Dave's Notes

Hi everyone, trust you are all keeping safe and sane in these difficult.
However, what matters is that there are many fine local jazz musicians who will still be with us when we reach better times. The Services Club is well established and will I’m sure survive the crisis.
We just have to hope for the best.

I can report that the last concert of Berkhamstead Jazz featuring The Hertswing Big Band was a big success with a good turnout despite adverse conditions. Well done everybody!
A mighty thanks to everyone for making our King Langley club such a success over the years, and I hope I’ll to see you all again, if not, you have been wonderful bunch. Keep safe!

 Dave Smith, 


Well, here we are, February already and spring flowers all giving it a go and lots of jolly bills come plopping through the letter box.
The club programme to date has been well supported unlike many other clubs and organizations of all sorts that are experiencing lack of supporters and bums on seats.
 An old alumna of our club is Simon Spillett who cut some of his musical teeth at the club and drops in occasionally. (He liked Louis’s rhythm section) is in concert on Saturday 15th Feb with his quartet at the civic center Berkhamstead and I hope we have a good turnout of our club supporters for him.
Next month Simon will be followed by our own Hertswing big band on March 14th at the Civic center. We heard their programme earlier this year, it was a knockout, don’t miss this one.
Meanwhile, back at the club, Louis and her band, and the Flat back four, some swinging tigers among others have been dishing out some good stuff. There’s more to come!
Terry’s Octave plus his dreadful jokes await us also Jim Phillips and his little big band or big little band with the lovely Bryony to keep him on the ball between vocals.
So there we go. Have fun!

The autumn leaves drift by my window…

Summer’s gone, but what a splendid season it was at Kings Langley jazz club, fine bands playing at the top of their form, with lots of new people in the audience. 
Highlights? Too many, but mention must be made of the ‘flat back four’, (?) a  new band featuring Jez Guest on saxes with Neal Drake on Keyboards, Roger Hudson in base and Ronnie Fenn on drums. They played a master class in small group cohesion and drive. Also demonstrated was Jez’s fine ballad playing.
More please.
Hertwing were on top form despite lacking a keyboard and their singer.
John assures me they have everything fixed for their big concert on March 14th for Berkhamstead Jazz at the Civic center, a venue that has seen to some of jazz’s top national and international artists perform.
Meanwhile catch them at Kings Langley on November 26th.

Another ‘local’ performing a Berkhamstead Jazz concert is Simon Spillett on 15th of February. He cut some of his teeth at our club and still drops in to see us occasionally and have a blow with the lads (or ladies, when Louise and her excellent band are playing.)
 Simon will be playing with Rob Barron piano, with Alec Dankworth on base, with Clark Tracey on drums.

 Don’t miss!


As I type this a hot angry sun is sinking in the west and intimations of autumn are yet to bring relief.
I hope you have all had jolly hols and not got stuck in too many hot traffic jams with a flat satnav and a conked out air-con.
We have had some fine hot jams at the club these summer months and September promises to have more of the right stuff.       
Below are some biographic details of our very own big band.
They will be giving a concert for Berkhamstead Jazz on the 14th of March, 2020. It promises to be a really top event (See below). Hope to see you there (Civic center) supporting ‘Our team’!!!
The Hertswing Big Band is a seventeen piece band formed over fifty years ago as an offshoot of the KODAK  Military Band!
For many years the band rehearsed at the Kodak Social Club in Wealdstone.   However, when the site was re-developed the band sought a new future with a new name, The Hertswing Big Band. They began rehearsing every Thursday night at various locations around Watford in the years following.
The main purpose of the band is to enjoy collectively re-creating the sounds of the big band swing era. Over the years the band has built up a library of over a thousand arrangements. Also enjoyed are the many public concerts given over the years.
They are the resident Big Band at the Kings Langley Jazz Club with regular concerts throughout the year, the next being Tuesday 24th September.
The band draws on classic arrangements as played by the leading Big Bands: Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Ted Heath, and of course the iconic Glen Miller.

Vicky, our vocalist, who often performs with the band,is a truly talented young lady. When not performing parts like Eliza Doolittle in local opera productions she is coping with a young family and rehearsing new material with the Band. 

May 11th.

Cliff Longhurst’s Jazz Knights big band seems able to capture the authentic sugar rush of excitement with their performance of classic Woody Herman charts and other material from the golden big band days.
This is in large measure due to the instrumental makeup copied from Woody’s ‘Second and Third  Herds’, including a section of five trumpets, and a sax section containing three tenor Saxes, with single lead Alto and a Baritone.
Drummer/Leader Cliff is a walking encyclopedia of Woody’s works and is the only one promoting Herman’s music in the big band scene at the present time.
Beginning the evenings concert the band kicked off with that old romper ‘Woodchopper Ball’, and showed they really meant business. (Several dozen spiders in the air conditioning decided to re-locate.)
A softer moment came with the ballad ‘Early Autumn’, enabling passages of rich harmony scored for the saxes.
Four saxes again performed the most played of Woody’s creations, ‘Four brothers’. Originally featuring Stan Getz, Al Cohn, Zoot Simms and Sam Marowitz on tenors, supported by Woody on alto and clarinet and Serge Chaloff on baritone. What a dream team!
Cliff has ‘Lots of singers’ on file and even a trio of ladies who cover the Andrew sister’s song book.
Cliff has also a ‘Small Band’(but perfectly formed) for tighter venues.

All in all a splendid evening.
David Smith

Listening to Graham Pike’s sextet at the club the other night, it struck me how few are jazz harmonica players. Graham has an expertise on this diminutive instrument that would rival the late great Max Geldray (Remember the Goon Show, all you jazz veterans?) Graham has also an electrical box of tricks for some weird Disney type effects on his accomplished trumpet/ flugelhorn playing. (Some perhaps would prefer an old fashioned Harmon mute, like Miles!)

The rest of sextet were equally talented. The keyboard player was masterful in his empathy with the excursions of the other players, with a play list of post-bop compositions.

A good evening.

Graham will be appearing with ‘Stolen Moments’ on May 14th.


A couple of weeks back at the KL club I had the pleasure of an evening concert by our splendid Hertswing big band, faultless throughout and full of flavor and the richness of top arrangements. Vicky on vocals was magnificent!

Steve Duffy, the programmer of Berkhamstead Jazz committee was along by invitation of John Davis, as the band has been booked for Berkhamstead Jazz’s forthcoming concert programme. John wanted to show the band off at its best, and able to match the high professional level expected at the monthly concerts at the civic center. Steve was truly delighted, I’m pleased to say!

 One of our own KL club members recommended Hertswing to the BJ committee and it took its place on the final BJ committee ballot sheet, (without any extra nudging from me) with success.

We have a respectable local jazz scene and local jazz poll winner Simon Spillett made the BJ cut for next year also. Simon spent many of his formative years playing at the KL club mostly with his own quartet but sometimes with Derek Mander. The latter turned up at the club last week, much to my surprise. He is now 91, he tells me, and still playing.


