8 August 2017


I have never met Henry Kiel, the banjo-playing band-leader of Hamburg, Germany. But Henry has sent me several emails over the years in response to articles in this Blog, so we have become friends.

Henry runs a band called Henry’s Fidgety Feetwarmers and I have been watching some of their videos on YouTube. These videos have been well filmed, using more than one camera, though the sound balance could be just a little better in places: there’s sometimes a predominance of drums and trumpet.

I have often complained that there are many bands in the U.K. made up of musicians in their 70s and 80s who were probably very good forty years ago but who today sound dreary and uninspired. The pleasure of listening to them is nowhere near as great as the pleasure that comes from the exciting traditional jazz being currently played by the young generation of bands working in New Orleans.

Well, Henry’s Hamburg band is also made up largely of silver-haired gentlemen but their music is not at all bad. Henry himself and his bass player Peter Dettenborn play in the best New Orleans tradition. In fact, the rhythm section, comprising Günter Lehnig on drums, Peter and Henry, is a very fine unit. John Rosolowski is on trumpet in the videos; and there is no trombonist, but rather two reed players: Burte Kimbrough on alto sax and Klaus Winkelmann on clarinet and soprano sax.

I understand from Henry that there have since been changes of personnel. They now have recruited Dieter Meyser on trombone and Joachim Gebauer on sousaphone. John Rosolowski has left, Peter has switched to piano, and occasionally a guest trumpet-player is used. I hope there will be videos soon of this current line-up.

If you haven’t yet tried this band for yourself, let me link you to their rendering of I Ain’t Got Nobody:
There are times when you could close your eyes and imagine yourself at one of the clubs in New Orleans.