If my postings here have been a bit thin on the ground lately, it’s because as well as my day-job, I’ve been playing with the very busy ‘Zenith Hot Stompers’, a fine traditional jazz band established in 1963 and based in the Midlands.
It’s a great honour to be playing with the Zeniths, even though the circumstances that led to this were not happy: their regular drummer (and de facto leader) Derek Bennett, was diagnosed with leukemia. I’m very pleased to be able to report that Derek has been responding well to the horrible chemo, and is now in remission. But he’s still too weak to return to his rightful place behind the traps, so in the meanwhile Zenith fans are having to put up with yours truly.
I’d nearly forgotten just how joyous and wholesome good trad jazz can be. I’ve also had to brush up on Jelly Roll Morton and his breaks, “spanish tinge” interludes and double-time moments – all of which the Zeniths specialise in. This is both an entertaining band and a serious jazz outfit: they’ve backed the likes of Humph, Wally Fawkes, Chris Barber and Wild Bill Davison in their time.
I thought they’d have one or two Youtube clips up there, but apparently not. So to get a flavour of the kind of thing we’re doing, here’s a clip about the father of British trad jazz, George Webb who died in March of this year. I think it tells you something about the warmth and solidarity that is felt by these musicians towards their own: I hope when the time comes, that I get half such a good send-off: