One to bring tears to your eyes - sent to me by
John Westwood 24/02/07
I am a post graduate student currently researching Clubs/social events in Manchester around about 1940's, You don't have any information on this do you? To be more specific I'm investigating what it was like to be of ethnic minority residing in Manchester at this time also which socialising events were popular, what are they now .... I know its a long shot and a big task, its just I'm not having any luck researching this area, every lead comes to a dead end. Any help or info much appreciated.
JMag903503 at aol.com
Hello there Fred:
I'm a small time book publisher based on the Mediterranean border between France and Italy where 90 degrees of sunshine is currently cracking the tiles on my terrace, the wine is perfectly chilled, and the glare from the sea is blinding.
But finding your website has made me feel like upping sticks and immediately moving back to Wigan!
We're soon to publish a book by a Lancashire author who, by sheer coincidence, turned out to live over the road from one of my oldest pals, jazzer Willy Entwistle (Temperance Seven and Café Society). Willy and I lost touch twenty years or so ago, but we contacted each other immediately we discovered this new mutual friend, and he told me about your splendid website
Wow – I'd no idea the scene had become so lively again. In the sixties (when, as callow youths, Willy and I played whenever, whatever, wherever and with whoever we could), things were pretty hot. Our own favourite spot was old Jenks' Manchester Sports Guild cellar jazz club where we had to sign up as sky divers to get around some daft local by-law and hear some of the best music around.
Some of the bands we heard regularly are mentioned as still up and running in the list on your site. The names of individual musicians also had me tapping my feet.
Reading your list of bands, players and upcoming gigs, I felt like I'd stumbled through a time warp. So many of the guys still around and still active. Sadly, so many others have blown their last note and sunk their last pint of Number Five. Some very special names were conspicuous by their absence in your pages and silently sounded the only blue note during my cyber visit.
I was amazed when Willy sent me a picture of the current Temperance Seven line-up to spot – as well as Willy on alto - two other guys I met and became long-time pals with at the MSG – Derek Galloway and Johnny Tucker (both Manchester lads). Willy's also digging out contact numbers and addresses for other Northern music makers I've lost touch with over the years as a wordsmith gypsy … many of whom I'm sure you'll also know well, Fred.
They say nostalgia's not what it used to be, but this on-screen jive down memory lane has made my day. I look forward to checking in often and, some day, planning a crazy, hazy holiday in the North West with an itinerary based around the gigs you let us know about.
Thanks for a great experience this morning, Fred.
All power to your elbow –
Neil Marr (Menton, France)
Back to Top
Cuerdly Arms Jazzers
Does anybody recognise the musicians in this photograph?
So far, Left to Right =
Ken Sims?, Bob Stockley (sax), Warren Bromilow (pno), Harold Troughton (clt),
Harry Standon (tpt), Ron Pierce (tbn), John Pierce (dms)
Keith Allcock replies 25/06/03
Harold Troughton asks if anyone recognises the musicians in the photo he supplies.
It was taken around 1954 (I would guess) at the Cuerdley Arms, St Helens. On piano is Warren Bromilow, a stylish, modern-type player who to the best of my knowledge didn't go on to play in any regular bands after that period, at least not Dixieland ones. The trumpeter at the back is Harry Standon, who later played with the Riverside Dixielanders who had a long residency at the Cherry Tree in Culcheth.
The clarinet player is, of course, Harold himself, who for many years has kept the flag flying at various venues in the St Helens area and now also plays with the Blue Mags.
But whilst I remember the faces of a couple of the others, I can't put a name to them. Was the alto player one of the Collins family?
The photo brings back happy memories of a time when loads of young lads were putting together Dixieland and traditional jazz bands, often learning their instruments as they went along, and doing gigs in pubs and at local hops for 'ten bob' a man. It was a noisy, often raucous, music with a wild beat and a colourful history which just got into your blood and stayed there. What's more, the older generation thought it was cacophonous and decadent - a dangerous music associated with low dives, drugs and alcohol.
The Cuerdley was the first place in St Helens to run a jazz club. It took place in the upstairs room and I and some of my mates would go there under age and wallow in the sounds produced by Harold and the rest of the band. I remember on one occasion a trombone player turning up from distant Lymm who got more and more drunk as the evening progressed until his legs gave way and he ended on the floor still playing his trombone. On another occasion, John Higham appeared and, sitting in an old armchair, pointed his trumpet to the ceiling and, eyes tight shut and shoulder cocked à la Lyttelton, nearly blew the roof off on Muskrat Ramble.
It was a music that just set your blood tingling, so, inspired by great bands like the Humphrey Lyttelton outfit with Wally Fawkes, but also in no small part by Harold and his mates at the Cuerdley, I wanted to be part of it. The clarinet was the instrument that appealed the most, so one day I took myself off to Hessy's in Liverpool, where they well and truly ripped me off, raw youngster that I was, by selling me a simple system A clarinet. Some time later, I was the proud owner of a Bb Boosey & Hawkes Regent and doing my first gigs round St Helens. And, with a change en route to double bass, I'm still at it, like so many others who can tell a similar story.
So I say "Thanks" to Harold and his mates for helping to kindle that first enthusiasm.
Back to Top
Bernard Bibby also recalls The Riverside Dixielanders at The Cherry Tree in Culcheth
Looking through your reminiscing
pages brought back memories of playing with the Riverside Dixielanders there in the
1960s. The personnel was as follows:- Clarrie Henley guitar and piano (leader), Jack Toft, who was blind (drums), Norman????? (bass), Harry Mills (trombone), Harry Standon (trumpet) and myself on clarinet. We had some wonderful Wednesday evenings there, always a full house and
a great atmosphere. I know that Clarry Henley is living in the Horwich area, I do see
Norman (I think his surname is Simpson) occasionally, I have kept in contact with Harry
Standon, he lives in Grappenhall, Jack Toft died many years ago and Harry Mills lives
I believe in the Atherton area. I remember a wonderful evening when Roy Williams guested with us, we also had Nat Gonella (I missed the breaks in tiger rag), and Ken Doran from the
Lymm Dam Jazzband also Tony Dunleavy. Pete Daniels (Merseysippi) plus many others. I wonder if anyone else who looks at your Website has any other memories of the Cherry
Tree in the 1960s
Back to Top
The Saints Jazz Band
I remember listening to the Saints Jazzband in 1952/3 when they used to play in Manchester on a Saturday evening at the Grosvenor Hotel at the bottom of Deansgate, Near Exchange Station . Happy days. Does any one know if there are any of the original Saints still living? I have the CD's that Lake Records issued. They are great and take me back to when I was a teenager.
Mildred, On the subject of the Saints, Reg Kenworthy of Smoky City Jazz played with them, and this entry is from my Guestbook 2000 - Fred
From: Merton Kaufman, London, Ontario Canada Email: thekaufmans * webtv.net>
Posted on: Saturday, March 25, 2000, 10:14 PM
Many years ago ( early 1960's ) I used to play drums with the Saints Jazz Band, our main gigs used to be at the Bogeda, in Manchester, we made a couple of 45's for Parlophone, "Roses of Picardy" etc also I played with bop group at the Club 43, at the Clarendon Hotel on Oxford St., it used to be run by a guy called Eric Scriven, the reason I am writing this is that I have lost touch with "that old gang of mine" so if anybody from the old days would like to get in touch, or can tell me how to get in touch with Eric Scriven I really would appreciate it.
With respect to the Saints article in Just Jazz Magazine written by Rod Hopton, Merton says, "One little note, I was on the Thank your Lucky Stars gig with Billy Fury and Karl Denver, and also at the Leofric in Coventry with the little Fiat 500. In Rod's article the dates seem to jump there and back a bit.
Rod Hopton was playing trombone with the Saints the night I proposed to my wife, almost 48 years ago, we were doing a gig at The St Andrews Hall in Glasgow, I proposed in the bandroom, but didn't get an answer right away, the thing that bothered me most was that on the journey home she slept with her head on Rod's shoulder most of the way back. How's that for a story?
My one problem is that I am not sure who I was playing with on that gig. I married my wife, who's name is Barbara by the way, in August 1956, we were engaged about 6 or 8 months before that, which means that I proposed sometime in 1955. I didn't join The Saints 'till John Mills died which I believe was in 1960, I played with them about 2 years, my last gig with them was in 1962, (We came to Canada in 1964 not 1962 as Rod Hopton say in his article) in fact I recorded Roses of Picardy with them in April 1962, but then I see that Dennis Grundy was on a B.B.C. broadcast with them later in 1962, with Dizzy Burton on trumpet instead of Barry Dixon.
I have found that my memory plays tricks on me now, it happens when you
are getting near 74, you don't feel old 'till you walk past a mirror. I can remember my childhood, but not what I had for breakfast yesterday.
I think the reason that I did that gig in Glasgow was that maybe John Mills was ill and I filled in for him that one gig. The Clyde Valley Stompers were on the same bill. It was some sort of Jazz Jamboree."
(Merton passed away in 2012 - FB)
Also From: Geof Turner, Altrincham, Cheshire, England
Posted on: Wednesday, September 25, 2002, 10:04 AM
When I started work in 1951 in Manchester City Centre I first heard The Saints Jazz Band and it may be of interest that I still have the three original 78 rpm records made by the band on the Decibel Label which states "Lancashire Society of Jazz Music Series recorded at the Dixon Roadhouse Recording Studios, Oxford Road Manchester" The recording would have been made in 1950 or 1951 and of course many people in the Manchester area would have known Johnny Roadhouse. I also have the Parlophone 78 of a concert at the Festival Hall during the Festival of Britain in 1951 with The Saints on one side and The Crane River Band on the other. Thanks for an interesting site.
Dave Whistler says, I read the page about this band with great interest. One point not mentioned - Parlophone released a 78rpm record of the band playing 'I want a girl...' in 1951 from the concert mentioned. I have 2 great copies. So their recording actually started in 1951, not 1952.
An article from Just Jazz Magazine has now been reproduced on this site. Click here to view
08/04/08 - Hi Fred
Just read several of your articles on Ed Fish and The Saints Jazzband. I used to go to The Saint's rehearsals at a pub in Ashton-u-Lyne in the late 50s. John Mills, Fred Fydler, Mick McMama, Ed Fish and my favourite Alan Radcliffe were in the band at that time. I was also at the Louis concert at Belle Vue in '56 and have still got the original programme and Louis' autograph which Alan got for me. Unfortunately I got too interested in what was modern jazz in the sixties and lost touch with the band. However I did contact Alan again and he came to my 50th birthday do (Dave Donohoe band played) in 1987. I still feel that he was one of the best clarinetists in the country and was without a doubt the main driving force behind the band and I would dearly like to know the whereabouts of Alan if anyone can help. Thanking you in anticipation.
Hi Fred - Mick McNama gave me this photo after a gig at Cook's Ferry Inn, London in the early fifties or maybe late 1949. Mick wrote his address on the back of this photo for me - 128 Burlington Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancs.
This was a good little swinging band.
Best wishes - Bunny Austin.
See also "The Saints" by Rod Hopton, reproduced from Just Jazz magazine
See also the tribute to John "Ed" Fish by Joe Silmon
Back to Top
Liverpool University Jazz Band
It was the inspiration of the Liverpool University Jazz Band that had persuaded me to blow a huge hole in my very limited funds on a set of drums. I particularly remember relaxing in the Students’ Union library and listening to the Armstrong influenced trumpet of medical student John Higham, downstairs in the Gilmour Hall. He was playing ‘Keeping Out of Mischief Now’. The band he led had earned a proud reputation on the local music scene and in university jazz circles around the country. Among its most outstanding members was bass player, Hugh Potter, named best individual musician at the annual Inter-University Jazz Federation band competition in 1957 and 1958. Years later, in 1970, John, by then well established in medical practice, joined the Merseysippi band. How I wanted to play with musicians like that. How I wished I had the ability! My musical education was minimal. An uncle in Yorkshire had introduced me to the rudiments of drumming but I never really mastered the arts of paradiddle and mummy daddy. My short stint as a trainee drummer with a silver band in Orpington, Kent had done little to improve my skill. But I had an ear for music of all kinds, from British folk music and Negro spirituals to popular classics. Now jazz had become a passion. I had joined the University’s jazz society, Rhythm Club, and I was desperate to play in a band.
Opportunity came when graduation began to take its toll of Liverpool University musicians, leaving vacancies that younger students were keen to fill. I heard that a new University band was being formed and I learned that it needed a drummer. My informant was a woman who was a year ahead of me in the geography course in which I was enrolled. She worked sometimes at a coffee bar, The Pack of Cards, near the Students’ Union, and was aware of what was happening there. She was also familiar with the local jazz scene. One day in the Students’ Union she introduced me to a group of young musicians who were forming a new band and they invited me to fill the drumming spot. They were a mixed lot, including students from various backgrounds. Over time there were personnel changes and I recall that among the academic and professional disciplines represented in the band at some time or other were medicine, engineering, veterinary science, dentistry, English, psychology and biochemistry. I was the only geographer in the group and later, as a post-graduate, the only Civic Design student. Liverpool University’s School of Architecture had its own jazz band and some other students played in local bands.
Except for me and a Shropshire lad, all the original players were from Merseyside or neighbouring parts of Lancashire and Cheshire. Standards of musical skill varied but most had training and some could play more than one instrument. We practised together in the Union, playing what was generally described as traditional jazz, although there were among us those who had learned to appreciate modern jazz, including bebop. The late Charlie Parker was my jazz idol and the Modern Jazz Quartet was my favourite combo at that time. We recognized that we were unable to play complex music of that standard and wisely stuck to trad, only later progressing into mainstream and even beyond.
The original group included trumpet, trombone, clarinet and piano, banjo or guitar and me on drums. We didn’t have a bass player to begin with but over the next few years several different students filled that role. During my time at Liverpool, the core group of musicians expanded and contracted. It assumed various forms, ranging from a trio and a Shearing style quintet, complete with vibraphone, to an eleven-piece band that included a full reed section and two French horns.
It was during one of our early practice sessions in the Union that a young woman came up and invited us to play at a function which was to be our band’s first gig. I felt elated. It was to be my public debut as a jazz drummer. We were even going to be paid. I was a professional musician at last! The occasion was a dance for student teachers and their guests at Barkhill, a women’s college in the suburb of Aigburth. How we got there I don’t recall. Very few students had cars in those days. Musicians and their instruments were usually stuffed into a small borrowed van. Sometimes we had to travel considerable distances with musicians and instruments leaving scarcely enough room for the driver. On a few occasions we travelled in this way to and from Manchester and I recall some journeys through fog so dense that visibility was down to a couple of yards.
The Liverpool college dance was quite a formal affair with at least some of the dancers in evening dress. Despite our inexperience as a group, we felt confident as we set up on the small stage. We had not prepared a programme but, like true jazzmen, we had in our heads many standard tunes, a legacy we shared as jazz aficionados. We began with a lively number and to our delight the audience started to dance. Some of the elegantly dressed young couples jived enthusiastically to our music and it felt great to be the drummer, driving the band along and exerting such powerful influence on the audience.
