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The monthly Tea Break is a series of short, fun items in What's New Magazine
that also gives jazz musicians an opportunity to update us with what they are doing.


Mike Pointon (Trombone) - April 2018


Mike Pointon


Trombonist Mike Pointon was born in London. He started out on piano and trumpet but then switched to his preferred instrument, the trombone. His experience with UK jazz bands is extensive. After gigging with the young Blue Crow Jazzmen and Perdido Street Six in Croydon, he formed his own Jazzmen as well as playing with the Salutation Brass Band, Kid Martyn’s Ragtime Band with Sammy Rimington and with whom he toured with such New Orleans greats as George Lewis, Capt. John Handy, Kid Thomas and Alton Purnell. He also played with the San Jacinto Jazzmen, the New Teao Brass band, Uncle John Renshaw’s Jazzband, Keith Smith’s Climax Jazzband, Barry Martyn’s Camellia Jazz Orchestra, Dave Mills’ Jazzband, Brian Green's Jazz Band, the Lounge Lizards and Bill Brunskill’s Band.

For a year he played with his own Quartet in Belgium working with the Cotton City Jazz Band of Ghent, with whom he once backed the legendary Mezz Mezzrow; worked with Albert Nicholas and recorded with Paul Closset’s Dixie Gamblers. He played in Paris with Les Haricots Rouges; toured the Gulf States with the British All Stars; worked with Jump Jive and Wail and the European Classic Jazz Band, toured Northern Ireland in 1989 with Wild Bill Davison, Art Hodes and John Petters’ All Stars and toured and recorded with Hot Stuff with Dick Charlesworth. Mike also played at a Louis Armstrong tribute concert in Hungary more recently with Satchmo’s last clarinettist Joe Muranyi, and appeared with Clive Wilson’s New Orleans Serenaders on their last two UK tours. He has often guested with the Apex Jazz band in Belfast and played regularly with Dick Laurie’s Elastic Band.


[Here is a video from 1994 of Mike playing Heebie Jeebies, Chattanooga Stomp and Four Five Times with the Swedish Jazz Kings / European Classic Jazzband [Bent Persson (clarinet); Mike Pointon (trombone, vocals), Tomas Ornberg (clarinet, alto sax) ? Ray Smith (piano) unknown (banjo) Bo Juhlin (tuba) ].





Ken Colyer biography




In his early days, Mike deputised with Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen and worked with his All Stars in later years. Together with Ray Smith, Mike has written a biography of Ken, Goin' Home. The book won a Parliamentary Jazz Award in 2010. Mike and Ray have recently completed a new book: Bill Russell And The New Orleans Jazz Revival based on interviews with the great historian of New Orleans jazz whose recordings of such legendary figures as Bunk Johnson and George Lewis were a major influence on the development of post-war jazz in Britain.

Mike still plays regularly, writes for magazines such as Just Jazz, New Orleans Music and Hot News and has presented documentaries on radio and television. When the Ken Colyer Trust was active, Mike used to do the interviews of some of the top players and he still puts together material for release on Upbeat Records.







[Part of a 2000 BBC Documentary about Henry Red Allen by Mike Pointon with John Chilton introducing Red Allen's Algiers Bounce].





Mike dropped by for a tea break .....

Hi Mike, tea or coffee?

Coffee – espresso, please.


Milk and sugar?

No, no sugar thanks.


Apart from playing trombone, you seem to spend some time writing for different journals as well as books. How is the balance these days between playing and writing? What are you writing at the moment?

I’ve just completed a book with my friend, pianist Ray Smith with whom I collaborated on a biography of Ken Colyer some time ago. This current one is called Bill Russell and the New Orleans Jazz Revival, based on interviews with Russell who played a significant part in creating interest Ken Colyer 50 years onin New Orleans music in the 1940s. He recorded many black jazzmen who inspired our young musicians like Colyer, Barber and others to develop their version of it in the '50s and '60s, much of which became known as `trad’…


That sounds like an interesting piece of research, let us know when it's available. You are something of an aficionado on Ken Colyer. Do you have a favourite memory of the man – or of an occasion with him?

I knew Ken for many years, having first played with him as a teenage `dep’ - I think probably I recall his band’s first impact on me as a would-be teenage jazz musician most vividly, leading me to learn more about New Orleans music and eventually to work with several key figures from New Orleans such as George Lewis (who I first saw with Ken’s band on his visit to London in 1957) and Albert Nicholas.

Ken Colyer 50 Years On -
Master of Ceremonies: Mike Pointon



Hob Nob, Bourbon, Garibaldi or digestive biscuit?

Garibaldi - as I love Italy!


Apart from Ken, if you could ask two past jazz musicians to join us for the tea break, who would you invite?

Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington.


What would you ask them?

I’d just sit listening to these great pioneering rivals talking together!


