Jazz&Jazz Celebrates Savannah Jazz Band’s 40 Years in Jazz


… with Film & Photos

Brian ‘Sam’ Ellis (Trombone), John Meehan (Drums & Leader), Bill Smith (Cornet), Tony Pollitt (Bass), Roger Myerscough (Clarinet).


Introduction by Band Leader John Meehan

 

The Savannah Jazz Band was launched in Huddersfield in the Spring of 1979 and I joined in October, 1979, when the band played at a pub in Slaithwaite. Modest beginnings but early in 1980 we moved to the Station Tavern in Huddersfield, our successful residency for the
next 25 years.

During those halcyon years guest musicians playing with Savannah included Pat Halcox, Humphrey Lyttleton, Cy Laurie, Monty Sunshine, Sammy Rimington, Roy Williams, John Barnes, Phil Mason, Alan Elsdon, Keith Nichols and many others.

During the 1980s band members were Tony Smith, Martin Fox, Jack Cooper, Tony Pollitt, Brian Ellis and myself. Our overseas performances included tours of Canada, Denmark, Holland, Germany,
Spain and Switzerland. 

We began recording with Lake Records in1990 since when we have accumulated 27 CDs.

In the 2000’s band members were Bill Smith, Rod Chambers, Gabe Essian, Brian Ellis, Jack Cooper,
Louis Lince, Tony Pollitt and myself. 2010 saw some changes and band members were Bill Smith, Roger Myerscough, Brian Ellis, Louis Lince, Chris Marney, Tony Pollitt and myself.

I’m not good at anecdotes but perhaps band members might have a few which they could add in
“Comments” at the foot of this feature.

John Meehan (Leader/Drums)

At Colchester Jazz Club: Roger Myerscough (Clarinet), Brian ‘Sam’ Ellis (Trombone), Tony Pollitt (Bass); Bill Smith (Cornet), John Meehan (Drums & Leader), Chris Marney (Banjo).

Savannah at Hemsby Autumn Parade (with Eric Webster, Banjo, and Johnny Rodgers, Clarinet).

Brian Ellis (Trombone); Bill Smith (Cornet); Louis Lince (banjo); Rod Chambers (reeds).

Front Row: Tony Smith; Brian Ellis; Martin Fox. Back Row: John Meehan; Jack Cooper; Tony Pollitt

Savannah Jazz Band’s Website is at:
http://savannahjazzband.net/#


Savannah YouTubes

 

Savannah CDs to date:
http://savannahjazzband.net/recordings.html

For further information please contact Brian Ellis:
21 Elmwood Grove
Horbury, Wakefield
West Yorkshire
WF4 5JH

Telephone: 01924 260539

Peter M Butler
Editor Jazz&Jazz

Comments

  1. Peter Butler says:

    Jazz&Jazz regularly liaises with Fred Burnett, Jazz North West. Fred has added this tribute to Savannah Jazz Band: “2019 – Celebrating 40 Years of Savannah: http://www.jazznorthwest.co.uk/savan_40.htm

  2. Mike Shearer says:

    G’Day from Down Under
    Surely the Savannah Jazz Band has been going for more than 40 years? I recall the band at the Sports Guild mid 1960’s. At that time they had a Sousaphone player, a large Lad called Fred I think and the drummer was John Pardoe. John was a racing cyclist of some note at that time. They were a good Trad Band very enjoyable at the old cellar of the Sports Guild. Happy memories?
    Regards
    Mike Shearer

  3. Fred Burnett says:

    COURTESY OF FRED BURNETT, JAZZ NORTHWEST:
    TWO proud boasts used to surface in the one-time mill town of Huddersfield. One was that this gritty town on the edge of the Pennines in West Yorkshire used to produce the finest worsted cloth in the world. In the face of stiff competition from the rest of the world that may now be open to some dispute.

    The other boast was that it hosted one of the country’s finest traditional jazz bands. And this probably isn’t in any dispute at all.

    For well over two decades the Savannah Jazz Band has been flying the flag on the British and European jazz scene, and beyond. Wherever else they have appeared, in Holland. Denmark, Germany, Finland, Majorca and beyond, in Canada and America, the lads have easily added to their legion of dedicated fans.