My newfound musician friends seemed pleasantly surprised at my drumming, one venturing to say that I was ‘a natural’. That boosted my confidence and I offered to sing a song I had learned from a Louis Armstrong record but which I had never before sung in public: Mack the Knife. After some hesitation, the band began to play the well-known tune and at the appropriate time the leader, no doubt feeling somewhat apprehensive, turned to me for my unrehearsed vocal contribution. Overcoming my nervousness and continuing to beat out the rhythm, I began to sing into the microphone beside me. What I did was an imitation of Louis Armstrong’s famous vocal performance and my attempt to reproduce that much-loved gravelly voice and exquisite timing was well received by band and audience alike. I basked in the enthusiastic applause I received and the story of my impromptu performance was spread about by a student friend who had been in the audience. This gave me quite a reputation for hidden talent and Mack the Knife has remained a party piece of mine ever since.
After that first public performance in Liverpool, band practices and gigs became a regular part of my University life. Most weeks there was a dance at the Students’ Union, sometimes two, and our group usually played as support band. On these occasions there was often a nationally famous British jazz band, such as that of Alex Welsh or Mick Mulligan. Invariably, there were one or two other supporting groups, usually including a top local band together with the University band. The principal band played in the Union’s large Stanley Hall, while the University band spent most of its time in the smaller Gilmour Hall. The latter was preferred by some couples who wished to smooch around the dance floor away from the wildly jiving dancers in the larger hall. The University band often took to the Stanley Hall stage while the main band enjoyed a break. There were even times when a third dance hall was used, the students’ cafeteria upstairs being temporarily converted for the purpose. It was there that I remember meeting the Architects’ Jazz Band, with its exuberant Irish drummer, Seamus McGonagle.
The most formal occasion at which the Rhythm Club Band played was the Science Faculty Ball on Friday, 13 March 1959 (see Figure 1). The Humphrey Lyttelton Band was the main musical attraction that evening. There were also two supporting groups, the Roger Fleetwood Quintet from the BBC Northern Variety Orchestra and the Rhythm Club Band. Our line-up was trumpet, trombone, alto sax, tenor sax(both reedsmen doubling on clarinet), piano, guitar, bass and drums. I do not know whether it was an instruction from the organizers of the ball or an idea of the band members but we were supposed to perform in formal attire for that special occasion.
I possessed no evening dress suit and was not prepared to pay for the hire of one. As the drummer tended to be hidden at the back of the band, it was agreed that my light grey lounge suit would be acceptable and I borrowed a clip-on bow tie from my landlord to match the appearance of the rest of the band as far as possible. While I greatly enjoyed this special occasion, it was frustrating to have one of Britain’s foremost jazz bands playing in an adjacent hall yet have little opportunity to see and hear Humph and his men in action.
Among the famous bands and musicians I did hear in the Liverpool University Students’ Union were some of those who came to play at dances and others who performed concerts organized by Rhythm Club. I have a vivid memory of Liverpool born George Melly, singer with Mick Mulligan’s Band, performing on the Stanley Hall stage. Melly appeared dressed in tight black sweater and black jeans and his rendition of ‘Frankie and Johnny’ brought roars of appreciation from the dance floor. As he sang this song of love, betrayal and revenge, he dramatized the performance with facial expressions and gestures. At one stage in the song, he turned his back on the audience and clasped himself in an embrace, his white hands seen clearly moving up and down over his black-clad back and buttocks as he writhed there, suggesting a passionate encounter between Frankie and Johnny. The bands hired for Union dances usually played traditional or New Orleans/Dixieland jazz. Indeed, at that time the so-called Trad Fad reached its peak. The British popular music world was dominated by bands such as those of Chris Barber, Alex Welsh and Acker Bilk. A jazz offshoot known as ‘skiffle’ was popularized by Lonnie Donegan, who became an influence on many youthful groups—including The Beatles.
Rhythm Club musicians, too, played trad, but their interests went far beyond that, something which was clearly reflected in their playing. Increasingly, the influences of swing, even modern jazz, could be seen in the instrumentation and heard in the music. The band that played at the Science Faculty Ball could be classed as mainstream, strongly influenced by the swing bands of the 1930s and 40s. The later Rhythm Club Quintet comprised vibraphone, piano, electric guitar, bass and drums (the influence of George Shearing being obvious). Named after a talented and influential engineering student who became Rhythm Club’s musical director, The John Rotherham XI (my choice of name) comprised two trumpets, two French horns, alto, tenor and baritone saxes, piano, guitar, bass and drums.
Inspiration came not only from records and local musicians. While at Liverpool, I went to concerts given by some of the jazz greats, including Kid Ory, George Lewis, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, Art Blakey, Gerry Mulligan, Dave Brubeck and the Modern Jazz Quartet, while visits by the Jazz at the Philharmonic outfits enabled me to see and hear stars such as Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Stan Getz, Shelley Manne, Jimmy Giuffre, Sonny Stitt, Oscar Peterson and Ella Fitzgerald. On visits to London I attended concert performances by Basie, Ellington, Brubeck, Gillespie, Buck Clayton, George Shearing and others. And I went to the famous Ronnie Scott’s Club to hear Dexter Gordon and Art Farmer. The omission of Liverpool on Louis Armstrong’s 1959 British tour meant a Rhythm Club coach trip to Manchester’s Belle Vue in order to see the ageing jazz genius.
Many of the leaders of British modern jazz performed in Liverpool, not only at The Cavern, but also at the University. In this I played a role of which I am proud. The University’s Rhythm Club had a close relationship with The Cavern. It advertised Cavern events on its notice board in the Union and its members were allowed into the city’s leading jazz club at a reduced price. This arrangement was in place when I joined Rhythm Club but, when I became a member of the committee, I also negotiated with the Cavern manager to have visiting jazz bands play lunchtime concerts in the Students’ Union at relatively little cost. I suppose for the visiting bands their performance at the University was a practice session, but for those of us in Rhythm Club it was a wonderful opportunity to meet and hear some of Britain’s top modern jazz musicians. These included Dill Jones, Tony Kinsey, Bill Le Sage, Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott.
I remember particularly the arrival of the Jazz Couriers at the Students’ Union. Led by tenormen Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott, this was one of Britain’s foremost modern jazz groups. They seemed disgruntled because there had been no one outside to meet them and as they came through the Mount Pleasant entrance where a few of the committee members were waiting, I heard drummer, Phil Seamen, muttering something about being treated ‘like a f…ing bunch of f... ing Liverpool semi-pros’. Our genuine welcome soon smoothed things over and we all went to the Stanley Hall Green Room to prepare for the performance. There Phil Seamen
asked where he could go for a piss, but when we told him, he decided that it was too far to go, and made do with a wash basin that was handy.
I had been having some trouble with my snare drum and I brought it along to seek the distinguished drummer’s advice on the matter. His helpful response was, in essence, that I should get a new one.
By this time, The Cavern had become mainly a venue for Merseyside beat groups such as The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Swinging Blue Jeans and numerous others, as well as visiting groups. This meant that I rarely went to the Cavern, although I do have memories of a few jazz evenings there. Particularly exciting was the visit of American tenorman Zoot Sims playing with Ronnie Scott and his band. In a totally different vein, the blues duo of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee delighted the audience in a venue where amplified electric guitars, not acoustic guitar and harmonica, were now the norm. On another Cavern jazz night, I saw the Johnny Dankworth orchestra attempting to squeeze onto the tiny stage. Some of the musicians used an electric shaver to give themselves a quick trim before the performance, plugging in, presumably, where The Beatles and others usually plugged in their guitars and amplifying equipment. While I was there, Liverpool University remained relatively resistant to the rise of rock music and the Mersey Sound. Jazz continued to reign supreme and the Rhythm Club had the largest membership of any of the societies affiliated to the Guild of Undergraduates.
The big jazz event of the year was the annual band competition run by the Inter- University Jazz Federation, the IUJF. The competition was held in two stages. The first part, the semi-finals, took place in four regional centres, two for the North and two for the South. The finals were held either in London or a central location such as Birmingham. One of the 1962 semi-finals was held at Liverpool University, attracting to it student bands and their supporters from northern England, North Wales and Northern Ireland. Liverpool entered two bands, the Rhythm Club Quintet and the John Rotherham XI.
Among my duties as Rhythm Club President at that time was to take the two competition judges, men eminent in the British jazz world, to dinner before the start of the evening’s contest. We went to a modest Chinese restaurant. After the meal we hurried back to the Union, now crammed with jazz enthusiasts from all over the British Isles, impatient for the music to start. Without delay, and still wearing the raincoat I had on for my walk to and from the restaurant, I ran onto the Stanley Hall stage to welcome the musicians, judges and audience. I then introduced the young woman who was to announce the bands as they came onstage to perform. Chosen for her glamorous good looks, she wore a little black dress and clearly met with the approval of the male majority in the crowd.
The event was reported in a Manchester University students’ newspaper in which comment was made on the charming announcer’s pronunciation of bass, as in double bass, which she pronounced like Bass, the well-known brand of beer. I, too, received notice in the report which referred to my opening welcome, describing me as ‘a pleasantly nervous man who wore a rain coat and resembled a kind of jazzman’s Michael Foot’. I had no objection to being compared to the socialist politician and was happy to see myself later described by the student journalist as ‘a tasteful drummer’.
Indeed, the Rhythm Club Quintet played well that night, swinging through its three numbers, the boppish ‘How’s Trix’, the jazz waltz ‘Little Niles’ and a slow ballad, Cole Porter’s ‘All Of You’. As we played, we glanced at each other, happy with the feeling that musicians get when things are going well, and satisfied that, after all those practice sessions, we were performing close to our top form. It was Liverpool’s 11-piece orchestra that won the day, however, second and third places being given to groups from other universities.
To avoid excessive duplication of musicians in the two Liverpool groups, I had given up my original place in the larger band and let a newcomer take over on drums. Thus, despite Liverpool’s success, when it came to the finals at Queen Mary College, London, I was in the audience, not on stage. In the competition final the Liverpool band was unplaced but this in no way reflected badly on the musicians. The standard of musicianship in many universities at that time was remarkably high and some of those who took part in the IUJF competitions made names for themselves in the professional jazz world. Among them were Cambridge University’s Dave Gelly and Art Themen, who led the winning band in the 1962 competition finals.
Liverpool Rhythm Club’s activities were by no means confined to involvement with the annual IUJF band competition. There were frequent talks and record recitals as well as the occasional coach trip to hear jazz performances outside Liverpool. Nor did the student jazz musicians and jazz enthusiasts confine their musical activities to the University. University bands played in a wide variety of venues in and out of the city, including colleges and clubs, while some student musicians were members of local bands that were not directly connected with Rhythm Club. Notable among these were the Dave Lind and Dave Stone bands in which fellow geographer Phil Morris played trumpet. These dedicated jazz musicians of the old tradition were good friends of mine and I often went to listen to them in clubs such as The Iron Door and The Downbeat. Occasionally, they allowed me to sit in with the group for a couple of numbers, a generous gesture on their part as they regarded me as too much of a modernist for Black Chicago style bands such as theirs. I was, perhaps, too much of a jazzman for another Liverpool group with which I was associated for a while. Indeed, I was slightly embarrassed for my jazz associates to know that I was actually playing with a local pop or rock group. Today, however, I am happy to confess that I was an original member of Liverpool’s pioneer beat group, Cass and the Cassanovas, thus becoming a minor player in the story of the Mersey Sound.
Extract from Brian Hudson, 'University Jazz and the Mersey Sound: Student days in Liverpool, a memoir', Popular Music History vol. 1, no. 2 (2006), 215-226 (c) Equinox Publishing Ltd 2006. Reproduced by kind permission.
Back to Top
Over 30 members of the Liverpool University Rhythm Club from the early 1960s got together last October (2008) for a musical Re-Union at Leverstock Green, Herts, at the home of one of its members. Several groups of musicians were represented, and the quintet shown here on this YouTube clip, played 'Silk Stockings' as an impromptu encore - captured on a Sony digital camera by A. Ganf Esq. Author Brian Hudson came over from Australia to launch his book 'How I didn't become a Beatle' and played drums on this number.
Anybody remember the Crosby Rhythm Kings from Liverpool? You can hear "Copenhagen" playing by clicking the play button below, it might just stir up memories. I'm grateful to Ralph Watmough for sending me this recording taped in 1950/51. It features Alan Spedding on Trumpet (Alan now leads a Condon style band in the Bristol Area), Pete Burkhill on Clarinet (Pete is at present playing tenor sax with Terry Perry's Big Easy Band), Denis Roscoe on Alto Sax (also plays occasionally with Terry Perry), Bix Roscoe on Trombone (Bix is no longer with us), Ralph Watmough on Piano ( currently living in France, see later items), Pete Green on Banjo (anybody know where he is?), and Paddy Glover on Banjo (Paddy lives in Skipton and no longer plays). - Fred Burnett
29th Jul 2003
For the best results, download free, Windows Media Player latest version
Ralph Watmough remembers much more...
including The Crosby Rhythm Kings
Recently, someone said to me "Why did Merchant Taylors School, Crosby produce so many of Liverpool's jazz musicians in the 1950s?" I was slightly surprised, because I had never thought about it before, but the question set me wondering.
I myself had come to jazz (in the widest sense of the word) in the 1930s. As a child I would listen to Radio Luxembourg, which broadcast the bands of Roy Fox, Ambrose. Lew Stone et al. By the end of the War, I had progressed to Benny Goodman and Fats Waller. I was a jazz lover, but not yet manic.
Then one Wednesday afternoon, when interest at Merchant Taylors was devoted to sport, my old friend Harry Garlick and I decided to play hookie and listen to some records. We went to his house, where he proudly produced a new acquisition; it was a Parlophone reissue of At the Jazz Band Ball and Sorry! by Bix Beiderbecke and his Gang. The bell-like notes came at me like (as Eddie Condon was later to say) a girl saying yes.
From that moment I was enslaved. I went out at once with my 3s 6d. and bought the only other Bix record available at that time - Royal Garden Blues and Jazz Me Blues. Even the blue and gold Parlophone label seemed a thing of beauty!
Before long, we wanted to play jazz ourselves. Harry preferred to listen rather to play, but there were other teenagers in the school willing to have a go.
We formed a band. Some of the members of that band are still active on the northern jazz scene, for example Pete Burkhill (clt, ts), Roger Myerscough (clt), and Derek Vaux (bs). Others, such as Steve Voce, are music journalists .
We played jazz during the lunchtime break, in a little-visited room at the top of the servants' quarters in what had formerly been the headmaster's house. However, one unfortunate day, when we were in the middle of a vocal version of "Spider Crawl", the headmaster entered and observed rather sarcastically that he was quite unable to observe any spiders anywhere. That was the end of rehearsals at the school.
