Jazz Portrait: Vocalion’s Sam Weller, Trombone, & Mark Alexander, Drums

Jazz painting of Mark Alexander on drums and Sam Weller on trombone

Medway based Vocalion Jazz Band led by Sam Weller is a great favourite with Kent’s traditional jazz fans. In this acrylic portrait Sam is playing alongside Vocalion drummer Mark Alexander at
The George in Shalmsford Street, Canterbury in May, 2011.

Fine Art print of Mark Alexander and Sam Weller.

Trombone and Drums
Trad at The George, Vocalion style,
Sam on ‘bone, Mark on drums,
Playing with guile,
Good reason for fans to linger a while.

Jazz&Jazz Copyright © 2011 Peter M Butler. All rights reserved.

I write a poem to accompany each fine art print of my jazz paintings and this simple four line stanza captures Vocalion’s prowess.

Fine Art Giclée Prints of this portrait are available, with or without my descriptive poem. Simply email: [email protected] to place your order.

A Very Mean Sax: Jazz Portrait In Memory of Vocalion’s Ivan Gandon

I was truly saddened to read Pete Lay’s obituary to Ivan Gandon in the pages
of the September, 2018, issue of Just Jazz Magazine.

[Read more…]

A Very Mean Sax: Jazz Portrait of Vocalion’s Ivan Gandon

Acrylic Jazz Portrait of Vocalion’s Ivan Gandon

One of jazz’s grand characters, this portrait of Ivan Gandon captures him playing sax with the Medway, Kent, based Vocalion Band led by Sam Weller back in 2011.

Not only that, he also plays clarinet, but you should hear the grit in his voice on vocals, especially in his own rendition of the lyrics to Tiger Rag! Without doubt, this is one of my favourite jazz paintings.

Fine Art Print of Jazz Portrait of Ivan Gandon

A Very Mean Sax
Beneath the rim of his familiar cap
Ivan’s won fame
For a very mean sax.
Gandon by name,
A gentleman by nature,
Yet with his grit on vocals
Ivan growls like a cat.

‘Jazz&Jazz’ Copyright © 2011 Peter M Butler. All rights reserved

Fine Art Giclée Prints of this portrait are available, with or without my descriptive poem. Simply email: [email protected] to place your order and help support jazz.

Ramsgate Seaside Shuffle Jazz Portraits

In 2011 I was asked to paint jazz portraits of musicians from local bands booked for Ramsgate Seaside Shuffle for display during the festival. These included:

Fine art print of jazz painting “Trombone and Drums”

Trombone and Drums
Trad at The George, Vocalion style,
Sam on ‘bone, Mark on drums,
Playing with guile,
Good reason for fans to linger a while.

The Vocalion Band, led by Sam Weller, hails from Medway, Kent, and is a favourite with trad jazz fans. In this acrylic jazz portrait Sam is playing alongside drummer Mark Alexander at The George in Shalmsford Street, Chartham.
‘Art & Verse’ Copyright © 2011 Peter M Butler. All rights reserved

A Very Mean Sax. Fine art print of jazz portrait of Ivan Gandon

A Very Mean Sax
Beneath the rim of his familiar cap
Ivan’s won fame
For a very mean sax.
Gandon by name,
A gentleman by nature,
His grit on vocals
Puts the best to shame.

One of jazz’s grand characters, Ivan Gandon plays sax and clarinet with the Medway, Kent, based Vocalion Band led by Sam Weller. This is one of my favourite jazz paintings.
‘Art & Verse’ Copyright © 2011 Peter M Butler. All rights reserved

Fine art print of Jazz Portrait of Gerry Birch

Jazz at The George
Gerry hot wired,
Sousaphone fully fired,
For Jazz at The George
Intense, inspired.

Gerry Birch hails from East Kent where he repairs brass instruments and leads his own band, The Stour Valley Jazzmen. A friendly setting for jazz paintings, The George in Shalmsford Street, Chartham, Kent, is a regular venue for his trad jazz club.
Copyright © 2011 Peter M Butler. All rights reserved

Laurie Palmer, drummer with Burt Butler’s Jazz Pilgrims, commissioned this jazz portrait of him on drums during the festival.