Where do they all come from? Over the last few decades’ predictions of dwindling jazz audiences have proved groundless. While it’s true that our regular club members are ‘of a certain age’ and some may fade away with time, the attendance at Kings Langley is pretty robust and as I look round on jazz nights there are, to me, lots of new faces.

At the Berkhamstead Jazz concerts the grey age group is predominant.

I suspect that you only go to clubs and concerts when you are beyond the need for baby-sitters, and all that jazz!   

In what has become an annual event, Berkhamstead Jazz sponsors a concert at a local primary school to introduce the youngsters to the joys of jazz and what it is all about. The Rob Terry trio and Annique (Lucy Randell) did a splendid job to the delight of the packed school hall, with other children bused in to the event from other local primary schools.

The response was ecstatic, the children clapping and waving to the music and joining in songs. For me and others it was a very moving experience.

Our music’s future is safe; you just have to take it to them!

Rob Terry trio and Annique are in concert a at Berkhamstead Civic center on Sat 9th  of March. (8.00 PM)

Jim Phillip surprised us recently with a new ‘small band’(?) with a very ingenious line-up and some very special arrangements. Songs and glamour were provided by Bryony. (Jim had a bad hair day).


Kings Langley for its size has hosted a wide variety of live music over the years, Jazz in several venues, classical recitals and choirs. It has its own splendid ‘Lumina Choir,’ Langley based, and until recently performances could be heard at the Rudolf Steiner school. This latter has now closed and it is particularly sad for me, for as one of its early pupils I recall sitting with other infants in a circle on little stools drinking goat’s milk and playing the recorder.(Not at the same time I should hastily add!)

We have started the year with some very good bands and performances with quite a few new faces at the tables and audience numbers seem to be on the up.

Berkhamstead Jazz recently had Scott Hamilton in concert, and Alan our ticket man, always
 gets some odd enquiries.

XXX “Are there any tickets for tomorrow?”

Alan. “Yes, we’re happy to help.”

XXX. “Have you heard of this saxophonist before? (!!!)

Alan. “Oh yes, he’s been one of the most famous in the world for 20 or 30years and we are thrilled to have him.”

XXX “Can you tell me what he sounds like?”

Alan. If you like Zoot Sims, or Stan Getz, or Ben Webster you should really enjoy his playing.”

XXX. (Puzzled silence) “Who?”

Alan. “How many tickets would you like?”

XXX. “I don’t think I’ll bother. Good night.”


Well, here it is, merry Christmas, every bodies having fun…
I notice the local population shows a certain stoic indifference to that claim.
It of course could be all this stuff about back-stops and the end of civilization as we know it getting on their nerves. (They should come down to our club, that should cheer them up a bit, especially Terry’s jokes)
Terry and his Merry Men will be performing on the 11th.December.

On the 18th we have Jim Phillips Christmas party and everybody will be there!

For fans of Scott Hamilton, he will be in concert with his quartet at Berkhamstead Civic Centre on Saturday January 12th.
Tickets £13 from Simon or Jo, Tel 01442-824173.

For those who tire of Turkey  over the holiday remember our smelly Ancient Brit ancestors shivering in their animal skins didn’t have Christmas as it hadn’t been invented yet, so they celebrated Yule, the winter solstice, after which days got longer and there was a chance of something other than freeze dried Mammoth chunks to eat. (No TESCO in those days)

Jean and I will be sloping of to Bournemouth for Christmas so we would like to wish you all a very enjoyable festive season and look forward to some good jazz from our local blowers next year.

Our club Dixieland 7 band, led by Tony Winder have a nice new name, the Razamajazz Dixieland Band. The original name was a temporary label and the new one much nicer. What’s in a name?
Jazz as a descriptive term didn’t apply to the early forms of the music. As Sidney Bechet said, “We called it Ragtime.” The style and syncopation originated in piano music popular at the turn of the 19th century. ‘Hot’ piano

music was much in demand for parties and club dances.

‘Ragging’ the tune, by pulling the rhythm around soon transferred to other instruments and thus to music played by bands for dancing.

Jazz was a slang word for sex, a young person ‘playing the field’ was said to be ‘Jazzing around’.

Lots of lewd and suggestive dances were fashionable at the time, like the Bunny Hug, the ‘Black Bottom’ and the ‘Shimmy.’ This was soon called ‘jazz dancing’ and the music played for it Jazz Music.

‘Jive’ has a similar history. Originally a term for loquacious or bombastic boasting, prompting the reply, “Don’t give me that jive”

With the popular forties dances like the ‘Jitterbug’ considered totally over the top, they soon gained the appellation of ‘Jive’ dancing.

Jazz has always thrived as dance music for younger people, the big ‘revival’ in the forties and fifties was all about jiving in some sweaty club to the earnest  efforts of the local’trad’band.

AA Happy days!


Well, summer has gone, but what a splendid season for those like me who like the hot stuff. There was also plenty of hot stuff at the club and one of best seasons I can remember, with some fine bands and artists and large attentive audiences. Also lots of new faces and bums on seats.
High points in August were Katie Daniels (vocals) and Graham Pike on trumpet and harmonica.  I real professional show, I hope we see them again soon. 
Terry’s band suffered some technical hang ups with PA’s and what-not but came joking through as usual. 
Jim Phillip’s big band is one of the best around and we were entertained with the comic chit-chat between gentleman Jim and the lovely Bryony, who sang I believe for the first time with this band. 
Another summer highlight was Jez Guests ‘Flat back four’ (Don’t ask).
Jez was truly in his element with fine backing from Neal Drake on keyboards, Roger Hudson on Base Guitar and Ronnie Fenn on drums.
Looking ahead we have Cliff Longhurst’s‘s Jazz Knights big band, who’s roots lay in the Woody Herman tradition. Our own regulars will include Louise’s great little band, also small groups ‘Treble clef’ and a revived ‘Stolen moments’
(Great to have them back)
Plenty to keep you warm on a chilly autumn evening!

Katie Daniels and her band plus Graham Pike on trumpet gave the club a bravura performance on Tuesday 7th to a large but comfortable audience.
Katie sang the classic American songbook with style and conviction.
Graham Pikes trumpet and harmonica playing enhanced the proceedings
And the rhythm section was superb.
We have come a long way as a club to be able to attract such talent!
Big John and the committee are to be congratulated for arranging it all.  