In those days, jazz was a dirty word, and was frowned on by the authorities. Happily things are now quite different there, and the school possesses a sixteen piece big band. However, I often wonder whether the old days were better. It is a proven fact that jazz thrives in adversity.
Alongside these activities there was the Crosby Rhythm Club, which met every Sunday evening to play and discuss the latest jazz reissues. The rhythm clubs had a national umbrella organisation, and with a view to joining, we went over to the Wallasey Rhythm Club to obtain more information. It was there that I first met the late Richard Goodwin, known universally as "Uncle Dick", the leader of the embryo Merseysippi.
The Crosby Rhythm Kings struggled on for a while after we left school, playing local Tennis and Rugby Club dances, and occasionally as interval band at the West Coast Jazz Club. We co-opted a few personnel. such as Bix Roscoe from Southport, who were not "old boys" of the School, but musicians drifted away to join other bands, and we played for the last time in the spring of 1954.
Another band to fold a little later was the Tishomingo Jazz Band. They had, amongst others, Bob Wright on trumpet, Martin Downer on clarinet, Fred Robinson on trombone and Ron Cooper drums. I joined them on banjo, and for some reason unknown to me, I found myself landed with the thankless job of leader and organiser. The Tishomingo tag was abandoned, and we became the Ralph Watmough Band. One night, Fred and Bob were walking home to Bob's place, where Fred was spending the night. A passing policeman looked at Fred's case and said "What have you got in there?" Fred answered truthfully "A trombone, a toothbrush, a safety razor and a pair of pyjamas." "A likely story", said the cop. "Open up". My great regret is that I was not there to see his face!
Eventually, Fred resigned and was not replaced; instead, Martin took the head on alto sax, with Bob playing George Lewis-style clarinet - an unusual but effective combination. Our favourite venue with this line-up was the Thatched House in Manchester - home of the Eric Batty Jazz Aces (with Roy Williams) and the best home-made ham and egg pies in the North. The members were somewhat bemused by the sight of an alto sax leading a New Orleans style outfit! One day, Martin was in the toilet, when a member of the audience said to him "You've got a good band there, but really the saxophone is not a jazz instrument!" Poor Martin was foolish enough to repeat this to the other members, and did not live it down for many years!
Liverpool in the 50s was a musical cauldron. Apart from John Pritchard with the Philharmonic Orchestra, there was music at the Philharmonic Hotel, famous for its ornate Victorian loos. Then there was Ralph "Hank" Walters and his Dusty Road Ramblers playing country and western, and folk music at a club at the top end of London Road, where the Spinners held sway. Ray Ennis played Rock'n Roll in Garston; he was later to join the Blue Jeans - a far superior rock group to the Beatles in my opinion.
On the jazz scene, the leaders were without doubt the Merseys, who were at the Temple on Dale Street. "Worshipping at the Temple" became the favoured substitute for Sunday Evensong. The University Band were the winners of a competition in 1955 which provided the enviable prize of a gig at the Festival
Hall. Then there was the Muskrat Jazz Band, which played the Washington, underneath the famous Guinness Clock, the Kinkajou Club run by Neil English in Slater Street, two doors away from the Marlborough Hotel and the 21 Club in Croxteth Road, where my band was in residence. With the opening of the Cavern Club in 1957, the MJB, the Muskrats and my band merged their club interests, playing the one venue on three nights at the weekend. Later, the Muskrats broke away, and began a very successful residency at the Temple, while in 1959, my band moved to the newly opened Mardi Gras Club, playing opposite a new band - Kenny Ball.
The Mardi Gras was considerably "posher" than the other Liverpool Clubs. It had both a band room and a recreation room - the latter containing a full-size snooker table. In the spring of 1960, Mike Farren out trumpeter passed away under sad circumstances , and we were forced to look for someone else. While we were looking, we were fortunate enough to obtain the services of one Syd Lawrence, who was then lead trumpet with the BBC Northern Dance Orchestra (the NDO never played at the weekend). My wife Doreen was playing snooker with Kenny's bassist Vic Pitt when our band struck up. Kenny, who was sitting nearby , looked up surprised. "Who's that on trumpet?", he asked. "Our new trumpeter", Doreen lied. Kenny opened the recreation room door and looked out aghast. Then he said "You little ******, it's Syd Lawrence. You really had me worried!"
Thanks to the Mardi Gras residency, our band began to travel throughout the northwest, North Wales and the north Midlands. One regular visit was to the Manchester Sports Guild, and the formidable Jenks. We played opposite John Dankworth at Leeds University. Kenny Baker sat in with us at Paddy McKiernan's Bodega Club. However, all good things have to end, and our end came in the form of the Beatles and other Merseybeat groups, which had an effect of the club scene rather akin to the 1929 Wall Street Crash. With no residency to keep us in form, the band eventually split up.
For some reason, Gordon Vickers's Wall City Jazz Club in Chester remained largely unaffected by these events, and in 1964. One day, our ex-banjoist Joe Shannon phoned me. "I'm playing with the Wall City Band" he said. The pianist has just left and Gordon [Vickers] says the job is yours if you want it". I grabbed the opportunity.
The Walls played all sorts of venues, including the ballroom on the top floor of the CIS tower in Manchester. There was an express lift. After one gig, at which the MJB's banjo player Ken "Nob" Baldwin depped, he, Ian Ashworth and I took the lift. We were joined by two well dressed ladies. The lift took off at a great rate. Nob, who is renowned for his outrageous remarks, exclaimed "Cor! It doesn't half make your bollocks feel heavy, Nob!" The ladies' faces were a picture!
That same night, returning to Chester in the band bus, we espied a fish and chip shop, and went in. Stan Thomas, who played clarinet and was a champion gurner. His secret was to take out his false teeth by sleight of hand, gurn and act drunk, then return his false teeth. This he did for the people in the queue. They laughed uproariously, but to Stan's puzzlement, continued to laugh after he had finished. He had slipped his teeth into his mac pocket where they had caught up with a used bus ticket without his knowledge. It was several moments before he realised.
One summer evening we were due to play for an NCO's mess dance at Saighton Camp, near Chester. Alan the drummer called to say he was unwell. By some wonderful turn of fate, a customer arrived in Nearby Kelsall, where Ian had a caravan park. It was Eric Delaney. On asking if there was any room, he received Ian's reply, "Nothing if you'll dep with us tonight. In fact, we'll pay you". The deal was struck, and Ian phoned round for a spare drum kit. It was a wonderful evening. - Ralph Watmough
Regarding the comments on jazz at Merchant Taylors School, and Ralph's notes, I would like to add a bit more. The version of 'Copenhagen' was recorded in September 1951, above Aldridges shop in Southport, along with some other titles. In 2000 I thought it might be a good idea if we tried to re-create some of the original titles on modern equipment, using as many of the original jazz-men as possible. There seemed to be little enthusiasm for that, but (at that time) a lack of equipment to play 78s meant that some of the original band would like to have a 'millennium' copy on CD. I asked them to send their 78s to me, and, with Jonathan Lane, a professional recording engineer in Bristol, I selected the least worn acetates for transcription onto CD format. Some of the tracks feature later members of the band, and I still have the original 78s if any of the band wish to have them back.
I attach a photo of the 'Crosby Rhythm Kings' playing at a local tennis club dance, in the hope that it is not too dark. L to R are Robin Glover (bjo), Ralph Watmough (p), Alan Spedding (tpt), Maurice Deeprose (drs), Pete Burkhill (clt), ANO (gtr), Pete Green (tb at that time), Bill Roscoe (I think, on tuba).
By April 1952 I had joined up with two other ex-MTS to form the basis of a quintet, aimed at playing 'Chicago style' jazz, mainly to satisfy a demand for music for dancing. The two others were Maurice noted above, who was a talented drummer, later to join the Bill Gregson swing band at the 'Tower ballroom' in New Brighton, and Derek Hughson, an accomplished pianist who has carried on playing in the Liverpool area. The other members were Mick Murphy (t/clt), Jim James (alto/clt), both of whom could play almost anything, and (when it could be afforded), a bass player who arrived at gigs in his taxi, and picked up fares on his way home. Mention of Liverpool University elsewhere on your site reminds me that, during 1954 and 1955, we played a large number of gigs in the Students' Union on Wednesday and Saturday nights during term time.
National Service for Derek and I broke up the band, and I didn't play in public again until 1985 when my wife, Susan, 'volunteered' me to organise a jazz band to play at a fund-raising church concert here in Gloucestershire. The history of this band can be found in 'My kind of town', a glossy book of recollections of jazz in Bristol compiled by Bristol drummer Dave Hibberd, whose wife, Jean, is a stalwart of the Bristol Jazz Society. I have recently re-formed my band, see alansjazzmen. com, which also carries some sound samples, and a useful link to the Bristol Jazz Society.
Regards to all, Alan Spedding
The Ralph Watmough Band
remember the Bags Watmough Band very well . I was a member for a few years
...... 1961/62. The line up was Mike Nash trmbn Pete Birkhill clrt we had an
ever changing trumpet, and I can't remember one single name. On Banjo and guitar
...... sometimes simultaneously, Joe Shannon , Kevin Cunningham on bass, Ralph
on Piano of course and me on Traps.
I came into the band to replace Tony Carter who was due for some National Service and although I was a bit of a novice I was given my big chance. Thanks Ralph .
I received quite an education during my time with the band . Things like ... never get to the bar first and give up the drums and take up something a little more portable.
Unfortunately I had to make a choice between playing in the band or a career in the print , so I left, just in time for Tony Carter to take over again. I left Liverpool soon after and settled down south. I now live in Nottingham and have a full kit in the spare bedroom.
Best wishes Ralph
Sidney Francis Smith (Big Sid Catlett)
Back to Top
Michael Meadowcroft emailed to say, - Do add to the list of jazz musicians from Merchant Taylors' School, Jim Wright on banjo. Jim arrived at jazz in Leeds a bit later than the others - after he'd left/been expelled from Merchant Taylors. Jim plays with the Yorkshire Post Jazz Band and had a spell with Max Collie. Second: the Southport jazz scene began earlier than most with Dave Wilson's Dixielanders who broadcast on BBC north-west in the 1940s, even before George Webb appeared in London. When I was playing in Southport in 1959 with the Bienville Jazz Band (photo left), Dave was doing elder statesman gigs around the area, including a club at the Formby Lighthouse, and Sunday afternoons at the Lakeside Cafe on the beach at Ainsdale.
The Bienville Jazz Band, of Southport, vintage 1959, was started by pupils from King George V School, plus others. From left to right: Michael Meadowcroft (clarinet and soprano sax), Dave "Tich" Partington (on that curiosity of the era, the tea chest bass), Barry Dixson (trumpet) who is now in Australia and no longer plays, John Sheville (drums), Dave Hood (guitar), Roy Watkins (piano), and Neil Freeman (trombone), who is now Professor of Theatre at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and no longer plays. Alas, I have no idea where either Dave, John or Roy now are.
Later in Southport I played with the Riverside Jazzmen whose leader was an electrician whose appropriate name was Bill Bent! Bill would insist on being paid in cash before the gig started and would then proceed to drink it all as the evening progressed! It would be beyond the call of duty to remember these Southport based bands.
In those days the Queen's Hotel on the
Promenade was the main jazz club. There is, I believe, still a Southport band,
with Dave Dixson on reeds, that plays at the Hesketh Arms. - Michael
(Dave Dixson now plays with the Peninsula Jazzmen - FB)
How I remember the Cavern
The narrow entrance and the grimy steps down into that hot, smelly, crowded, noisy cellar might have been compared to the gates of Hell. To me, a 19-year-old student newly arrived in Liverpool, it was more like discovering Heaven. The Cavern had opened only a few months earlier and that night in 1957 its resident group, the Merseysippi Jazz Band, was playing. This was how I had always imagined a real jazz club to be, a dingy cellar filled with devotees listening to inspired musicians. Until then, my experience of jazz had been confined to radio broadcasts, a few records—78s, EPs and LPs, some films like The Glenn Miller Story and The Benny Goodman Story, and one jazz concert—Louis Armstrong and the All Stars at London’s Empress Hall in 1956. The vast, impersonal venue was better known for boxing matches and the revolving stage on which the band played which caused the sound to come and go. Here at The Cavern, with local musicians inspired by Louis, the atmosphere was just right, the band and the audience tightly enclosed in the basement of a converted warehouse. In company with fellow enthusiasts from Liverpool University, I descended into that secular crypt which was soon to become sacred as one of the most famous music venues in the world.
Extract from Brian Hudson, 'University Jazz and the Mersey Sound: Student days in Liverpool, a memoir', Popular Music History vol. 1, no. 2 (2006), 215-226 (c) Equinox Publishing Ltd 2006. Reproduced by kind permission.
Back to Top
One feature of the trad jazz scene on Merseyside in the late 50's were the riverboat shuffles on the infamous Mersey Ferry/Cruise Boat, Royal Iris, locally known as the 'fish and chip boat'.
We usually had a front band such as Chris Barber or Acker Bilk and supporting local bands such as the Merseysippi, Panama, Druids, Wall City etc. I recall one 'cruise' when the short choppy seas in Liverpool Bay made things difficult for the musicians and almost impossible for the dancers!
The old Royal Iris is still afloat, but looking very forlorn, against the river wall on the Thames near the Woolwich Barrage.
Brian Corbett, 21st April 2009
Back to Top
Southport in the 70s
Phil Yates -
The recent addition of the Crosby Rhythm Kings to the memory page prompted affectionate memories of a true jazz eccentric-the late Bix Roscoe who plays trombone on that very competent rendering of "Copenhagen" all those years ago. I was privileged to have known Bix and played with him many times during the more recent past-- 1976-1990 when there was a lively home-grown traditional jazz scene in Southport which sadly is no more.
It began with the formation of Formby Jazz Club in 1976. The club met weekly at the British Legion, and anyone who played an instrument at whatever level was welcome to have a go. From these meetings the nucleus of a performing band developed which became the Alt River Jazz Band. They played at the Crown Hotel in Birkdale for several years before moving to the Marine, later called the Tara, in Coronation Walk.
After the formation of the Alt River, there remained enough surplus musicians at Formby Jazz Club to create a second band. There is a very small stream which runs through Formby and flows into the River Alt. This stream is known as Dobbs Gutter. So the Dobbs Gutter Jazz Band began playing at the Sands pub near Ainsdale beach, and later played for many years at the Royal Clifton Hotel.
The Alt River members were George Lapsley (Tpt), Dave Blackledge (clt), Kevin Bargen (bjo), Jeff Lewis (tmb) and Roy Swift (dms), (now both Rioters ), Mike Mcloughlan (pno) and Norman Cuff (bs) (now both Wirrorleans).