Jazz Portrait of Laurie Palmer on drums with Burt Butler’s Jazz Pilgrims

Drums on the Prom
Bass Drum, Snare Drum,
Cymbals and Tom
Full regalia on the prom
Laurie Palmer takes Stage One.

The jazz drummer is usually obscured back stage behind the trumpets, trombones and saxophones, yet he sets the beat for the band. But playing with Burt Butler’s Jazz Pilgrims harbourside in Ramsgate, Kent, during the 2011 Seaside Shuffle Trad Jazz Festival, for his jazz portrait Laurie Palmer starred front stage, his drum kit on full display.
‘Art & Verse’ Copyright © 2011 Peter M Butler. All rights reserved.

Fine Art Giclée Prints of my portraits are available, with or without my descriptive poem. Simply email: [email protected] to place your order and help support jazz.

Jazz ART Gallery

Welcome to my Jazz ART Gallery. Below you will find an alphabetical list of all of my current jazz portraits and prints. Each painting is hyperlinked to a Special Feature about the musicians and bands appearing on this website.

The Feature article highlights the key facts about each musician at the time the portrait was painted. It also displays the painting, the Fine Art Giclée print and the verse. And it gives the reason why I chose to paint this particular musician or band and the inspiration behind the painting, as well as where and when the picture was first conceived.

For every portrait, I penned a poem putting into verse or prose the emotions I felt at the time. The only way to capture the emotive feelings of being in the presence of our truly wonderful musicians was to illustrate visually in vivid colour, through the medium of my choice and the strokes of my brush, the emotions that I felt in a split second of time. To then put those feelings into words, I chose to write a verse. The two are inseparable, Art and Verse, but how can they be displayed together? The solution – creating Fine Art Giclée prints was the way I chose to bring these moments to life for you to enjoy.

I hope you will take the time to explore my Jazz ART as you troll through my website. And if you also like landscapes and seascapes, then I must introduce you to Art&Verse where there are over 100 paintings, each with their own poem that I produced over 30 years ago.

If you would like to purchase any of my works – prints and/or original paintings or would like to know more about them and what I do, please email me at [email protected], I look forward to hearing from you.


A selection of my Jazz ART signed A4 and A3 Fine Art Giclée Prints, digital prints and original paintings are FOR SALE. They come with a special Certificate of Authenticity. To purchase any prints and/or paintings, please contact Peter Butler at [email protected] and I’ll reply by return.

I am in the process of putting my own Jazz ART online store on Etsy and will add a hyperlink to their site as soon as the store goes live. Thank you for taking time to visit my website and my Jazz ART Gallery.

Adrian Cox
Double Take

Amy Roberts & Adrian Cox
“Reeds in Duet”

Amy Roberts on Saxophone
“Amy’s Got Rhythm”

Annie Hawkins
“Annie on Bass

Barry Martyn
“Barry Martyn at The 100 Club”

Betty Renz
“Betty Renz Steels the Show”

Big Bill Bissonnette
“Alias B3”

Bob Thomas
“Bob Thomas of Thomcat Fame”

Brian Smith
Washboard Rhythm King”

Burt Butler
“Burt on Banjo”

Chris Marchant
“Sublime on Drums!”

Chris Tyle on Cornet
Head Honcho with Style

Christine Woodcock on Trombone
“Mysterious Lady”

Cuff Billet
“Cuff Billet on Trumpet”

Dave Arnold on Drums
“The Clash of the Cymbals, The Beat of the Drums”

Dave Bartholomew at The Palm Court,
New Orleans
“Let the Good Times Roll!”

Dave Rance’s Rockin’ Chair Band
“Let it Rip, Dave!”

Dom Pipkin
“Dom Pipkin Pumps Piano”

Dr Michael White

Emile Martyn 
“Emile on Drums”

Emile Van Pelt and Eric Webster
“Honky Tonk Time”

Esther O’Connor
“Esther Enthralls Her Fans”

Frederic John
“Frederic John on Trombone”

Jim Hurd & John Whitehead
“Frog Islanders!”

Gerry Birch on Sousaphone
“Jazz at The George”

Gordon Lawrence

Grand Marshall Jimbo Heads the Parade
“Good Time Jazz”

Gregg Stafford
“He Der Man!”

