Total Pageviews

Bebop Spoken There

Rickie Lee Jones: "There's lots of music and not so much celebrity. I guess I'll stay here [New Orleans] for a while if it doesn't get washed away in the flood." - (The Observer 18.04.21)

Archive quotes.

The Things They Say!

Hudson Music: Lance's "Bebop Spoken Here" is one of the heaviest and most influential jazz blogs in the UK.

Rupert Burley (Dynamic Agency): "BSH just goes from strength to strength".

'606' Club: "A toast to Lance Liddle of the terrific jazz blog 'Bebop Spoken Here'"

The Strictly Smokin' Big Band included Be Bop Spoken Here (sic) in their 5 Favourite Jazz Blogs.

Postage

13,107 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 13 years ago. 526 of them this year alone and, so far, 81 this month (April 16).

Bar Manager Required

The Jazz Co-op are looking for an experienced bar manager who can be available to start when The Globe reopens in May.

Preference will be given to a suitably qualified person who lives relatively near to The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD.

Interested parties please follow this link.

Coming soon ...

April 29: Vieux Carré Jazzmen are back at The Holystone.

May 20 Maine Street Jazzmen are back at Sunniside Social Club.
May 23: Vieux Carré Hot Four are back at The Spanish City.

June 2: Vieux Carré Jazzmen are back at Cullercoats Crescent Club.
June 7: Jazz in the Afternoon are back at Cullercoats Crescent Club.

Monday, March 29, 2021

The Saratoga Jazzmen, a forgotten band - From Gordon Solomon


(Left to right: Roy Willis, Stan Martin, Gordon Solomon, Peter Gascoigne, Bill Brooks, Marshall Walker. Peter is holding the Breda Jazz Festival trophy won by the band in 1982.)

The band was formed in the late 1970's by clarinetist Barry Soulsby. Barry lived in Cramlington and managed to get a residency at the Plough pub nearby. The session ran every two weeks for about a year and initially featured Peter Gascoigne trumpet, Barry Soulsby clarinet, Brian Chester trombone, John Wheatley bass, Clive Gray banjo and Chas Coles drums. I became involved because Brian Chester was working a shift system at the DHSS in Longbenton so I used to dep for him when he couldn't make it.

After a time the band moved to the Corner House in Heaton and ran very successful Tuesday night and Sunday lunchtime sessions which continued for over two years. By this time the personnel had changed. Barry left and was replaced by Steve Andrews, then Jim Ruddick and finally Stan Martin. Marshall Walker took over on drums and I replaced Brian on trombone. Bill Brooks came in on bass and Roy Willis, swinging on guitar, replaced Clive Gray. It was this band that travelled to Holland in 1982 as a last minute entry into the Breda International Jazz Festival. Much to our delight we carried off first prize in the Jazz Band Competition.

Much has been written about the success of the River City Jazzmen winning the same competition in 1984, but it seems to have been forgotten that the Saratoga band pulled off the same achievement two years earlier, quite significant when you think that of all the bands from all over the world that have won this competition two were from Newcastle! (Howay the Lads!).

The band hit top form in Breda, I remember one concert in the main market square when the crowd became so large that the surrounding area was blocked and they had to stop running the trams. It's sobering to realise that only Roy Willis and myself are still here. Anyhow, the band held together for a short time after Breda and then drifted apart, as all bands eventually do.                                                     

Happy days indeed!

Gordon Solomon.

Other Breda photos by Lance

12 comments :

NeilC said...

I trained as a Cobol Programmer in 1980 at DHSS as it was vaguely recall Brian Chester but certainly remember Peter who did some of my induction training great guy . At the time I wasn't really aware he was in a band until the very last day and he left us to finish up whilst he was off to travel to a gig .

Patti said...

Great memories, Gordon! I think this must have been before we moved back to Newcastle in 1982. I do remember Peter G from the Lonsdale, though - and how about that trip to Breda in 1984 or 1985, when the River City won that fantastic prize! It was a long coach ride, I remember!

Roy Willis said...

Peter Gascoigne and myself (Roy Willis) continued to play at the Corner House and were joined by other well-established north-east musicians and further trips to Breda were successfully made.

Roly said...

I remember the Corner House weekly Saratoga sessions with great fondness. Usually a full room and a great atmosphere. Happy Days.

Gordon Solomon. said...

Roly, I remember looking forward to you playing banjo/guitar with the band on the occasions when you helped out. You were much appreciated by the audience. As you say, Happy Days.

Steve Andrews said...

I hate to start a comment with "actually", but actually the Saratoga Jazzmen started in or around 1972 in the upstairs room at Bambra's Music Hall in the Bigg Market. Barry Soulsby did start it - he was playing clarinet with the Vieux Carre at that time, so he got Gassy in on trumpet and Brian Chester on Trombone from the VC. Johnny Handle either played piano or just sat in - the one I recall best was Bert Lamb. An old banjo player from the '20's called Sam Warwick played for a while, too. Can't remember bass and drums but could have been Wheatley and Marshall Walker. Brian had to do fortnightly shifts at the Ministry of Pensions, so they got me in to fill the trombone chair once a fortnight on tenor - probably because I was depping for Barry with the VC anyway, and in fact I took over from him in 1973 with that band. I think the band faded away after that residency finished until the late '70's when Barry revived it, as Gordon said. Barry got Gassy in again, who was at a bit of a loose end because the VC were not playing much by then, and Gassy took it over after Barry left. It was at this time that the band started playing at the Corner House (of happy memory). I also think that The Saratoga won Breda in 1981, not '82, because that was the year the Savannah Syncopators - the first Newcastle band to play at Breda Jazz Festival - came fourth. We were devastated and it wasn't made easier by the fact that we were sharing the 'bus home with an exultant (rightly so!) Saratoga!

Russell said...

I bet those on the bus trip home were a little pie-eyed! Incidentally, Bambra's is currently undergoing major renovation work. Watch this space...

Gordon Solomon said...

Hi Steve, and yes, I'm sure you're correct with the details, I'm older than you and the memory plays tricks. You've jogged my memory however, and I recall depping with the band at Bambra's but with Harry Stevenson on clarinet. I also remember actor Ian Hendry, who was appearing at the Theatre Royal, bursting into the room in a very drunken state, grabbing the microphone and singing The Saints while we were playing Black and Blue!

Lance said...

Ian Hendry used to also show up at the NBB gigs at the University Theatre when he was in town.

I've still got the Breda programmes from 1981 and 1982, The 1982 one has autographs from Guy Lafitte, Bob Wilber and Warren Vaché. I'll have to get Gordon, Steve and Roy to belatedly sign it!

Lance said...

"Bambra's" should read "Balmbra's" - just saying...

Steve Andrews said...

I've just looked at the cup the Sav. Syncs won for 3rd place in the Breda Jazz Concours, and it says 1979 on it, so 1980 must surely have been the year the Saratoga won - we got 4th that year! Memory playing tricks.....Dave Kerr will be able to confirm, he was the only one who was sober(ish)! I know we only played there in 1979 and '80 (3rd & 4th prize respectively, so we quit while we were ahead!). The next year I didn't play, but met my wife Ans there and we've been together nearly 39 years now!

Lance said...

Looking at the 1981 programme it does refer to The Saratoga Jazzmen as being winners the previous year so 1980 was indeed the year they won.

I recall one year that Stan Martin won the Outstanding Soloist prize.

Blog archive