The Dobbs Gutter comprised Don Evans (tpt), Dennis Clarke (tmb), Ricky Whiting (pno), Ian Patterson (Bs), Wilf Jenkinson (bjo) (now Yarrow River), John Rothwell (dms), (now Silver Bell) and myself (clt) (now Mathew St). Later members included the late Al McDowell (tmb) (founder of the Wirrorleans) and Tony Ormesher (bjo) and Rae Owen (bs) (now both Chicago Teds).
As a total novice, the Alt River was the first band with whom I played in public, first as a sitter-in and later as a dep. Bix Roscoe invariably appeared at most gigs, often with an array of instruments, a valve trombone, flugelhorn, mellophone, euphonium, banjo. He always sat in. If he wasn't invited, he got up and played anyway! Bix was a natural musician and his knowledge was encyclopaedic. He often gave the audience erudite lectures on the history of the tune about to be played and its composers which often took longer than the tune took to play! Off the bandstand, you could not have an ordinary conversation with Bix, because he spoke like a textbook all the time, but you always came away knowing something new. His vocals were equally eccentric and entertaining. When he sang "Shiek Of Araby" he didn't wait for the response from the rest of the band" He's got no pants on" He confessed to it himself!
A vast number of guest musicians from all over the region and further afield were regular visitors to Southport. Digby Fairweather, who held jazz workshops at the Arts Centre throughout the 80s regularly dropped in for a blow, and both the Alt and the Dobbs played interval spots for Humph and for Kenny Ball on more than one occasion. Looking at my old diaries of that period, I cannot believe how busy we were. Anyone in Southport organising any kind of function seemed to want one of the local bands.
This brief reminiscence of the Southport jazz scene would not be complete without mentioning an unsung hero---- a gentleman called Bill Scott, a fan of both bands who regularly invited them to perform for friends at his home, where he made recordings on what was then "State of the Art" equipment. He then generously donated copies of these soirees to every musician and guest. I still have several of these recordings and other people will have many others. They would make an interesting archive if collected together. When both bands died a natural death in the very early 90s, it was Bill who kept the flame alive by forming the Southport Melodic Jazz Society. This still organises regular concerts and its influence went a long way to bringing about the recent highly successful Southport Jazz Festival. So although there are no longer any traditional bands specifically local to Southport, it's good that the music is still alive there, and I have so many happy memories of being a part of it. I hope others have memories to share.
My father, Bill Scott (mentioned in 'Southport in the 1970s' by Phil Yates), died peacefully at home in Dorset last week.
Very many thanks - Pip McKerrow
April 28th 2008
Are there any survivors of the long-standing jazz sessions at the Marine Club, Coronation Walks, Southport, 1980s? Roy Swift was always on drums. Front line varied; George Lapsley (tpt), Alan Pendlebury (tbn) were regulars with Kenny Doran(tpt) and various clarinettists. Once, the entire Blue Mags arrived and gave a stunning performance of Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver Stuff. Somebody once told me there was a dubious sort-of club upstairs, above the jazz club but I never had the courage to find out".-
19/03/07 - HI Fred,
I am somewhat saddened by the memories of Frank Farrington of the Alt River JB days at the Crown in Birkdale and the Marine in Southport. He only seems to remember the "novelty" guests, and the Blue Mags, who appeared there on one occasion only for a special anniversary only.
This was a regular band, led by George Lapsley on trumpet ( good NO stuff !! ) which played at these venues and others for something like 15 years ( I was in the band on drums for the best part of 10 years). It was not just a bunch of guys who turned up and had a blow !!! Sure Bix was a bit of a novelty, and had been a good jazz player in his day, But by this time he was well past his sell-by date a good musician, evidenced by his work and standing in the Banks Brass Band. I remember him depping with the band for a full night on one occasion - a good first half but the second half was a different matter when his lip/stamina went altogether.
There were some very good nights in Southport in those days, and the Alt River should be given full credit for the entertainment provided (free!! ) over all those years. After all, when they began at the Crown in 1978 (?), there had been no jazz to speak of in Southport for very many years. Surely Frank has some good memories of hearing the band play ?
Regards, Roy Swift
25/06/06 - Hi Fred,
Good to hear from Frank Farrington
( and his wife Dorothy) from whom I hadn't heard for years since I left the Alt River Jazz Band, which was the band he referred to as playing first at the Crown Hotel, Birkdale, Southport and later the Marine Club in Southport in the late 80's to join the
I played most of the sessions there for the 10 years or so I was with the band - hence his comment on me "always playing ", tho' I did stop sometimes !!! A regular dep for me was Billy Morton, so sadly now out of action because of a stroke.
George Lapsley led the band on trumpet, and the regulars were Dave Blackledge (Clt), Mike Mclachlan (Pno), Kevin Bargen (Bjo), Norman Cuff (Bass).After Jeff Lewis left while we were at the Crown, Frank Robinson was on trombone for some time, then Dave Park from Preston. Later, there was a rota of trombonists each month - Alan Pendlebury, Bob Hambleton, Brian Oldham (with of course the lovely Carole on vocals), Dave Renton and Dave Park.
Deps and guests included Ken Doran and Hughie Gerrard (Tpts), Phil Yates (Clt), Wilf Jenkinson ( Bjo), Digby Fairweather (Tpt), Red Price (Tenor), Harold Troughton (Clt), Keith Smith (Tpt) at various times. The list is a long one !!!
It was a most enjoyable time. There had been no jazz to speak of in Southport for many years and the sessions were very popular. Sadly, the attendances were affected by the start-up of jazz at the Hesketh Arms in Churchtown, with the importation of bands from Manchester and further afield. The band continued into the early nineties, still led by George Lapsley but with different personnel in the main.
I am still playing, mainly with the Rioters Dixieland Jazz Band ( and still looking for gigs - see Deps list here) along with Phil Yates and Jeff Lewis, and Norman & Mike have most recently been with the Wirrorleans. Kevin continues to run his Folk band, and Dave has retired from playing jazz. George spends a lot of time in Portugal where he plays from time to time with a bunch of ex-pats !!!
Thanks to Frank Farrington for bringing back these happy memories.
Regards, Roy Swift
25/06/06 Dear Fred,
re Frank Farrington's letter, there are some survivors of the Marine Club sessions. The band was the Alt River band, I replaced Kevin Bargen on banjo for the last 2 or 3 years at the club. Roy Swift is playing with the Rioters, Mike McClashlan (piano) and Norman Cuff (bass) are with the Wirrorleans and I'm with the Yarrow River band. The dubious club upstairs was nicknamed the Zoo, and if you'd seen the clientele you'd know why.
Great to hear Roy Swift is still playing. A very good drummer and raconteur. Is Ken Ratcliffe (bass) still around ? He was another Marine Club Regular, and who can forget Bix Roscoe, a complete crackpot from Hesketh Bank, who played an odd slide/valve trombone?
Bix was, in local dialect, "three sheets to the wind" but he had a phenomenal knowledge of early jazz, and could sing the Louis Armstrong Hot Five numbers, switching to Lil Hardin's vocals with a knotted handkerchief on his head. I once played sousaphone next to Bix when he sang Elvis Presley's "Wooden Heart" in German, this time wearing a monocle.
11/05/05 : Hi Fred,
Can I correct some of your info. re. Dobbs Gutter in 1976 please. I can assure you that the band had occasional practises in my house, and I am married to the guy who not only named it, but led and guided it until 1978 - the trombonist Alan Wilde.
The original band consisted of: -
Don Evan - trumpet
Jim O'Rourke - piano
Lovely Dave - clarinet ( can someone remind me please) & alto sax
Ricky Whiting - piano and my friend
Peter Dunne & Peter Pemberton - drums
The man who made love to his double bass - another Dave I think
Bob Willets - clarinet
Don Bell -trumpet
Marion Wroe - vocals
& I don't forget those who came along either with ambition or expertise from a professional career.
My abiding memory of this line up is of their enthusiasm and creativity - and a great sense of fun and the welcome they gave to any musicians who wanted to share a love of jazz.
It would be great if any of these folk would contact us - or perhaps they're listening to Humph tonight, as we are.
I was interested in Phil Yates's comment about Bix Roscoe sitting in whether invited or not . I believe this habit originated in the Picton Hall concerts at Liverpool on Sunday evenings. When the Mulligan Band came to town, they would march round the auditorium while playing the final number. Bix would join in on the end of the column, and end up on stage.
He would bring out his trombone again on the train back to Southport and give an impromptu concert. After the first "happening", other musicians who lived along that line would bring their horns too.
What a wonderful website. I used to go to the Picton Hall in Liverpool on a Sunday evening to see the great trad bands, the first one I saw was Freddy Randall just before I went into the RAF. When I came out in 1957 the Cavern (the best of cellars) was the place to go for trad jazz before the Beatles came on the scene. I have attached a photo of the original stage at Picton Hall which I took about 12 months ago. It had become the International Lending Library (you can still see several books on the photo). The Picton Hall was always a great venue for jazz being in the round, the library itself is now closed so I don't know what plans they have for it .
John Finnigan Liverpool
Dear Fred, It was great to see the picture of Picton Hall. I remember all the Sunday concerts with Ken Colyer, Chris Barber, George Melly , The Merseysippi etc. When the Picton closed concerts were transferred to The Empire, & Pavilion Theatres and I saw Louis Armstrong at the old Liverpool stadium. I still have copies of all the programmes from the concerts I attended. They make all the memories return from those great days.
Regards Derek Harrison.
From Steve Voce
In regard to Derek Harrison's comments on the Picton Hall. I was given the very first Grundig tape recorder (it weighed three stone!) and I used to lug it to the Picton where most of the bands let me record them. Freddy Randall was the exception saying, as was his habit with every such request, that I could record as long as I gave him the tapes to take away afterwards and check that they were OK. Since the tapes cost two quid each (a lot in the '50s!) I thanked him and declined. The tapes ran in the opposite direction to tapes later and today. I found the only one from that period that has survived the other day - Big Bill Broonzy recorded at the Temple in Dale Street, muffled through being converted from running one way to the other! I had but no longer have, some wonderful recordings made at the Picton by the Mulligan-Alex Welsh cartel.
I was in the happy position of being a steward at Louis's Stadium concert. So I was able to walk round the circular corridor in the arena so that the band on the revolving stage was always facing me.
My daughter Louise (called after Louis) was a few months old, and I have a photograph still signed 'To Louise from Godfather Louis Armstrong'.
I interviewed Trummy Young and Barrett Deems later at the Adelphi. The Deems piece was in the Melody Maker. Trummy told me that initially he had left the US for Hawaii to escape tax problems following his time with Lunceford. When Hawaii became the 49th State he was in trouble because the IRS came after him. Joe Glaser paid his debts on condition that he worked indefinitely in the All Stars. By the time he came to Liverpool he was very sick with a stomach ulcer that couldn't be cured. The travelling was desperately bad for him, but Glaser wouldn't let him leave.
Glaser's charity was further demonstrated when the band went to Africa. Velma Middleton had worked for Louis for about 20 years. Her massive overweight made her a universal joke. When the All Stars were in Africa she had, at one venue, to climb up and down a huge open air backstage in the midday sun. After doing this a few times she had a stroke and was taken to the pretty inadequate local hospital. Glaser and Louis thought it was too expensive to hire a plane to fly her out, so when the band moved on, they left her there. She died in the hospital.
I found Steve Voce's memories of the Armstrong concert at the old Liverpool Stadium, most interesting, as I too, played a very small part in that concert. I was recruited by a lady who was a solicitor's managing clerk, to help with the "cash" side of things (I was a trainee accountant) but found the venue more suitable for wrestling than for jazz concerts! However I did watch the band being paid (in cash) and Louis signed a programme for me which I straight away lost only for it to be returned to me just a few years ago when the very same lady was scoring for Prestatyn cricket club and I was umpiring for St Asaph cricket club. Small world.
Who, Where and When
Harold Troughton took this photograph,
He knows who and where but not quite when, do you?
It was taken in the North West of England
Name those musicians
Another teaser from Harold Troughton
The personnel on the photo supplied by Harold Troughton on your
website is of the late-lamented Freddy Randall Band, which included Bruce Turner
and Lennie Hastings (ooyaooyaooya!).,
Back to Top
GETTING STARTED IN JAZZ
by Tony Pringle
I was born on 12th December 1936 in a bungalow named "The Anchorage" in the village of Greasby on the Wirral Peninsula which is just across the river from Liverpool, England. The big news at the time was the abdication of King Edward VIII, but I was unaware of such goings on. If the Pringle family would have had their way I would have been named, as the eldest son of the eldest son, John Crester Pringle. My mother Isabel Edith Florence Laverick-Platt either had a warm spot for Anthony Eden or felt that as she had so many names someone should atone, hence Anthony is my one and only Christian name. Over the years I have found that I am only called Anthony by teachers and managers when I am in trouble, and more lately, by telemarketers trying to sell me something. Tony is much preferred as a mode of address.
In 1939, right at the start of World War II, my parents broke up and my father took me to live with my grandparents – his parents. Looking and thinking back I am amazed that they took me on. They had brought up nine children of their own and along came me just as they were in sight of their youngest heading off for pastures new. My dad and grandfather were away somewhere in Wales working at a secret armaments factory under a mountain. My grandmother and my 6 aunts did a wonderful job of looking after me, for which I was not always as grateful as I should have been, but certainly am now.
Sometime soon after that a German bomb landed in our garden and we took off to our cottage in Wales, away from the bombing. While we were away another bomb destroyed the block of houses at the end of our road and blew all the windows out of our house, the soot came down the chimneys and all my childhood toys were lost.
Apart from that excitement life was, as I remember it, very good. My grandmother played piano and my youngest aunt had a record collection. I sort of remember Glenn Miller, but have vivid recollections of "Woodman Spare That Tree" and Pistol Packin' Mama". I started piano lessons, but gave them up because my friends called me a sissy. I played a little piano by ear - I would pick out Handel's Largo and other tunes that my grandmother played. At times my Dad visited and I remember him at times trying guitar and piano accordion - it mustn't have taken because it didn't last. Lastly, there was my grandfather, who would from time to time break out with politically incorrect tunes recalled from his earlier days or from some popular music hall artist. At some point someone gave me a Ukulele – my favorite tune was Drink To Me Only and I could play some George Formby numbers – no jazz there!
My introduction to the music that I love came about totally out of the blue!
I have always thought that being a fan of New Orleans style or traditional jazz was like catching a very obstinate bug - once you've got, it stays with you forever. I swear it feels like that is the way it has been with me. I can still remember my friend Dave Burnley calling me to come over to his house to hear these great records given to him by his uncle. This was back in 1955 or so, and he had been given a bunch of 78s. I can remember like it was yesterday my first experience with real New Orleans jazz - the first sides that I listened to were Jelly Roll Blues and Doctor Jazz by Jelly Roll Morton his Red Hot peppers followed by Just A Closer Walk With Thee and High Society by Bunk Johnson on the HMV label.
