The Covent Garden Marching Band – “A Weird and Wonderful Occasion!”

The Covent Garden Marching Band

Not so long ago Jazz Marching Bands were once all the rage but in recent years they’ve declined in popularity. Yet nowadays they are making something of a comeback, not just at jazz festivals but also at various other events.

On Thursday, 20th June, photographer Laurence Cumming took some wonderful shots for me of The Ken Colyer Legacy New Orleans Jazz Band at The 100 Club  and after their gig told me he was heading for Covent Garden to take photos of The Covent Garden Jazz Marching Band. I asked him if he could send a selection to me and he was as good as his word.

Digby Fairweather and Julian Mark Stringle

Then John Keen put me in touch with Tim Wacher, who organises and plays trombone with the band, to fill me in on the significance of the event.

So a bit late I admit (apologies Laurence and Tim but there’s been a lot going in the jazz world these past few weeks) I am now able to feature The Covent Garden Marching Band on Jazz&Jazz.

Digby with John Keen

Centre stage – Emile Martyn on Drums









In Tim’s own words: “The Covent Garden Jazz Marching Band has been taking part in the annual Covent Garden Rent Ceremony for 16 years. It is a somewhat unique one off group, starting as a six piece but now has grown to some fifteen. The event takes place every June – next year 19th June.

Covent Garden’s Town Cryer

“Our role is to musically accompany the Trustees of the Covent Garden Area Trust (a public interest group which has had a role in looking after Covent Garden since 1988) and Town Cryer in a march around The Piazza finishing up in the North Hall. After a break we follow this up with a shortish concert in the Southern Courtyard in the Market.

John Keen, second row, dynamic on trumpet.

“For more details about the Rent Ceremony you might like to look at the Trust’s website: It looks ancient but isn’t really. The rents for the Trust’s leasehold interests (payable to the freeholders) are posies of flowers and two red apples instead of peppercorns: we just provide the music. It’s quite a big sound under the Covent Garden Market roof and a lot of fun.”

When you visit the Trust’s side click on The Rent Ceremony  to read more about this “weird and wonderful occasion”!

Thanks, Tim and Laurence, I must put Thursday, 19th June in my diary for next year.

 Peter M Butler
Editor and Owner of Jazz&Jazz

Group shot of The Marching Band Musicians. Trumpets/Cornets: Digby Fairweather, John Keen, Chris Hodgkins and John Wacher. Reeds: Julian Mark Stringle (tenor and clarinet), John Evans (clarinet) and Eric Gilchrist (alto). Trombones: Chris Gower, Phil Brown and Tim Wacher. Banjo: Alan Bradley. Sousaphone: John Beecham. Side Drum: Don Cook. Bass Drum: Emile Martyn. This year we were delighted to welcome back John Barnes for some vocals (John had previously played tenor). The Town Cryer is Alan Myatt. Copy courtesy of Tim Wacher. Photos courtesy of Laurence Cumming.




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