Hugh Masekela
“The Coal Train”

Ivan Gandon on Saxophone
“A Very Mean Sax”

John Pickett on Trumpet
“Plays Trumpet for Recreation”

Johnny Rodgers on Saxophone
“Passion Personified”

Joshua & Sandra Walker
“Neighbours Well Met”

Katja Toivola on trombone at Donna’s Bar, New Orleans

Keith Minter
Measured Beat and Rolling Peal

Laurie Fray on Clarinet
“The Pinnacle of Passion”

Laurie Palmer on Drums
“Drums on the Prom”

Leroy Jones at Donnas Bar 2010
“Keeper of the Flame”

Lionel Ferbos, Louisiana Jazz Legend
“Long live Jazz, Long live Lionel Ferbos”

Mike Pointon on Trombone
The Trombonist

Pete Lay
“Pete Lay on Drums”

Pete Smith on Sousaphone
“Come Join the Parade”

Ray Colyer on Trumpet
“Take it away, Ray”

Roger Nicholls & Pat Elms
“A Strummin’ and a Drummin’”

Sam Weller & Mark Alexander of Vocalion
“Trombone and Drums”

Sammy Rimington on Clarinet
“The Clarinetist”

Sammy Rimington
Take Two Sammys

Sammy Rimington & Amy Roberts Saxophone Duet
Eyes on the Master

The Fallen Heroes – Tony Rico, Paul Bonner & Ben Martyn
“Sax, Trumpet and Bass”

Tim Curtis on Sousaphone
“Tim on Tuba”

Tony Cunningham on Trombone
“Tony Cunningham Trombonist”

Tony O’Sullivan on Trumpet
“Spotlight on the Trumpet”

Trefor Williams on Double Bass
“Double Bass Ace”

Ramsgate Seaside Shuffle Welcomes Back Vocalion Saturday 28th January

Venue: The Ramsgate Small Boat Owners Club
Guildford Lawns, Ramsgate, CT11 9AY
Time: 11.30am for Noon
Admission: £12.00 including buffet
Contact: 01227 361238

Vocalion Jazz Band Stars: 

Dennis Jenkins

Dennis Jenkins

Jan Bryce

Trumpet: Dennis Jenkins (leader + vocals);
Clarinet/Alto Sax: Pete Curtis;
Trombone: Jan Bryce;
Banjo: Kenny Sanderson;
Bass: Trefor Williams;
Drums: Pete Morgan


Pete Curtis and Peter Leonard

Pete Curtis (left)

Kenny Sanderson

Kenny Sanderson

Trefor Williams

Trefor Williams


Sam Weller’s Vocalion Jazz Band circa 2012 – Dennis Jenkins centre on trumpet.

1 Sam Weller first founded Vocalion. Dennis took over as leader when Sam retired.
2 Jan Bryce is the son of Owen and Iris Bryce. I met up with Iris again this past weekend at The Walnut Tree Jazz Club where Owen last played.


Memories of Vocalion in Earlier Days

Jazz&Jazz Portrait of Sam Weller and Mark Alexander

Jazz&Jazz Portrait of Vocalion’s characterful Saxophonist Ivan Gandon

Peter M Butler
Editor & Proprietor Jazz&Jazz

(Photos & Portraits © Peter M Butler, Jazz&Jazz)

Vocalion Mesmerise Fans on a Balmy Seaside Shuffle Festival Afternoon

L to R: Ivan Gandon, Mark Alexander, Kenny Sanderson, Dennis Jenkins, Sam Weller, Gerry Birch

Sunday, 14th July arrived and after a morning session in the sun with Bert Butler’s Jazz Pilgrims alongside Ramsgate’s picturesque harbour it was time to relax in The Small Boat Owners Club and enjoy Vocalion’s alluring tones.

Dennis Jenkins

Not two weeks earlier I had met up with trumpeter Dennis Jenkins in the 100 Club on Oxford Street.

Dennis lives in Faversham and we spoke about the days when Vocalion played at The George in Shalmer Street before, like so many other public houses, they shut their doors on jazz.

I told Dennis how much I looked forward to seeing him with Vocalion in Ramsgate where Seaside Shuffle are keeping jazz on the map.

Coming to Jazz&Jazz soon: Jazz at The Star, Old Wives Lees, East Kent with Gerry Birch.

