The Great Western Jazz Company is a fully rehearsed, professionally presented band , featuring six of the south-west’s most experienced jazz musicians, playing the music they love – the popular music from the jazz and swing era.
Although only formed in 2006, most of the band have known each other for many years, playing in various groups throughout the south-west, and in some cases, having jazz pedigrees going back to the heady days of the great British jazz revival !
Only two personnel changes in the seven year history of the band - Dan
Roach, gtr.,who features on our first two cds, left us after three years,
and trumpet-player vocalist and founder-member Bob McTeare, who sadly died
in June 2012, leaving us as legacy a library of his fine arrangements.
Phil Morris : Trumpet, vocals
First forays into music were in a skiffle group and playing self-taught trumpet in the school jazz band. By the early 60's, had graduated to playing in jazz clubs in Liverpool. When the Beatles came home Phil moved to Manchester and joined Dave Donohoe's band. Later played with the first Lake Records Jazz Band, often gigging and recording with Maralyn Middleton-Pollock. Retired to the south-west in 1998, becoming a well known figure on the local jazz scene. After a brief sojourn in Australia (including playing at National Jazz Conventions) returned to the UK in 2007, finally joining GWJC in 2012. Early hero: Louis Armstrong. Later heroes: Bobby Hackett, Ruby Braff.
John Lancaster : Clarinet, alto, soprano and tenor saxes
Caught the jazz bug at school in East London, falling under the spell of Wally Fawkes, Humph’s clarinet player. Got a clarinet from his parents for his 15th birthday, taught himself , and played in several bands before moving to Essex after National Service, and co-leading the ‘Blackshaw – Lancaster Jazz Band’. Has played with many of the household names in jazz, but fondest memory is of Humph guesting with his band for 3 charity concerts – and duetting with him on clarinet ! Moved to Cornwall in 1993, joining the ‘New Jubilee Jazz Band’. Also formed the small group ‘Swing’s the Thing ‘, and ran a quartet ‘ Four in a Bar´ for 12 years. Favourite musicians : Artie Shaw (clarinet), Zoot Sims (tenor) and Bob Wilber (soprano sax)
Paul Hawkins : Trombone
Heard his first live jazz at the old Avon Cities jazz club in Bristol, aged 16. Knew he had to play – either clarinet or trombone. His Dad found him an old trombone, and that was it. Played with Bristol’s ‘Bluenote Jazz Band’ for many years, with the band hosting many jazz celebrities – from George Chisholm and Nat Gonella to Ruby Braff and Bob Wilber – and playing venues as diverse as the Berlin Philharmonic Hall and on board
the ‘Ark Royal’ !
Moved to Cornwall in 1976; formed the original ‘Great Western Jazz Company’ with Bob McTeare. Later played with the ‘Spingo Hot Five’ and ‘Funny Feathers’ before joining the re-formed ‘Great Western’ in 2006. Hasn’t been happier ! Trombone heroes : Tyree Glenn, Vic Dickenson, Jack Teagarden, Wilbur de Paris.
Jerry Tilley : Solo / Rhythm Guitar
Earliest recollections of any “musical leanings” were as a young boy facing the radio in the kitchen, conducting some classical music being broadcast, using the broken-off end of a TV aerial as a baton ! Didn’t come from a musical family, and was thus not whisked away to an academy to start a brilliant career as a globe trotting classical conductor. Fortunately soon discovered the guitar and his musical journey began … from Baroque through classical, then Folk Blues and Rock & Roll – including several years (and a Royal Command Performance) with Bill Haley and The Comets ! Then a move to Cornwall, living next door to a jazz trumpeter, and that opened the door to the world of jazz.
John Chapman : Bass Guitar
Brought up in a household where his Dad was the leader of an accordian band and also played banjo; says he somehow managed to survive this traumatic start to his musical career, soon taking an interest in early blues music, with Johnson and Howlin’ Wolf as early influences. Took up lead guitar in his late teens, and later was asked by a local group to join them on bass guitar following the sudden death of their regular man. One rehearsal later, and playing on a borrowed instrument, he was thrown in at the deep end…… says he has been trying to get back out ever since ! Considers himself lucky to have worked with many of the top names in rock and jazz.
Bobby Stephens : Drums
Had his first drumming lessons at the age of ten from his father, who was himself a drummer in various local bands. With an old copy of the ‘Radio Times’ and a pair of old brushes, he used to practice the rhythms he had been taught, playing along to bands on the radio and to his parents’ collection of 78 rpm records. First ‘public appearance’ at the age of twelve, ‘sitting in’ on a couple of numbers on one of his father’s gigs. This became a regular occurrence, until eventually he was asked to join another local dance band. Has since played in many bands, playing all styles of music, but, for the last twenty years, mostly jazz; first with ‘The New Jubilee Jazz Band’, then ‘Jazz Foundation’ and now ‘The Great Western Jazz Company’. Says he still finds he learns something new each time he plays.