Wow! I could not believe that music like this ever existed. This was nothing like Sid Phillips on BBC radio or what I had heard on Voice of America over short wave radio. On the way home I went into Strothers, our local record and music store, there I found a copy of 29th and Dearborn and Sweet Mumtaz by the Luis Russell Hot 6. I immediately recognised names like George Mitchell on cornet (still one of my favourites), "Kid" Ory, and Johnny St. Cyr. I bought it and headed home - you have to understand that at this time I had no way to play my find. The next week I bought a Garrard turntable and then went to the Army Navy store where I purchased a pair of earphones that looked like they dated back to the second world war. I hooked it all together and for weeks would just play the two sides - I was really hooked.
Soon after I traded in my old Ukulele, that I had played for some time, for a banjo and started to learn to play jazz tunes. I also had a Guitar and because of this I used Guitar tuning on my banjo – not the best approach. Eventually I dropped both these instruments and only ever played one band job on banjo as a substitute with another band – after one set I had cramp in my left hand. At the end of the evening I retired from rhythm section work.
Shortly after my indoctrination into jazz someone talked me into going to hear a local band. The Panama Jazz Band was playing at the Roycroft Hall in Wallasey not too far from where I lived with my grandparents. I can remember my first impression when they started playing. I was aghast. The trumpet player, a very nice guy, had to be the worst trumpet player that I have ever heard. I am sitting there thinking that I could do much better myself. This was based on nothing at all, my never having tried to play any wind instrument. The evening was saved when another trumpet player arrived to much excitement. It was Ken Sims who would later be with Cy Laurie's and then Acker Bilk's bands. When he played it sounded great and I decided there and then to get a cornet. The same week I bought a copy of the Melody Maker newspaper and sent away for a cornet. It cost £12, did not have a spit valve and came in a beautiful curved wooden case with exquisite brass fittings.
The Druids Jazz Band (circa 1957) at the Roycroft Hall, Wallasey
I started to teach myself to play. I spoke with Ken Sims who recommended a teacher, but after a few lesson I stopped going to him. He told me that playing jazz would spoil my tone. A clarinet player at work taught me something about chords and I started to learn some tunes. At some time in 1956 or so I got an offer to join the Dolphin Jazz Band. After my first gig I walked home with Brian Williams who had played clarinet with the band and he introduced me to Roy Penny and Vic Sanderson. The next night these guys came over to my house and we had a session. Vic had a lousy banjo so I loaned him mine and taught him some chords and off we went. Brian played like George Lewis on the Bunk Victors and Roy played like Jim Robinson. We called ourselves the Druids Jazz Band. We must have driven my grandparents crazy practicing every night of the week and then going to the local pub to talk about the music. They were great times.
We had our first gig soon after. We were booked to play at a workingman’s club on the dock road Birkenhead, the neighbouring town. We only knew about 12 tunes and half of them were spirituals and we used a Tea Chest bass with one string! The gig lasted 5 hours and I lost track of how many time we repeated ourselves. The audience was not entranced.
Pretty soon we added drums and string bass (this last replacing the Tea Chest bass) to the Druids Jazz Band and in 1958 we became the resident Saturday night band at the Cavern and on Fridays at the other big jazz club in Liverpool – The Mardis Gras. We played intervals for Ken Colyer, Acker Bilk, Sandy Brown and other leading bands up from London. That’s how I got started! In 1967 I immigrated to USA, in 1969 I met Tommy Sancton and we started The Black Eagle Jazz Band and in 1971, After Tommy and Jim Klippert departed us, we formed the New Black Eagle Jazz Band, but that’s a story to be told in another hand dodger.
Back to Top
I'm attaching a scan of a 40+-year-old photo that my Dad (a local photographer) took and which was published in the Leek Post and Times. I was wondering if you have ever came across Keith Pendlebury, who played at Leek Jazz Club quite a few times in the early 1960s. He was from the Manchester area and was a terrific pianist. I got to know him and Marcia McConnell quite well, partly because of going to the jazz club (that's a very youthful me on the right of the picture peering over the top of the piano) but also because my sister worked at the same mill as Marcia -- who was fired when the boss found out she was singing jazz at night (it couldn't happen today). - Ed Jackson www.chrisbarber.net
The Jackson-Bradshaw Band
I recently received a letter from my old band leader of yesteryear Preston born George Jackson, who with his wife Muriel, celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary this year. George is now 72 years young, and during the 50's, 60's and early 70's did so very much for our kind of music in the north of England.
Older jazz fans will remember with fond memories the Jackson-Bradshaw band based in Preston in the 50's. When Ivor Bradshaw sadly died, George took over the mantle of the band with much success. Some of the fine musicians who played or depped with the band included Drummers:- Mo Green, Don Bridgewood, Alan Butterworth, Eric Dean. Bassists:- George Littlewood, Derek Pierce. Pianist John Featherstone, Banjoist/Guitarists:- Dave Potts, John Parkinson, Mike Reddin. Clarinets/Sax:- Maurice Gavan, Bob Crosby, Mart Rogers, Dave Mott and Harold Salisbury. I think the above musicians would agree that they gained so very much from George's enthusiasm and musical knowledge of jazz.
I joined the Jackson Band during the mid sixties, shortly after my army service, and jazz fans will remember the old Manchester Sports Guild run by Mr Jenks, where the band played many gigs there during this period. The band recorded a compilation of Christmas songs for George Bucks New Orleans label. Tony Davis played the CD on his much missed Tony's Trad Time", on several occasions at Christmas time. The late sadly missed John Featherstone organised the recording, and I believe the CD is still selling well in New Orleans after all these years. If I remember at the end of the recording session, there was still a few spare tracks, so George and Mart Roger recorded a stunning version of Froggie More Rag and a few other numbers. I would love to get hold of it.
I hope these few lines have brought a few happy memories back, and a few tributes to the Unsung Heroes of our music. when I spoke to Digby Fairweather a few months ago, he re-iterated the famous lines of the late John Lennon, "WHEN WE GET TO LONDON THAT WILL BE THE END OF TRADITIONAL JAZZ", of words to that effect.
Dear Fred,George Jackson : He made a record years ago
with John Featherston playing piano, Don Bridgewood drums, Derek Pierce Bass,
Mike Reddin banjo. They had insufficient tracks to complete the LP and I can't
remember what happened to his reed man but I was invited to join the band for
the recording of the last two or three tracks. I still have a copy and it came
07/05/06 - Hi Fred
Getting lots of pleasure from the site and just been browsing and while I hesitate to contradict Mart Rodger, the session he referred to with George Jackson (cornet), Derek Pierce (bass), Mike Reddin (banjo), John Featherstone of blessed memory on piano - incidentally his widow June, who used to work in Hime & Addison was well when I last spoke to her - and myself on washboard, was not to pad out a George Jackson LP but to fill up a Zenith Six tribute to Jelly Roll Morton. It was recorded in Macclesfield and was PROPER jazz. No rehearsal, a chat beforehand in the studio in Macclesfield and we ripped off Froggie Moore and Doctor Jazz and I do not think I ever heard Mart and George play better, they sparked off each other. Another person mentioned a CD of it, but I am pretty sure it was only issued on LP, but not 100 per cent certain.
Regards Don Bridgewood
Back to Top
50 years ago
On the 24th July 2003, Pete Vickers came across an old copy of the Preston Herald newspaper for sale in Preston, exactly 50 years old to the day. He also found this article inside it.
PRESTON HERALD, FRIDAY JULY 24 1953
JAZZ FROM GERMANY
Ivor Bradshaw, Jack Harris, Colin Hilton (of Blackburn) and Harold Salisbury, George W. Jackson, Eric Hammond (of Preston), who, with Jim Smith of London, form the Gremmendorf Jazz Band attached to the 17th/21st Lancers, stationed at Munster are currently enjoying a busman’s holiday on leave in Lancashire. As well as specialising in hot jazz the young soldiers are members of the regiment’s military and dance bands. During their leave - augmented by R.A.F. musician John Parkinson - they have deputised for the Saints Jazz Band at the Bodega Restaurant, Manchester, and last week they played at Ashton-under-Lyne Palais de Danse. "Music’s a great life, even in the army, confided clarinet expert Harold Salisbury. And when we’re demobbed there’ll be a few emigrants from the Cotton County stalking up and down London’s Archer Street searching for professional outlets.
Back to Top
I'm Jon White, played string bass in RAF bands during N/S 1950/2, came out, got married,
couldn't afford an instrument, so just listened for a few years ! Came to work in
Manchester in 1960, checked out the local scene (Tommys, Black Lion, 43, MSG
etc) for a bit then saw an ad in the M. E. News-"Bass for sale or swap Judo suit"
I wizzed along to Chorlton and pretended to be fairly uninterested in the REAL wood bass with ungigged varnish(!),but very keen to help the impecunious student to be a star in the belted world of martial artists. I showed him a few fivers and he said goodbye to the bass, which drove off with me at high speed, in a 2 door Ford Anglia! I often wonder if he and his mates (yes it was digs!) had a good night out instead!
After getting up to speed playing along with records for a bit, one night at the Black Lion the Panama turned up with no bass player; when I told Maurice (Pike) I'd got one he said well go and get it! The banjo player lent me his 'chord book' and I enjoyed it so much I forgot to order any beer, so I drank one of those on the piano top. Never did again, but I was truly hooked, and got asked for my phone number. I've still got my 'gigbook' full of names, but try ringing Didsbury 443 and see how far you get ! I hung up my 'plank' in 83 when we moved back to retire in Yorkshire, and took up the keyboard, which I play and communicate with others on the net.
I could trot out loads of stories, but thought it might be more interesting to catalogue the members of various bands I played / depped with on the jazz scene at that time. My memory is as fallible as yours but its an honest try at the dates and should provide a bit of fun for all 'mouldy figs' and er, what was the other one ?
|BLUE LOTUS||DALLAS||PANAMA||RED RIVER||ZENITH 6|
|Alan Dent||Bill Smith||Maurice Pike||Doug Whaley||*****|
|John Hallam||Tony Foulkes||Gabe Essian||Eric Pizey||Eric Pizey|
|Mick(y) Cooke||Terry Brunt||Tony Dunleavy||Mick Knowles||Eric Brierley|
|*****||Tony West||*****||Neil Marr||Keith Pendlebury|
|Bill Carton||Tony Pollitt||****||Dave Potts||****|
|****||Bob Jones *||Don Bridgewood||Pete Staples||****|
|GED HONES||SMOKY CITY||DAVE MOTTS MSG||GORDON ROBBO 7|
|Ged Hone||Alan Dent||Bill Smith||Doug Whaley|
|Gabe Essian||****||Dave Mott||Brian Smith|
|Eric Brierley||Terry Brunt||****||Brian Crowther|
|Dave(Froggy)Moore||Tony West||****||Alan Hare|
|*****||Roger Brown||****||Colin Knight|
|Ian Rose||Bob Jones||Nev Taylor||Pete Staples|
Dear Fred , I see spaces in the red river camp and the zenith 6, can I place my fathers name in one of each space. His name was Eric Pizey and was the drummer for at first the Red River Jazz Men of which
I have a number of recordings and then went on to join the Zenith 6. He died in 1966 when
I was 4 and my sister was just 8 weeks, in a car accident. Please check Google for my honesty, and ,or ask the band members. It's important for me and my family that my father should have some ,small recognition.
From Tony West
The original Smoky City Jazzmen first played on 11th February 1966 at the Bamboo Club, Hazel Grove. I remember that date because my eldest daughter was born at lunchtime.
The line up was: Tony Foulkes clt and leader Geoff Wilde tpt Mike Cook tbn Bob Jones drums Bob Leaver bass Tony West banjo/guitar
That night Sheila Collier sang several tunes, and joined the band there and then.
Mick Cook left after about a year, and was replaced by Malcolm Smith who was a contemporary of mine at MGS, and the band retained that personnel until I left in 1969.
The personnel listed for the Dallas Jazz Band is fairly accurate, the missing person is Tony Pollitt on bass. * Bob Jones was not in the Dallas, When I joined the drummer was "Dereck" (I have forgotten his surname), but soon after that Dave Berry joined. Later on Nev Taylor was the drummer. At certain times of the year Allan Dent was not in Cornwall, and we had a "two trumpet" band. We made a private tape recording not long before I left, and I recall that at the end of "Someday Sweetheart" Allan played an incredibly beautiful and extended coda on cornet. He did it all in the one breath and collapsed just about breathless at the end of it.
I also remember two Dallas gigs at the Cavern with the Beatles as our support act. On the first one whilst we were setting up Roger Browne was reading the "autographs" on the bricks at the back of the stage, and on seeing "The Beatles" said to me "What a stupid name for a rock group!"
On another occasion we played at the Leofric in Coventry with Kenny Baker as guest. Joe Harriot's band was downstairs, and during one interval we went down and found Kenny playing brilliant bop trumpet with them. With us he had just about played pure Armstrong, and insisted that Bill Smith stayed onstage. Bill rose to the occasion that night. I really respect musicians like Kenny, who know the idiom, and always play in context.
One of the funniest gigs I recall with the Smokies was at Codsall, where George Melly was the guest. He had sent us the tune list and chord sequences beforehand, but many of us had not heard the tune "You've got the right key but the wrong keyhole." On hearing the words, combined with George's brilliant delivery, one by one the band members collapsed laughing, and unable to play. The only person still managing to play at the end of the tune was Bob Jones. When we play at festivals here in Australia that tune is just about our most requested one- Gail sings it very well indeed.
31/07/07 - Hi Fred
I came across your site accidentally but I was intrigued when I did as my memory was jogged. I like jazz but am not very clued up but I can add this.
In between say 1958-1964 my brother was a director and manager of the Bodega in Cross St, Manchester and on a Sat, he used to rent out the large room to Paddy McKenin. I used to work there every Sat night with 3 of my other brothers, 1 in bar, 1 in cloakroom, and me in the jazz room. During that time, I saw Ken Colyer,, George Melly, Mick Mulligan, Alex Welsh Dutch Swing College Band, Merseysippi, Kenny Ball, Acker Bill, Karl Denver and many I cannot remember. We travelled there on train from Liverpool and used to have a drink first in Sinclairs, Fatted Calf, Listons, Long Bar. In fact I wrote to George Melly last year asking if he remembered the club and my brother which he answered "of course he did" and I still have his letter. I read in my local paper (Ainsdale, Southport) that his last gig 6 weeks before he died was The Talbot Hotel in Southport. There was also a guy called Paul Beatie who played there most nights, he played guitar.