Jazz is always subject to change. Do you think it is still ‘alive and well’? Do you think that polarisation that happened between ‘Modern Jazz’ and Trad Jazz’ in the ‘50s and ‘60s is still there?

I think jazz is alive and well but the so-called `educators’ should give equal coverage to the earlier styles as they do to later ones, as teachers of classical music do, or youngsters will never get a chance to hear it and polarisation will persist. Radio is partly guilty for this as the few younger musician playing earlier styles never get broadcasts, nor does Chris Barber, still leading a fine band at 87 and who deserves wider recognition for what he has accomplished over the years in the fields of jazz and blues.


Despite some naysayers, it seems to me that Trad bands can still draw an audience. There are also some young musicians who play traditional and contemporary jazz. I have been to some gigs specially played for children to introduce them to jazz. Looking back, are there ways we can bring jazz and its history more to young people?

Proper teaching would help. Keith Nichols at the Royal Academy of Music is one of the few who does today. Keith coaches young musicians in the earlier styles and stages concerts regularly celebrating such influential bands as Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson and Cab Calloway.

Luckily, there are also some younger musicians such as clarinettist Adrian Cox  keeping the New Orleans tradition alive with his tribute to the great New Orleans pioneer Edmond Hall.


Here is a video of Adrian Cox and his Hot Quintet playing Swing That Music at the Gunton Jazz Festival in September 2017.
[Adrian Cox (clarinet), Peter Horsfall (trumpet), Simon Read (bass), Gethin Jones (drums), Joe Webb (piano)].





The Globe Hackney




What gigs have you played recently?

I share my time between doing guest spots on various UK jazz festivals which feature traditional jazz but which in general attract `mature’ audiences, and in Europe where, due in part to regular radio exposure of the music, there are audiences of all ages. I also, as many jazz musicians playing traditional jazz do, play local gigs. One of the most pleasant for a Londoner like me, is to perform at The Globe, Hackney regularly where the publican and its audience appreciate our style of music.






What have you got coming up this year? Are you still putting things together for Upbeat Recordings?

I'll be playing at several festivals during the year for drummer John Petters who organises his jazz weekends well with a variety of styles. I’m also still compiling and producing various CDs for Upbeat which, now I’m not regularly presenting documentaries on jazz for Radio 3, enables me to keep my hand in, perhaps in a more permanent way. I still often take part in the shows that the admirable jazz broadcaster Walter Love presents every Sunday evening - 'Jazz Club' for BBC Radio Ulster, the only national replacement for the much-missed Humphrey Lytttelton and Campbell Burnap’s shows.


[Here is a video of Mike with John Petters' Band playing All The Girls Go Crazy, in a tribute to Ken Colyer at the William Shakespeare Jazz'n'Swing Festival in Straford upon Avon on Sunday 14th November, 2010].




Who else have you heard recently that we should listen out for?

Listen out for a promising young band called The Old Hat Jazz Band now appearing at various clubs and festivals.

Versatile guitarist/banjoist/vocalist Spats Langham is also doing a wonderful job in a vintage style with his popular group Hot Fingers, paying affectionate homage to many key figures of the 20s from Ukulele Ike and Lonnie Johnson to the ever- popular Al Bowlly.   



[Here is the Old Hat Jazz Band (William Scott (clarinet); Michael Soper (trumpet); Joe Webb (piano); Louis Thomas (bass);
Lizy Exell (drums) playing Ledra Street Stomp].





Another biscuit?

Yes please!


Mike Pointon



Utah Teapot



Bass player Ron Drakeford writes:

'The 'Lounge Lizards'. This, initially anyway, was an ad hoc group of musicians put together for certain gigs. My involvement was for a New Year wedding up in Beighton near Sheffield, for Tom Stagg's wedding. His brother Bill got us together for the gig in the early sixties and it snowed all the way up from London to Derbyshire. We stopped off en route in West Bridgford, Nottingham for a break at my brother's house. Personnel  on the gig were, Mike Pointon (trombone),  John Defferary (clarinet), Jim Holmes (trumpet), Bill Stagg (banjo) and yours truly (string bass). Drums were provided courtesy  of Tom Stagg's father-in-law, Len. Several gigs were played over the few days up there including local pubs and clubs apart from the wedding reception itself. All went down a bomb! The Lounge Lizards name was coined by John Defferary according to Mike. As an aside, on New Year's Eve whilst awaiting for things to get underway, another local group got stuck in the snow with their bandwagon and we all helped give them a push to get them going. Group leader was Dave Berry. As far as I can recall it was Dave Berry and the Dingles, with Mike being quick off the mark saying the leader must be Dingleberry! Mike and I have kept in touch since the mid fifties when we used to frequent the Fighting Cocks and stand in with Bill Brunskill's band and learn the trade - so to speak. He also made an interesting choice of Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington from my perspective as I would have chosen them too! Great minds eh?'


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