 Well, they did warn us, and surprise, surprise, global warming has given us a summer heat one would pay a lot for in Lansagrotty and no lizards in the bidet and no Watney’s Red Barrel either, well not at our club bar.
Club nights have been well attended despite the heat, with our capable air-con keeping us fresh and (musically) frolicsome the while.
Our big band month was a great success with a lot of people putting in a great deal of effort. Thank you guys.
We have some new talent appearing in the weeks to come and we are getting noticed and remarked upon in local jazz circles as the place to be heard.
So, come and enjoy! (Watney’s Red Barrel by special order only)  


May hasn’t been a boundless bundle of joy for yours truly. First an allergic reaction to something (Got the hump with Trump perhaps) that left me with a face that rivaled the monster from the black lagoon. You have to stay hidden or get arrested as a threat to good public order. Then my left hip decided to play ‘keepy-uppy’with the rest of me as the ball. So the thirty years celebration concerts at the club was a welcome relief and a source of great pleasure for an evening at least. Cliff Longhurst’s big band gave us a good selection of Woody Herman material including the mandatory ‘Four Brothers’ and ‘Woodchoppers Ball’ Some good solos from Tracy on tenor and good to see our own Neil Drake on Keyboards and  John Bridge on trombone also adding their share of good solos. A fine evening and very well attended.
Tuesday 15th the sun shone and the little birds sang their tiny hearts out but no spring fever arose in my creaky  self.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Tonight was to be Jim Phillips big band and was not to be missed, so stuffed full of Paracetamol I took my accustom seat. I think the first half confirmed to me that this band is right on top of their form. Bryony featured on some vocal numbers with her warm engaging style.
What’s this? A halt in proceedings for announcements, forward the Chairman of Kings Langley parish council, and other worthy types. A presentation from the council!
A beautiful, framed illustrated map of  King Langley by Graham, with all the local history included. This is to commemorate thirty years of jazz at the Services Cub. They presented it to Jean and I, and we are very moved by this, but of course it really belongs to all those people who in their own way have done their bit for the club.

The second half was just as good as the first,  so I went home a happy bunny.


Spring having sprung, the sun refused to get out of bed most days and it’s a wonder but the club had such good attendance most weeks despite the weather.
Players seemed to be striving for their personal best and things have really been jumping, as Fats would say.

May programme celebrates thirty years of jazz at the KL. Has it been that long?
We have three big bands, kicking off in fine style with Cliff Longhurst’s splendid Jazz Knights,  Jim Phillips ever popular big band and rounding off with our own Hertswing  plus some talented smaller bands in support through the month.

Don’t Miss!!!

The Stompers!

Recently I was asked if we had any ‘photos of the late friend and Jazzer Ivor Rosenberg playing at the club. It’s surprising that we have few individual ‘photos, only mostly big bands.
I found one however taken nine years ago.
Front line is Tony Cunningham on trombone, mercifully still with us, Ivor on alto sax, Frank Wilson on trumpet, who now lives in France .Simon Spillit on tenor sax, now a big star on the jazz scene.  Dave Smith, leader, clarinet, still around. (No star rating)
In the engine room we have the late Brian Buckingham, drums, Eddie Rowson on Bass; he now also lives in France. On keyboards we have the late master musician, Phil Robinson. Neal Souter is on guitar. Not seen for a while.
 The band evolved from a Dixieland format to the current KC7 band, with many notable local musicians in its ranks over the years. I suspect they are probably playing ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ or something similar.

Spring is here, and as I write this snow is falling, but good times and some good music beckons, so keep cheerful!


I often get a burst of nostalgia listening to Alyn Shipton’s Jazz record request on Saturday tea time (BBC steam radio.) People write in with requests for Miles Davis or Bunk Johnson to commemorate birthdays of elderly children or dear old Uncle Fred (Well, he likes that sort of music).
It takes me back to the 1950’s ‘Family favorites, when long strings of well wishers were announced with each request. Now you can call up U-Tube and listen to anything that takes your fancy.
We have lost something in the history process. (Even if it was ‘The Billy Cotton Band Show’ that followed Family Favorites. Wakey-wakey!)
Had word from Janet Holdom recently that Colin is still playing but is very restricted now. Perhaps we may see him this year on a visit, I hope so.
Simon Spillett got an airing with his quartet with a fine ballad, ‘Yesterday I heard the rain.’ I had quite forgotten what a fine balladeer he is and was most impressed.
Dave O’Higgins, another fine British tenor sax player is featured this Saturday at Berkhamstead Jazz’s concert at the Civic Hall, playing with the Darius Brubeck Quartet. Tickets= simonblofeld@icloud.com
The Hollybush pub in Redbourne puts on small group jazz and serves good food, worth a punt, as they say.
We have as usual, good mix of bands this month, something to suit all styles, so hope to see you all.

Dave Smith.


May I wish all our jazz people the very best for 2018, and look forward to seeing you all again in this, the New Year. 2018’s Bands will be a mixture of styles as usual this year, but with all the regulars doing their thing. New faces and bands will get an airing also.                   
Things are rather slow after the mid winter binge and one week the audience equaled the band at one point. We have, however a healthy club scene and 2017 was one of the best supported that I can remember.  Whenever I get a chance I plug our club on the wider scene. Berkhamstead Jazz members often come over for our big band nights.
Berkhamstead Jazz are still building the post July 2018 programme and hope to get Scott Hamilton for one of the autumn concerts.
I read that guitar wizard Bucky Pizzarelli was 92 on the 9th of January and still going strong, so there’s hope for us old blowers yet!
Happy New Year.

Here we go again, Christmas is nearly with us and for the run up we have some good stuff for your enjoyment at the Club.
Ivor’s night should be a rather special gathering of all the many players and singers who shared the stand with him. Not to be missed!
Terry’s Octagon will be its usual mix of fun and musical games; while Jim Phillips celebrated Christmas party will round things off nicely.
It remains for me to wish you all a happy Christmas and new year from the committee and yours truly.

 Dave Smith


We had Woody Herman’s ‘Third Herd, ‘or the nearest thing to it, lifting the roof last Tuesday night, Cliff Longhurst’s ‘Jazz Knights have become a regular visitor to our club over the years, and our own Neal Drake and John Bridge are among the ranks of this superb tribute band. They will be in concert at Berkhamsted Civic Center on November 25th.Tickets ‘phone 01442-824173
Playing some CD’s of Scott Hamilton recently I was reminded of a concert he gave in a church (that’s right a church, the Vicar was hip) in Harrow-on –the –hill, many years ago now.
We had a front seat pew by the pulpit with Brian Lemon piano right in front of me. What an amazing player he was. Scott had no amplification but coped with the acoustics as did Dave Green and Allan Ganley. Scott stepped out on the alter steps and gazed up and around,” Jesus Christ”, he muttered under his breath. Everybody fell about laughing at that, and things really swung the rest of the evening.
Tragically Brian Lemon had to stop playing due to osteoarthritis in his last ten years.
This skill-killer is worse for keyboard players as they have nowhere to transfer their skills.
Woodwind players have the same problem, finger holes resent miss-fingering, unlike sax keys that give a bit of positional freedom. Brass players who lose their lip can sometimes swap for a bigger horn with a larger embouchure. String players seem to go on forever, so buy a cello if you want to be musically active at ninety!


October brings the sad news of the death of Ivor Rosenberg.
Ivor was a vibrant personality on our local jazz scene, his ethereal alto sound recognizable in any musical company. His wit, charm, and encyclopedic knowledge of all things made him such good company.
Ivor was a natural musician with an innate sense of harmony and form.
He was a regular player at our club over the years and was always featured in small groups, playing modern jazz of the classic era.

