introducing him to jazz: He was a big fan of Oscar Peterson, Errol Garner and George Shearing and through that Mark discovered a very different music. From there on he listened and studied the bands of Ted Heath, Glen Miller and Buddy Rich, etc. and decided to take up drums. After gaining experience with various big bands, Mark joined the Panama in January 2011 and continued to drive and swing the band with his powerful style.
 

 

So: If your seeking a band for a wedding / birthday / funeral / trial separation / all four, that gives good value for money, arrives on time and looks smart, look no further!~

Contacts: email: jonopjb * hotmail.co.uk  (replace " * " with @ )
Jon Critchley 01829 751815
Dave Thomas 01942 674516
 

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