Sandy Brown Jazz

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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 Whitaker - August 2019



Mike Whitaker



Mike Whitaker is a DJ playing jazz from 10Radio, a local community radio station in Somerset. Mind you, 'local' has a different meaning these days as Mike explains. Mike is not a musician, but his wide knowledge and love for jazz reflects the many years he has been listening to the music. He used to act as National Advisor for Jazz Interest Groups with the Unversity of the Third Age (U3A) and set up group events with the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Each month, Mike challenges his listeners with a question from our Jazz Quiz with a jazz CD as the prize. Click here for the 10Radio website where you can listen online.

In July, I dragged one Mike away from another 'mic' for a tea break ......


Hi Mike, put those headphones down - or do you call them 'cans'? - and take a break. Tea or coffee?

Definitely tea, ideally de-caff.


Milk and sugar?

Emphatically no sugar – I’m a Cornishman. And only the merest splodge of milk, please. Thanks. My old Cornish granny used to say that you had to cut my tea off with scissors as it came out of the pot.


So what goodies are you lining up for your next programme?

That’s on July 23rd and it’s starting to come together in my head. It’s a two-hour show. I like to start off with a bang – something like Buddy Rich’s Bugle Call Rag - and wind down over the last half hour. One of my favourite sub-genres of jazz is the ‘wee small hours’ music – you know – singer in a slinky dress, pianist in a bow tie at the Steinway and its 2.00 a.m. For that, I’m planning pianist Ehud Asherie with Hilary Gardner singing, from their album Late Set. There’ll be my usual spots – a visit to vintage corner, where I ferret in the box of 78s in the attic, maybe I’ll play Vic Lewis this time, a British band leader (and cricket fanatic) many have forgotten. I must remember those who have recently passed through the departure gate – João Gilberto (so there’ll be some Bossa) and Geoff Nicholls of the Avon Cities Band – I’ll probably play one of his more unusual numbers, maybe his take on William Boyce’s Canon. And I’ve got Bill Evans with Jim Hall, Lee Konitz with Miles Davis, Lennie Tristano, Abdullah Ibrahim, Al Casey (who was Fats Waller’s guitarist) and I’ll probably fade out with Round Midnight by contemporary guitarist Jim Yanda and his quartet…Oh, and I’ve got a track by your last tea-break guest,  Tini Thomsen's sax quartet Q4 .


I don't know whether you have seen this video of Buddy Rich with Bugle Call Rag from 1982, Mike, he clearly wasn't happy with the introduction but with the second start we can see why you would want to use it for an opener for the programme!






10 Radio logo


What’s the set up like for your radio studio. I don’t suppose you have it based on a boat in the Bristol Channel à la Radio Caroline?

Sadly no – It would be fun to base ourselves on Steepholme or Flatholme but in reality our studio is in a temporary building on the Kingsmead School site in Wiveliscombe – a small town in Somerset about 10 miles to the west of Taunton.

It must feel rather strange sitting alone talking into a microphone and not knowing whether anyone is there. As the programme is available on the internet, people can get in touch with you by email during the broadcast. That must help?

We have two groups of listeners – those in the 10 Parishes around Wiveliscombe who listen on 105.3 FM  (we are principally a community station) and those who listen on the net, on But you’re right – you don’t know who’s listening, or, indeed, if anyone is. That’s why it is so reassuring when regular listeners email in to say 'hallo' or with answers to the competition question. Many thanks, by the way, for donating the CDs for my competition.



You're welcome. So how far afield are your listeners?

All over the UK, from Inverness to Bodmin Moor. And world-wide, too. Sydney, Brisbane, Vancouver and Toronto. In Europe, I’ve had listeners in Amsterdam, Munich, Monaco, Nice, Gothenburg, Hamburg and, just once, someone called in from Rosie’s Bar on the island of Gozo. The show has two repeats – there’s the night-owl one that goes out at 2.00 a.m. on the Saturday following the live transmission. This is the one the Australians listen to, being about 11 or 12 hours ahead of us. On the subject of Australia, may I say how sorry I was to learn of the recent death of David Stevens. (I’m sure you’re mentioning his passing elsewhere in this issue). David had a show similar to mine on Station 2RRR at Gladesville New South Wales. I know David used to encourage his listeners to try to grab a bit of my show and we used to swap playlists. Our second repeat goes out on the second Thursday after the live transmission.


Do you manage to get a break during the broadcast and do you take a snack in with you? Which reminds me, I have some biscuits here – how about a Hob Nob, Bourbon or Garibaldi or two?

Many thanks, Ian. A Garibaldi would go down a treat. I loved 'squashed-fly biscuits' when I was a kid. But no, I don’t eat whilst the show is on. Crumbs in the desk, with all those delicate sliders, would dent my popularity.



The Laughing Policeman

How did you get into jazz? You seem to have a wide knowledge and presumably a mammoth record collection?