We send our condolences to his family and all his many friends.  


Chipperfield Cricket Club does not instantly spring to mind a likely place to find enthusiastic villagers and jazz fans alike gathering on a summer night to hear some of the most inspiring young musicians doing their thing. Some weeks ago we dropped in to hear the Ridout family in full flow. Both winners of the BBC Young Jazz Musicians of the year, Alexandra on trumpet and Tom on Saxes and recorder. Father Mark played guitar in a three piece rhythm section that included Steve Brown. Scintillating stuff. A new generation of players.

Yet it still troubles that the supply of new young jazz players and likewise fans is so thin, and I can only suppose that the culprit is the loss of music on the school curriculum, and of music teachers, in all but the most expensive private schools.
Jazz unlike pop music is an acquired attraction with ground rules beyond the drum-beat of rock. School is the best place (and probably the only place today) for youngsters to be exposed to its delights and intricacies and learn its instruments.
We must keep our end up at KL where young players are concerned and find a spot for them when we can.


Summer is a sticky time for bands and players alike at the club, holidays knock holes in the carefully prepared programme as key players disappear to refresh their creative juices in jolly airport queues and blistering hot sands in distant lands.
Despite all this everybody seems to have coped with things with a version of musical chairs and new talent and audience numbers have held up.
Talking of new talent our own Louise has an eye for such things and has introduced us to Miguel, a fine young singer from Portugal to grace our singers spotlight in August.
Tracy O’Conner returned this month to give us a fine polished programme of classic songs with an inspired Kingsclub 7 supplying the backing notes.
Autumn promises some excellent Jazz with every style in the programme and some returning bands and old favorites to look forward to.
 Back in the 405 line black and white TV days there was a ‘maestro’ called Sempreni who’s  musical introductions consisted of ‘Old ones, New ones, Loved ones, Forgotten ones…’ A bit yucky but not a bad playlist for all of that…


I always experience a sinking feeling whenever the BBC announces a forthcoming big production celebrating some aspect or other of what this organization presents as jazz.
The recent ‘Prom’ from the Albert Hall is a case in point.
Ostensibly to mark the centenary of Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie, we got the usual noisy overblown Glastonbury style of format with shrieking audience and a bunch of self congratulate ‘artists’ and presenters who’s grasp of the music and its origins seemed shaky.
We have to be on our guard or we will find such music presented to new generation stripped of all its intimate wit, humor and passion, and featuring tired old warhorses with second rate ‘stylist ‘soloing with lush string accompaniment.

There are always people re-writing history; thank goodness in jazz music’s case, it’s all on record!

Late May

Listening to jazz record requests last week up popped a request for an ‘old’ regular player at our KL club, Simon Spillet. Simon first appeared on our scene playing with Derrick Mander who also came from over the hills in Chesham. Simon is a walking encyclopedia of jazz and a dedicated Tenor sax stylist in the footsteps of Tubby Hayes, and soon amassed his idol’s fearsome technique.
We had a splendid Dixieland/Swing seven piece at the time and Simon decided to join in. We had a real swinging rhythm section so it wasn’t too crowded with him in the front line, Eddie Condon’s band used the same line up, and you just have to be careful not to tread musically on your fellow players toes, as it were.
After a while we gave him his own regular evening when he got his own quartet together. Eventually he moved on to professional work and became BBC’s ‘Young jazz Musician of the year’

He dropped in last month and had a blow with the band, it was good to see him again, and he will always get a welcome at KL Jazz.


I was surprised delighted by the skill and artistry of a young guitarist guesting with John Bignall at a recent club night. Rock hasn’t claimed all of the younger generation attracted to this instrument.
Charlie Christian didn’t invent the electric guitar but in the ‘thirties he developed it and a playing style that placed it up-front with the other solo instruments. Fame came with concerts with Benny Goodman and other ‘hot’ players where he was able to hold his own with the best of them.
The guitar is a complex instrument capable of rich interpretation and style, from Segovia to Reinhart; it was a cruel fate to be hi-jacked by the crudities of Rock.
My local music shop stocks a window full of guitars and I often wonder if any of them are fated to play much more than the three blues chords throughout their short life.
I remember at one time a little plastic box with buttons that clamped onto the fingerboard like a capo and played the required blues chords as you pressed the buttons in sequence. They were very popular with clumsy ‘skiffle’ players. This went with straggly beards, tea chest basses and washboards played with thimbles. Happy days?  Perhaps!

There has been a general move to start play at 8.00PM instead of 8.30 with a finish at 10.30. If you have anything you would like to say on this please send an e-mail or collar one of the committee next time you are down the club.
We have seen an increase in supporters numbers this year, although support for The Jazz Knights was unexpectedly disappointing. There are a lot of new faces at the tables so we must be getting it right most times!

Jinni is receiving very generous donations most weeks from supporters, and this all adds up to a healthy club. I liked to promote a big thanks to Jinni for all her hard work over the year, and also our committee, quietly getting on with things.


The twenties popular musical craze “Yes, we have no bananas’ so drove one poor soul to lunatic distraction that he took a boat to a remote island to get away from it,
 Jazz tunes are subject to whims of public popularity and mostly die of over exposure. We don’t now hear ‘trad’ bands playing ‘When the saints come marching in’ or ‘Mack the knife’ or requests of clarinetists for ‘Stranger on the shore’ by some over-beered punter who thinks it still a cool number.
Other tunes from the ‘Great American songbook’ are getting tatty round the edges, I groan to hear for 1157 time ‘Autumn leaves, Summertime, Have met miss Jones; The Lady is a tramp, etc. Duke Ellington wrote (or got his name on the lead sheet) many splendid tunes we never hear, so we don’t have to keep doing A train, and Satin Doll. What about Chelsea Bridge, Drop me off in Harlem, or Happy-go-Luck-local?
Just a thought, but I’m not rushing off to some island as yet!                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Mose Allison has passed away and I for one will never forget his wickedly funny songs, delivered in that lazy southern drawl.
My favorite was of course Parchman Farm, sung over a repeated fast piano Blues riff…

“I’m sittin’ over here on Parchman farm…
I aint never done no man no harm…”

 “I’m stuffin’ cotton ina eleven foot sack…
With a twelve gauge shotgun at my back…”

 “I’m sittin over here on number nine…
All I ever did was drink my wine…”

“I’ll be here for the rest of my natural life…
An all I ever did was shot my wife…”

Mose was a gifted jazz pianist and played with all the top New York jazz players in the fifties and sixties.

Jazz in Dacorum.
Berkhamstead Jazz are putting on a special concert on the eleventh of Feb that will mark their thirty fifth year of concert jazz promoters. Tickets have already sold out for the celebrated Pasadena roof Orchestra, and the monthly concerts for 2017 are already fixed and confirmed.
Kings Langley Jazz in February for the swing fans sees the return of the Conchord Big Band and with any luck songs from Georgia.
For the traditional fans the Club Dixielanders are with us on the seventh.

We are not starved of jazz locally; you just have to know where it’s at!

I hope you all have had a pleasant Yule tide and are looking forward to a promising 2017.
We have some new scheduling at the Kings Langley Jazz Club with some new bands and some of the old ones in new places!
Laurie ‘The Hat’ and Jim Phillips have both been absent recently and we wish them all the best and hope to see them again in the New Year.

I see that Dave Shepherd has passed on recently at 87, he was our own Benny Goodman, of whom Benny said “He plays more like me than I do!”
His famous quintet featured pipe smoking Roger Nobes on Vibes, and they were regular players at our old jazz predecessor ‘The rose and Crown’, at the  end of Berkhamsted high street.
Rummaging through some old tapes (remember them?) the other day I found an old recording I made of Dave’s band on a hand held tape recorder at that pub and the audience chatter was appalling! We do thing better at our club.
Another find was a tape of the ‘KL Stompers’, a Dixieland band I ran in around 1992-3at our club. Of the line-up, Tony Cunningham, trombone, is still playing, Eddy Rowson, bass, moved to France as did Frank Wilson, a fine Armstrong disciple on trumpet. Brian Buckingham, drums, and Phil Robinson, keyboards, alas, have joined the great majority. Simon Spillet, tenor sax, is now a superstar on the British modern jazz scene. That leaves me on clarinet, still standing but arthritis has not improved my playing since then!

Colin Holdom on trumpet was an early member and is now living in Suffolk.  With him we morphed into a ‘modern’ band, the KL7, now run by John Davis. John has some new ideas for 2017, so never a dull moment!  

Christmas time is hear by golly, disapproval would be folly,
Stuff the hall with hunks of holly, fill the glass and don’t say when...’
Tom Lehrer.
We will have a full club programme throughout the festive season, guaranteed to blow away those bloated blues. We also will be making some changes next year with new bands and some re-scheduling of the running order, stay tuned!
I was saddened to hear trumpeter Mike Daniels died recently. Of all the revival bands of the fifties his ‘Delta Jazzmen’ were several cuts above the popular ‘Trad’ standard set by Barber, Bilk, Ball et all, His was the authentic sound of Jellyrole Morton and King Oliver scrupulously reproduced by the seven piece ensemble . A youthful John Barns began his career with Mike; his distinctive clarinet style weaned me off Monty Sunshine of the Barber band, the role model then for many young aspiring clarinettists.
Banjoist Eddy Smith of the Chris Barber band was with Mike for a while. Mike had a crisp attacking style that put a sparkle to the band’s sound.
Alas, another good man gone.
It was good to see John Bignal and daughter Eli back at the club.
Eli is making a fine beginning to her career with lots of gigs and her own website. We wish her the very best for the future.

‘So let the raucous slay bell jingle, look out here comes old Chris Fingle,
Driving his Reindeer across the sky, don’t stand underneath as he rides by!’


Laurie ‘The Hat’ our resident singer has got himself a new piece of head-gear, a snappy trilby in a cool shade of blue. I’m not sure if it enhances his vocal efforts but it keeps up a long tradition started by Jimmy Van Heusen and copied thereafter by Sinatra and many others.
Wearing a hat with a suit and no top coat is an American fashion, not favoured much in the UK, but has provided additional colour to the sartorial side of jazz.
One of my favourite photos is of Dexter Gordon ‘taking five’ at a recording studio.
His cigarette smoke curling up as he seems lost in some inner contemplation with his fedora sat on the back of his head.
Commonly jazz musicians recorded and sometimes played with their hats on in that epoch, as a sort of audio feed-back device, before the advent of modern individual electronic systems.
Hats often associate with jazz musicians, Dizzy Gillespie’s beret wearing was a forties thing along with Satre and existentialism.
Thelonious Monk habitually wore a skull cap but on one tour replaced it with a conical coolie-hat for the tours duration. On the last night the skull cap re-appeared. Asked why the revision, he replied, “You can’t wear the same hat all the time.”
When Lester Young first appeared on the scene his dress style was considered un-cool and rather rustic, his low crown wide brimmed ‘pork-pie’ hat especially so. When he became famous every tenor player copied his dress and hat. Charles Mingus wrote “Goodbye porkpie hat” as a tribute to him after he died in 1959.

 Summer 2016

Toots Thieleman passed away last week aged 94.  As a harmonica virtuoso he rivalled Larry Adler and also excelled as a whistler. (Catch his skills performing his own composition, ‘Bluesett’)What prompts some musicians to take up weird and unusual instruments and play jazz on them I can’t guess, but music is the richer for it.                                               
Louis Armstrong recorded with a Swanny whistle and also used a slide cornet, a bit like a tiny trombone). Jug bands and kazoos were popular in the twenties and they often used a device called a ‘goofus’, but I have never seen one in captivity.
In the midst of Paul Whitman’s lush orchestrations Frankie Trumbauer’s ethereal “C” melody sax charmed but gathered no followers for that strange half-arsed instrument. Once described as possessing the worst characteristics of both alto and tenor sax, poised as it was between them. It is now extinct.
The recorder has shown jazz promise in skilled hands but has never escaped the stigma of its ‘junior school’ voice. Piccolo players display the same dexterity but they are seldom heard outside the Latin American context.

Roland Kirk is perhaps the most well known purveyor of odd instruments. Following a youthful dream where he played four tenor saxes, he set about altering a manzello and a stritch, (A sort of straightened out versions of alto and soprano saxes) that he modified to be able to play with one hand while playing a tenor sax with the other.. Eventually he managed to play three instruments at once. He also played piccolo, nose flute, and various brass instruments fitted with sax mouthpieces of his own invention, called trumpopone and slidsophone. Following a stroke paralysing one side he was able to continue to play with one arm. You can’t keep a good man down! 


Last month I enjoyed a quick ‘sit-in’ with the Club Dixielanders, thanks to their generosity to someone who’s playing roots go back to the traditional jazz revival too many years ago. Thanks guys!
Mike Ellis plays a splendid Armstrong lead and the band swings like never before. A special mention of Tony Winder who organises things and plays clarinet with bits of Dodds, and his favourite Ed Hall in the mix. He gave up big band baritone sax he said, as you don’t get many solos. (Ed Hall did the same, left Claude Hopkins and the Baritone sax and stuck to clarinet with Condon’s band, and later joined Armstrong’s All-stars.) Tony gets plenty of solos with this band, anyway.

Paul Smith, I am told is resting his band, as the girls are off to uni and stuff and he wants a breather. His band was one of the highlights of recent club nights. I hope it is not too long before it is back in action.

Latin enigma plays exacting material and has lost Mark Milner on bass. Mark is moving northwards to new pastures. He is a superb musician and has left a hole in their rhythm section that I hope they fill quickly. We have some excellent local bass players so it shouldn’t be too long. Mark played bass with my original Kingsclub 7 with Phil Robinson on keyboards and Brian Buckingham on drums. What talent, what exquisite time and swing, inventive and inspiring. It was a privilege to play with them all. We wish Mark all the best.


