New Orleans Jazz Bandits

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The New Orleans Jazz Bandits started their history way back in 1956 when the first line-up was put together… 62 years later they are still going strong.

Seasoned musicians isn’t the right word, their years of experience between them is enormous and the level of talent indescribable. My vernacular isn’t wide enough to describe how smooth they are.

Ron Rombol (alto sax, clarinet) is over 80 years old and plays with such ease that it’s a delight on the ears. Peter Brooks (double bass) is a happy soul, plucking at the strings with a smile on his face as though each note bought a level of joy to his soul.

There was a great variety of slow, fast, instrumentals, pre-jive, swing, deep gospel, Afircan/American folk songs but most of all trad jazz was the core with those who knew exactly what they were doing.

The tracks played were from the early 20thCentury:
Bluebells Goodbye
Let Me Call You Sweetheart – an instant hit in 1910
Hank Williams ‘Jambolia’ from 1952 – the most modern track of the night
Skipper Mouth Blues
I Want A Girl To Call My Own
Lord, Lord, Lord, You Sure Been Good To Me
King Thomas Boogie

Songs that are over 100 years old that must have been played more than 100,000 times over but due to the trad jazz means it’s played 100,000 different ways as each musician takes it where the wind blows. It’s such a fluid style.

The throaty ‘whaaaaa’ of the trumpet (Richard Church) hit you at your core, you smiled with the tingle. Tim Wate with the banjo was fabulous. Malc Murphy (drums) was the singer and his voice was so suited it was as though he was coming out of the wireless. So much quality – yes there is improvisation by the individual musician but it is subtly co-ordinated by the leader, with a tiny nod or point to move the track along.

It was an orchestra of musical notes with a depth of experience you could not find anywhere else – these old timers could do it in their sleep, walking backwards while juggling. Brian Butler (trombone) is a regular guesting musician with this group and luckily for me he was guesting this night. Superb Savoy Blues – proper slidy, throaty smooth trombone work – fantastic.

Within the first 3 minutes the club regulars were up and dancing. I was clearly the youngest in the room (apart from the teenager serving teas) but when these guys got up dancing and showed off their energy – I certainly didn’t ‘feel’ the youngest in the room. 

This type of jazz is just not heard in too many places any more – it’s only clubs like this that will keep it alive and everyone needs to experience it in their lives before it’s too late. This music really has a sense that it is passing through history – go an listen to it before there is no-one left to play it as there are unlikely youngsters coming through.

Colchester Jazz Club have live music every Sunday night and have been doing so for the last 61 years. They are super friendly, have a raffle, teas, coffees and drinks are available and nearly everyone is up and dancing. 3 sets this night and plenty of requests. A thoroughly excellent Sunday night and I plan to go back very soon.

This review first appeared on GrapevineLIVE.

Colchester Jazz Club
New Orleans Jazz Bandits


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