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My nine-piece band played at Dudley Jazz Club

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: January 24, 2014

By John Morton

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IN reply to the letter from Lucy Cox in The Bugle (January 9 edition) concerning the Trumpet Jazz Club, my nine-piece band 'Pacific Jazz' played there every month for15 years, so I can fill in a couple of details.

The name of the pub was the Royal Exchange but everyone called it the 'Trumpet'. Eventually they bowed to the inevitable and put up a new sign. Many, many years ago the pub was frequented by prostitutes and the locals called it the 'Strumpet' which was an abbreviation of a very rude name!

I think I'm right in saying that this was the derivation of the name 'Trumpet' before the pub had any musical connections. Jazz was born in such an environment, remember!

The area where the bands now set up was Les's living room and, eventually, the dividing wall along the passageway to the loos was demolished to extend the club.

Before that, there was just enough room to fit an upright piano in the corner where Tommy Burton and my old mate Reg Kierle would play and sing to their devoted followers.

Tom was one of those men who had an amazing presence. The conversation always stopped when he entered the room. He reminded me of actor Lee Marvin.

On the subject of the loos, there was an amazing selection of graffiti where people had written joke comments.

There was an exposed cast iron coke stove which warmed the place nicely, glowing a dull red in the winter. The flue just went up through the ceiling. Every so often you would hear a cry of pain as someone brushed against it. People could roast chestnuts and potatoes on it. I can imagine what Health and Safety would have to say nowadays.

When we started to play there the gaffer was Les Megson, a tawny, bearded Black Countryman who always spoke his mind. My band played what used to be called 'modern' jazz but we always chose tuneful material because not everyone was a hard core jazz fan.

One night we played a number that was a bit more adventurous and I noticed a snarl develop across the gaffer's face.

When I went to the bar in the interval he called me over: 'Do yo get playin' any 'er that Choinese music in mar pub,' he said.

My musicians were all pros and ex-pros. "It's worth playing here just for the beer," one of them commented.

Happy memories! I hope you found this interesting Lucy,

John Morton,

8 Elmbridge Way,

Sedgley,

DY3 1SH.

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