The Darktown Strutters

Jazz as it should be played

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Meet the Band

Geoff Nichols (trumpet, tenor horn, vocals). Geoff is the band’s leader and musical director. He has played with many of the jazz greats (including his close friend Acker Bilk) and was a major figure in the 1950’s traditional jazz revival, fronting the legendary Avon Cities Band for 50 years. He later led the celebrated Blue Notes for five years. Geoff recently retired to Minehead but still leads his own mainstream band Good Vibes.

Tony James (bass, vocals). Tony played trombone for over 40 years until it was stolen. Was someone trying to tell him something? As well as his own band Good Time Jazz, Tony previously played with the Quantock Jazzmen, Dr Jazz, Gentle Jazz and the London-based bands San Jacinto Jazzers and Dead Dog Stompers.

Pete Middleton (clarinet). Pete has been playing jazz for many years and was delighted to re-join his ex Dr Jazz colleagues after a 20 year break. With Bryan Halliday - one of our regular guests - he then co-led the Jazz Gents trio on saxophone and clarinet for five years, and also plays baritone horn in the West Somerset Brass Band. Pete records our gigs and produces the CDs. Has a habit of disappearing to Australia from time to time to play with several bands down-under!

John Bradley (banjo, guitar and vocals). John has led the redoubtable Exmoor Do-Dah band for the past 12 years and lives to tell the tale. Previously with the Basingstoke Jug Band and the Heddon Valley Stumblers, he is the band’s main singer and also our PA expert. Having a sunny and optimistic disposition, nothing ever bothers ‘Banjo’ John.

Colin Frechter (keyboard). A pianist but also a renowned composer and conductor, Colin has worked with many artists, including The Troggs, The Four Tops, Elaine Page, Showaddywaddy, Elton John, Take That (with Robbie Williams), Shakin Stevens, The Bay City Rollers (!)  and Brotherhood of Man. He received gold discs For the single ‘Bye Bye Baby, Goodbye’ and the LP ’Once Upon a Star’.

Tony Mann (trombone, Sousaphone). Another West Somerset Brass member (first trombone). Tony is a highly talented multi-instrumentalist. His jazz history includes lengthy service as a featured bassist with The Dart Valley Stompers. He appears at many festivals and jazz clubs throughout the UK and abroad playing with world class musicians such as Digby Fairweather , Roy Williams and Jim Fryer. Tony currently plays Sousaphone with the Roger Marks Cornish Armada and double bass with the ‘tribute to jazz’ Pedigree Jazz Band.

Regular Guest Players include:

Terry Williams (trombone, vocals). Terry is one of the West Country’s top jazz trombonists. He always has a full diary and plays with numerous bands across the country. Terry has been a member of Denny Blackmore’s Tone Valley Jazz Band for over half a century and also leads his own seven-piece band Ambassadors of Jazz who perform regularly in Clevedon and Bristol.

Bryan Halliday (clarinet and saxophone). Bryan is kept busy with the Deane Big Band and the West Newton Jazz Band. Formerly, Bryan played in the Roland Halliday Orchestra, Dr Jazz and The Right Side of the Turf.

Here they are - in all their glory

Paul McGrath (drums). Paul arrived in the west country 20 years ago and recently found a new lease of life in Watchet. He has accompanied artists such as Pete King, Alan Barnes, Mundell Lowe and Jean Toussant and enjoys playing a range of styles. He also plays cafe swing with The Night Owls and with Geoff’s Good Vibes.