We are the lucky legatees of Shakespeare’s wonderfully descriptive language, yet when faced with the task of describing something outstanding, beautiful, exciting, or amusing, we drag out a couple of what Orwell called ‘dead words,’ ‘Fantastic’ or if under thirty, ‘Cool’.
Yet Cool has an honoured place in jazz and is part of the lexicon of Hipster slang of the thirties and forties, and almost certainly has its origin in Lester Young’s own private language. Pianist Jimmy Rowles once said it took a fortnight before he could understand anything Young said.
Young’s fellow musicians were referred to as ‘ladies,’ money was ‘bread’, cooking was to ‘burn’, ‘vanilla’ was straight renditions of tunes, a ‘poundcake’ was a good looking woman. He referred to applause as ‘My little claps,’ to ‘dig’ something was to appreciate it. His sax was called ‘baby doll’ and he gave nicknames to all his fellow jazz musicians.
He liked to sit unobtrusively listening in jazz venues and would walk out if he received too much attention, saying, “I don’t dig being dug while I’m digging”.

We have a few homegrown jazz eccentrics. Bruce Turner called everyone ‘dad’ and too sentimental renderings were ‘Treacly dad, treacly.’ Humph said he signalled his approval of a well-conducted solo with the single word, ‘Nimrod’.

Pretty cool.


Recently one of our committee revealed that he had been asked to give a talk about jazz to a respectable body of our citizens, including that old chestnut, to explain what jazz is all about.
Superficially this can be easily (?) done by playing Bing Crosby’s famous ‘Now you has Jazz’ clip with Armstrong and the All-stars  from the film High society, but it misses the question for the tin-eared, who have no natural response through ears to the eagerly tapping foot, and importantly, a teenage urge to dance.
They are lost to us I fear!

I must remark on the excellence both of ‘Latin Enigma’ and Paul Smith’s bands. Currently with additional brass and material not aired before. This is reflecting in good audience attendance. The word gets about!

On the 24th we have a return of a popular local band ‘Stolen moments’ led by Julian Rhys-Williams on reeds with Graham Page trumpet in the front line. It’s been awhile since they have been at the club. Good to have them back.

Cliff Longhurst’s small band played to an appreciative audience on the 10th. With two singers and a novel selection on the play list it was bound to be good. With three brass and three reeds plus rhythm section they still sounded like a big band, a tribute to the skill of the arranger.


The ‘Great American Song Book’ so often provides the raw materials for jazz musicians but we sometimes forget that the original composer’s task was principally the lyrics, most often a tie-in with a musical stage of film performance.
Mostly witty and memorable, there lurked a few clunkers and oddballs out there.
Nobody can explain the words of Bye Bye Blackbird, not even the guy who wrote it!
‘Nagasaki’, ‘where the men all chew tobaccy and the women wicky-wacky-whoo,’ fails to invoke a sense of Japanese propriety.
My personal favourite is ‘Sonny Boy’, featured in the 1928 ‘Talkie’ ‘The singing fool’
There may be grey skies,
Never mind those grey skies,
You’re my skies of blue, sonny boy,
Friends may forsake me,
Let them all forsake me,
I still have you, sonny boy.
You came from heaven,
And I know your worth,
You made a heaven,
For me right hear on earth,
Etc etc…

The story is that late one night three songwriters sat down over a few beers and for a lark composed the yuckiest song they could think up.
Somehow it escaped and made a number one hit for Al Jolson.
If, alas, we want an example of American mass bad taste we have only to look at the favourite leading Republican contender in the US Presidential shindig.

However, Churchill said that America always tried all the wrong solutions before finally coming up with the right one. Lets hope he was right.


One of the mysteries of jazz in all its forms has been the variation of its fortunes in relation to dancing in different eras, since it escaped from New Orleans a hundred years ago. Those escapees didn’t even call it jazz. ”That’s a name the white people gave it,” said Sidney Bechet.“We called it ragtime” This was music for dancing.
Ragtime piano and later instrumental versions developed from it inviting you to, in ‘Fat’ Waller’s words, ‘Burn your leather on the floor’
It became wildly popular Stateside in the ‘twenties in the big segregated dance halls and cabaret clubs in major cities and soon spread to Europe.
New dances variously called the Black Bottom, Charleston, Bunny hug, the Cakewalk and the sexy Shimmy, gave the nineteen twenties the appellation ‘The Jazz Age’.
The Wall Street crash hit ‘Hot’ music badly and many of the jazz luminaries never surfaced again as dance halls and cabaret joints closed. Jo Oliver, a musical mentor to Louis Armstrong, typically was discovered later odd jobbing in a gas station.
The mid thirties recovery saw an eruption of a new hot dance music called swing that held the popular spot until fading in the nineteen fifties.
Dances included the Lindy Hop, Jitterbugging, and all manner of ‘Jive’ steps.
History repeated itself in the fifties decade when young dancers discovered the ragtime music their grandparents danced to. In Britain it was called ’Traditional jazz’, while in the States many old timers were back in action re-living their youthful musical careers, playing what was now called ‘Dixieland jazz’.
Dancing then, is the major raison d’etre for jazz and when people stop dancing to it, it soon shrinks to small dedicated audiences, like contemporary ‘Modern jazz’ (Itself now arguably seventy years old!)

Will jazz rise again on the dance floor? In truth it already has in the many forms of modern pop dance music. Like a bottle of ink in the sea, traces of it are everywhere.


Miles Davis, I think it was, said the short history of Jazz could be sumarised with just four words. Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker.
In a simple sense, you will find the elements of jazz fully developed in both player’s recorded work. Armstrong’s natural grasp of harmonic development from the ragtime and blues tunes of his day combined with his masterly grasp of what jazz musicians call ‘time’, the placement of notes across the main beat to generate a swing.
Parker like Armstrong based his work on the blues and popular tunes of his day.
Discarding however the tune and using only the skeleton of the melodies' chord progression opened up a new playground for his generation. He was not the first to do so, but was the most influential player of his day.
So we have a trumpeter and a saxophonist. What if we search their opposite instrumental players for a worthy rival? Armstrong was only ever upstaged by one player, Sidney Bechet. His roaring tumbling soprano sax with its raw energy and mile wide vibrato eclipsed even Armstrong’s best efforts. Yet Sidney could produce a tender blues on clarinet and also was the author of many jazz standards.
Parkers trumpet partner in the bebop days was Dizzy Gillespie with whom he shared the frantic but short life of bop. Dizzy was an original with much solid work in his lifespan from small groups to his famous big bands There were many Parker copyists but few could match the power and range of Dizzy.

So, Dizzy Gillespie, Sidney Bechet? I don’t think so; they were too mercurial for most to copy. Better stick with Bird and Satchmo!