4th Dec 2003
494 Shannon Way
B.C. V4M 2W5
Canada 604 948 2330
Regarding John's post on this I would like to add to the reference on the Zenith Six. The band was an offshoot of Ray Leclerq's New Orleans Band which I only heard once. Ray was the bass player and I do not know why he quit. The line up comprised of Ray, Malcolm Gracie (tbn), John Barnes, or Johnny as he was in those days, on clarinet, Tony Charlesworth (tpt), Derek Gracie (bjo), and Ron Arnold on skins and tins. After hearing Ray's band at St. Peter's Hall., I think, I was enamoured with the band and never missed hearing the Zenith as long as I was in Manchester. John Barnes was the main man for me but the overall sound of the band at the Clarendon Hotel on Friday nights gave me an acoustic orgasm! Dick Lister took Ray's spot when the Zenith were formed. Something else on your site also caught my eye. The reference to Jim Lowe and Allan Brown as presenters at a jazz appreciation site brought back memories also. That must surely be the Jim Lowe from Glossop or somewhere nearby who was also at the Clarendon every Friday and who first turned me onto Leroy Carr. Allan Brown was playing Clarinet. with the Southside Stompers who I would listen to on the Saturday nights that I was not at the Thatched House listening to Eric Batty's Jazz Aces
Love reading about the old times, thank you.
Talking of the Zenith 6, Mart Rodger sent me this photograph which he describes as "What might be the worst band publicity picture ever taken". It features Colin Tomkins - trumpet, Alan Pendlebury - trombone, Derek (Ulysees) Newton - double bass, Dave Berry - drums, Derek Gracie - banjo and Mart Rodger Clarinet. Apparently the photographer took some more pictures to improve on this one.
In January 2018, Janet Rodger sent me this cutting which makes quite amusing reading today
Colin Tomkins (trumpet), Derek Newton
(double bass), Alan Pendlebury (trombone).
Also playing but not in the photo, Derek Gracie (banjo), Dave Berry (drums) and Mart.
Found your site through Google when trying to remember the name of the pub on Oxford Road where we saw amongst others Tubby Hayes and the Johnny Dankworth Seven way back. Your site solved it - the Clarendon! A group of 61 year old ex Stand Grammar School lads meet in Manchester every couple of months - most of us used to inhabit the Bodega, the Black Lion, the Thatched House, the MSG, Club 43 etc. Last Friday, 4 Feb we were talking about Pete Haslam and Ulysses [I thought he played trombone] and we were great fans of Keith Pendlebury and Marcia. Met Gary Cox at the Southport Jazz Festival a couple of years ago - a great player and I was a fan of his drummer Dave from the Club 43 and also the Black Lion? I enjoyed your site and contributions very much indeed - many happy memories. I am about to send your details round the lads.
Thanks very much - Dave Jones
10/02/05 - Hello Fred
Further to your paragraph from Dave Jones. Could you let him know Ulysses is alive and well, and didn't play the trombone but the bass, which is still doing sterling service after all these years.
10/02/05 - Dear Fred,
I remember one New Years Eve a long time ago, the Jazz band were
booked to play at the New Skelmersdale Community Centre. When we arrived we were
greeted by an old man in a flat cap duly rubbing French chalk in to the dance
floor with his feet. Eric Pizey my husband, (now deceased), asked the man if he
knew they were a Jazz Band. The man replied "Can thee play a waltz" to
which one of the lads said "If you can hum it we can play it. "That'll
do then the man replied but don't forget no booze" (Good job they travelled
prepared. glass or cup it still tastes the same) Shamefully Ida (Tony Smith
trumpeter ) wife and I went off to Southport with Pete Schofield (a fan of the
band ) for a meal. Black looks when we got back, just in time for Auld Lang Syne
well just for a minute or two. Happy happy days
And I wonder where that John Lennon shirt that Eric brought home from the Cavern by mistake get to !!! I hope John looked after Eric's shirt with more respect.
Thanks for the memories Iris Gibson (Pizey)
07/05/06 - Hi Fred
More reminiscence...Pete Haslam's wedding thrash at a pub on Rochdale Road, when just about everybody on the jazz scene turned out and were organised into pick-up groups which came up with some great jazz, Fly in the ointment for me was I had to follow a group which featured Moe who I held in very high regard as a drummer. Then there were the charity nights I helped to organise at the MSG in aid of the Manchester & Salford Blind Aid Society for which so many jazzmen gladly gave their services and which raised what was a lot of money in those days. Thanks to your efforts, some great memories have been revived.
Regards Don Bridgewood
Dear Fred, nice to read Don Bridgewood's letter ( 7 05 06 ).The pub he mentions was called The Forresters on Rochdale Rd. Manc. Just about all the Jazzers in and around Manchester were present and some great jazz was played. It's a pity nobody recorded it but nobody bothered in those days. I am flattered that Don remembers me. I hope you are well Don ! Pete Haslam and Jean whose wedding reception it was since moved to Cornwall and I believe Pete is not too well.
18/06/06 - Dear Fred,
Just had a look over your pages. What a pleasure it is to see Traditional Jazz alive and well in the North West. It is a particular pleasure for me because this is where my own jazz musicianship started. First of all in the fifties scene in Manchester listening to the many bands that were around at that time. I can remember the Manchester Evening News listing gigs for every night of the week!
Musically I have perhaps left these roots - I do not say ' moved on ' because that is really not the way I see it - and I really do enjoy from time to time being asked to sit in with a N. O. band or two here in Brussels. It is for me an interesting fact that two Belgian musicians I know well, a trombone player and a bass player, both who have now world class credentials, started their playing careers with the same Traditional Jazz band.
I can tell you that I do sometimes wonder when I play with younger, jazz college educated musicians, at just how narrow is their repertoire, and in many instances their profound ignorance is of any kind of jazz pre-Charlie Parker.
Did you ever subscribe to the excellent but now defunct 'Jazz Times' I did a crossword compilation for Alice for quite a few issues. I have some of the editions but really would love to own a full run.
I have just started another jazz project
If you ever have a moment or two to spare I am sure you could provide some interesting material.
Best regards and Bon Courage. I know only too well just how demanding the upkeep of a jazz web site can be.
From the Manchester Evening News Aug 25th 1960 (Jack Florin)
MIKE REDDIN. 21-year-old banjoist with the Dizzy Burton Jazz Aces. is being claimed by National Service.
Mike, who lives in Stretford, aims to join a regimental brass band. Not as a banjoist, though. For some time now he has been tootling around on the clarinet.
When the Army "releases" him he hopes to return to the Jazz Aces - as a clarinetist.
In the meantime, his place in the rhythm section has been taken by Johnny Gordon, who recently moved to Bolton. Johnny has been a jazz lover for over eight years, and in his home town of Glasgow he has played with the Vernon Jazz Band and the Clyde Valley Stompers.
"Jazz Session" on BBC TV tomorrow features the Dill Quintet, the Bob Wallis
Storyville Jazzmen and singer Cab Kaye.
Guest attraction at Club Django in Southport next Thursday is the Kenny Ball Jazzmen. This new band made a tremendous impression when it appeared at a Manchester club earlier this month.
From Aug 25th & Dec 3rd 1960 by Jack Florin
Like many other youngsters Tony Foulkes soon became tired of piano lessons. But, musical theory came in useful years later when he decided to become a clarinettist.
Now, 20-year-old Tony of Oaklands Avenue, Offerton, is the leader of Stockport's Dallas Jazz Band. His studies for a career in architecture leave him little time for any hobbies apart from jazz.
Prefers New Orleans Jazz.. Rates Johnny Dodds and George Lewis as his favourites.
|"I heard same pleasant noises coming from a nearby hall as I was passing, so I went in and saw a jazz band playing," says 19-year-old Terry. Brunt whenever he recalls how he first became a jazz fan. That was three years ago 'The trombonist in that band impressed Terry most, so he bought a trombone and arranged for some lessons. Now he plays with the Dallas Jazz Band. Terry, a textile buyer, of Woodstock Avenue, Cheadle Hulme, rates Wilbur de Paris as his favourite trombonist.|
Back to Top
17/09/03 - The death has occurred at the age of 85 of pianist Jim Cumming, formerly of Liverpool but resident in North Wales for many years. Before the second world war Jim led a small band, playing in the kind of upper class "proper" night clubs which then existed, such as The Bears Paw in Lord St Liverpool. He was in the army but also played in The Earle Scott band around Merseyside, a semi-pro band which in my view was easily the finest in the area in the 1940s. He told me recently that the then drummer in that band (Surname I think was Prendergast) is still alive and kicking, in Eastbourne. To Jim's knowledge no recording was ever made of the band. I wonder whether anyone remembers it? R.Denys Owen.
Back to Top
THE BLACK LION
Listening to the radio as I travelled along the M6 years ago I heard one Don Bridgewood reciting the finer points of fishing for tench. This is, I think the same Don Bridgewood who used to provide a very reasonable impersonation of Baby Dodds at the Black Lion in Salford in the 1950s. Does anyone know what became of Don, or Roy Bower (trumpet) Ron Pratt (clarinet) John Featherstone (piano) Norman Dakers (banjo) or anyone else who used to spend their Saturday nights upstairs or downstairs at the Black Lion at that time (there was a school that thought that the pianist in the tap room was closer to the spirit of JRM than any of the more pious folk upstairs.)
Don lives near the Lake District in Inglewood I think. Ron Pratt and John Featherstone are no longer with us. Roy Bowers lives on the south coast - might be Hastings. Norman Dakers used to go to De La Salle Jazz Club when we played there a year or two ago. John Turner forgot to mention Ulysees on the double bass. The band was called the Southside Stompers.
Don Bridgewood & Sheila Collier
Dear Fred, For those interested. Roy Bower (trumpet) is alive and well, and still playing trumpet down on the South Coast in and around the Brighton area.
from Pete Lay.
I last came across Don Bridgewood about 10 or 15 years ago, when his day job
was that of a journalist in Yorkshire, and in the evenings he played Baby Dodds-type drums with anyone who was interested in that excellent mode of
jazz. He struck me as a thoroughly good egg, and he played his chosen style of drumming very well. This was in the Ingleton/Settle area of
West Yorkshire. I'm sure there will be much more recent sightings than this, and
I do hope that Don is alive and well, and still blowing.
Don and Ruth Bridgewood are well.
Don and some other friends played at Jack Fisher’s (my husband) funeral some 6½ years ago and that meant a lot to me and our son. Jack and Don used to argue that fishing was/was not a blood sport. I first met Jack in the Black Lion forty odd years ago when he was playing with Jack Palmer’s band. He used to catch the X43 back to Burnley. I drive past the Black Lion a lot, but never pass without noting the old flag holder on the windowsill over the door. That windowsill was a cooling place for beer when the place was heaving, as it often was. Anyone remember the horror of seeing a pint pot slip over the edge, the pause, the crash – the utter panic at seeing a policeman looking back up at us, and the amazing way a space appeared at that end of the bar? I remember meeting Spanish Fred there. We were there when Kid Sheik played – it was so packed the floor actually moved up and down. I still have the newspaper cutting showing them playing on the station platform. I remember so many people, Dave Ball on the door, Rose downstairs!! Who could forget Rose and her singing downstairs? Trish, Big I and Greta who showed me how to stomp, Gabe, Les Moore, Dave with his braces from New Orleans, Chris Lucas, Ian Rose, Dave Wright with the Sousaphone, Brian Morrison, John Brunton, a young Larry Hurst, Derek Galloway, Tony and Margaret Smith, the Pendlebury brothers and Marcia, Charlie Bentley, Steve Fagg. The number of bands that played in Manchester at that time was amazing. I’d never heard jazz till I came to Manchester.
Happy days indeed and many good friends met.
Thanks to all those who contributed to your website. Don Bridgewood, Norman Dakers, Frank Cholerton (our one time manager) and I had a couple of euphoric days in Lancaster and Wigan. I am not sure whether it is the air up there or the quality or volume of the alcohol but I had the sort of a good time I hadn't had since I last saw them nearly 50 years ago!
I have just remembered something very funny that Don Bridgewood told me on one night when he was on drums with us at a Jazz at the Riverside session at the Railway Hotel, Whaley Bridge (c. 1966). That was Keith Pendlebury's Sunday gig; with Keith (pno), Geoff Ford (bass), Don (depping for Derek Bush, or Moe Green) on drums, Marcia McConnell (vocals) and me.
Don and some keen fishermen pals were downing a few pots in some village pub that they'd never visited before, spitting feathers after a hard river-fishing session. One of Don's pals had some live crayfish in a large container. They spotted one of the regular lushes at the pub, who was guzzling down just about anything within reach . The crayfish chappie thought he would try an experiment. He took a live freshwater crayfish from the container and popped it into this poor drunk's pint. It was ripping his nose and lips to pieces with its sharp pincers, as the now quite merry fishermen looked on in amazement and in stitches, but he just carried on drinking and never noticed a thing. I suppose the crayfish won by a nose.
If you can use it for "Reminiscing", it s yours.
Very best wishes
is good to hear that Don
Bridgewood is still alive
and kicking. I used to play the clarinet with him in the Southside
Stompers about 50 years ago
when we started a Saturday night club at the Black Lion. Other members during my
time in the band included Roy Bower, Roy Williams - (he was with us for 6 weeks
until he joined the Eric Batty jazz Aces), Jack Palmer, Eric Brierley, Ulysses
Newton, Norman Dakers, John Turner (and his father who played double bass), Joe
Whitehead, and John Featherstone. Frank Cholerton was our manager.
had many interesting experiences including a tour of the Midlands and South of
England, and a memorable day when we visited Strangeways (as entertainers)
during an afternoon and then were innocent victims in a police "sting
operation" at Whitefield British Legion that evening when the organisers
were charged with the heinous crime of allowing musicians and non-members to
drink alcoholic refreshment without signing the visitors’ book. We never did
get paid for that gig!
addition to the Black Lion, we also were featured at the Thatched House, the
Sportsman, Bury Co-Op Hall, The Free Trade Hall and Ardwick Hippodrome (as part
of a Marching Band with members of the Jazz Aces) and the Cavern in Liverpool
(long before the Beatles ever hit the scene.)
is gratifying to hear that nearly all of us have survived – as far as I can
tell only John Featherstone is no longer with us.
is great to be able to read the reminiscences of many of the musicians who took
part in the jazz scene in Manchester in the fifties and of which I was
privileged to be able to play a small part.
Thank you very much Fred for keeping “The Flame” alive courtesy of your website –
From: Stewart Allen Harare, 5th Feb 2009
I would like to thank you for the site. I taught in Bradford. Manchester and spent most Thursdays and Saturdays at the M. S, G., and Sundays at the Black Lion Salford and anywhere else where beer jazz and females were to be found!!
I found your site just after The Savannah jazz band site. I can do things on a computer that no one else can! (It usually only takes two or three days to get it going again!)
Through procrastination (I taught English) I did not get in touch with the late Gabe Essian but am now in touch with his daughter. It was through Ged Hone's Band that my love of N. O. jazz was consolidated and although in my CD collection Colyer comes between Coltrane and Condon, New Orleans Revival is where I am!
I remember Mart Rodgers and I having a long chat about hats over several Youngers No 3 (Is it true that they stopped brewing it when I left Manchester?) I can also remember playing crown bowls at The White Lion Withington with Eric Brierley and being asked to leave because we were crawling round the edge of the green trying to find the bowls!