Sam Weller and Gerry Birch

View Jazz&Jazz portraits of Seaside Shuffle musicians Mark Alexander, Sam Weller, Ivan Gandon and Gerry Birch.

Ivan Gandon & Kenny Sanderson

Dennis Jenkins & Mark Alexander

Festival Star Betty Renz keeps Vocalion on their toes.














Photos © Peter M Butler, Jazz&Jazz

Vocalion’s traditional finale

An Interview with Bob Thomas of Thomcat Fame

Bob Thomas was born in 1931 in Clerkenwell, London, within the sound of Bow Bells. He had three brothers and two sisters. The Thomas’s were a highly talented musical family, so it wasn’t long before Bob became proficient both on piano and piano accordion. Encouraged by his father, Charles, who played the concertina when not on duty as a London bus driver, Bob was soon emulating his three older brothers, Ron, Arthur and Charles on keyboard before honing his musical skills on bugle and drums in local The Boys Brigade band.

During the Christmas break I was privileged to interview Bob about his lifelong love of jazz but I hadn’t anticipated the depths we would delve.

Peter Butler:
 Bob, would you say your father and brothers had a love for jazz?

Bob Thomas: Definitely. Each of them had their own accordions. The house was full of them along with a piano! Later I became a piano tuner and remain so for friends to this day. We also had a gramophone and a large collection of jazz records which I was forbidden to touch. But when I was home alone I simply couldn’t resist them. It was my brother Ron who really got me involved in jazz. I enjoy all types of music but from those early days jazz topped the bill.

Peter's acrylic portrait of Bob

BT: I was principle drummer with the Boys Brigade Band but I played bugle with them too. Then I joined the Mission Band with the local church and they performed their own rendition of “While we were marching through Georgia”. That’s when I got hooked on trumpet. Later Acker Bilk made that number into one of his hit records.

PB: So you have wonderful memories of those early days?

BT: Indeed I do! And especially of taking the pledge!

PB: Taking the pledge?

BT: Yes! Whilst with the Mission Band I pledged never to touch a drop of the hard stuff! And then I became a jazz musician! Imagine that! But then, I was only thirteen at the time.

PB: And after that?

BT: I got my call up papers in 1949 and joined the Army. After a spell at Aldershot I was stationed at Folkestone in Kent.

PB: Did jazz take a back seat during your army years?

BT: Far from it. I met up with a new soul mate – Titch Large, a trumpet player from Liverpool, also stationed in Folkestone. We hit all the local jazz spots together and especially Sunday Jazz at the Leas Cliff Hall where the Jan Ralfini Big Band starred. Titch Large played with The Blue Magnolia Jazz Band in Liverpool.

PB: And that’s when you took up the trumpet in earnest?

BT: Yes, thereabouts. Jerry Salisbury, Acker Bilk’s bass player, sold me my first trumpet. To tell the truth, it was a bit the worse for wear as, in a rush, he had bashed it on a London bus stop! In the late 1950s I played along with my brother Ron at The Black Cat in Mornington Crescent.

After that Pat Halcox, Chris Barber’s trumpeter, gave me private tuition. That was a huge privilege. He even sold me a trumpet and not just any old trumpet. It was a Doc Severinson Getson trumpet! But tragically it was stolen. I foolishly left it in my car outside the now demolished Wagon & Horses pub on the old A1 just outside London Colney in Hertfordshire. But I still have the mouthpiece!

PB: So you have brushed shoulders with the greats?

BT: Career wise, jazz has been a sideline, but a hugely important sideline in my life. After leaving the army I went into the motor trade and was fortunate enough to have my own garages in Mornington Crescent, Camden Town and then in Potters Bar. All of these locations were hotbeds of jazz. Stars such as Terry and Paddy Lightfoot and Acker Bilk were neighbours of mine in Potters Bar, as were Tucker Finlayson and John Richardson, Acker’s bass player and drummer. So I became their “garage man” and hence formed strong associations.

PB: As an aside how would you rate, for instance, Terry Lightfoot and Acker Bilk alongside Ken Colyer?

Above and above left: Promotional flyer designed and produced by Jazz&Jazz for Bob Thomas & The Thomcats.

BT: All jazz greats, but perhaps Ken Colyer was more a jazz purist. Then again, Terry and Acker are just as much purists in their own right and have probably done and still are doing more to keep jazz alive.