I hope you all had a pleasant festive break and look I forward to seeing you again in the New Year. We have some good bands, some old favourites, some new. We have some new singers and also this year some dancers performing what is now called ‘Lindy-hop’ but was in my youth called ‘jiving.’ I can recall many a sweaty evening’s dancing at Humphrey Littleton’s…(That’s enough of that Grandpa!)
Recently the usually staid BBC programme ‘Composer of the week’ abandoned the usual classical suspects and featured Hoagy Carmichael and his vast output.
Little remains of his stuff today apart from the old jazz favourites and recordings, the most distinctive feature being his singing voice. Not to everyone’s taste. He himself referred to it as ‘How a shaggy dog looks, or fog on the Wabash…’ One fan remarked that ‘your singing is so dreadfully awful that it is really funny…’
He was a great friend of Bix Beiderbecke and played piano with Paul Whitman and Jean Goldkeete’s bands. Hollywood claimed him and his work there enabled him to retire comfortably and give up a law practice. A nice change from the usual sad ending of many jazz musicians.


Songwriter Edward Chester Babcock didn’t like his own name. Putting on his shirt one day he noticed the label, ‘Van Heusen’ “that’s for me!”He cried. And so a new name joined the illustrious body of songwriters for the Great American Songbook, (‘Jimmy’) James Van Heusen. Jimmy was a dandy, a big hit with the girls and was cool before the term was invented His output was prodigious, his friends in show business many and his fashion sense compelling. Fedora hat with wide hatband, a sharp suit and a light topcoat slung casually over one shoulder. Sinatra? No, Jimmy did it first! Our own Laurie carries on the tradition at the club, long may he do so!

Like many weary vacationists who can’t face Luton-Gatwick-LAP-Stansted airport cattle pens any longer I succumbed long ago to the cruising getaway holiday and have enjoyed over the years some interesting jazz provided by the ships resident musicians.
In the post-war hay-day of the big Atlantic liners, Geraldo and similar big names provided many ships bands, then dubbed Geraldo’s navy. Ronnie Scott and many other jazz men signed on to get to New York to hear and learn first hand from the American jazz masters then still alive and thriving in the clubs and bars of the city. The liners were not always the lap of luxury for the crew and entertainers however, our own Jez Guest played on the liner Canberra in her declining years and she was called the sweat-box, (no air conditioning) Jez had to change his attire between sets. On a QE2 trip I chatted up the trumpeter of a little Dixieland band who turned out to be the ex leader of the Clyde Valley Stompers, a gnarled old Glaswegian who must then have been in his late 80’s.He said on the last Atlantic trip the old Queen rolled so much in a force 8 gale there was hardly a piece of china left unbroken and they couldn’t stand up, let alone play! In the band was the principle trombone from a BBC orchestra and Harvey Weston on five string bass. He is our Georgia’s uncle! The clarinet also ex RAF central band. Needless to say, they were all excellent.

Our latest foray was on an X line 16-story mega-ship with some outstanding American jazz players beside all the usual rock brigade artists popular today. We had no broken china, thank goodness!

I have always had reservations about conductors and their supposed powers of interpretation, when players have to concentrate on their parts and have ears to keep time etc.
They didn’t have conductors in the olden days, Bach led his players from the keyboard. We don’t need them in the jazz world despite the supposed anarchy of improvisation, everybody listens out to what’s going on.
I dropped in at St Johns (Boxmoor) lunchtime concert the other day, always worth a visit if you are in the area. The Clarence Quartet, Flute, Violin, Viola, and Cello, opened with Mozart’s Quartet in D major. I love string Quartets and this substitution of flute for the first violin is refreshingly different. The rapport within the players is a delight to observe, the flautist Alison Matthews moving bodily to the flow of the music, the little eye signals between the players, no conductor need apply here!
What a joy is Mozart, a musician’s musician, he could improvise on a theme for a couple of hours at the keyboard and often played viola in his own Quartet works.
Back to conductors, there’s a story of a well-known conductor who was delayed for the mornings rehearsal and one of the second violins was collard on his way in to substitute as he had ‘done a bit of it.’ All went well and when the big man arrived the second violinist went back to the ranks. His partner in the ranks turned to him and inquired, “Where were you this morning then?”

Phil Woods passed away this week at 84. Often dismissed as a Charlie Parker clone he was much more, and with cannonball Adderley developed and broadened Parker’s style of Alto playing from the often narrow frantic hard bop to the ‘cool school’ with its roots still strongly in the blues.
The Alto sax is a rewarding instrument once mastered,but does not suffer fools or leave any room for waffling or foozling, like it’s bigger brother. Virtuosity was Wood’s hallmark along with the fuller, richer tonality that is the mark of a master player.  Another good man gone.

September is the month when we make up the programme for next year.

This year we have a new committee to construct the 2016 band list in an order that brings a balanced mix of styles to each month. All the club favourites will be back, plus new talent where we have room to squeeze it in!
The committee members are John Davis, John Mole, Graham Prentice, John Smith and not forgetting Jinny, our lady it’s a pleasure to be mugged by!
I shall join the Octogenarians in October, but will still be around while I’m one step ahead of rigor mortis. I will be taking a back seat from now on, (although I’m always game for a blow with the lads for a couple of numbers.)
Tuesday October 27th is a red-letter day for the club with Cliff Longhurst’s splendid ‘Jazz Knights’ big band; the date is nearing the birth centenary of Frank Sinatra so we may be in for some stuff by the ‘governor’? wait and see!


I recognised a few familiar faces the other Sunday at the Dacorum Arts newly staged Dacorum Jazz Festival held in St Mary’s church, Hemel Hempstead.
The organisers normally run a folk festival each year on the Saturday but this year decided to add a jazz day to the weekend.
Folk gatherings are usually held in dark subterranean places in obscure locations so to venue in a church must seem quite a novelty.
We just popped in to hear Cliff Longhurst’s Jazz Knights set in the afternoon. How they managed cramped in among the pillars and pulpits goodness knows, but the put on a fine performance to an appreciative audience.
Churches have wonderful acoustics for the pure linear sound and clear simple harmonies of choir and small ensembles, but can become muddied with reverb if too much power is employed.
Mozart’s church music reflects these phenomena wonderfully, and I recall catching a rehearsal of his Mass in C Major at St.Albans Abbey.
The rich and subtle blend of the choir voicing with the power of the full orchestra never overpowered but still filled the vast spaces in great waves. A masterwork..
Mozart was a musician’s musician, always short of cash, loved his beer and dirty jokes, and could improvise at the keyboard for hours on end.
He would feel quite at home at Ronny Scott’s and soon pick up the vibe!

Listening to Jim Phillips and his merry men plus one lady the other night I was reminded of that story (I don’t know the truth of it) that the eminent Belgian, Doctor Sax, invented the saxophone to double/replace every individual instrument in the military band. Clarinettists were usually in surplus so could be switched to cover whatever instrumental vacancy, using the appropriate sized saxophone.