My finest hour was escorting George Lewis offstage at the M. S. G. and being allowed to spend 5 minutes with him by Jay Alison Stewart a Dragon if there ever was one! I am the "fan" with my arm round Henry Red Allen in the excellent M. S. G. History Jack put together.
So you have, through your hard work and interest, made one old codger much happier and better informed
From Charlie Bentley 8th April 2006
Ian Rose Jazz Band
Been reading about Don Bridgewood and The Black Lion.
I played at the Black Lion Hotel with the Ian Rose Jazz Band on Thursdays (I think). We started off on Thursdays rehearsing downstairs when Ged Hone played upstairs and when Ged moved to the MSG we took over upstairs. I was probably about 16 at the time. This was my first "proper" band.
About the same time I also joined the New Iberia Jazz Band on Sundays with (I think) Dave Donohoe, Ron Pratt, Tony Smith, Dwight Gidney and Don Bridgewood.
Left to Right - Ian Rose, Ken Buchanan, Charlie Bentley, Alf Halliday, Dave Wright, Bob Aspinall
I didn't have transport at the time being the "baby" of the band and I remember Don offering me a lift home on his scrambling motorbike sat on the back, no footrests cradling my banjo and hanging on for dear life hurtling through Manchester. I also seem to remember Don used to eat pies whilst playing and used to put them in gravy and all on his floor tom.
It would be great to have a "Black Lion" reunion with those left. I well remember Jack and Viv Fisher and many other nice people.
My brother David (Dick) did the door for a while and Glenice also for a while. Glenice was the perfect woman. Her father owned a pub, The Blue Bell on Pin Mill Brow. She owned the hairdressers next door with a large flat above where we had many a party after playing.
Tony Smith later replaced Alf on trumpet and Julie Flynn joined on vocals. As far I know all are still alive and kicking (some even still playing) except possibly Ken Buchanan.
Back to Top
The Southside Stompers
By Don Bridgewood, Photographs supplied by John Turner
Click the play button (maybe twice) to hear the Southside Stompers
The roots of the Southside Stompers lie in the recreation ground on Yew Tree Lane, Withington.
A group of friends, including Frank Cholerton and Roy Bower used to meet in the rec. with a wind-up portable gramophone playing things like Danny Kaye, the Andrews Sisters and, with me getting into THE MUSIC, Bunk Johnson, Jelly Roll Morton and Fats Waller
The result - I bought a washboard and waited for Roy Bower to come out of the army, which would be in 1952-53.
A small group used to meet in the church hall of St Paul's in Withington on Saturday afternoons. Names have faded, but I'm sure the banjo player was John
Colloff, there was a pianist Brian Fitzgerald, another pianist, Brian Toole, trumpeter Dave
Rowning (later of the BBC Big Band), his brother Clive on clarinet, Ray Peake a cornet player. Exciting to be actually doing it, albeit for my part on washboard!
A tremendous trombone player called Eddie Warburton turned up but it was obviously not his music. So he soon moved on. There another trombone player involved, Jim Kenworthy, basically a brass band man, who died young in a car crash.
Key point in forming the band proper was a Rag Day thrash when I came across Alan Brown, clarinet, and Jack Palmer, banjo, making wonderful (for those days) sounds in the students union. For a short time John Mayall did some rehearsals at Roadhouse's playing bass. I also sat in with John occasionally when he played piano at the Bodega during intervals.
I think it would be around 1954 that the band became a real entity. It went on from there with John Featherstone fitting in with his piano, Joe Whitehead on banjo, and finding a room to play in public at the Black Lion.
As things do, they altered: by this time I had a drum kit to assault: we had people like Roy Williams and Eric Brierley on their way to better things doing the biz and eventually John Turner on trombone, and to me, one of the best New Orleans traditional style - as opposed to George Lewis style - British clarinet player, Ron Pratt , who drove us around in an Alvis, albeit an old and cheap one. There also came a tremendous banjo player, Norman Dakers, bass players Nev Matthews, Geoff Shean Ulysses Newton and Roy Turner. We certainly had some good musicians. I remember drummer Stuart Seton's wife Pauline singing.
We played various venues, including the old Music Hall in the Shambles, the Wheatsheaf on High Street, Band on the Wall, Oldham Street, The Bodega, and even Strangeways Prison among others, but eventually settled in the Black Lion with Frank Cholerton as manager. One feature of this period was playing exchange dates with Brian Woolley's band from Leicester, an excellent outfit. Around this time I got a REAL drum-kit after using a second-hand one - Olympic with Zyn cymbals, which was replaced around 1964 with Premier, with a Rogers snare, all still good to-day, with a couple of Zjyldian cymbals .
I also remember a gig in Wigan with the Liverpool University Jazz Band when we had the brass nerve to present 'The Story of Jazz'. That was 1958. Not a bad band, at all, but things change and I became increasingly disenchanted with playing the same tunes and, although I started the band I was fired after expressing a not very diplomatic opinion!
Apart from sitting in occasionally there my involvement with the band ended. It then started to change quite dramatically, heading fast towards mainstream (nothing wrong with that, if the musicians all want to do it).
Dear Fred, After attending, sadly, Alan Hare's funeral yesterday I looked him up on the internet to revive some memories. I played with his band briefly in the early seventies; and played his wonderful arrangements, in his presence, until a short time ago. We will all miss him.
Every cloud.... as they say, because I found your site. In the mood to reminisce, I chose "Jazz in the Fifties and Sixties". Half-forgotten names leapt out at me. I read a letter from a John Turner who asked about a Don Bridgewood. Could this possibly be........ after 50 years??
In 1954 I had a classmate at Wigan Grammar School called John Turner, whose father, Roy, had had his own dance band before the war, and even made records! We listened to his whole collection and knew we had to form a band. There was a lad at school who played trumpet called John Kelly. That took care of the brass section. Gordon Barnes (a whole year older than us) was already a far better pianist than I would ever be, so he was in. I borrowed £16 from my father to buy an alto. I paid for the 5/- tutor book myself, went to my bedroom and didn't come down for two months. John's father lost his bass and gained a pupil. Bob Randall was a superb rugby player with a wealthy father. We explained to him that he was to be our drummer. Pete Millar was having lessons (he said) on his brand-new shiny clarinet, and completed our line-up. We called ourselves The Woodchoppers, after our second-hand Lally arrangement. We rehearsed frantically, with all the urgency of youth. Our first paid gig was the prestigious Boxing Day Dance at Ince Public Hall. We got it because of a double-booking by a real band. Half a century of determined effort has been unable to erase the memory of that night. Our band was a dance band. In 1955 the Trad Revival was in full... er, swing. John and I were totally hooked. Why not combine the two? John could handle the trombone almost before he took it out of the case. The man who sold me the battered clarinet told me it was a "simple" system. Back to the bedroom. The Woodchoppers were now getting regular work, a year after we started, and got even more by being able to turn ourselves into a trad outfit when required; with Pete Millar (now with a shiny tenor too) plucking John's bass. John and I had founded Wigan's first jazz club, playing in an upstairs room of the Park Hotel, Wigan. We called ourselves The Douglas Valley Stompers, in tune with the times, and occasionally with each other. Bands visited. In one of them was a drummer I liked called Don Bridgewood. Even then it seemed a long time (a year) since John's father had taken the under-age pair of us down the murky steps into the Bodega to hear our first live jazz. We vowed, on the way home on the train, to buy every record The Saints had ever made. The Woodchoppers split up in 1959, even after acquiring the services of a fine alto player in Joe Baron, and a residency in the Palais, above the Empress Hall in Wigan. We had reached our "peak" when Johnny Dankworth packed the Empress. We did the first hour, in the Empress, he the second, we the third and he the last. This was heady stuff for kids like us! For ten years I played no music (kindly don't ask) and had neither sight nor sound of John Turner.
In 1970 I had a telephone call from a trumpet player called Harold Roberts who said he had watched me play at The Park Hotel twelve years earlier. He had a weekly gig at the Crawford Arms with The Rainy City, at Red Rock, Wigan (Pete Haslam tbn, Ian McCann bjo, Dave Parr b,) and desperately needed a clarinet for the following Thursday! I laughed, and told him gently that I had not touched an instrument for ten years; that the clarinet might still be in the loft; but I wasn't sure; and that the whole thing was out of the question. I told him 136 times. Have you ever tried to tell a trumpet player anything? Back to the bedroom again, I had four days! I died an embarrassing death, that first Thursday, and for a few more afterwards. I even overheard Pete Haslam wishing they hadn't asked me. I didn't blame him in the slightest. Over the next year things got better, thank God. One night Pete said "Don't take this personally, Allan, but I'm bringing a clarinet player next week who will frighten the hell out of you. He's called Randy Colville." As soon as I heard Randy play I realised he would frighten the hell out of Benny Goodman too. That seemed to make everything OK, for some reason; with Randy waving me back when I tried to leave the stand. At his invitation I had lessons with him at Salford College (just to have the finer points of my technique smoothed out, you understand). I discovered that I'd been blowing down the wrong end. At the end of one lesson he asked me to compose a 12-bar chorus of my own, and write it down. I brought it. He played it. He played it better the second time. He gave me an odd look and said "That's Be-Bop". He knew before I did where I was going. I had stopped playing for ten years, but I hadn't stopped listening. Still with The Rainy City in about 1971/2 we had bought a refurbished ambulance, with money collected at our weekly gig. We were giving a Sunday lunchtime concert at the Crawford Arms, where the official presentation to a school for handicapped children was to take place, Press invited. We knew that George Melly had a concert in Manchester the night before. It was worth asking, surely? George gave a wonderful performance to a packed house, from lunchtime till about 5pm FOR FREE. (I still have photographs and an audio tape) Thank you George, again; and rest in peace.
The Rainy City split up soon afterwards. Or, to put it another way, everybody left except me. To put the clarinet back in the loft was out of the question, and the venue was still available. Chris Carty, from Bryn, one of the finest trumpet players in the North West (who had also played in The Douglas Valley Stompers in 1956) agreed to join me; together with Jim Rooth pno, Archie Burrows drs, Barry Aldous bs, and various trombonists; often Lex Holcroft or Terry Brunt. (Chris persuaded me to buy a tenor, which I then began to play in the Art Lester Orchestra, graduating to lead alto, where I have stayed for over thirty years) In about 1976 we changed our name to Force Seven. Jim Rooth wrote dozens of hard- swinging arrangements; some were bebop; some were big-band-style; some were gentle ballads. A good half of our usual program was tight Dixieland. Gordon Robinson was with us for quite a while, weaving his usual magic. Getting deps was difficult because Jim's arrangement's were not nicked from Tune a Day; were in various styles; and a dep had to have his roots in New Orleans, because the Dixieland numbers were not scored, of course. We had to look to the likes of Doug Whaley, Ivor Deach and Pete Taylor, to mention but three. I must tread very, very carefully on a site like yours, Fred. So I will. I am very grateful to you for the chance to do so. The farther away we got from George Lewis and Kid Ory the more our audiences dwindled at our weekly venues. Our "away" gigs at jazz clubs like Stockport Jazz Cellar were advertised and packed! We were well aware that that would be the case! I have no axe to grind whatsoever. And no apology to make. Jazz is jazz.
Back to today and the delightful shock of seeing a photograph of John Turner on your site! Could you please forward this to him?
Allan Bentham 15/08/07
In a subsequent letter Allan told me that that the Rainy City Jazz Band continue with new members and new styles too, and because of that he changed the name to Force7 too. He says that some people presumed they had therefore abandoned their roots. Allan says, "We had NOT! Fully half our program was always Dixieland. We thought we had added the fire of the best of New Orleans and Trad to our particular Dixieland style! I would love you and your site visitors to be the judges! To put my money where my mouth is, so to speak! If you could put the track I have sent, at the end of my letter, I would be even more grateful than I am already". Well here it is, judge for yourselves.
6th Dec 2007 - Dear Fred
I've just heard the "FORCE 7" clip, from the recording that Allan Bentham sent you. What an excellent, punchy, Modern Dixieland sound! I agree entirely with Allan's comments; in the eye of some misguided beholders, '... they had abandoned their roots ...' But, as Allan states "We had NOT! Fully half our program was always Dixieland. We thought we had added the fire of the best of New Orleans and Trad to our particular Dixieland style! Anyone with half-an-ounce of intelligence couldn't fail to agree with that. The fire, the zest, the enthusiasm of young lions is vividly apparent in every note being played. I thought I was listening to one of the top Nicksieland or Frisco bands of their day, when I heard this, and I've heard some good ones.
Reading Allan Bentham's account of the Crawford Arms concert with George Melly brings back memories of a hot sunny day, a packed audience inside, more outside on the canal bank - some even in the canal! The pub was run by John Wilcox - the ex-bass player from the Terry Gore Showband and Viv Macdonald who did the door every Friday at the Park Hotel when the Rainy City were resident there. The band played at the Crawford for free beer and we had a collection as Allan said which we used to purchase items for local charities culminating in the 'big one' detailed by Allan. In addition to George we also had John Davies alias 'Whispering Sam Shed' from the Vintage Syncopators guesting with us. John was one of the funniest men I have ever come across and there were many times during my stint with the Vintage when the whole band had difficulty in keeping playing. George was so impressed with John that he had him on his Sunday evening programme on BBC2 shortly afterwards. Sadly John passed away in his 30's some 30 years ago. I'm sure there are many more reminiscences out there worth sharing.
Regards Ian McCann.
Back to Top
The only connection I have with The North West is The fact I played for some years on the Manchester scene in the early sixties. Anyone out there remember The Johnny Tippett Band?
Kind Regards- Des Hopkins- THE CLUSKEY HOPKINS GUINNESS JAZZBAND IRELAND
Johnny Tippett band - I remember them well - Des Hopkins played drums - Johnny on Banjo - Jack Goodier Trumpet - I think Roy Rogers - Clarinet - Was it Les Jones on Trombone - can't for the life of me remember the bass player. One thing they were a good drinking band!!!!!
I see Johnny Tippett from time to time but not for a while.
Regards Mart Roger (Manchester Jazz)
Johnny Tippetts Jazzmen, were based in Stockport. When I joined the band in 1959, The line up was- Johnny (Banjo), Jack Goodier (trumpet), - Pete Ward (Trombone), Pete Hartigan (clarinet), Pete Rossi (bass) and Des Hopkins (Drums). I replaced Pete Staples. Later, Pete Hartigan was replaced by Roy Rogers, Mickey Cooke replaced Pete Ward On Trombone, and Denis Gilmore replaced Jack Goodier. Other members were Dick Mason (bass), Gordon Stafford (Clarinet), and Noel Blundell (Trumpet). As far as I can recall, there were no drinkers in the band, but then again I could be wrong.
Regards- Des Hopkins
24/11/05 - I Found this old photo taken March 17th 1960 at Queens Hotel Southport JOHNNY TIPPETTS JAZZMEN (Stockport) Blackjack Goodier (Cornet), Johnny Tippett (banjo), Des Hopkins (drums), Pete Rossi (bass), Pete Ward (trombone) and Pete Hartigan (clarinet).