    Humphrey Lyttelton once described the band as “totally professional, one of the very best in the business.” Praise indeed, from a man who knows what he’s talking about.

    Naturally, the band has been forced into adapting to change over the years, but it is a tribute to their dedication, shrewd replacements and a general willingness to rebuild that today, most; say, they are playing as well as ever.

    The admiration between the band and the constant stream of musicians queuing up to guest with drummer leader John Meehan and the boys is mutual. The band’s music is inspired by the legendary Ken Colyer. Yet, there’s a passion and a drive which makes the Savannah quite inimitable.

    Their fans reckon it’s due to a perfect blend of musicianship, remarkable cohesion, jazz craft and musical values. Added to this is the knack of catering for Dixieland as well as the basic New Orleans jazz tastes to appease both the casual and serious listener. It works well.

    “We keep on playing and the people keep coming” says leader Meehan, “so we must be doing something right.”. The band has been doing it right for well over 25 years and there’s no sign yet of any let up..

    Demand for the band’s music has prompted sixteen recordings, eleven live concerts and five in the upstairs room of a pub at Golcar, in the hills high above Huddersfield.

    Lake Records’ chief Paul Adams first met up with the band some fifteen years ago. “I’d heard rumours of them before that, but nothing I could really pin down” says Paul. ‘It had been an average, run-of-the-mill jazz weekend in a large ballroom and I was definitely restless. Then the Savannah took the stage. I remember thinking that’s more like it…. I think I’ve felt the same ever since‘.

    The Savannah Jazz Band at Eagley Jazz Club – 7/7/03

    Paul Adams has spent a quarter of a century recording and he says “honestly, working with the Savannah is always one of the easiest and enjoyable jobs I do. They deliver the music honestly with conviction and never lose sight of the fact that the audience is there to be entertained. The proof of their popularity is in their large following and healthy album sales”.

    “I once described them as one of the best bands with their chosen style. I stand by that statement”.

    The love affair between them has continued unabated ever since. Humphrey Lyttelton and Paul Adams can’t both be wrong.

  4. Fred Burnett says:

    FROM FRED BURNETT, JAZZ NORTHWEST:
    Having made regular forrays into the North West of England for many years, Yorkshire based Savannah Jazz Band, have long since earned their free passport to travel over to this side of the Pennines. With regular gigs in Greater Manchester and Lancashire the band have been missing from this site for too long. I am therefore particularly grateful to Gordon Hughes for compiling this article for me,

    TWO proud boasts used to surface in the one-time mill town of Huddersfield One was that this gritty town on the edge of the Pennines in West Yorkshire used to produce the finest worsted cloth in the world. In the face of stiff competition from the rest of the world that may now be open to some dispute.

    The other boast was that it hosted one of the country’s finest traditional jazz bands. And this probably isn’t in any dispute at all.

    For well over two decades the Savannah Jazz Band has been flying the flag on the British and European jazz scene, and beyond. Wherever else they have appeared, in Holland. Denmark, Germany, Finland, Majorca and beyond, in Canada and America, the lads have easily added to their legion of dedicated fans.

    Humphrey Lyttelton once described the band as “totally professional, one of the very best in the business.” Praise indeed, from a man who knows what he’s talking about.

    Naturally, the band has been forced into adapting to change over the years, but it is a tribute to their dedication, shrewd replacements and a general willingness to rebuild that today, most; say, they are playing as well as ever.

    The admiration between the band and the constant stream of musicians queuing up to guest with drummer leader John Meehan and the boys is mutual. The band’s music is inspired by the legendary Ken Colyer. Yet, there’s a passion and a drive which makes the Savannah quite inimitable.

    Their fans reckon it’s due to a perfect blend of musicianship, remarkable cohesion, jazz craft and musical values. Added to this is the knack of catering for Dixieland as well as the basic New Orleans jazz tastes to appease both the casual and serious listener. It works well.

    “We keep on playing and the people keep coming” says leader Meehan, “so we must be doing something right.”. The band has been doing it right for well over 25 years and there’s no sign yet of any let up..