From Jim on the Baritone sax to John Davis on the soprano Sax we had present the full concert range of saxophones plus a four-piece rhythm section.
It was noticeable how the soprano sax led the ensemble with its trumpet sound and register while the alto and tenor saxes filled in the middle seamlessly leaving Jim to huff and puff a bass line on the big bad baritone sax.
Doctor Sax’s other instruments included the sopranini sax that lives in the piccolo range, The bass sax, played on a stand, although Dixieland bandleader Harry Gold played one on a shoulder sling and it was taller than he was, while the contra-bass sax was equipped with wheels and had a seat built in! (Very few if any were made)
The saxophone is complicated to look at, but the intricate key system is designed to makes it very easy to play, as it is a very logical fingering system.
I don’t think the old boy realised what he had started, but without his genius we would not have Charlie Parker. (I can’t imagine Bird on the oboe, can you?)

‘You are only as good as your last performance’ is the old mantra. I sometime feel this should be embossed with letters of fire on the collective nether regions of some bands and bandleaders. ‘I’m quite happy with the way I sound’ is another warning that others may not be. It is so easy to re-heat the same old clichés and licks, neglect that wobbly tone and when listing a play list fall back on the old tried, tested, and brain dead tunes. Fortunately for us the standard of play at our club is high and getting higher every year. If this means you have to run to stand still, well, as they say, that’s show business!

 Arrangers get a pretty thin slice of the glory in jazz music. Classical composers and popular song writers have their name up there on the lead sheet, but the guy who thinks up that catchy new way with an old standard is passed over without a glance.
I was struck recently by the clever way a small ensemble can enrich its range and tonality by the interplay and combination of different instruments. The arranger carries this in his head and his skills are that he can put it all down on a working score. 
Many years ago visiting 100 Oxford street we got to hear Humph’s long-time sideman Bruce Turner playing with his ‘Jump’ band that evening. Their six-piece line-up could almost be passed off as just another Dixieland/trad band, with piano, bass, drums, trombone trumpet, and leader on clarinet/alto sax. However, the sound they produced was that of a big band in miniature, with the typical call and response, riffs, and unison playing. 
It ain’t just the notes, its they way you package them!

The quality and professionalism of our club's bands and performers is something we can justly be proud of, and this has been evident the last couple of weeks with Paul Smith’s Band and a new high with Latin Enigma in April. The latter attracted a local school of Salsa dancers who took to the floor with élan. The band has that full on sound of ‘Los Van Van’ and their fellow Cuban originals, who I heard in Havana many years ago, punchy brass and rich saxes and a splendid rhythm section.
The joint was jumpin'  as Fats Waller used to say.

Not for everyone’s eardrums I will admit, some members like a softer Latin sound! Try Desafinado on June 23rd!


‘Best of British Jazz’ is with us on the 14th with Ted Heath veteran Roy Willox leading a distinguished cast of notable players such as Harold Fisher, a top British award winner on drums, Matt Winch, one of our leading trumpet men, plus Chris Glover on trombone, Frank Brereton keyboards, and our own Wally Shaw on Double base. Don’t miss this one!

Clark Terry who died last February aged 95 declared “Old age, it’s the pits, man.” but managed an active life as one of the iconic trumpet artists in the transition of swing into modern jazz. His famous composition, ‘Mumbles’ was his take on the hometown Blues singers of his youth who’s inarticulate garbled renditions he captured so well in a kind of ‘scat singing. (The Oscar Peterson Trio plus one-Clark Terry, try U-Tube)
He was also a fine flugelhorn player. Another good guy gone.

Cliff Longhurst's Jazz Knights


Cliff Longhurst sprang a surprise at his recent Jazz Knights concert at the club.
Three enigmatic ‘classic’ style mikes gave a hint of something to come, but what a surprise! Three shapely ladies attired in ‘forties’ dress with seamed stockings and red high heels, their shoulder padded dresses in pink polka-dot, topped with forties fashion hair styles tripped up to the mikes and gave us a music and movement display straight from the famous ‘Andrew Sisters’ of the big days of swing.
Jive songs such as ‘The boogie-woogie bugle boy from company B’ and ‘Sea food’ had everyone calling for more! They are called, would you believe it, well, the Polka Dots! I hope we see them again soon!
 Cliff Longhurst and his ‘Jazz Knights’, is a big band dedicated to the works of Woody Herman. Woody was one of the longest on the big band scene, from the thirties right through to the eighties, with several ‘Herman ‘Herds’ that always featured the brightest star players of the day.
Cliff is an authority on all Woody’s music and his line-up features the authentic ‘Second Herd’ three tenor Saxes plus lead alto/clarinet and baritone sax, five trumpets, three trombones plus rhythm section with Cliff driving them from the drums. He also features some fine singers. Don’t miss!
Harmonic vocal groups were popular until rock changed everything around 1957.

The Beverly sisters in the UK did a slightly more refined version, while for the jazz inclined the ‘Four Freshmen’ and the Hi-Los provided the barbershop all male style.
If you like some of the sister’s stuff, ‘The Puppini Sisters’ CD ‘Betcha bottom Dollar’
Is a one to look out for at your local record store.

Stay tuned, Dave Smith


April is the cruellest month, but March brings its crop. Many of the Club’s long-time players met at Knebworth to say farewell to Brian Buckingham at the golf club reception after the service. 

Brian was a founding member of our monthly ‘House band, then call the ‘Kings Club Stompers’ A swing/Dixieland outfit. 

Old hands and later players got together with Louise and her band for a fine old session in the very pleasant lounge. Simon Spillet graced us with his fine British award winning tenor playing. (Odd times Simon played with the ‘Stompers’ as the rhythm section always swung like crazy, with Brian on drums, the late, great, Phil Robinson on keyboards and Eddy Rowson on bass) Happy days!

Thanks to Jacky and Louise for all the hard work they put in for Tuesday.

March 10th we welcomed back 

Listening to Chez Chesterman with the Dixielanders the other night took me right back to Ken Collier in his ‘fifties rambling reconstruction of New Orleans jazz.
Both players used the American ‘Trumpet /Cornet’ as did Pat Halcocks with Chris Barber’s band. This horn has a distinct instrumental voice, and was made originally for the US military. Later ‘revivalist’ bands used standard modern instruments to produce British ‘Trad’, losing some of the individual colour of the older instruments. Jimmy Noon used the old ‘Albert’ key system clarinet, as did Monty Sunshine, this gives a richer sound. Valve trombones were popular for New Orleans marching bands, for obvious reasons, while the sousaphone bass imparts a unique two-beat drive to the early jazz bands; another extinct jazz instrument!

The talented Bignal family are taking leave of us; John has taken on a vineyard in Germany. We shall miss his astringent tenor/alto/baritone sax sound but hope to see Liz perhaps while she is still studying in the UK. We wish them all the best of luck.

Joke department.

Ronnie Scott’s Club is world famous as is the late proprietor, a fine Tenor sax player and a club compere’ with a wicked wit.

Ronnie Scott, “We have a request to play “Some other time”, so we’ll play it next week”.
We also have a request to play “Lover man,” but we are going to play
“Killer Jo”, instead”, well, it’s got a lot of the same notes.”

To a dozing diner seated by the stage. “Excuse me, are we disturbing you?”

On a particularly ‘slow’ night.
Ronnie, “Lets all join hands and contact the living.”

Stay cool, Dave Smith