26/02/06 - Hello Fred,
Enjoyed your website – it brings back lots of memories of the Manchester jazz scene 40-50 years ago.
I wonder whether any of your contributors recall the Sunday evening jazz concerts at the Hippodrome, Ardwick Green. I first starting going to these around 1953 and must have continued doing so for the next two or three years. Humphrey Littleton made a memorable appearance with Bruce Turner, Wally Fawkes et al, with the audience baying, towards the end of the evening, for an encore of “Onions”.
I recall seeing the Chris Barber band with Lonnie Donegan and Ottilie Patterson at one of these gigs, which I imagine must have been late ’54 or ’55.
These were not solely traditional jazz evenings; the big bands of John Dankworth and Eric Delaney played and smaller groups included Tony Kinsey (with Joe Harriot and Bill le Sage). I seem to recall Ken Moule appearing, too.
Does anyone have more details of these concerts: dates, bands etc?
Finally, a special thank you to those who reminisced about Friday evenings in the upstairs room at the Clarendon, with the Zenith Six. I was a regular visitor, 62-65, and remember being there on the day that Kennedy was shot. The news of the shooting was just breaking, in the early evening of that fateful Friday in November, though it wasn’t until much later that night, when I finally arrived home in Macclesfield, that his death was confirmed.
Dear Fred re the letter from Ken Franklin I certainly remember the Sun. night jazz concerts at the Ardwick Hipp. They were put on by Paddy McKiernan who ran the jazz club at the Bodega on Cross St. One of the highlights for me was the Mick Mulligan Band playing " Oh didn't he ramble " which featured their drummer Pete Appleby ( he later joined the Lonnie Donegan group ) The band would come onto the stage in procession carrying the double bass as if it were a coffin led by George Melly. I recall one night that they had a Modern group ( I think Tony Kinsey ) on with the Trad bands and predictably they were booed. I could not understand how they came to be booked on the same bill as Mulligan Laurie etc. Regards Moe Green
Hi, Fred, I lived a few hundred yards from the Hipp down Stockport Road and often went to those Sunday night gigs. The occasion that Moe Green mentioned where the audience proved very hostile to the modernists was when Kenny Graham brought his Afro-Cubists to the Hipp. Unfortunately for Kenny the band sharing the gig was the ebullient Freddy Randall Band. For the audience there was no competition; they cheered Freddy and booed Kenny until Freddy was brought back. Great site and I appreciate all the hard work you must put in to keep us all up to date.
Yours, Harry Isaacs
We played the Lockerbie Jazz Festival on Sunday afternoon - Roger needed to be back at Stockport Plaza for a Dressed Rehearsal of the show Barnham - Janet and I needed to be at The Buxton Opera House for John Mayall and The Blues Breakers. The gig at Lockerbie ran from 2.00 to 3.30pm non stop. A traffic hold up on the M6 meant Roger arrived at the Theatre with about 5 minutes to prepare for the stage and we were late for the Opera House but missed part of the support band performance.
John Mayall and I used to play in a Cheadle Hulme/Bramhall village jazz band around 1950 - we also had a duo called The Dreamland Boys - after my demob in 1956 we formed The Hounds of Sound. Then I joined the Zenith Six and John went to London to seek his fame and he did that very well and successfully. His title is "British Father of the Blues" and he now lives in Los Angeles and he received an OBE last year for his contribution to music. We keep in contact and he asked me to sit in for a couple of blues numbers at Buxton. It was absolutely terrific and the talents of the Blues Breakers are wonderful. The audience reaction was heart stopping.
John gave me a recent Boogie Woogie CD called "Picking The Blues" containing remastered recordings by the old masters and compiled by John. There is a nice reflection in the sleeve notes and I have extracted it below:-
"I liked Jay McShan a lot and he combined more of a jazzy swing element to boogie woogie. This exemplifies the Kansas City style of playing. I first became aware of Cripple Clarence Lofton around 1950 when I used to soak up the live music of Manchester's own Saint's Jazz Band every Saturday night. Their pianist John Fish usually had a solo spot during their set and he played great boogie woogie. It was he who introduced me to Lofton by the way of an American 78 on Circle Records that was a prized possession of his as it was unobtainable in England. The title was "In The Mornin'" which I include here"
Anyone interested www.document-records.com or email@example.com "Picking The Blues" Cat No DOCD-32-20-12
04/11/06 - A
follow up to the Sunday was an invitation to sit in with John & The Blues
Breakers on Wednesday 1st November at The Bridgewater Hall. That
experience for me topped them all. - Mart
Back to Top
The Lancaster Mystery
I also found this old photo of a Lancaster band sometime in the 1950s. The clarinet/sax player with all the hair is me and on piano is Ronnie Blamier. Mick Unthank, in the back, appears to be playing drums? I wonder if any of your readers can identify the others. As I approach 75 my memory isn't what it used to be.
I recognise one of the guys on this...it's the trumpet player, whose name was Brian Myers. He was quite good: Armstrong-influenced, as I remember, but I think he left the district before making much of an impact. I met him a few times, but never heard him play with a band - even the one pictured. Incidentally, Ray Briggs and Ronnie French are still around, and playing.
- Alan Duckles
Back to Top
The Old Fashioned Love Band 1972
I'm indebted to Joe Silmon-Monerri for sending me this photograph. Joe says, "This is the Randy Colville's OLD FASHIONED LOVE BAND (during our October 1972 BBC broadcast at the Victoria Inn, or Hotel, Hardman St., near Deansgate, Manchester). The programme was Jazz Parade and it was produced by Alan Stevens ("Jack Florin" the Jazz critic for the Manchester Evening News). To the right of the picture, John Featherstone (the Presenter). John was in the Jazz Aces when I joined and we later joined Tony Smith's Jazzmen together.
In the picture: Front line, left to right: Ken Wray (trombone - a great and internationally known musician); Doug Whaley (trumpet/flugel horn); Randy Colville (another brilliant and internationally famous musician); me (with glasses, tenor sax, clarinet, bass clarinet & flute) Rhythm section: Frank Gibson (drums/vocals); Ian Taylor (bass); famous local bandleader and Jazz composer Alan Hare. A fabulous band; certainly the best I ever played with".
"If you recognise yourself in this 1972 crowd and bought and still have a copy of this "Jazz Parade" broadcast, "Joe Silmon" would love to hear from you; (e-mail: jaasilm1 * googlemail.com), or 0161 225 6136 [please replace " * " with "@" this is to avoid spam] ."
The OFLB was originally set up by Cyril Preston in the mid-60s (1966ish) in the Stoke area, while Cyril, Pete Brown and I were also in the Zenith Six. Cyril's band also played in several styles. After Terry Brunt had helped out a few times on trombone, when Alan Pendlebury had to give up playing in the Zenith 6, Cyril Preston, who had been promised the permanent trombone chair by Alan Pendlebury, joined the band. Cyril then lived in Whitchurch, Shropshire, but commuted to both Stoke and Manchester areas playing in the two bands. In Cyril's original band, Cyril was on trombone. Pete Cotterill was the drummer at that time, "Shaky Jake" was on guitar and banjo and vocals, Nigel Cartwright was on bass-guitar, Pete Brown on trumpet and for a while me on my instruments. When Cyril died, Terry Brunt who finally got to join the Zenith, was also on trombone with the OFLB. Randy, Terry and I commuted to the Stoke area gigs from Manchester from about 1968ish onwards.
I left the Zenith at the end of 1968. Pete Cotterill was still in the Stoke-based OFLB and there were by 1968-69 two Old Fashioned Love Bands going (one in Manchester and the present band with several changes in personnel on Stokeside - which of course continues playing). But it was the Manchester-based band that played Modern-Dixieland and Mainstream".
You can hear the band playing "South Rampart Street Parade" if you click the 'play button' below (you may have to click it twice).
Back to Top
The Morecambe Boys
Back in the early '50s when I lived in Morecambe, there were two strongly apposing jazz camps among the young aspiring musicians, those loosely called the "bop boys" and the "mouldy figgs". Alan Duckles, Ron Blamier, Sam Keighley, Stuart Fawcet, myself and others whose names now escape me, were the latter camp, while Bobby Casson, (sax and leader), Ronnie Etherington, Ray Briggs, etc., (.....my memory fails me again) were the former group. Ronnie French, who was known as "Fingers" French, was a member of the more progressive group but enough of a musician to occasionally play with us traditionalists. I remember him as a very fine pianist even then.
If you know what happened any of those names, I would be pleased to hear from you via Fred at firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course I know about Alan Duckles having "sat in" with him on my frequent visits to the UK, and I know that Sam Keighly died some years ago. Stuart Fawcet was best man at my wedding, but I haven't heard from him for 40 years.
How about this Fred,
My first jazz band about 1958-60, The Morecambe Bay Jazz Six, we where obviously doing something silly but I can remember what it was, I know it was in a Church Hall in Morecambe. It really is interesting wading through my old Black and White negatives.
The line up of the band was - Dave Pratt (Trumpet), Barrie Marshall (Clarinet), Peter Swan (Banjo), Warwick Wilson (Piano), Brian Gordon (Bass) Does anybody reconise the drummer? The only ones still playing are Brian Gordon with the Lune Valley Vintage Jazz Band, and myself with the Sun Street Stompers and the New Riverside Jazz Band.
Anybody recognise the drummer? -
The drummer is Gordon Watson who has played numerous gigs with Dickie Hawdon. - Brian Gordon
I was skipping through the "Reminiscing" section of your Newsletter and it reminded me of an old photograph I had of what must have been the earliest jazz band in the Morecambe/Lancaster area.
Version restored by Barrie Marshall
Two of the
musicians, Alan Duckles (trumpet) & Ronnie Blamire (piano) still play regularly
in Lancaster. The drummer is Sam Keighley, who was the only full-time
professional and always willing to play with us beginners. I cannot recall the
name of the trombone player (as I fast approach my 83rd birthday my memory often
fails). I am the chap struggling with the clarinet. Sam Keighley unfortunately
died some years ago.
Trevor Hodgson (original photo care of Ronnie Blamire).
12/01/13 - The trombone player is Alan Wilkinson - Barrie Marshall
Back to Top
The Original Dam Jazz Band
(also known as The Lymm Dam Jazz Band)
25/07/06 - Doug Haslam, one of the original musicians from the Lymm Dam Jazz Band has died in the last 24 hours. Does anyone know if any of the original members are still around? If anybody wishes to go the funeral or wants further info, please contact me and I'll pass it on. It will not be a traditional jazz funeral.
Following this announcement, more information came forward about the Lymm Dam Band, and I'm indebted to Ken Doran for providing the photograph.
Ian Royle - May I pay a tribute to Doug Haslam. Doug was one of the most warm-hearted persons I ever met. .... Doug was a Gentleman and the World is sadder for the passing of not only a great lover of jazz music but a lovely bloke of whom I'm proud to say I was a friend.
Jeff Lewis - I am very sorry to hear this, as Doug was one of the first musicians I got to know when I first moved to Warrington.... Other members of the Lymm Dam Jazzband included Derek Jones (Trumpet), Norman Simpson (Bass), Alf Slattery (Banjo), Ian Ashworth (trombone - deceased), Tony Brown (Drums - deceased), and Colin Jones (clarinet - deceased). Ken Doran often played trumpet in lieu of Derek. Norman, Derek and Alf are still around to the best of my knowledge, as is Ken of course.
John Muskett - Yes, some ARE still around. Doug started on trumpet in the band (The Original Dam Jazz Band correctly!) with Bob Hambleton (trombone), the late Colin Jones (clarinet), Alf Slattery (clarinet and banjo), Jess Oldfield (drums), Tim Kenny (banjo), Bob Brooks (guitar) and soon afterwards I joined on double bass. I think this would have been in 1971.
After a while Tim Kenny moved out of the (Lymm) area and left the band, and Ken Doran joined on trumpet with Doug moving onto piano. The Railway Hotel at Heatley (the upstairs room is unspoiled, as I have found on recent visits to Folk Nights) and Lymm Rugby Club were early venues.
After some years I left and was replaced by Norman Simpson and slightly later Jess left and was replaced by Brian Singleton. Bob H. went to the Blue Mags, Ken, Brian and eventually Colin went to the Teds and (I think) the remainder of the band morphed into Alexander's Ragtime Band with Carole and Brian Oldham. Others may remember more and better.
Alf and Jess still live in Lymm; I don't think that they play regularly. Bob B. also still lives in Lymm and plays occasionally, Ken, Brian, Bob H. and I soldier on in various combos. I met Doug several times recently at Graham Brook's Monday jazz nights at Wilmslow Conservative Club. Doug liked ALL good music, and if it was progressive trad, mainstream or moderately modern jazz, so much the better. Doug was a jazz authority, a kind man of great principle, and I am very sad to hear of his death.
Photograph taken circa 1972
L-R (Back) - Bob Hambleton (tbn), Ken Doran (tpt), Doug Haslam
(pno), Colin Jones (pno) Jesse Oldfield (drms), John Muskett (bs)
Front - Bob Brooks (gtr), Alf Slattery (bjo/sax),
Back to Top
25/08/06 - Maynard
Ferguson, whose soaring trumpeting reached the instrument¹s highest ranges and
propelled a musical career of more than 60 years, died Wednesday 23rd Aug 2006,
in Ventura, California
Back to Top
I was browsing through your 'reminiscing' page, and a memory came back to me of around 1958 when I was a young apprentice on a ship named 'Tarkwa' belonging to Elder Dempster's of Liverpool. We did one of many voyages to West Africa but what was special on this ship was that we had our own jazz band. Some names may be still recognised by other browsers. Apart from me on trumpet, among the band there was a banjo player called Fred Griffiths (Purser) a cornet player whose name I forget but who was known as 'Widdop' (he hailed from aroung Bacup somewhere I think, not far from Widdop Moor) an expert on the 'tea-chest' bass, and none other than Roger Myerscough (now with Phil Mason) on clarinet. Roger was assistant purser I think. Fred Griffiths is still running a re-union club of ex-Elder's seafarers and he must be well into his eighties. Apart from playing on the ship we entertained in a number of places ashore, most notably, (in my memory at least), for a 'Ladies Night' dance at the Port Harcourt European Club in Nigeria. I also remember sitting in one night in Lagos with a band that went by the name of 'I. Ishwogbu and his Decca Recording Artists Band' I think the style now goes by the name of 'Township Music' but they were a nice band. Long time ago now but I know at least three of us are still around, two still playing. I met up wth Roger in 1995 when he was playing with the Yorkshire Post Jazz Band at Marsden Festival. I said 'Bet you don't remember me!', and he looked up and replied 'M. V. Tarkwa, West Africa 1958' Jazz Musicians are like elephants, they never forget!
Back to Top
Return To Menu
Return To Menu
Send your memories or answers to Fred at email@example.com