The Wall City Jazz Band 1954 -

The Wall City Jazzmen made their debut on the 18th. January 1954 at the old Clemence's restaurant in Northgate Street Chester. The format was to play Dixieland mainstream jazz and be as versatile as possible. The original band was really the Stan Roberts dance band with Stan Roberts Piano, Tom Jones Trumpet, Ian Ashworth Trombone and Tenor Sax. John Nutthall Double bass, Alan Lewis Drums. Paul Blake was invited to make up the standard front line on Clarinet.

Derek Masters and Don Davies promoted the band. Their intention was to provide an inexpensive post-weekend evening for young people. So successful was it that other bands were promoted for these evenings. These included the Freddie Rendar band and the Merseysippi Jazz Band.


L-R Paul, Tom and Ian.
 

Late in that year Gordon Vickers asked them if they would be the resident band at his proposed Wall City Jazz Club at Quaintways which was in the same street as the old venue, the band agreed and this club opened about six months later. It was at this venue that a 16 year old Pete Wright joined the band as a featured "Skiffel" singer and guitarist. In 1958 15year old Pat or Trish Fields joined the band, later she turned professional and won the TV New Faces with a band called Whiskey Mac. Both the Wall City Jazzmen and Trish have their names in bricks on the Wall Of Fame at Liverpool's Cavern Club.

Guest artists over the years included Earl Hines, Vic Dickinson, Edmund Hall Bud Freeman and many more. It also became quite normal for the band to play at jazz venues in London, such as George Webb’s Hot Club, the Fishmonger’s arms and Cooks Ferry, as well as concerts at the Shakespeare and Empire theatres in Liverpool. There were also gigs at provincial clubs such as St George’s hall, Blackburn and the Dudley Hippodrome amongst many others.

On 16th January 1957, Alan Sytner featured the Band, along with the Merseysippi Jazz Band and the Ralph Watmough Band at the opening of the Cavern in Liverpool, soon to succumb to skiffle and the Quarrymen.

However, so did the Wall City Jazz Club at Quaintways. Over the 20 years, that the Band played there the scene gradually changed from featuring some of the great British Jazz Bands and American guests such as Earl Hines to a more “Rock” orientated venue. Guests at this time included such bands as Long John Baldry’s “ Steam Packet “ with Judy Driscoll (Vocals), Elton John (keyboards) and a young Rod Stewart fronting. One foggy night Fleetwood Mac were booked but the evening had very few customers. Quaintways eventually closed only to open again as a nightclub.

Gordon Vickers still presents the band at his own hotel on Monday nights "The Mill Hotel and Spa. Milton Street" Chester and the evening always finishes with saying Don't forget Jazz At The Mill is FREE TO COME IN AND FREE TO GO OUT. Trish Fields returned to sing at the Mill until ill health forced here to retire in 2005 The bands new singer Irene Martin joined the band in 2006 Tom Jones retired in 2008 but Paul Blake continues to lead the band. Jazz at the Mill still has a good following with some of the old fans mixing with the new and guests from the hotel.

Contacts PAUL BLAKE Tel.01244 677065
e-mail paulmblake@talktalk.net or

Irene Martin Tel. 01244 321025
e-mail losfinos@supanet.com

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