An old, round EKCO wireless set got me into jazz in the 1940s. I’m a native of Bude, in Cornwall and I used to fiddle with the dial on that old wireless, exploring strange stations like Hilversum and Athlone. One day, I found AFN (the American Forces Network in Germany). Basie and Ellington came crackling over the airwaves and that was it ! At the age of 10, I was hooked for life. My musical taste jumped straight from The Laughing Policeman and The Runaway Train to Take the A Train and One O’Clock Jump. I left school at 16 and went to London to work.

I couldn’t believe the cornucopia of music there. I’ve never been a fundamentalist – I was equally happy going to 100 Oxford Street for Chris Barber, or to the Marquee or the Flamingo for Joe Harriott or Tony Crombie. And there was no better way of passing a wet Saturday than browsing the second-hand 78s in Doug Dobell’s shop off Charing Cross Road – I’ve still got some of them (Heaven knows why – they’re virtually unplayable!)…. which answers your second question. Yes, I’ve got thousands of recordings in all formats – shellac, vinyl, cassette, CD and now downloads.



I guess you are talking about the Michael Holliday version of The Runaway Train - I wonder how many people remember that? (click here if you don't). There is a 'grown-up' tune with the same title by blues singer Shoshana Bean - a little bit different!








If you had the chance to interview a past jazz musician on the programme, who would you choose, and what would you ask them?

This is very hard. I’m not a musician so I wouldn’t want to engage Miles Davis in discourse about modal music. 10 Radio has a very broad listenership, so I’d want an entertaining talker and I’ve always had a particular interest in British jazz. It’s got to be either Humphrey Lyttelton or Ronnie Scott. Both had trenchant views on music. I’d just ask them about the ‘Greats’ they’d worked with and sit back to enjoy the anecdotes. 

No anecdotes in this video, I'm afraid, but it does give us a picture of what you are talking about - here is Ronnie Scott and his Orchestra in 1969 with Maynard Ferguson, Cleo Laine, Marion Montgomery, Vince Hill and Lita Roza - I wonder if people can name anyone in the band?





You were National Jazz Adviser for U3A Jazz groups at one time. They seem to be very active across the country, although I guess they come and go?

Yes, I held that post for about seven years and I’m still leader of the Taunton U3A jazz appreciation group. You’re right – U3A jazz appreciation groups do come and go. The chief reason for them going is the loss of the leader. Some were – still are, I guess - far too dependent on one person, and when that person wants a rest (or, given our age profile, heads for the departure lounge) nobody else will take the task on and the group folds. Overall, U3A is expanding – new ones are popping up all the time. I hope that some of those new ones will sprout a jazz appreciation group.



U3A Guildhall Study Day


The annual U3A visit you organised to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama each year – what’s that all about?

That was something I used to do as part of my national jazz adviser role. I managed to make friends with the Guildhall School of Music and their professor of jazz, Scott Stroman. U3A is about self-directed learning, so I hired a large hall for a day and Scott brought along his Guildhall Jazz Orchestra – 18 or so hugely talented young people – and he put them through their paces. We called it a 'Study Day' - it was rather like sitting in on one of Scott’s tutorials. Consequently we learned how a contemporary big band worked whilst enjoying the music. May I plug my successor’s 'Study Day'? Mike Rance of Fleet U3A has arranged a day with Alan Barnes and his band. It’s on September 17th, at Cecil Sharp House in Camden, North London. I know a number of U3A members are your subscribers, so may I please encourage them to go to the U3A national website to get details (it’s under ‘events’ and then ‘educational events’). Please support Mike, and Alan and his splendid band.


I hope people will - it sounds like a really worthwhile event for everyone involved. Do you have a programme scheduled for August that people can hear, or are you taking a summer break?

Yes, but I haven’t yet got a definite date! I am having a holiday in August and I’ve got to arrange the date around that. I should explain that there are five of us who present  'Sounds Like Jazz'  from  8.00 to 10.00 pm every Tuesday on 10 Radio, so our turns come round every five weeks (or so). Each of us has a slightly different ‘take’ on jazz, so just tune in. But if anyone specifically wants to know when I’m on, please email me.  I’m an enthusiast and I just want to share my love of this music with everyone.


How about another tea? I can put the kettle on while we listen to Robbie Williams singing 'I Don’t Want To Rock, DJ, ‘cause you’re keeping me up all night ’ - but perhaps not!! Tell you what, choose your favourite jazz musician instead. Who shall we play?

Ian, I could murder another mug of tea, but I’ll pass on Robbie Williams. Right now, I’d love another garibaldi and to hear a track from the 1982 album Two Of A Kind by singer Karin Krog and pianist Bengt Hallberg. (Karin is still with us but Bengt died in 2013) I’d like their treatment of the old Bessie Smith number ‘Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do. This really is one of my Desert Island Discs.


I think we can do that - I'll put the kettle on ....


Here are Karin Krog, Bengt Hallberg and ‘Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do




Utah Teapot


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