    Demand for the band’s music has prompted sixteen recordings, eleven live concerts and five in the upstairs room of a pub at Golcar, in the hills high above Huddersfield.

    Lake Records’ chief Paul Adams first met up with the band some fifteen years ago. “I’d heard rumours of them before that, but nothing I could really pin down” says Paul. ‘It had been an average, run-of-the-mill jazz weekend in a large ballroom and I was definitely restless. Then the Savannah took the stage. I remember thinking that’s more like it…. I think I’ve felt the same ever since‘.

    The Savannah Jazz Band at Eagley Jazz Club – 7/7/03

    Paul Adams has spent a quarter of a century recording and he says “honestly, working with the Savannah is always one of the easiest and enjoyable jobs I do. They deliver the music honestly with conviction and never lose sight of the fact that the audience is there to be entertained. The proof of their popularity is in their large following and healthy album sales”.

    “I once described them as one of the best bands with their chosen style. I stand by that statement”.

    The love affair between them has continued unabated ever since. Humphrey Lyttelton and Paul Adams can’t both be wrong.

  5. Peter Butler says:

    FRED BURNETT, JAZZ NORTHWEST, REQUESTED ME TO ADD HIS COMMENTS TO SPEAK YOUR MIND:

    Having made regular forrays into the North West of England for many years, Yorkshire based Savannah Jazz Band, have long since earned their free passport to travel over to this side of the Pennines. With regular gigs in Greater Manchester and Lancashire the band have been missing from this site for too long. I am therefore particularly grateful to Gordon Hughes for compiling this article for me,

    TWO proud boasts used to surface in the one-time mill town of Huddersfield One was that this gritty town on the edge of the Pennines in West Yorkshire used to produce the finest worsted cloth in the world. In the face of stiff competition from the rest of the world that may now be open to some dispute.

    The other boast was that it hosted one of the country’s finest traditional jazz bands. And this probably isn’t in any dispute at all.

    For well over two decades the Savannah Jazz Band has been flying the flag on the British and European jazz scene, and beyond. Wherever else they have appeared, in Holland. Denmark, Germany, Finland, Majorca and beyond, in Canada and America, the lads have easily added to their legion of dedicated fans.

    Humphrey Lyttelton once described the band as “totally professional, one of the very best in the business.” Praise indeed, from a man who knows what he’s talking about.

    Naturally, the band has been forced into adapting to change over the years, but it is a tribute to their dedication, shrewd replacements and a general willingness to rebuild that today, most; say, they are playing as well as ever.

    The admiration between the band and the constant stream of musicians queuing up to guest with drummer leader John Meehan and the boys is mutual. The band’s music is inspired by the legendary Ken Colyer. Yet, there’s a passion and a drive which makes the Savannah quite inimitable.

    Their fans reckon it’s due to a perfect blend of musicianship, remarkable cohesion, jazz craft and musical values. Added to this is the knack of catering for Dixieland as well as the basic New Orleans jazz tastes to appease both the casual and serious listener. It works well.

    “We keep on playing and the people keep coming” says leader Meehan, “so we must be doing something right.”. The band has been doing it right for well over 25 years and there’s no sign yet of any let up..

    Demand for the band’s music has prompted sixteen recordings, eleven live concerts and five in the upstairs room of a pub at Golcar, in the hills high above Huddersfield.

    Lake Records’ chief Paul Adams first met up with the band some fifteen years ago. “I’d heard rumours of them before that, but nothing I could really pin down” says Paul. ‘It had been an average, run-of-the-mill jazz weekend in a large ballroom and I was definitely restless. Then the Savannah took the stage. I remember thinking that’s more like it…. I think I’ve felt the same ever since‘.

    The Savannah Jazz Band at Eagley Jazz Club – 7/7/03

    Paul Adams has spent a quarter of a century recording and he says “honestly, working with the Savannah is always one of the easiest and enjoyable jobs I do. They deliver the music honestly with conviction and never lose sight of the fact that the audience is there to be entertained. The proof of their popularity is in their large following and healthy album sales”.

    “I once described them as one of the best bands with their chosen style. I stand by that statement”.

    The love affair between them has continued unabated ever since. Humphrey Lyttelton and Paul Adams can’t both be wrong.

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