PB: Which bands did you play with?

BT: I joined The New Eureka Jazz Band in Walthamstow when I lived in Potters Bar and played trumpet alongside Tony Weston on reeds, Pete McCullough on trombone, Dave Ufland, drums, and Mike Farrell on bass and banjo.

I also have wonderful memories of playing with The Salisbury Stompers in Barnet for seven years when in was led by Bernie Tyrrell of wry humour and Jazz Guide fame. Bernie on drums, Pete McCullough on trombone, Jimmy Hurd on reeds, John Softly on banjo, Nobby Clark on bass and Shirley Longhurst, vocals. I recall one gig when during the interval I mistakenly used the ladies’ loo and got trapped in the cubicle by a couple of ladies directly outside chatting about lingerie. I heard the band strike up and dashed out with a curt “excuse me”. “Where’ve you  been?” hissed Pete McCullough. I told him and he promptly seized the mike and announced to the fans “Bob’s been dallying with two damsels in the ladies’ loo!” Or words to that effect! Happy days!

In the early 1960s I formed the Crescent City Jazz Band in Potters Bar with Martin Cole on banjo, Dave Maber on bass, Julian Greatrex on reeds and Dave Ufland on drums.

PB: But a lot of those old jazz venues and pubs have gone now, including The Salisbury in Barnet, The Red Lion in Hatfield and The Cherrytree in Welwyn Garden City. A few years ago you decided to do something about this decline.

The Thomcats at The Long & The Short Arm, December 2008

BT: Yes, in 2000 I formed Bob Thomas and The Thomcats along with Richard Sharp who played bass. Richard later moved to Dover in Kent. The Thomcats played at regular venues including O’Neil’s Irish Club in Luton, Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire and Brocket Hall Golf Club when Lord McLaurin (formerly Chairman of Tescos and of The England and Wales Cricket Board) was president. The band also played weekly gigs at The Long and The Short Arm pub in Lemsford Village just outside Welwyn Garden City but sadly, as with so many other pubs, they no longer stage jazz. You painted my portrait on trumpet at The Long and Short in an endeavour to help keep jazz going in the pub.

PB: But the Thomcats are still performing?

The Thomcats at Jazz on the Island, June 2011

BT: Yes indeed, and we have a number of gigs lined up for 2012 including The Hertfordshire County Show at Redbourn in June, Jazz on The Island for Hertfordshire Action on Disability in Lemsford Village also in June, and a Sunday Lunchtime Jazz function on at Peterborough Conservative Club. Last year we played at The Hatfield House Craft Fair, The Shuttleworth Collection in Old Warden, Biggleswade, and at The Knebworth Festival and in all likelihood will do so again this year. We’ve also been booked for a wedding in September but although we do jazz parades at funerals, we’d prefer them to be very few and far between.

And who knows, perhaps we’ll be booked for a gig at the latest Welwyn Garden City venue, The Peartree Monday Jazz Club. Or even, dare I say, at a jazz revival at The Long and Short.

PB: Thanks, Bob. I want to end with something about your adventures on the Thames River Boats in the 1970s

BT: Great days, not to be missed. I played trumpet on the Bray boats, the Windsor boats and Maidenhead Steam Navigation Company boats, mostly with Len’s Seattle Six alongside Len himself on banjo, Clive Barton on trombone, Dave Maber on bass, Dave Ufland on drums and Tony Cam on reeds. Tony was the nephew of Sydney Cam who designed the Hurricane fighter plane.

Tony Cam on clarinet, Len Chambers, leader of Len's Seattle Six, on banjo, Bob Thomas on trumpet and Pete McCullough on trombone at a Barnet Jazz Festival.

Len Chambers was a great friend and passed on to me his huge catalogued collection of jazz records which I now have securely stashed away. The photo is of me on trumpet along with Tony Cam on clarinet, Len on banjo and Pete McCullough on trombone, It was taken at a Barnet Jazz Festival.

On another occasion at The Christopher in Eaton during the Windsor Festival, Lonnie Donegan’s daugther took the mike from me and performed a wonderful rendition of ‘Tin Roof Blues’.

But the most dramatic show was with Sam Weller’s band on the Maidenhead Steam Navigation boat, The Belle, when the entire canopy collapsed on the musicians. But the band played on. That’s jazz!

