24 July 2016


Regular readers will know I often complain about the poor quality of traditional jazz currently being played in pubs by elderly English bands.

So I'm pleased to tell you I have today found on YouTube an elderly English band that plays in the pubs of the South-West of England and really is quite good. The musicians make an effort to play the music in a tasteful, restrained way, with some delicacy and decent teamwork.

This is The City Steam Jazz Band and you may watch and listen to an example of their work BY CLICKING HERE. Note especially the ensemble Chorus beginning at 2 minutes and 41 seconds. Not exactly Tuba Skinny, perhaps, but very pleasant nevertheless.

According to the band's website, The City Steam Jazz Band has been operating for three decades in the Exeter region. It took its name from an old laundry box in which the drummer carried his kit!

You can learn more about the band from its website BY CLICKING HERE. The 'main man' seems to be Dave Martin who plays the cornet, more or less manages the band, and has produced its pad of arrangements. 

Almost 60 years ago I spent a few months living in Exeter and I remember once hearing a very young traditional jazz band performing there. I wonder whether any of those players went on to become members of the City Steam.

Footnote: Friend and correspondent Ernest James Buck has sent me this further information:

Thanks for drawing the clip of The City Steam Jazz Band to my attention.  It was good to see Dave Martin in action.   Did you know that he also runs/ran a band called  The Jabbo Five which concentrates on playing the music of Jabbo Smith?   I have also heard him (but not recently) in a classic band run by Steve Graham with a two trumpet/cornet front line playing the Oliver/Armstrong  repertoire.

While looking at some of his Youtube clips I saw his playlist of clips and found it interesting, with a band  from New York playing "Once In A While".