You can find out more about Bob Thomas and The Thomcats on Jazz&Jazz by clicking on the following link: https://www.jazzandjazz.com/2011/04/bob-thomas-the-thomcats/ . Or you can telephone Bob on 01707 373227 or email him at: [email protected]


JazzandJazz.com is dedicated to promoting jazz and more jazz for Jazz Bands, Jazz Musicians and Jazz Fans. Our aim is to raise the profile of jazz and to develop a sounding board for jazz by inviting bands, musicians and fans to share news and views about the jazz scene.


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JazzandJazz.com aims to become a force for jazz by galvanising jazz fans everywhere into a fully fledged jazz revival by getting out and supporting their local clubs and established touring bands. Also by encouraging the newly emerging younger generation of jazz fans to swing along with happy jazz performed by recently launched younger bands and musicians. Fans’ comments on any of the featured items are welcomed.


JazzandJazz.com features posts and videos from Jazz&Jazz YouTubes.
Launched in 2014 but promoted in earnest only in recent months, as of November 2015, Jazz&Jazz YouTubes includes 300 videos with over 110,000 views increasing daily. Videoed at Clubs, Theatres, Concerts and Festivals and edited by myself to highest iMovie standards they include top musicians and bands with special emphasis on our emerging new generation jazz bands. The videos can be viewed in High Definition.


JazzandJazz.com features the Jazz Art of artist and poet, Peter Mark Butler, presenting the dazzling world of jazz through his collection of jazz paintings, jazz portraits and jazz poems. His jazz art reflects his involvement in the jazz scene which prompted him to launch JazzandJazz.com to help champion jazz, raise the profile of New Orleans Revivalist Jazz and keep it alive and thriving.

Fine art prints of the jazz portraits are available for sale with payment via PayPal or private arrangement. Peter also accepts commissions. Should you wish to purchase a jazz print or commission a jazz portrait please email Peter at: [email protected]

Scroll down for INDEX OF JAZZ ART


JazzandJazz.com also features Peter’s ever growing portfolio of  jazz photographs which are available for promotional materials for Jazz Bands, Jazz Clubs, Jazz Festivals and musicians. Selections of these photographs have been used in producing online promos, ads, brochures and flyers for the jazz community, some of which are displayed throughout the site for publicity purposes. Should you be interested in any of the photographs, either as prints or for promotions, just email: [email protected]


Amy Roberts on Saxophone

Amy Roberts and Adrian Cox

Annie Hawkins on Bass

Barry Martyn at the 100 Club

Brian Smith, Washboard Rhythm King

Betty Renz Steels the Show

Bob Thomas on Trumpet

Burt Butler on Banjo

Chris Marchant on Drums

Chris Tyle on Cornet

Christine Woodcock on Trombone

Cuff Billet on Trumpet

Dave Arnold on Drums 

Dave Bartholomew at The Palm Court, New Orleans

Dave Rance’s Rockin’ Chair Band

Dom Pipkin Pumps Piano

Dr Michael White and Gregg Stafford

Emile Martyn on Drums

Emile Van Pelt and Eric Webster

Esther O’Connor, Songstress Supreme

Gerry Birch on Sousaphone

Grand Marshall Jimbo Heads the Parade

Hugh Masekela

Ivan Gandon on Saxophone

Jim Hurd and John Whitehead, Frog Islanders

John Pickett on Trumpet 

Johnny Rodgers on Saxophone

Laurie Fray on Clarinet

Laurie Palmer on Drums

Lionel Ferbos, Louisiana Jazz Legend

Mike Pointon on Trombone

Pete Lay on Drums

Pete Smith on Sousaphone

Ray Colyer on Trumpet

Sammy Rimington & Amy Roberts Saxophone Duet

Sam Weller and Mark Alexander of Vocalion

Trefor Williams on Double Bass

Tim Curtis on Sousaphone

Tony Cunningham on Trombone

Big Bill Bissonnette

Leroy Jones at Donnas Bar 2010

Tony O’Sullivan on Trumpet


Jazz&Jazz welcomes link exchanges. This can be done by using the simple text link such as https://www.jazzandjazz.com/.

Peter M Butler
Editor & Proprietor Jazz&Jazz